Muddyrace Scottish Training Day – Ayrshire/ Kilmarnock

I had the priviledge of once again leading a Muddyracce (http://www.muddyrace.co.uk/) training day at the original Scottish Assault Courses ( http://www.scottishassaultcourses.com/ ) over at Craufurdland Castle, Ayrshire.  I was looking forward to this one for different reasons, firstly I hadn’t been on this course before AND we were sold out.  It really is fantastic to see so many people, of differing levels wanting to come along and learn techniques to help make their OCR races even more enjoyable, achieveable and to conquer them.  I can understand the sense of achievement, its amazing and get it every time I cross a finish line.

Fraser and I had a few run throughs over the course and I, of course needed a few wee practices to ensure I was up to scratch for everyone, unfortunately my practice attempts did not fill me with confidence – I was not having a good day at the office, or so I thought, haha.

We got everyone started of with a dynamic warm-up and some games, a bit of shin-tig always gets everyone going and I am glad to say this occasion was no different, shrieks galore during the game!  IMG_1720A warm-up prior to racing events is important to ensure your muscles are fully warmed up, heart rate has risen.  The shorter the race, the more intense the effort and the more important I find the warm-up.  The harder you want to work during that race, the better and more vigorous the warm-up needs to be.  Remember, for most, an OCR race is not using the typical movements that you have been doing in training and being unprepared can leave you more open to the injuries, warm-up.

It was time for the obstacles, demo’s went much better than my practice attempts.  Everyone warmed me up on the monkey bars to get going, it is definitely mind over matter when you were facing that water pit below.  We covered different ways of conquering these for those of differing abilities to attempt.  Including just hanging from the bar, some may laugh this attemot of but if this is a big step for you – the ability to hang and support your own bodyweight is important – then that is your big win for the day.  Strength even in this position can develop and lead to movement.  You do what is the next step for you and not compared to someone else.  A definite ‘chuffed moment was getting up the 11 foot wall using the rope, clearly needed an audience for that one.IMG_1733

The guys that attended were fantastic, everyone got stuck in at each of the obstacles, the monkey bars were a biggie, this is what drew the attention of everyone, watching those trying to conquer the bars with their slight twist without getting ditched into the water pit below.  I thought everyone did an amazing job on the 6 foot wall and we had a few who tried and CONQUERED the 11 foot wall.
IMG_1808We also covered how to work as a team to conquer walls safely without injuring/ hurting your fellow teammates or racers.

We had saved the best for last, a full run through of the course, we were the first to try out new sections of the course which had been changed just last week.  Again, we ran through the whole course with the key principles of overcoming personal obstacles, practicing what had just been learnt and embracing the very nature of OCR races – to support and help each other!

We started of with the walk the plank/ tree, surprisingly challenging, lulled into a false sense of security of staying dry with planks over more water-logged areas, it was time!  Time to to get filthy wet, in they went and up onto the island, this relief was momentary as they were then back in the water to duck under the planks.  This needed a big breath as it was a full submersion, ideal practice for those races that require you to get right under the water, such as Tough Mudder and Tough Guy.  The guys worked their way around the island and then we were quickly into a bogged down, supremely muddy area.

Running the path to the next obstacle, a vertical up and down cargo net with challenging spaces between the ropes.  But to get there you had to get straight through the mud puddles, these were NO normal puddles!  IMG_1868You virtually disappeared into this muddy puddle!IMG_1862

Everyone attacked the next muddy section with gusto, keeping those legs moving quickly and again offered support to those trying to escape at the other end, we went onto an obstacle that challenged those with claustraphobia issues.  Into a tunnel which was partially submerged.  IMG_1971 The team then had to weave through a web of string, before getting back into the mud.  The amount of mud on this course is epic!  Everyone then had to try out the skills and techniques they had learnt during the practice periods with the real life feeling of being wet and muddy!

Well done everyone, it really is great to meet fellow OCR racers of all levels who share the same enthusiasm for getting MUDDY! (See what I did there 😉 )

Hope to see you all at races around Scotland and at more muddyrace training events!  Definitely come over and say hi!

