I don’t think I’ve ever talked to you guys about my training strategies in particular. Since I’m getting more serious about OCR now I figure it’s a good time to show what I used to do and what my plans are moving forward.
First off, there isn’t a whole to say about what my training used to be. I wasn’t very consistent over the long term, meaning I’d have about 4 months of consistent training but then slack off a week or 2, followed by a couple months of inconsistency, only to pick it back up after a month of slacking.
It’s always been something along those lines. Although I’ve seen results from my training and I was general pretty satisfied with what I’ve achieved, I always knew in the back of my mind that I could be doing so much more only if I really applied myself, stayed consistent, and put in the work on a daily basis.
And I think that OCR, obstacle course racing in case you haven’t caught on yet, has been able to bring that out of me. That desire to be better, to be willing to put in the work, to be competitive, to want it so bad that not a day goes by which I don’t think about getting better at it.
Maybe it’s the sheer fun of it, or it could be I’ve found what I really enjoy doing. Whatever it is, it’s bringing out this passion in me that I’ve never had towards sports before.
And with that, I knew my training regimen, or whatever could be considered a regimen, needed a lot of change.
So here’s a brief overview of what my training used to consist of, and what I plan to start within the next week or so.
Training- Then And Now
Before I get into the comparison of my training, I’ll go over what criteria I’m going to compare beyond just the method differences.
My attitude and view on what training meant and how significant to me was one of the most important changes. I definitely feel very different about physical training now than I did a few months ago.
This in turn affected my mindset towards not just the specifics of my physical training, but the place that training has in my life in general.
Let’s go over how these parameters were for me before, and how they’ve changed to what they are now.
Training and Diet From Before
Just a few months ago, I wasn’t very serious about physical training.
Don’t get me wrong, physical fitness was important to me. It has always been and always will be. But I definitely wasn’t training seriously then.
I had no goals in particular. I should say that the goals I had wasn’t tangible, or something solid that I can put a check mark next to when I accomplish it.
These were goals like:
- Getting into the best shape of my life
- Getting a ripped body
- Getting super strong
While these goals serve to provide great motivation, they aren’t something tangible. Personally, I don’t think I’ll reach a point where I can say “I’m in the best shape of my life” or “I’m strong enough”.
In hindsight, these “goals” actually set me back in a way. Because I didn’t have something tangible to work towards, I didn’t feel the sense of urgency to work hard and getting those goals accomplished. My attitude was that of “I’ll always have time to get in shape”.
This in turn affect the way I approached the actual training itself, and the place it had in my life.
My diet wasn’t something I had thought a whole lot about either. I cared less about it than I did my training, even though they both go hand in hand.
I’d eat whatever I felt like, even the crappy things that I know weren’t good for me. I wasn’t addicted to food or anything, but I sure didn’t care too much about how food affect my health and performance.
Due to my attitude and mindset about training, my specific training methods, if you can call it that, reflected how lackadaisical I was about it.
I was in no way consistent with my workouts. I was in the gym here and there, and put in body weight training whenever I felt like it.
Not much structure (which is fine), or consistency (which is NOT fine).
I wasn’t training for any one thing either, so I’d go into my training with just doing whatever I felt like. No focus on improving any aspect whatsoever.
Looking back, I was just like a hamster in its wheel. Doing a bunch of workouts that made me feel like I was doing something but I wasn’t doing much at all in terms of actual results.
So a typical day of training might look something like this:
- 3×10 pullups
- 5×5 squats @ 85%-90% max
- One hand dumbell snatches (warmup to 80-85 lbs, then 5×3 each hand)
- Rowing intervals (1:2, work:rest)
- Cool down and stretch
The first four exercises could really have been anything, in no particular order.
Like I said, the lack of structure in itself is not wrong. Some of the best athletes in the world doesn’t have a set structure to their training and just do whatever they feel at the time.
But the difference is they have tangible goals they’re aiming for. Like cutting down on their marathon time, getting faster in the 60 meter dash, lowering bodyfat percentages to single digits, etc.
And their training reflects those goals. Even without a set structure, they’re doing activities that targets those specific goals.
What I was doing didn’t do much of anything except make me feel like I was working hard. But there weren’t any real results to show for it.
As far as diet goes, like I said, it could consist of anything on any given day. There was no telling what the day’s meals would consist of.
It can range anything from steamed broccoli and grilled chicken to glazed donuts and apple pies.
The way I approached training and the way I trained affected its place in my life more than I had thought it would.
Training was on my mind, but I never showed that my making it something I had to do. It was always in the backburner for something else.
If anything, and I mean ANYTHING, came up out of the blue, it could’ve very easily replace the training I had planned to do that day.
Out of all things to sacrifice to tend to an unexpected event, physical training was the first to go. Without a thought, I would do whatever it was in place of training, regardless of how unimportant it may be.
This showed me that not only was I not serious about my physical fitness, I didn’t have enough discipline and more importantly, not enough drive to make physical training an important part of my life.
