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How To Upgrade Your Spartan Race Training

photo of me shooting photo on an early morning Tahoe World Championship. [photo credit: Ross Johnson]

photo of me shooting photo on an early morning Tahoe World Championship. [photo credit: Ross Johnson]

THE OBSTACLE COURSE RACE IS A NEW BREED OF SPORT. AN OCR REQUIRES ITS PARTICIPANTS TO BE A JACK OF ALL TRADES. IF YOU WANT TO EXCEL IN THE OCR WORLD, OR JUST GET READY FOR YOUR FIRST RACE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER INCLUDING SOME EFFECTIVE TOOLS IN YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM. RUNNING IS A BIG PART OF THE GAME, BUT IT WILL ONLY GET YOU SO FAR IF YOU WANT TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE COURSE. HERE IS A LIST OF SOME OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOOLS YOU CAN USE TO UPGRADE YOUR OBSTACLE COURSE TRAINING, AND GET YOU READY TO NAIL IT COME RACE DAY.

KETTLEBELLS

The kettlebell is essentially a cannonball with a handle attached to it. The “kb” has been used as a dynamic tool to develop strength and endurance in Russia, and is one of the more universally used tools in the strength and conditioning world. Many trainers and athletes use the kettlebell for ballistic movements (like a kettlebell swing) but with a little innovation the heavy ball of iron can be used to develop strength, flexibility, balance, and a bunch of different aspects of athletic performance. When it comes to running an OCR, you need to have explosive power to jump over hurdles and across mud pits. Using a kettlebell is a text book way to build that power, and intensify your obstacle course training game.

SANDBAGS

You can expect to see something heavy on the course. In fact expect to carry something heavy. One of the most challenging obstacles that come up in the race is the heavy carry. You can have the endurance of a marathon runner, but if you expect to fly through the course like it’s a Thanksgiving day turkey trot, think again…you most likely are going to pick up something heavy along the way. Using a Sandbag for short sprints, 200m carries, and sets of lunges are great ways to develop strength, and if used in interval training, it can elevate your endurance as well. That is why they are a staple in elite athlete’s obstacle course training programs.

BATTLE ROPES

Battle ropes are another time tested strength and conditioning tool. In fact if you were to stumble into a NFL training facility, you would be sure to see them lined up on the turf. However you do not have to be a pro athlete to take advantage of the hardcore conditioning tool. Battle ropes can be used to develop grip strength, power, speed, endurance, and the many other aspects of physical capacity you will need when running an obstacle race. One of my favorite ways of using battle ropes is with a Tabata- 20 seconds on of wave squats followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes, and you will feel like you just finished a 5k.

WEIGHTED VEST

When it comes to training, intensity really is the magic ingredient, and one of the most effective  ways to increase your intensity is with a weight vest. By adding a weight vest to your training, you can exponentially accelerate your gains in strength, endurance, and power depending on how you use the tool. One of my favorite ways to use a weighted vest is stair sprints and body weight training. If you thought climbing stairs or doing a set of push ups was easy, try strapping on a vest.

PULLUP BAR

What would an OCR be without something to climb over….boring, that’s what! Developing your upper body strength is a must for OCR athletes. If you want to make it through the course, you are going to have to pull yourself over something. There certainly is a bunch of fancy ways to go about training upper body strength but the good old fashion pull up is still one of the most effective ways to get you ready to climb over those walls. I personally have one set up in my office. Every time I walk by it, I bang out three pull ups.

5 Mobility Biohacks to Improve Your Morning Routine

 

It is not new news that exercise is an important factor of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re in some sort of physical practice, be it CrossFit, yoga, or endurance training, and   are looking to upgrade your performance, enhance your longevity, and get in touch with the physical, it could be helpful to ask what type of movement are you doing (or not doing) during the rest of your day. – After all, there are only so many HIIT trainings and Vinyasa classes you can attend. The rest of your day is dedicated to work, family, and all the other things life throws at you.

We are wired for movement, and as humans, we have evolved to move all day long. It is just as much a part of our personal biology as eating well and having healthy relationships.

While it is certainly unrealistic to consider carrying around a kettlebell in your purse, and too much “intense exercise” is detrimental to the body, that does not mean you have to save movement for the gym hour! Here are 5 movement and mobility strategies you can include in your morning routine to jump start your day. Just like a green juice or a Bulletproof coffee, you can consider them as nutrition….movement nutrition, if you will. Like many other biohacks, they will help you enhance your productivity and mental clarity, and add to the pursuit of your human potential. They might even help you improve a few biomarkers.

5 Mobility Biohacks to Improve Your Morning Routine

1. REST IN A SQUAT

If you are looking to improve your mobility and the health of your your hips, knees, and ankles, look no further than the flat-footed squat. It really is a fundamental body posture, and for us humans, it is the natural RESTING position. Not only is the squat beneficial for maintaining good mobility, but like our fellow primates, it is the natural posture for elimination, and is how the human body was designed to function for proper digestion mechanics. A great way to improve and maintain your squatting practice is to include the RESTING squat in your morning routine. My favorite way to get this one in is to spend time in a squat while boiling water for my coffee or tea. I will typically spend 1-5 minutes resting in this position in the morning, after my daily workout session, and any time I spend a long period with my glutes stuck sitting in a chair.

2. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING

“Your breath is a primal life impulse. Its rhythm is a chief barometer of your well-being.” (-Jill Miller)

 

Most of us may not think of it this way, but breathing is very much a movement, and the diaphragm which is the “heart” of the respiratory system, is a muscle. When you take an inhale, the diaphragm contracts downward, and when you exhale it returns upward. This rising and falling of the abdomen mobilizes the surrounding organs, fascia connections, and muscles which creates a supple and healthy core. It is often easy to forget what it feels like to breath in deeply, and for many, it is only practiced when on a yoga mat or during a long drawn out sigh. Including a deep breathing practice in your morning routine is a “catch all” strategy for improving your lung capacity, blood chemistry, and mobility of the interconnected network of muscles that make up your core.

