Written by Pro Team member Christopher Rutz

This is it.

It is what Spartan’s across the US have been waiting for all year long, the first Beast of 2014. This means an opportunity to finally earn that 2014 Trifecta and get the green ‘piece of the pie’.  Spartan Race will return to Monterey, California this weekend at Toro Park for it second year. Look for new obstacles, like the Monkey Net, and challenges like a couple of Rope Climbs, as if the terrain were not challenging enough.

The course starts and ends on a beautiful lawn in the midst of Monterey’s inland wine country. Once out of the gate, however, you are almost immediately met by some of the nastiest, steepest hills we have seen-3,500ft elevation gain and loss. Over the course of 13 miles you will wind your way through dense forest and wide open plateaus, gnarly single track and large fire roads, ponds and creeks.  The trails are all made of hard packed clay, which can be a dream when dry, but a nightmare when wet. No rain is in the forecast, but who knows; maybe the Spartan gods will wet the trails. Look for an early morning temperature of 50 warming to the low 80s as the later waves kick off. There is plenty of sun in the forecast.

Many of our best racers will be at the Tri-State Sprint on the East Coast this same weekend, but that does not mean the competition in the Elite Heat will not be fierce. Expected to come from the Pro Team are some of our Top Masters racers, Jenny Tobin from Boise, ID and Christopher Rutz from Scottsdale, AZ. Also slated to appear is UK Tough Guy, James Appleton.

If you are a Spartan in California you are likely aware of the Weeple Army. Back in 2012 the Weeple Army had the largest team at any Spartan Race, Malibu. The army has continued to grow in size and geography. In Monterey there will be a group of Weeples, “Weeples Overcoming Challenges”. This team combined with the team of Amanda Sullivan, Steffen “Cookie” Cook , Misty Diaz, and Matt Pevoto will be completing the course with some Wounded Warriors in the shape of Eddy Lychik and Earl Granville. Spartan Pro, Alexander Nicholas will crew/help along the course. Rumor has it that Joe DeSena will also be making an appearance. If you see him at the venue he will want to see your Spartan Up book. If you do not have it, the penalty will be 30 burpees.

Rest well Spartans and come prepared for glory!

Sign up here for your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line!

 

 

 

 

 

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Monterrey Beast – Tougher than you

by Spartan News Desk

 You measure yourself by the level of challenges you’ve faced. Run a local 5k? Maybe for a quick warm up before you get serious about your training. Complete a 10k? If there isn’t anything more intense, but maybe you can make do with the added weight of a vest. Weekend events are reserved for the events you take on with your core group of friends. The maniacs you met doing an overnight relay, some crazy boot camp on the beach, or some “tough” mud run. Each time you complete one of these you can’t help but think to yourself “You my friend, are an absolute Beast”. But are you, are you really? One way to prove it, to show yourself and the rest of the world you are truly the Beast you think you are. Get yourself to Monterrey and tackle the Spartan Beast.

We know you have done other events and think you have nothing left to prove. We also know that people who say that are often scared of that one last true test. In this case the Monterrey Spartan Beast is that last test. We understand it’s a little intimidating, its supposed to be that way, if it wasn’t we wouldn’t call it the Beast.

Coming in at 12+ miles and over 25 obstacles taking you through the hills of Monterrey we turn a picturesque landscape into a brutal expanse of a course. It will take you physically and mentally to places you have yet to go to before. This course will test your limits; it will redefine your idea of endurance and obstacle racing.

Yes, this is going to hurt. You’re welcome.

So lets just accept the fact that you are a little nervous about tackling the Monterrey Beast. Are you worried that your fitness level is going to be exposed as not being at the level you originally thought? Is it the idea that you might actually earn yourself the dreaded DNF (did not finish)? Could it be that there is a timing element to this event you haven’t come across before? After all at the Reebok Spartan Beast in Monterrey we will hold you accountable to missing obstacles. Each one you miss will cost you 30 burpees. Spartan fully expects you to earn your medal. We view them as our shields, forged on the fields of battle.

This isn’t a headband or a fuzzy helmet. You can’t coast through our event and the Beast is no joke. You can run this event with friends but there will be no relay element. You are expected to finish this race along with them, side by side. So now you have to ask yourself how tough you really are. You’ve done some events that have tested you, maybe left you feeling tired; the Beat is the ultimate test. You best this and you have bragging rights for the rest of your life. Once you cross that finish line you will know a whole new depth to yourself, your strength, you will see just how far down you can reach in order to get it done during one of the toughest events you’ve ever faced.

So what are you waiting for? Step up, sign up, and see if all those other events you have done have given you what you need to be Spartan strong. Answer for yourself…

…Are you Unbreakable?

