Introducing my Sponsors: Stuart Aitken Fitness

I have been blown away by the generosity of Dundee’s small businesses in supporting me to reach the Marathon des Sables in order to raise money for local mental health charity , DAMH (Dundee Assocition for Mental Health).

As these become available to me, I will pop up small blogs where the businesses can highlight who they are and what they do, for example.  Please do pop over to thheir website and/ or facebook page.

First up is Stuart Aitken Fitness,  I have actually known Stuart for some time, we both attended Abertay University. I work alongside Stuart but also asked Stuart to help keep me honest with my own training a little while ago, yep even trainers need trainers, for my OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) so I am thrilled that Stuart has gotten involved in my new venture.

Stuarts take on the matter . . .

”When Louise asked me to be involved with her attempts to run the Marathon Des Sables (from now on this will be referred to as MDS), I could not have been happier. Louise is one of the most inspirational people I’ve encountered in the fitness industry. Through her consistent fundraising events, and community get-togethers she organises, she’s always been someone who I’ve enjoyed working alongside. This however, is a whole other ball game (which I know she knows!) so my reason for writing this is to let you in on some of the things I’ll be advising Louise with throughout her time in training for the MDS.

 

Training

Firstly we have to take into account her training. Now I won’t be involved with the running side, as this isn’t where I specialise or have enough knowledge to be of practical help, but I do have experience in helping athletes become stronger and faster from the weight room.

Louise is going to need a consistent weight-training plan, which may come as a surprise to some of you as she isn’t doing an event that requires lifting weights or being visually strong. This is a common myth with weight training, that it is only used to improve strength and muscle tone, it has so many more benefits to any individual who takes it up, especially endurance athletes who commonly miss it out for fear of getting to muscular.

The weight training Louise will be focussed upon doing will be mainly to ensure we give her current muscles a good reason to stick around. We know from plenty of research that a big muscle is a strong, more robust muscle. This means that doing weight training will help her stay injury free and keep her current muscle at a reasonable level, so she is still strong enough to endure what her body will go through during the MBS.

Although her primary focus will be upon getting the miles in and ensuring her body is ready from an endurance perspective, training in the gym will play a big role in providing her with the best platform to have an amazing race.

 

Nutrition

Nutrition is another thing that is quite often disregarded for endurance events, at least right up until the day before the event (carb-loading for example!).

This is going to be absolutely essential for Louise, as she will need to ensure her body recovers optimally every time she trains. Nutrition plays a huge role in this and ensuring she gets enough calories in to keep up the volume of training she’ll be doing, while also providing enough nutrients to keep her immune system in tact so she can keep on top of illnesses.

We’ll need to ensure she gets a good amount of calories into her body, which will have a large focus on getting plenty of protein (for muscle recovery and building) as well as carbohydrate (for fuel during her training bouts) and fat (so her hormonal profile stays at a high level).

 

Mindset

Lastly, and I think most importantly, we’ll need to ensure her mindset is excellent throughout the whole event, and leading up to it. I don’t think this will be something Louise will struggle with too much as she is already strong-willed, but the MDS is completely new animal, and one that will need preparation from her mind. We’ll need to ensure we’ve ran over possible problems that will arise, as well as getting her head into a position of belief and confidence with everything she does. It will also be important for her to visualise and put herself into positions she didn’t think her body could cope with as this will help through the toughest parts of the race.

Overall I really can’t wait to start seeing how Louise progresses through her training, and ultimately when she actually completes the MDS. I know she’ll set herself up right and raise an incredible amount of money for the Dundee Mental Health Association, and I can’t wait to be part of something as special as this.”

Thank you Stuart!  Here are the links to Stuart’s site:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StuartAitkenFitness

If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please do get in touch, I am still aiming to raise the final amount by early January.  My contact email is louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk.

Stuart Aitken Fitness

 

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!

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