I think that was due to the lack of tangible goals. Because there wasn’t anything specific that I was going for, I just went along with the flow so to speak and just drifted.
As long as I was moving and felt like I was working out, I was satisfied.
And just like my training, my diet was very inconsistent. Like I said before, some days I was eating like a super health conscious vegan and the next I could be the favorite consumer for fast food companies.
But all this is much, much different now.
I couldn’t place a higher emphasis on physical training now. I think of it as not only a means to be healthier, but it accomplishes several of the goals that I’ve recently set for myself.
- Cut my time in the different Spartan Events
- Spartan Sprint: Under 30 minutes
- Spartan Super: Between 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes
- Spartan Beast: Under 4 hour 30 minutes
- Running on all flats and downhills, light jog and walk at minimum on all inclines on all Spartan Events
- Passing ALL obstacles in all Spartan Events
- Practice daily intermittent fasting with a weekly 36-48 hr fast
- Stay consistent with a high fat, low carb diet with whole, nutrient dense foods
- Include healthy, non-grain, complex carbs once a week
As you can see, the goals I have now are much more concise and measurable. I can tell when I actually achieve these goals because my progress is trackable relative to them.
The first 3 goals are mainly dedicated to Spartan Events. I’ll be measuring my performance next year at the same 3 venues I did this year
The Spartan Sprint will be at the Citizens Bank Park Stadium in Philadelphia. The Spartan Super will be at Blue Mountain in Palmerton, PA. The Spartan Beast will be at Mt Killington, Vermont.
The Super and Beast venues are supposedly the hardest of its kind, which is perfect for me because I need this challenge to give me the motivation to improve.
The harder the course and obstacles, the more I want to dominate it.
That’s the difference in mindset I have now compared to a few months ago.
In terms of my diet, I fasted when I didn’t feel like eating, but also binge ate when presented with delicious food.
No more of that, at least not on a regular basis. I plan to stay consistent and put a strict guideline on myself, but with some wiggle room once a week.
To achieve those goals, I’ve in mind a plan on how to get there.
Accomplishing goals #2 and 3 will be what helps me accomplish goal #1.
For goal #2, I know I get gassed during the uphills. And if you recall what I learned from my first Vermont Beast, one of the vital lessons is to run more hills in general.
So my training is going to include tons of hill running, both up and down, at least twice per week. I’m aiming to put in similar mileage to what a Spartan Super at Blue Mountain would be each weekend.
If you recall from my HIIT article, there’s tremendous endurance benefits to HIIT besides just fat loss. So you can bet the uphill portion of my hill training will be done in this fashion. The downhills will be to improve form and comfort sprinting downhill at faster speeds.
For goal #3, I had trouble mostly with the grip obstacles and the spear throw in this year’s past races. So grip training is on the top of my training as well.
Since I don’t have a personal target or spear for practice, I’m planning to read up on how others seem to get this obstacle so easily. I might practice with a broomstick just to see if I stay consistent with the alignment and trajectory.
In addition to correcting my mistakes from the Spartan Beast and Super, I plan to add in some swimming whenever I can. I know that my swimming can use some work and improving it will help my time, especially at the Spartan Beast.
I plan to consistently practice intermittent fasting everyday. Eating at most twice a day within a 3-5 hour window some time in the afternoon.
The 1 or 2 meals within that time frame will be my only time of eating throughout the day. No snacking, no munching on the small stuff any other time.
And laid out in goal $5, my food choices will stay consistently healthy, with no grains or processed sugars of any kind.
As far as carbs go, I’ll be eating a generally high-fat, low-carb style of eating. But I won’t be staying consistently low carb. I plan to have some healthy sources of carbs at least once a week, after the 36-48 hr fast and right after one of the hill workouts.
This will help not only break my fast, but most of the carbs ingested will be stored as glycogen in my body. I’ll also get the beneficial hormonal effects from eating carbs sparingly overall.
At this point, you can probably tell I’m pretty serious about all this physical training. So obviously, it’ll have an important place in my life.
I longer give up my training for anything unless it’s an absolute emergency. And I make sure I’m paying full attention to my training during the process and not distracted in any way.
The only thing that is similar between the training I did before and the type I will be doing is the lack of structure. Besides the hill running and HIIT training, everything else will be based on what I feel my weaknesses are.
I’m taking a similar approach for my diet.
Typical healthy high-fat, low carb foods like bone broth, grass-fed fatty meats, organ meats, various nuts and seeds, avocados, kelp, and other nutrient dense foods are part of my regular diet. The carbs-rich foods that I will have would most likely consist of sweet potatoes, rice, grain-free pasta, chickpeas, beans, etc.
But it’s not limited to those few foods. Anything that fits in those categories is fair game.
At this point, you can see the priority I’ve given physical training and my diet has become second nature.
How’s Your Training And Diet Going?
What prompted me changing my training and diet wasn’t just because of the change in my goals, but also my lack of real tangible results from what I was doing.
If you’re experiencing something similar, maybe it’s worth the time to reflect on what physical fitness and health goals you have and see if your current approach can be tweaked to improve your progress.