Sign up today at Spartanrace.com for the Monterrey Beast June 7th, 2014.

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Spartan Coaching:  Spartans Run Hills

by Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, Director of Spartan Coaching

The beauty of obstacle racing is that it exposes your weakest link. Lack upper body strength? You will pay for it on the 8 foot wall. Lack balance? You will pay for it on the log hops. Lack hill climbing endurance? You will pay for it all-day. Spartan Race is well known for its lung crushing climbs, and quad destroying descents. Listen to enough veterans and they’ll tell you about Tri-State, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Monterey, Utah… “the number of climbs is ridiculous”, as was once overheard.

The only way to beat the hill is to embrace it. Hill running increases oxygen consumption considerably. For example, an athlete running at an easy 10 min/mile pace has an estimated oxygen consumption of 36 mlO2/kg/min, where running the same speed on a 10% grade (a grade of 100% = 45 degree angle) increases oxygen consumption to 50 mlO2/kg/min. That’s almost a 40% increase in energy expenditure! Running on a flat surface, a runner only needs to produce energy for horizontal work. The extra energy needed to lift the body vertically against gravity accounts for this extra energy expenditure.

Running at an oxygen consumption of 50 mlO2/kg/min will be close to many athletes maximal oxygen consumption and certainly above the lactate threshold for all but the elite runners. This will result in an increase in muscle acidosis and increased rate of glycogen utilization. The end result is fatigue and possible glycogen depletion.

Although training will improve VO2 max and running efficiency, it will not be enough offset the increased metabolic demand of steep uphill running. The best solution is to adjust the pace or speed so the energy expenditure remains the same. For most, that will mean walking uphill at a much slower pace. This will prevent fatigue and spare glycogen and prevent bonking. Pace yourself on the hill climbs.

Spartans Run Hills
Walking or running uphill places unique stress on the locomotive muscles when compared to walking or running on flat ground. The change in slope puts the foot into severe dorsi flexion, stressing the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantar fascia. The trunk also leans forward, placing more stress on the hamstrings and back extensors. A couple of small hills won’t negatively impact these muscle groups, but in the longer events where there will be 3,000 – 5,000 ft of climbing, there can be major damage to these muscles, especially in athletes who have not prepared on hills.

What goes up must come down! Running downhill would seem to be easier, and we think that we should  be able to make up for lost time during the climb. But, don’t fool yourself, the average speed of running uphill and then downhill for 3 miles will always be slower than running 3 miles flat. Running downhill requires control. No matter how much we think we are “letting go”, there is a natural “braking” action by the anterior tibialis on the lower leg, and the quadriceps on the thigh. This braking action is caused by eccentric muscle contractions; the muscles are developing tension and lengthening at the same time. Eccentric muscle actions cause muscle damage and are the cause of post exercise muscle soreness. If your muscles aren’t prepared for downhill running, the muscle damage will be accelerated and will result in premature muscle soreness, decreased muscle power output, and fatigue.

The good news is that this can be prevented with proper training. Yes, embrace the hills. Find the biggest, baddest hills in your area and run intervals up and down them. Do this twice a week. This will cause significant soreness initially, but over time your muscles will adapt to the eccentric contractions, muscle damage is reduced, and you will be able to tolerate longer bouts of downhill running. Training uphill will also stress the gastrocnemius, plantar fascia, hamstrings, and back extensions in a way that they will be used during a Spartan Race, thus minimizing the damage to those tissues as well. The reality is that running uphill will always be metabolically demanding and fatiguing not matter how hard you train. However, training with hill intervals, will improve your maximal oxygen consumption, increase your tolerance to acidosis, and improve your ability to utilize fat as a fuel, thus improve your hill running performance. Hill sprints suck as bad as Burpees, probably even more so, but if you embrace the hill training your body will thank you at your next Super Spartan or Beast.

Exercise Physiology 101 – During any activity that lasts longer than 3 minutes we rely primarily on the aerobic energy system. Aerobic means that we produce energy with oxygen. The more intense the exercise, the higher the rate of oxygen utilization. Oxygen utilization is typically expressed as milliliters of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute (mlO2/kg/min). Oxygen consumption can also be expressed as energy expenditure or Calories per minute (kcal/min). The higher the rate of oxygen consumption, the higher the rate of energy expenditure. For example a 180 lb male running a 10 minute mile consumes 36 mlO2/kg/min or expends about 14.5 kcal/min. The same man running the same speed at 10% grade consumes 50 mlO2/kg/min or 20.5 kcal/min.

 

Jeff  received his Doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Connecticut and is certified by ACSM, NSCA, and ISSN.  He is currently Chair of the Departmental of Exercise and Sport Science at Fitchburg State University and the Director of Spartan Coaching.

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