Obstacle Course Race Training : Verulamium Park (Loops)

Simple instructions from Coach Tony Leary as we prepared for another Road2Worlds session on the Sunday :

“Sat morning again this week team
720 meet for 730 start at the museum car park again – bring a wrec bag if you have one, trail running and wrec bag carries through the wooded trail section – let me know if you are coming and if you have a bag or not”

A comment from Kirsten Whitehouse on the sunny Friday was somewhat ominous and, as it turned out, entirely correct, “tomorrow mainly running…in snow,” although it was not until I left the house that I became aware of the weather we would be training in.  It made no difference to me because I had already decided to wear a hat and gloves, and I ran the 2.5 kilometres through the falling snow down to the museum car park at Verulamium Park, arriving just before Tony drove up.  We agreed it was very cold as we waited for anyone else to turn up.  Rebecca Cohen would not be joining us as she was feeling ill – she had made a very wise decision !  The clock was ticking towards 0720…  Kirsten arrived at 0721, protesting her innocence, but Tony had been watching the time since he got here.  Robert Boarder was late for the second week in a row, this time by two minutes, and Steven Lamb arrived a minute later.  Tony had already checked that there was a suitable puddle available for lay downs, and as we picked up 3 wrec bags and a log (a different log to last week, which you can read about here) between us and set off, I presumed we were just heading to the puddle, so I started my Garmin and slotted in behind the others, just walking to the puddle.  However, they carried on straight past the puddle, so I was already struggling to keep up !

We ran down the main path which runs from the museum car park beside the football pitches, going past the playground and the Adizone before cutting across the grass to the woods beside the Roman wall.  There 5 of us, 3 wrec bags and 1 log, so Steven was not heading into the bushes to quickly relieve himself before we set off, he was actually looking for something to carry, and came out with a big slice of wood which looked more like a crocodile than anything else because of its bark, and especially when Steven had it lying on his shoulder.  Tony set out the plan – we would be running the lap we all knew very well by now, up through the woods and down the boundary on the outside of the woods, which is around 1 kilometre.  We would run 1 lap, then 1 lap with a carry; run 2 laps, then 2 laps with a carry; run 3 laps, then 3 laps with a carry.

Crocodile (on its back)

The ground was muddy and wet in the woods, making running very difficult for me.  I definitely need to invest in a new pair of trail running shoes.  I am more used to running this loop the other way round, and it certainly poses different difficulties in this direction, running up through the tracks in the woods.  Which is not to say that running down the outside of the woods is any easier than running up, and especially not this morning in the cold wind.  My gloves were doing nothing to keep out the wind, and while my hat was keeping my head warm, my face was cold and my eyes were watering.  I kept going as well as I could, and, of course, it all got much harder when I had to carry something.  The light wrec bag had gone by the time I got back to the start, and thankfully the crocodile had also disappeared.  I picked up the remaining sandbag and set off, pretty much at walking pace.  The footing was even more uncertain now that I was holding an external weight which was affecting my balance.  I did keep going, though, and Rob and Tony only passed me as I was coming to the final stretch of my second lap, which I definitely took as a win.  The next time Rob passed me he told me the session had changed so that we would only be carrying for one lap in between the unloaded runs.  As it turned out, that made absolutely no difference to me because by the time I came around for my second carry, my hands were so frozen that I could not pick up the wrec bag, let alone contemplate carrying it for a kilometre.  Of course, it was not only the cold which was having this detrimental affect on my hands and fingers, but also the physical position of carrying the bag, with my arms bent and my hands up at my shoulder level, which was draining the blood from them.  Steven passed me as I finished my third lap, and Kirsten caught up with me as I started out on what would be my final lap.  Overall, I was happy with that performance right now.

As I came down to the finish of that final lap I saw Tony, Rob and Kirsten walking towards the football pitches to make their way to the car park.  I began to cut over to them before Tony told me to get to the end of the lap first, so I curved back to the end and then ran over to join them.  I took one of the wrec bags to carry back and we all looked out for Steven and the crocodile.  At one point we thought we saw him coming down the slope on the outside of the woods, but nobody appeared further down, so Tony went off to find him.  The three of us continued, walking back through the somewhat amazed stares of the crowd awaiting the start of the St Albans parkrun.

Wait for it..

The weather had made it a very tough session, and I had covered 8.35 kilometres, which I would consider to be tough in itself at the moment.  Tony and Rob had covered 10.89 kilometres, and Steven and Kirsten had covered somewhere in between.  More to the point, Steven got Kirsten with a snowball.

Gotcha !!!