IMG_1853         IMG_1854               IMG_1919

My most Embarrassing Placing,

I had two events, if you like, this weekend. The first one was to support my team at the final of the Chequered Flag Duathlon series, series 3 at Knockhill Racing Circuit.  I was attending in my work capacity, taking part as a support, this is not really my type of event but great for a wee change.  Then today I had the Angus HAM at monikie park, this one was for me.  Unfortunately, I have been feeling worse for wear all week and this weekend was not well-timed,  I also noticed I have been saying this alot recently.  It highlighted for me that my work-life balance is a little skewed, I have a habit of always putting work first, placing my clients needs above my own.  I have worked to re-dress that balance this weekend and moving forward – everyday is a school day folks!

Chequered Flag Duathlon Series 3

After a week of glorius sunshine, there was foreboding as the weather forecast left alot to be desired, but lucky as we are it could have been far worse.  There was a delay to the start due to the weather interferign with track events, from the cafe, we could see what looked like heavy sleet/ rain coming down, to the point you couldn’t really see out the windows, with it clearing the track tannoy was being bounced around by the wind.  Alex had suggested we cycle round the off-road route during this time, aye RIGHT! 🙂 sorry Alex haha

All of a sudden we were off, neither Karen nor I had taken it too seriously, we moved around to keep warm but probably not enough to completely warm-up.  Difficult after such a long wait to start.  We started with 2 laps of the track which was ideal, but had its challenges with the wind tunnel that was created on the back corners of the track.  Putting it politely ‘ I was blowing out my ass’ by the time it came to getting on the bike.

The off-road section was nighta nd day compared to the series 2 off-road section, despite the rain we had had it was much harder under the tyres, making it easier to gain traction.  Onto the track for the final 5 laps, this is where it really made a difference many of the guys taking part had 2 bikes with them, a mountain bike and a road bike.  When you compare this to Karen and I on our mountain bikes – eeek, it didnt bode well.  Again, we were hit by the wind and I swear the wall of wind became stronger with every lap of the track.  I was ecstatic to finish, biking is not my forte!  I waited for Karen and went around the final lap with her, ‘no-one gets left behind!’.

There were only 3 females there on Saturday, so inevitably we would all place, this is where my title came from, there were prizes for 1st female and 2nd female and the same for the males.  Now, let me explain, despite this being a placing I know I would never have achieved had any other females been there, the key point I reminded myself was that I showed up and took part.  This is what I would tell my friends and my clients, I am no different and therefore deserve the placing.

Karen I am happy to say also took a prize of a bottle of vodka for super-vet category.  I think she felt less embarrassed by this prize, eh Karen 😉  This race of the series was the one more oriented toward duathletes and triathletes, as it has to be said were the other races in the series.  It was mainly folks from triathlon clubs that were signed up or at least those who take part in this type of event.  That is a bit of a shame as it is a great cross-training event and great for doing something different!  Would be great to see more folks of all abilities signing up to next duathlon that is run by Chequered Flag.

On a final note, the marshalls were fantastic!  They cheered and motivated us all round the track on what must have been rubbish conditions for spectators.

Angus HAM

Day 2 of the weekend, I dithered were to take part in this half marathon as I didn’t want to make myself worse.  My competitive nature won out, I knew I would be massively disappointed not to take part.  I set some goals and parameters to help me come out of this without negatively impacting my health.  It actually worked within a larger plan that I needed to cover the distance for my marathon training, so to keep me fairly up to date, I was concentrating on the larger picture.

This means for the first time, I wasn’t concentrating on finishing time, it was all about simply covering the distance.  I also know well what I am like, competitiveness does overtake me, so I set some goals to achieve within the race/ run itself.

1.  Maintain my posture throughout the whole race.  Losing this would tell me I had pushed too hard and was tiring through my core.

2.  Stay relaxed throughout the whole run, tension would demonstrate I was pushing too hard.

3.  Stay within my comfort zone, keep my breathing nice and regular.

I was happy to say I met all 3 goals and really held it together not to sprint the finish, just jogging through.  This was a very successful run for me.  In a completely different way to that which I would normally define a successful run,  I would also normally be massively disappointed in my time.  These are the very principals that I try to teach to my clients and it felt good to embrace them and use them to help me achieve my goals.  To end, it is not always pushing the limits 100% of the time, often we go out looking to beat our PBs or abilities every single time.  It is not possible, sometimes we must consolidate and consider the circumstances.

Again, year in, year out the Angus HAM is a well run, smooth race.  The marshalls were great, a big mention must go to the marshall at the mile 8 marker.  He was brilliant, a loud, encouraging voice, just what you needed moving into the tough last quarter of the race!

Mission achieved!