As the full moon sank into the horizon and the day dawned, I was out doing my Tough Mudder boot camp training session.
There’s not much more I can say.
As the full moon sank into the horizon and the day dawned, I was out doing my Tough Mudder boot camp training session.
There’s not much more I can say.
I have survived another Tough Mudder Boot Camp training session. I started the session relying on my head torch for light and ended it with this gorgeous view of the lake in my local park where I have been training. Not a bad way to start a cold winter’s morning.
My legs felt a lot better today than they did during Saturday’s session. And my decision to eat breakfast after training was a good one because I didn’t have to battle an upset stomach. Mind you, I probably would have been fine on Saturday too if I’d not eaten a big slab of chocolate cake before training 😉 .
I won’t bore you with the details of the session. It included all the same exercises and circuits as the last two Tough Mudder Boot Camp session. I’m proud of my efforts so far to complete three complete sessions on my own. There’s only 34 to go before the big day and I’m determined to complete all of them.
I had to skip my three Tough Mudder training sessions this week due to illness. But I am pretty much all better now so this morning I decided to do yesterday’s Tough Mudder session so that I only missed two sessions. While I could have gone running or cycling, I know that I need the core and leg strength work that’s included in the Tough Mudder boot camp sessions.
I started the day with a light 2km walk and jog around our neighbourhood then rode my mountain bike 1.6km down to the park with my 5kg dumbell in my backpack. At the park I found a sport where I could set up to do the 60 minute Tough Mudder boot camp session. After a week of rain the park was quite boggy so I set my exercise list and mobile phone on a table under a shelter that had a concrete floor. Though, by the end of the session, my feet would be wet.
By the end of the five minute warm up I knew that I still aren’t at full fitness. I did one minute each of running on the spot, grapevine, side shuffles, high knees and butt kicks. I was suffering at the end of the warm up so decided that I should practice pacing myself so that I got through the session. When I say I was suffering, I don’t mean that I felt sick (though my stomach wasn’t happy with the fact that I’d eaten a piece of chocolate cake after breakfast).
I decided to pace myself for the five circuits in the session, rather than doing them flat out like I did last Friday; partly to get through them and partly because I have a duathlon race tomorrow morning and don’t want to be too sore for that.
My first circuit was ten minutes of running, spider pushups, jumping jacks, squat press with the 5kg dumbell, jump rope (without actually having a skipping rope) and ‘rest’ position (aka stress position). That session went alright. it was tough but I managed to get through it. I ended with one minute rest,
The second circuit really hurt. I did ten minutes of burpees, Turkish get-ups, skates, crawl outs, ski jumps and side plank. It was the burpees that really caused my stomach to complain about the chocolate cake; I got serious acid burn. But I guess that’s what happens when your diet isn’t quite as healthy as it should be. Again, I ended with one minute rest.
I started to feel good during my third circuit. I hit my stride as I completed ten minutes of standing climb, leap frogs, high knees, pull-ups (I completed a set of 5 followed by a set of 3), quick feet where I dropped to the ground every 20 seconds and lunges. As with each set, I ended with one minute rest.
Set four was okay. The ten minute circuit consisted of standing on each leg, plank, running, jumping jacks and scissor jumps. By the scissor jumps I was glad that the fifth set would be my last. Like the previous sets, I completed set four at about 65% capacity. I ended with a one minute rest.
Set five was a real test of endurance and commitment. The ten minute set consisted of burpees, chin ups (I only managed 5 this time), skates, squat jumps onto the bench, ski jumps and lunges. I was so glad to see the back of the set and the session.
I finished the whole session with five minutes of stretching and cooling down before jumping back on my bike to ride the 1.6km home.
While the session was tough, despite only doing it at about 65% capacity, it felt good to complete it. I have fresh new goals for the 2012-13 season and I know this strength work is going to prepare me to achieve more than just Tough Mudder. I know it’s going to make me strong enough to achieve what is now my ultimate season goal: to run the NorthFace 100 within 20 hours so I can qualify for the Cradle Mountain Run in 2014. That’s good incentive to keep at the Tough Mudder sessions too.
There are two things I’m not good at: structure and strength training.
Given that Tough Mudder is about overcoming fears and challenges, it seems appropriate that I try to discipline myself to stick to the Tough Mudder training program for the next 13 weeks. I’ll talk more about the fears element in a later post but today I’ll talk about the first challenges I need to overcome: structure and strength training.
