Giving yourself a challenge is a cool way to help stick to a plan and have fun in the process.
Good challenges for most folk include:
5km park runs – if you like them build to 10km and maybe a half marathon.
Gym based challenges if you get into them you can consider some more cross fit style events.
Obstacle course racing e.g., Spartan. Men’s Health survival of the fittest etc etc.
The one I just did was called Superhuman Games
As we’re all getting ready for “Back to School, back to life and back to reality” here’s an account of the Superhuman games. Hell, if I can do it. Anyone can do it.
About 8 weeks before the event my old pal Sak Nayagam send through the Superhuman games proposal.
As we’re grounded this summer due to Covid I said “yes, let’s do it” planning a weekend away seeing a pal and doing something active seemed like an excellent idea.
I frequently advise clients to sign up to external events and challenges to help them stick to plans and routines – mostly I’ll suggest aerobic based challenges as these tend to be lower intensity (generally speaking) and allow folks to burn off plenty of calories, and increase step count whilst preparing.
When the challenge sheet came through I was like “holy crapolla” that’s seriously outside of my current capabilities and comfort zone. I guess that’s the point though. Kind of a Peter principle kind of thing.
This worked for me as a source of external motivation. I wanted to be able to complete the tasks, and not let my friend down in the process. So, mindset “on” planned the training and worked the plan.
My biggest fear initially was:
- Can I lift the weights as listed (170kg tire flips) 55kg deadball.
- Can my body hold up to the challenge injury wise?
So, the goal started with train so I can get through the day uninjured.
- Being able to do this at 50 would be cool…
- Training towards something puts out of your perceived reach puts you firmly outside of your comfort zone.
BODY STATE BACKGROUND
Covid year was a bit sh*t. Had long covid, out of breath walking upstairs, rattling lungs, fatigue + achiness. Trapped nerve with muscle wasting through pec and right arm – down to 2 press ups (from knocking out 40’s) etc etc. So long story short was building back from a low base of physical fitness.
Covid comes for the things you love or use too much….. for me that was muscle function and lung function….
Running 2 miles to Thai boxing was hard at first. Had to stop a few times. By week 7 was running there, training and running back with gas in the tank = cardio coming back.
The plan training wise was roughly as follows:
1st 4 week block.
Build the running legs by running to and from Thai boxing sessions.
Building daily fitness by doing 2 sessions per day.
Doing specific stuff relating to the games, e.g. I purchased a 55kg deadball for garden training.
Getting generally stronger – building back pec weakness via progressive weight training.
Doing 1 session per week just for leg strength + back protection.
As my main goals were mostly strength related, I kept calories balanced to match training requirements.
2nd 4 week block.
Exactly as above but putting in a Game mimicking session once per week….
Peaking too early?
2 weeks out did an all day games mimicking session which felt pretty good. There’s no doubt that training high intensity across a day, over 5 hours 30 minutes each hour has a big depletion effect.
After this session took a few days to recover. This was on the Wednesday, then planned to repeat the Sunday before the Games weekend.
Did usual training after the games mimicker then went to repeat the all day session on the Sunday. During this session developed a couple of niggles, inner left thigh + hip….. generally a bit sore all over and body aware.
Maybe peaked to early feeling. This is where the mind set really comes into the preparation phase of these kinds of event.
The final week is a tapering week.
You can feel more tired in these weeks cause you’ve not got the training and endorphin buzz. You can feel a bit heavier during the carb loading phase, which I started from Thursday before Saturday’s event.
Each day the hip and thigh improved though – healing protocols in full effect. Doubled fish oils, increase creatine and curcumin….
My training partner Sak also was flying close to the sun. After all you have to. He’d niggled a back / hip flexor thing around 10 days out too. His blog on the games is below too.
PRE EVENT DAY
Travelling down the day before had a 20kg bag so it helped putting some load through the body up and down stairs etc.