3. GET INVERTED

There is something awkwardly comfortable about being upside down. Inversions by definition can unnerve. They reverse the effects of gravity, invigorate the circulation, and flood the vital organs and brain with nourishment. Having a hand balancing practice is pretty fun and exciting, however you do not have to be a circus performer or advanced yogi to enjoy the biohacking benefits of inverting your body. Simply by resting your legs up against a wall, you can receive the calming and rejuvenating effects of getting upside down. I often spend my morning meditation in this position and at times when I feel overwhelmed with the daily grind, it is my go to stress hack.

4. ROLL YOUR FEET

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When we think about improving mobility and flexibility, the first thing that comes to mind is stretching. However there is another important factor to consider when including a mobility practice in your morning routine, and that is self massage. Like brushing your teeth, the rest of the body responds to touch. The anatomy of your fascia and muscles is similar to an interconnected highway. One of the largest intersections is at the bottom of the foot. Our feet are what ground us to the earth, and they are one of the highest concentrations of mechanoreceptors, which are the nerve endings that communicate pressure to the central nervous system. Spending some time taking care of your feet with a tennis ball or a massage therapy balls can release tensions and alleviate many of the pain points of the body including the lower back, knees, and hamstrings. When practiced often, like,say every morning, self massage can improve your posture, and even increase your proprioception which is your ability to sense your body and its parts.

5. GO FOR A WALK

We are nomadic by nature and the art of walking is part of our ancestral evolution. It is a natural mood enhancer and not to mention, it is free! Before you learned how to run, deadlift barbells, or practice crow, you learned to walk. After crawling, it is the first movement you acquired, so why not include it into your morning routine. Taking a little time in the morning to walk (even just for 5 minutes) can reconnect you with the body’s circadian rhythm, turn on your immune system, and can even help regulate some important biomarkers like blood glucose.

Your 4-Step Plan to Add More Mobility to Your Life

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PHOTO: MOTUS MAG Photography

News flash. Aside from aspiring people through imagery, I have another passion, and that is movement. That is why I am pretty excited to be apart of a new project called MOUTUS MAG

What is MOTUS?

Driven by a profound curiosity of the human body, Motus is committed to telling compelling stories and sharing ideas that inspire and impact the way we move and, by extension, the way we live. Physical literacy and human potential sit at the heart of the stories we tell. 

The IMAGERY

Shot at Utah Salt Flats

Shot at Utah Salt Flats

Shot at CrossFit Sanitas || Athletes: Cody Sunkel, Sam Star, Matt Bernstein 

Shot at CrossFit Sanitas || Athletes: Cody Sunkel, Sam Star, Matt Bernstein 

Where You Can Learn More

Motusmag.com

@MotusMag

@huntobrien

PHOTO: Spartan Race World Championship

Squaw Valley. Home to the 1960 winter olympics, adjacent to Lake Tahoe, and this year's location for the 2015 Spartan Race World Championship. If you have yet to experience a Spartan Race, this might just have been the one to be at. 

Some of the best athletes from over 30 counties were there battling it out to make it through 14 miles of grueling, yet beautiful Sierra terrain. Not to mention the obstacles, and the water ...the water usually gets people.

Luckily though, I had your back and happened to be on the media team for the event and got the chance to capture some of the highlights to share with you here.

May they inspire you to get outside and start shooting, or maybe even sign up for one of these bad ass races yourself. 

Live Active. Shoot Strong.

photos shot by: @huntobrien & @rjmovement

PODCAST: Kevin Quinn on heli skiing, fitness, and lifestyle entrepreneurship

This is post from Warren Miller Entertainment 

Read Time: 5 minutes / Podcast: 20 minutes

Kevin Quinn is a retired professional hockey player, CrossFit coach, and skiing guide. He is also the owner of Points North Heli Adventure, a heli skiing operation in Cordova, Alaska.

Without an education in business or even a college degree, Kevin retired from his 5 year career in hockey to pursue his dream to start a heli skiing operation.

Through his passion and "sheer determination" it took him 9 years to bootstrap a profitable business. Now he is the President of US Heli Ski Association, and spends his days in Squaw Valley and the Chugach mountain range where he give people the opportunity to have the best days of their life. In this segment he talks about the benefits of surrounding yourself with mentors, the importance of cultivating a movement practice for skiing big mountains, and how to pursue your dream lifestyle.

RESOURCES:

Points North Heli: Web / Instagram / Email

Kevin Quinn: bigtirepilot.com

CrossFit & Points North Heli: Influx Episode 2.1 & 2.2


SHOW NOTES:

  • Kevin's life before PNH [2:00-3:30]
  • The forerunners of heli skiing [6:00]
  • Guiding principles for starting a company [8:00]
  • Bootstrap funding Helicopters [9:00]
  • Mentorship- surroud yourself with people who are better than you [12:30]
  • CrossFit and training for skiing [14:40]
  • How do you answer "What do you do" [25:00]
  • What was the last book you read that you think helped your business and skiing [25:30]
  • What does the first hour of your day look like in Alaska [26:00]
  • Resources for being a better skiier and heli skiing [27:00]
  • Where can we find more information in PNH [28:00]

PEOPLE MENTIONED:

Jessica Sobolowski Quinn

Wayne Gretsky

Warren Miller Entertainment

Mike Weigele

Travis Weaver