Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What should I wear for a SPARTAN / OCR race???

What do I need and what should I wear for a SPARTAN race???

In this article we will cover Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…. And everything else in-between (don't act like you weren't wondering....)!

If, somehow, you found yourself here but are still unsure, check out this Link that talks about what Spartan racing is all about!

For starters, congratulations!  The fact that you are looking at an article like this means that you are already on your way to becoming a SPARTAN!

What do I need to do/think about before I go?

1.  Surround yourself with a pack of people to support you, whether in training or on the course itself

2.  Bring confidence that you have trained and prepared and are excited - perform a quick "Spring cleaning" of your running form (especially for Beast distance).

3.  Make sure you've looked at some of the obstacles.  Remember that, while SPARTAN has several "core" obstacles that appear at almost all races, they love to throw in new and exciting challenges all the time.  The add new obstacles, tweak old ones, change the weight/height/distance/position, etc.  Even on race day, when you have arrived, you still wont know what all obstacles you'll face - and that's a big part of the fun!

What do I need to bring with me?

1.  Registration and waiver (already printed and signed)

2.  Photo ID (that you'll have to take with you to the registration tent).

3.  Bag (to throw said ID in) with towel and change of clothes - and a trash bag to put the clothes and shoes you just raced in inside for the ride home.

4.  Bring cash for the secure bag check (usually $5).

5.  For Sprint distance, most people will not need food, water, or packs of any kind.  For the Super distance you may want a hydration pack and protein bar

6.  For the Beast you will want to carry your own fluid, bring protein bars/chews/etc. and consider S-Caps

What should I wear?

1.  Pay attention to the weather!!!  
Check for temperature and check for rain/sleet/snow.  Plan accordingly!  Remember, whatever you're wearing (if you're racing in cold weather) you should be COLD when you're standing waiting to race.   If you are comfortable (temperature wise) before you start you will be sweating and miserable very soon!

2.  Just say "NO!" to cotton
Nothing on your body, anywhere, anywhere should be cotton!

3.  Head:
Spartan will provide a race headband with your race number on in.  In the heat this is a nice sweat band and in the cold it can be pulled over your ears.

4.  Ladies: Sports bra.  
We all know there are lots of different types of sports bras.... there are instagram photoshoot sports bras, there are slow-no-impact-don't-I-look-Cute sports bras, there are sports bras with underwire, there are sports bras with zippers.  Find a good, NO-COTTON, truoee compression fit, highly supportive (high impact), full coverage sports bra with no bells and whistles (no pockets, no zippers, no underwire).

5.  Shirt or no shirt?  
This is a question you will have to answer yourself, there will be always be men and women in both camps, regardless of temperature.  That said, here are a few things to consider:  a.  be COMPLETELY comfortable. If you are in anyway self conscious about not wearing a shirt (even though you shouldn't be), then wear a shirt!  You will be uncomfortable enough... lol.  If it's cold, going shirtless Can be better because you don't have anything that is wet and cold stuck to your body.  On the shirt side, remember that you will be crawling on the ground in dirt, gravel, sand, hay, and for many people (myself included) having a layer between your bare skin and all those irritants is very beneficial.  Be sure to remember, should you wear a shirt, refer back to rule number 2!  Think compression.

6.  Pants/shorts:  
My suggestion here is compression tights, for men or women.  3/4 length is fine, but full length is better (same reason as given for wearing a shirt in number 5).  Shorts are great as well, but make sure there is no cotton.  If you don't have to carry anything, try to find shorts with no pockets.  If you do not need to carry something (like an emergency inhaler in my case) try to find something with a zipper pocket.  I say this because you don't want pockets filling up with mud and dirt, making them uncomfortable and Heavy.

7.  Underwear:  
Men:  wear compression shorts as underwear if you are wearing shorts - or just wear the compression shorts As your shorts (with nothing underneath them And nothing on top of them).  If you are wearing compression tights, just wear compression tights, no underwear underneath.
Ladies:  no cotton, No Cotton, NO COTTON.  If you are wearing compression tights, just wear compression tights (the good thick ones... not the see through "yoga" ones) with nothing underneath.  If you are wearing compression shorts (probably best), just wear the compression shorts with nothing underneath.  If you want to wear regular running shorts, wear compression shorts underneath, as underwear, and then your running shorts over top.  If you are one who just absolutely can't stand the idea of not having underwear on (even though that's what compression shorts are supposed to be) then wear a basic, non-lacy, non-frilly, completely non-cotton thong.

8.  Calf sleeves?  
If you are wearing shorts (and not compression tights) then calf sleeves are an option.  Will they help?  Maybe.  They wont make you super human, they wont make you faster, they may help with cramping up during the race, they may help with DOMS, they will provide some level of skin protection (if you're not wearing tights) just among briers and such on the race course.