Gradually carbing up throughout the day as well. Increased all carb sources, a few cookies etc.
We went for meal out extra bread etc was consumed at this meal.
Up early to arrived early. Lombardi time is key in these situations. We arrived in good time to get a big latte + a banana bread.
Parking was 10 mins walk away from the games so all creature comforts had to be carried down there. We had no gazebo or chairs and it was pissing down with rain.
I’d practiced 55kg deadlballs and the rain or sweat makes these very hard to grip. I’d had a dream the tires would be full of water (they were).
On the day they’d swapped to 60kg sandbags which had taken on water and were slippery. The tires look flatter and easier from a distance, how wrong we were about that one!
After warming up – I tried the mini bag. It’s felt super heavy. Went to lift the tire which had sat and imbedded in the mud somewhat. Couldn’t shift it.
There was a “fucking hell – I’m not sure I can do this” moment.
Sak went in and lifted that bad boy. I was like come on son! Matty boy you got to do this.
Inspired by him I went in and wow it went up! Being in a team with one of your best pals rocks for performance! Later lifts of the tire if you didn’t get hands totally under the tire they’d slip off in the rain. A lot of technique needed as well as brute strength.
Then we were in…. Our chats beforehand were around getting through that heavy stage once that was done all major bent over loading would be out the way and less injury risk to back or my inner thigh.
Event 1 was a major PB. The closest I’d had to tire flipping was loading the landmine bar up and lifting the plates from the floor to mimick the low drive you need for the tire……
We got that done, then onto burpies + shuttles and the rower. PB’d on the rower. VO2 MAX out the way.
Between events we were taking water, electrolytes, vinitro, focus sustain, pure nitrates, flapjacks, jelly babies, chocolate and sweet hot drinks.
The onto lunges + running and lateral walks and running. This one was more depleting on the day than it had been in training. Took a lot out of upper body. Surprise Attack under the belts… onwards. Towards the last reps of the 20m lateral walks upper body was screaming out…..
Once we had 3 events under our belts we had 2 to go I was feeling more confident about the day. I’d practiced farmers walks and overhead carries quite a bit in training so I was least worried about this or the last event.
However, reaching down or bending was really stiff through the legs and back. Everything was tight and sore. Little bit of cramping coming on – we increased salts and hydration and kept walking about. I think laying or sitting down would have been a mistake. It was good to keep some heat and movement in the body.
Even though I was confident on the last 2 events, how wrong I was about this. I did not anticipate the level of depletion across the day.
Unconventional Beast workout 4…..
We went in and tried picking up the 70kg sand bag. It was as you’d expect heavy and slippery. I think the earlier maximal lifting on the tires and 60kg sandbag had depleted my grip.
This unconventional beast workout consisted of 70kg sandbag carries, 40kg overhead carries and farmers walk with 40kg in each hand. Lift these 15m both then 1 runs 75m.
I looked at Sak and said lets try to get 1 round in…. it’s as much as I thought we could manage. The start went off and we struggled through 5 rounds in the end.
Note to self = train grip hard next time on awkward objects.
The last event was called brutal beatdown. 25kg Kegs overhead x 5 reps, then bear crawl 3m and back, repeat then crawl 6m and back, repeat then crawl 9m and back then run for 75m for 20 minutes.
Picking up the keg it felt like 45-50kg. I'd been snatching 50-55kg for 5's in training and it felt the same.
We got through this just. The day was done and we got through uninjured. X
WHO WAS THERE?
The calibre of athlete was pretty high. The British army rowing champion was there with his equally fit mate. Both PTI’s in the Army and super fit. Quite a few cross fit athletes, obstacle racing types also presents. Also, glad to see plenty of older folk (like me and Sak) and some other guys trying things out for the first time.
There were some guys there with serious muscle mass and fitness combined. Not too many bodybuilder type physiques to be seen really. Just a lot of very strong men and women who could also run well too.