This morning I completed the first of 39 Tough Mudder training sessions. It was the toughest training I’ve done in a long time. For a full hour I did exercises like star jumps, planks, jumps, squats, burpees and high knee running. After a five-minute warm-up the training consisted of 5 x 10 minute circuits. Each circuit included six core and strength exercises. By the end of each circuit (well, actually, by the end of each exercise) my legs, core and arms were burning.
I felt good completing the session. I know it’s going to help me develop strength that will also help me once the triathlon season starts again.
In addition to these strength sessions, the Tough Mudder training schedule also includes three aerobic sessions each week so I can still continue my aerobic adventures at the same time.
Total: 60 minute Tough Mudder training session
Oh dear! It’s just hit me! Tough Mudder Sydney is only 13 weeks away! And I didn’t just enter one event. I signed up to repeat the whole course again on the Sunday. Also, I don’t have a team of mates coming along with me so will be alone the crowd relying on random acts of kindness to help me through the team elements of the course.
I’ve got plenty of aerobic and mental endurance but my upper body and core strength have pretty much gone out the window since I stopped going to parkour classes a few months ago. I’ve been cruising along pretending that everything will be okay and that I’ll just breeze through the event. But that’s just asking for trouble.
So it’s time for me to get serious and do some Tough Mudder specific training. It will probably be beneficial to me as a triathlete too because what I have in endurance I lose in strength. Today I’ve downloaded the Tough Mudder Boot Camp training program. Saturday is exactly 13 weeks to the event so tomorrow morning seems like a really good time to get started on this program. That gives me tonight to buy myself a few necessary items, such as a skipping rope and medicine ball, and to find a good location to train at where I can use monkey bars as a pull-up bar. It’s a good thing today is payday and that the sports shop is open late tonight.
The training program recommends that I do the Tough Mudder Boot Camp three days a week and and to do also do an additional three cardio sessions a week. So I’m going to try to do my Tough Mudder sessions on Friday, Monday and Wednesdays for the next 13 weeks. The toughest part will be sticking to the training plan 😉
Grey dawn light filters through the clouds as we gather on the water’s edge at Thompson’s Beach in Victoria Point. The boats moored out on the water are silent and still; there is no wind or swell this morning to disturb the peace. We joke about waiting until dawn so that we can see the sharks in the water. Well, we hope we are joking because every local knows the waters here have their fair share of sharks. None of us have seen any but still, we’ve all been warned about them as children and those warnings are difficult to ignore.
We are all wearing old shoes and swimming togs of some description. There are a lot of sharp rocks embedded in the sand and mud so we need to protect our feet. We wade out until we are waist deep (to the boat on the right in the photo below). We must be at least 100m off-shore by the time we line up parallel to the beach to start our workout. The water is deliciously warm and the sun has started to throw a more golden light along the water in front of us.
We run about 200m parallel to the shore until we are in line with a white maker post on the beach. The ground under our feet starts out fairly sandy but gets muddier as we get closer to the finish. The mud doesn’t suck our feet but it does make them slip under us. There is the occasional invisible hole to contend with but that just adds to the challenge.
After reaching the finish line we turn around and walk back to the start. The temptation is too great for me and I dive into the water, enjoying the taste of salt on my lips. Unlike pool water, the water in the bay is soft and silky. Perhaps it’s the mud and silt that makes it feel less crisp than a pool or the ocean. Whatever it is, I like it. We run five repeats at waist depth, walking or swimming back to the start each time.
After our five waist-deep repeats we walk in towards the beach to run our next five repeats in knee-deep water. Again we run as hard as we can for the 200m sprint. My thighs are feeling the workout but I still manage to push through well. It feels powerful to drive my legs forward against the resistance. Everyone has their own style: some take quick small steps, others take long strides without making much splash at all. I’m not so graceful – I push forward by pulling my legs out of the water and forcing my way forward. I’m sure any sharks would have been scared away.
The sun rises over the bay during our workout. We face it as we walk back to the start of each repeat. It’s lovely to watch as it breaks over the horizon and then makes it’s way every higher through the different cloud formations. Each cloud changes the way the light falls, changing it’s colour.