9.  Socks:
Sock choice is actually Very important.  Just ask anyone who didn't think about their sock choice until after the started the race!  What's rule number one in choosing socks?  See rule number 2 above!  Above that, you want socks that come up high enough to protect your achilles from rubbing (blisters) and I would strongly suggest toe socks .  Reason being, your feet will get wet and stay wet most of the race, regardless which race you run.  So, separating your toes helps tremendously with keeping your toes from rubbing (blisters).

10. Shoes:
 Shoe choice is also important.  You want shoes that will survive, first off, and you want shoes that you probably aren't going to cry about if they don't...
You want shoes with a relatively flat bottom (maximum surface area), shoes without cotton all over them (padding, etc.), you don't want waterproof shoes (as your feet will be completely submerged and when a waterproof shoe gets submerged it becomes a bucket), you want shoes with aggressive tread (lots and lots and lots of mud), you want shoes that are zero drop (or as close as you can get - nothing above 6mm, strong preference given to 0-4mm), you want shoes that fit well, and shoes that Will remain tied!  For me, there is NO shoe that even comes close to Altras - not even close.

* For All clothing, thinkcompression:  tight and form fitting. Reason being,  you don't want clothing catching on any obstacle, it will make everything harder, from going over walls to especially going underneath Barbwire.

*  Knee/ankle/etc Braces:
Obviously, one would prefer to not have to wear braces at all.  They aren't comfortable at long distance, cheap ones ride up and/or down, budget ones can soak up water, etc.  That said, sometimes you need to.  Most of the time I do (1/2 dozen knee surgeries over the years), this one I'm running next week I have to (blew out my knee, knocked my kneecap out of place, and tore my meniscus and haven't had it repaired yet).  For knee braces, the ONLY one I have found that I could genuinely run with at any race for any distance is the CEP RXOrtho+
-Also, if you are going to wear a brace of any kind, I would strongly suggest that you put it on first and then wear full length compression tights OVER the brace to help with all of the above issues (specifically: holding it in place comfortably).

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Calling all SPARTAN DADS!

The Spartan race tribe have just released a father's day special with some pretty sweet deals:
If you use the code SPARTANDAD you will get 50% off gear in the Spartan Shop, plus you can get race entries for only $69, & 2 free digital books with any race purchase (Spartan Up! & Spartan Fit!).

Not only that, but send a pic of you and your little Spartan(s) do for a chance to win a FREE SPARTAN RACE!

Happy Father's Day - and #SpartanUp !

Friday, December 9, 2016

2017 Race season is here! Spartan season passes and new medals!

With December upon us, and only ~3 weeks left in 2016, it's time to start planning for next year!  

Luckily, Spartan has started listing their races really early - they've already got in the neighborhood of 75 races confirmed, listed, and ready to be registered for for 2017!

Spartan continues to be my favorite race series for the brand new beginner all the way through the professional because of how they innovate and lead.  Next year is already proving to be no different, adding more military runs, stadium runs, championship series, and more.  Additionally, crazy Joe is promising more new obstacles (and new course layouts). 

One of the BEST things Spartan is doing next year (3 things, actually) is the race passes.  Starting right now, you can register for any of their 3 season passes:
The Tri-fecta season pass, which gives you 3 race codes + some other goodies for $299.  To put this in perspective, the last tri-fecta I ran cost $431.
The Open-season pass, which is UNLIMITED open heat races for $649.
The Elite Season pass, which is unlimited races valid for All heats for $799.

The tri-fecta season pass is a no-brainer for Anyone going to race the trifecta.  As a matter of fact, it's actually good for any three races, so you could run 3 beasts for $299 if you want to (which would be a savings of close to $250).

Also, of course, one of the things I really like that Spartan does is the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick approach to their medals, constantly innovating their tiers and I really like how they now provide all new medals each year.  The coolest medal in my collection, currently, is last year's military base race medals.  That said.... check out what's coming - then go buy your tri-fecta pass!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Spartan Fit and the transformation of one of America's finest

Last year I got to run a Spartan race with a group of America's finest.  Before the race, one of the LEOs who had signed up for this particular chest thumping torture test was a guy named Nate.

I didn't know Nate's story at the time but was able to learn a bit of it over the next year and the story was so inspiring that I wanted to take a moment to share.