By the time we complete our session the day is bright and the grey light of dawn seems a distant memory. I am grateful for being up and outdoors during this special time of day, and feel a little sorry for all the people who are barely rolling out of bed, sucking down a coffee and complaining about having to go to work. I realise that the best part of my active lifestyle is that the first thing I do every day is something for me. Whether it’s spending an hour or two gardening by torchlight (that’s what I’ve been doing this week instead of training), swimming and running in the bay, or hitting the road on my bike, this first hour or two every single day doesn’t belong to the boss or the clock – it belongs to me. And that’s how life should be. Sure, I have to get up early to have it but I wouldn’t give it up for anything; not even sleep.
Total: 1 hour water running.
To anyone training for Tough Mudder – I reckon this would be a great workout!
I have one of those days today at work where I just feel tired and lackluster. I feel run down, tired and a bit light headed. Probably both because my diet hasn’t been quite right the past week (too much sugar) and my partner’s working late shift (not enough sleep). So I ride my motorbike home the long way home over West Mount Cotton Road to get some inspiration. While I am out on the bike I decide I need a trail run.
After feeding the kittens I pull on my skins and a sweat wicking shirt (that definitely no longer protects against stink), fill my Camelback, grab my GPS, pull on my running shoes, put my headlight on and head out the door. I have to take Mum’s ute to the shop tomorrow for a repair so I decide to run the 7km trail run to her place to pick it up.
As I run through the grass field I try to keep my feet dry but it proves pointless – there is no way around some of the puddles so I just plough straight through. While my feet get wet, the reflections of the clouds in the puddles are beautiful. I must have started out on my run at just the right time to catch them.
Early in my run I had to climb a fire trail up a steep hill. It’s hard going and I have to walk a short part of the hill before sucking it up and continuing to run up it. I literally pat myself on the back – it’s a silly little habit I started when I was in primary school. Before my first cross country run at school the teacher told us something about patting ourselves on the back and I took it literally (I was only 5 years old). Ever since then I’ve given myself an over-the-shoulder pat on my back when I achieve something difficult while running. Don’t laugh – haha.
Darkness descends as I drop down the Grass Trees track; I turn on my headlight. Within 5 minutes the last rays of sunlight fade as drops of rain start to fall on me. The rain drops look funny by the light of my headlamp.
The bush is peaceful now that it’s plunged in darkness. I can barely see beyond the edges of the trail so my whole being is focused on putting one foot in front of the other and on being present on the trail. The air is still thick with humidity and I stink from sweat but it doesn’t matter because there’s no one else out here to smell me. The only other living creatures I see are toads, frogs and those tiny ground-dwelling spiders with bright blue eyes. I’m glad I hit the trail tonight.
I’ve decided that I’ll do one of my run sessions on the trails every week to help prepare for the Adventure Race Australia, which is the week after Byron Bay Triathlon and also because the reality is that next season I’ll be focusing all my race efforts off-road. The trail running is also good preparation for Tough Mudder, particularly given the many almost unrunnable hills in Bayview, which challenge every muscle fibre in my legs.
Total: 7.0km @ 6:06 pace
The sun is hot on my skin as I run down the street towards the bush. It’s already 5:30pm and the last half hour of sunlight promises to be punishing. I run down the road to the start of the bush trails, the white trunks of the Moreton Bay ash trees towering above me against the blue sky.
I practice some precision jumps across two large mud puddles, keeping my new white joggers clean in the process. After about 500m I vault the gate to the Bayview Conservation Park and am away along a narrow rocky stretch of single track. The trail roughly follows the contours around the edge of a hill, rising and falling with the changing terrain. I kept my mind in the bush and on the trail for most of the time. It wandered to work twice and both times I almost rolled my ankle so that was incentive to focus on enjoying the bush.
While the sun was still hot the bush was quiet. The only sounds were my rhythmic breathing and footfalls on the rocks and gravel. Occasionally a wallaby hops across my path and skitters off into the bush or stops to eat grass.
And then the sun starts to sink quickly and the light turns gold on the western sides of the hills but grey on the east. The bush comes alive with the sounds of crickets and other night insects. My footfalls soon become inaudible over the din but my steady breathing continues to ring in my ears like a metronome.
After 5km I vault back over the gate and complete the last 3km of my run along quiet local roads. It’s dark by the time I get home, drenched in sweat. I ran the bush section of my run at 8:45 pace and the road sections at 5:45 pace. It’s not going to break any land speed records but was a solid and enjoyable run; the perfect way to finish the week.
Total: 8km run @ 7:11 pace
The night started like any other parkour training night. We ran, climbed steps and practiced techniques. Tonight we focused on vaults and tic tac. It was hot tonight and I was sweating from the exertion. My sore toe / ball of my foot is still giving me trouble but I’m not letting it stop me because I’m enjoying my training particularly parkour.
Then, when we were about 90 minutes into our 2 hour class one of our classmates fell and broke his arm. We weren’t doing anything particularly dangerous, just vaulting over a rail – something that many people do in their daily life. But, unfortunately, our classmate slipped and fell with a loud thud. I only heard the accident from where I was, vaulting over a different rail.
When the incident happened our instructors did everything right. They cleared the area around the injured person, leaving only his friend and a first-aid trained classmate with him (and an instructor of course). The rest of us were directed to take our bags and move to a safe location out on the main road (we were in a small alley) where we were to do some strength exercises while we kept lookout for the ambulance with our other instructor. The strength exercises were safe activities such as plank, push ups and squats. The two instructors stayed in phone and visual contact until the situation stabilised. Their ability to both maintain control and prevent hysteria or panic was admirable, particularly given their youth.
After the ambulance arrived those of us not directly involved in helping our injured classmate returned to base. Our instructor made sure everyone was okay with what had occurred but also kept us busy rather than allowing us to speculate about what had happened or focus on it. We quadripedalled hundreds of metres to give our strength to the classmates and instructor who couldn’t continue our training – it seemed like a good way to ‘help’ them at a time when the rest of us felt helpless wanting to do something to help our classmate.
While it is never good to see someone injured, it’s comforting to know that our instructors knew exactly what to do to keep both the injured person and the rest of the group safe. We debriefed afterwards and I know it won’t scare me away. Freak accidents can happen anywhere and anytime. I could fall of my pushbike or motorbike anytime, or could just slip on a wet floor. The accident wasn’t ’caused by’ parkour but was an everyday slip that could have happened jumping a fence in normal daily life.
Our class is becoming quite close and supportive of each other and together we pushed ourselves to work hard on our strength for the last half hour of the class – pushing out for our team mate. I’ll be back next week to continue my Tough Mudder training and to become strong to be useful.
It’s 6:15pm when I arrive at Point O’Halloran for my scheduled 8km run. The tide is way out and the sun is going down to the west, casting long shadows. I heard this time of day described as the magic hour in the YouTube clip I shared here this week and the description is perfect for this afternoon’s run.
I’m supposed to be running 8km aerobically with five 100m strides somewhere on the run. But after a week off I’m ready to go like a bull at a gate, and that’s exactly what I do. I want to run the 10km at Byron Bay Triathlon in 45 minutes so I need to put all the long slow miles behind me. I need to change my mindset from being content with 6:30 pace in training to trusting that I can run faster. And, while I could have quite easily done 8km at 6:30 pace with the 100m strides fitted in, I found myself running significantly faster, and enjoying it.
With scenery like this to run past it’s no wonder that I felt like I had wings as I completed my first kilometre in 4:51 and then the second in 4:23. The second kilometre felt so good that I decided to keep pushing a bit for the third, which I completed in 4:53, considerably faster than the 6:30s I’ve been doing in my recent training sessions.
I intentionally slow down for the fourth kilometre (5:54), taking it easy down the slippery steps to the Victoria Point jetty and stopping twice to take water from a bubbler. I run out along the jetty twice, enjoying the special moment when the last dim rays of light disappeared and the sky turned from deep navy blue to black. I couldn’t help but think “this is why I do it”.
It’s totally dark as I run back to my car. Occasionally a street light casts some light in my direction on the waterfront path about 100m away but for the most I can’t see anything but the stars, the flashing lights on the navigation beacons out on the bay, and the sliver of moon. It’s pretty.
I run my fifth kilometre fairly easy (5:35) as I pick my way along a cracked section of pathway before picking up my pace for kilometre six (4:47). After pushing myself for much of the run I decide to warm down over the final two kilometres, which I complete at 5:38 and 5:36 pace respectively. With the darkness I decide not to run my 100m strides because I can’t see the ground and don’t want to injure myself. But I’m sure I still achieved the intended goal of the run – to pick up some pace.
Total: 8.0km @ 5:10 pace.