First off, Nate was a college athlete and, as such, a big strong guy.
Nate was also diagnosed with diabetes and the medical condition began, over the years, to take a toll on his body.  Now, as an adult, a dedicated husband, a devoted father, and a fulltime sheep dog (with a K-9 partner of his own), Nate didn't have a lot of time to devote to himself.  Long hours, long nights, changing shifts, a four legged partner, a baby, and the extra jobs that our Law Enforcement officers have to take in order to support a family didn't allow Nate much remaining focus to take care of his diabetes or, therefore, his overall health.
One day, God gave Nate a serious wake up call.  Nate knew, that day, that it was time to change.... everything.

Most people would start small and verify results before making any big plunges.  That's what gets "most" people into trouble, often times.  Nate?  Nate, before his journey back to a healthy lifestyle even started, he got a call from a fellow officer inviting him to come with them on a Spartan race several months out.  That was all Nate needed - that was his motivational goal, that would be his measuring stick, he signed on the dotted line, and went to work.

Remember that first picture?

After several months, the day arrived (the day I met  Nate) and Nate, like thousands before him, toed the starting line of the biggest OCR brand in the world.

Also like thousands before him and thousands more to come (myself included), as soon as he finished the race, he was hooked.

In the next year, Nate would continue to trim down his waist, build up his strength, bore out his engine, and would run several half marathons and several more Spartans (even entering - and fairing quite well - in his first Competitive heat).

Nate didn't buy into any gimmicks.  There were no "super pills", no "detox" drinks, no fad videos, just clean eating and dirty training.  As the pictures show, Nate's dedication to his health, through diet control, protein consumption, HIIT, running, and support from his wife, Lauren, Nate was able to transform his life.  To beat back against the weight of his diabetes, and to make sure he keeps his ability to serve and protect the rest of us with the best of his ability, while being around for a very, Very long time for his beautiful family.

Nate, from the whole Spartan family, "AROO!"

Congratulations on all your accomplishments this past year.

Joe D and the Spartan family are proud to present you with a FREE RACE CODE good for Any open heat Spartan Race this year!
Notice the missing hardware in that 3rd picture!

For everyone else who wants to follow Nate's example and get on board, follow a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) program, love protein, HIIT is your friend, follow this blog, look for daily Spartan Workouts, daily Spartan Meals, and check out Joe DeSena's new book (releasing August 2nd) called "Spartan Fit!"

Spartan Fit book provides excellent whole life skills.  This is not a "get fit quick" strategy.  This is a book to get you to change your life, your habits, your thought process.  The lifeskills are great, the motivational stories will get you fired up ready to run through walls, the Hero Workouts are very cool, but the 30 day "do THIS" fitness program included in the book will be what most people find invaluable.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spartan Race 2016 and crazy Joe De Sena's newest book Spartan Fit

Well, spring has sprung (sort of... East Tennessee is still trying to decide what season it is on a daily basis), the runners are out, and OCR is in full swing.

What do you need to know?

If you're new to Obstacle Course Racing check out my OCR post and/or some of the race recaps .  
If you have specific questions about races, venues, obstacles, or anything else, leave a comment or shoot me a note and we'll get it all figured out for you.

Also, be sure to check out often for races in your area.

Remember that if you are going for your trifecta (or Delta)   you should really look into the Run Your Region passes (to save money and bolster your commitment at the same time)

For me, I have several races that I'm looking at for 2016, some favorites, and maybe some new courses.  Last year I LOVED the Asheville Super course and it was immediately on my must-run-again list but, unfortunately, I'll be out of town on a scheduling conflict this year and miss it.  My other favorite new course last year was the Sprint at Fort Campbell  which I WILL definitely hit again this year.  I'm loving Spartan's new "Fort" series, I'm glad to see it expanded this year, and hope to see it expanded each year to come.

In other news, a couple of years ago Spartan founder Joe De Sena (look him up... he's _kind of_ a big deal...) wrote a book that I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a little early and share with you all called "Spartan Up!" .  
Well, he's at it again ("daaaaaaang Joe, at it again!") with a new book, coming soon, called Spartan Fit (#SpartanFit) and I'll have some more information about that coming soon as well  - stay tuned.

In the mean time, check out the races, start hitting the trails, picking up heavy things and putting them down, shedding that Thanksgiving/Christmas/NewYears/NahI'mStillBulingBruh weight, and working on everyone's favorite movement... burpees (buck. furpees.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cardio: You're doing it wrong (try boxing!)

If we aren't careful we can find ourselves in a bit of a rut.  Ironically, most people say their "rut" is in cardio.  

Here's why this doesn't make sense:  Cardio possibilities are nearly endless.
Too often people hear "cardio" and (after they cringe, weep, gnash teeth, and maybe die a little inside) they think only of a treadmill.  

Let me tell you something, if a treadmill were the only source of cardio, I would just have to kill myself.  There is nothing worse than the treadmill.  All you treadmill heroes, bless you, and... you can have it.  "But" no.  Just... no.

Cardio can be running, biking, a thousand different sprint variations (400s, gassers, fartleks, ), burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and the list literally goes on for thousands more.  For that matter, almost any workout movement you do can be cardio if simply done rapidly and in chains where you don't allow your heartrate to completely recover between each 
I love distance running (in the woods), but in all honestly, "just" running long distances at a near constant pace is pretty terrible (inefficient) form of cardio.  Your body is so efficient that it just learns to complete to task with the least amount of effort possible and so you don't get the heart rate training or weight loss you think you're working so hard on.  Then, if you couple long distance runs with a treadmill, not only do you not get the training benefits, but your quality of life just goes into the toilet as the digital distance readout sucks the happiness right out of your soul.  No, really.

So, pick something else (anything else) and make cardio fun again.  After all, what you're trying to do is spike your heart rate, bring it down (some), spike, fall, up, down - you're training your heart rate to rise slower and recover quicker.  

I basically stood on the soap box there to remind you (or introduce you) of a fantastically efficient cardio (and full body - if done correctly) workout that actually IS a lot of fun (news flash:  hating life while doing it doesn't actually make you better at cardio):

Spice up your training with the Heavy Bag.  Knuckle up.  Throw some blows.  take out some aggression.  Burn calories while you burn aggression.  Have some fun.  

There's nothing quite like laying into a heavy bag.  Your arms get a workout, your shoulders get roasted, you rotate your hips, use your legs, tighten your abs, your lungs are screaming, your heart is taxed, and in seconds you are sweating like crazy.  

Ever laugh when you heard boxers talk about how heavy their gloves feel?  After a few minutes of speed work you'll swear those 8oz-16oz gloves weigh 5 pounds a piece.  

Find a bag at your gym, or just buy a bag - you can get a nice heavy bag for not a lot of money.  Same goes for gloves.  Get a nice, padded pair of gloves ("training"/"bag"), your knuckles will thank you.  I bought a new 100# heavy bag last week on sale for $65 from WalMart (the one in the picture above), then I bought a nice pair of synthetic gloves off Amazon on sale for $18 and a really nice genuine leather pair off Amazon for $40.  

"What weight bag should I get?"  Nothing less than 70, get the 100 if you can find it.

"What weight glove should I get?"  Are you an actual fighter?  If so, you don't need my advice and you're getting 16oz-20oz already.  If not, I would suggest 12oz.  They're heavy enough to add a little weight, to be available in nice gloves (with good padding/protection), but not too heavy to take some of the fun out of it and ruin your form.  Just my 2 cents.

"I got some gloves, how do I punch?"  The gloves take care of your hand form, mostly, but some things you need to think about are keeping loose until you land the punch, then after it lands, go loose again.  Throw snapping punches, not pushing punches (watch this youtube video).  Keep your wrist solid on the impact.  Twist your punch on impact.  Keep your hands up and move.  Yes, even if you aren't fighting, you don't plan on ever fighting, and the bag isn't moving or hitting back, keeping your hands up and moving is a big part of the workout - maximize your efforts.

"Okay, I got a bag, I got some gloves, now what?"  Start out based on your ability.  If you're in terrible shape, you might start with 1 minute rounds, moderate try 2 min rounds, and I wouldn't recommend anyone doing more than 3 minute rounds.  If you're good and 3 minutes is good, instead of going up in minutes, just add rounds.

"Okay... what's a round look like?  Just float like a butterfly?"  Try alternating 30 seconds of hard power punching, 30 seconds of speed.  In the beginning you might try 15 seconds of left hand power punches, 15 seconds of right hand power punches until you get comfortable.

"I've got that down pretty well - what next?"  Keep the rounds to 3 minutes, keep the 30 sec power/30 sec speed, add rounds.  During the power 30 seconds, hit Hard, always combos, (touch, power, power - touch, power, power, power, etc.), and keep them coming (don't throw 1 hard punch then dance around for 10 seconds and throw another).  In the speed, move up from just playing pattycake with those 7 pound hands to actually making the speed punches pop.  In both speed and power, swap striking location often (head, body, ear, groin, kidney, etc).

It will be a TON of fun... AND crushing.  You'll love it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

$40 off 2016 Spartan Races - Ends TONIGHT!

Okay, so the folks over at Spartan HQ sent me over the news just now that they are running a CYBER discount code that gives up $40 off any and all 2016 Spartan Races!

This code is Only good until midnight Tonight so jump on it, take the leap, and come Spartan Up with us next year!

These codes are good for any race, nationwide!

Code:  CYBER