It is interesting to read Tony’s comment after the session :

“Described this morning as a ‘not fun but got to be done’ kind of session
Bitterly cold, very muddy tricky underfoot conditions, 5 hardy souls
1 lap 1k hilly technical trail loop, repeat same lap with 25kg wrec bag, 2 laps just running, 1 lap wrec bag, 2 laps running, 1 lap wrec bag, 2 laps run – just over 10k total – very tough session, mentally and physically”

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Verulamium Park (Carries)

Saturday morning was going to be busy.  Being something of a tool at the best of times, I had already volunteered to help Kirsten Whitehouse dismantle a rig,

“HELP PLEASE 💕 Looking for a few lovely people to help Rebecca, Lee and myself take down my rig next week Saturday (10 March).  Any help you can offer will be hugely appreciated and richly rewarded…somehow…some day. An hour or all day (I’ve been assured there’ll be pizza), every little helps. Tools welcome”

and now Coach Tony Leary had come up with the training plan, “Spartan carry, run repeat.  Saturday morning this weekend due to R2W on Sunday.  Meet Verulamium Park for 0730 start.”  This was all made busy by my requirement to get to Amersham for 0845 so I could drop the children off at their drama class by 0930.  As I would need to leave OCR training early, I decided to add in some training of my own beforehand.  I am currently trying to follow the Intermediate level programme from The Para Fitness Guide book by Major Sam McGrath, former head of Para training and selection.  Over recent weeks, work and the weather have conspired to prevent me from completing all sections in the week in question, and although it was looking the same for this week, doing something on Saturday morning before OCR training would at least get me closer to completion.

A training plan that really works for me

I drove down and parked in the car park near to Westminster Lodge so that I could make a quick exit after training to get to Amersham, and ran the short distance to the Adizone in Verulamium Park.  Then it was down to business – 3 x 20 push-ups, 3 x 20 dips, 3 x 20 sit-ups, 3 x 45 second plank, 2 x 20 squats, and 3 x 5 eccentric pull-ups.  I feel like my eccentric pull-ups have improved, which means I do not plummet to earth quite so quickly.  It is a great little session, and as soon as I had finished I ran from there to the museum car park, arriving before 0720, although I must admit I had not really registered that was a requirement this morning, given that I was only turning up for part of the session.  Anyway, my arrival in good time was fortunate.

I had seen Tony arriving as I was finishing my own session, and Rebecca Cohen was also already here.  At 0721 Steven Lamb arrived, and we all clock-watched until Robert Boarder finally drove up, and finally, finally parked, at 0724.  Although as he got out of his car it was obvious he still needed to change into training kit, so he had saved himself a little bit of punishment there.  We had equipment to carry to the start line, but first would come the punishment for late arrival – one puddle lay down for every minute late, and there just happened to be a big puddle ready and waiting for Steven and Robert.  1 and 4 burpees later they were both wet through.

We don’t use the barrels only to rest things on

We carried two jerry cans, one beer keg, one big log and one lightweight sandbag to the start line, which was the junction between the two fields just above the lower football pitch, and over to the right.  I carried the sandbag, while Tony made sure Rebecca was comfortable just carrying her water bottle.  We would work in pairs, running one lap to begin with, then a lap of carries, before bear crawling around the football pitch 18 yard box, going across the crossbar twice, and finishing off with 20 burpees.  The lap would be up the field on the left side of the hedgerow divide, across the top to the right, down the track which followed the road right to the bottom, then turning right again to come back to the gap and the start line.  It was about 1 kilometre.  The carries would see one of each pair carrying either the jerry cans, the beer keg or the log, with the other carrying the lightweight sandbag, and swapping every 50 strides (counting up to 50 on one leg).  I was probably only going to be around for one lap and would carry whichever of the three heavy items was left after the pairs had gone.  The carries, the crawl and the burpees would all be done in the style required by Spartan Races.

Not an actual photo of the log

The first lap was fine.  The pairs picked themselves – Tony and Rob, Steven and Rebecca, and me following on behind.  I know this area very well from previous runs over the last year, but I am not sure I have ever run this full boundary before.  It is definitely a kilometre to remember for the future.  By the time I got back to the start point, the other pairs had gone off with the jerry cans and the beer keg, leaving me with the log.  It is a big log.  It most definitely earned its place in the higher category of heavy carries.  It was also awkward, with a number of large bits jutting out where branches had been cut off it.  I tried carrying it in my arms to begin with, and it very soon became too heavy for that, so I moved it up on to my left shoulder, then round so it was a bit more behind my neck, then over to my right shoulder, and I kept on swapping it at stages around the lap.  It seemed to be taking forever, and compared to the others it probably did, and I could feel the hurt in my shoulders by the time I got to the bottom of the loop alongside the road.  I put in a final push to get me back to the gap and it was over.  A quick look at my watch confirmed I would not have time for another lap, so I rushed into the bear crawls.  Tony and Rob got back from one of their laps just as I got to the corner of the 18 yard box, and Tony made the point that I need to get lower, on my elbows, because there would be barbed wire overhead at Spartan.  I replied I would just use my wire-cutters…  The bear crawling was tough, and I am hoping my daily Kokoro Yoga practice will help with that.  I could not get any sort of grip on the crossbar, and my time available had come to an end anyway, so I made my way across the grass to the footpath and back to the car, walking past the guys preparing another trial variation to the St Albans parkrun.  It had been a tough lap.

You can see the log in my place

During the course of the full session, Rob managed to cover just over 7 kilometres.

On the plus side for me, Kirsten brought bacon rolls to the rig dismantling session.

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Aldenham (Ditch)

Coach Tony Leary got straight to the point this week, “Fancying a hill based session on Sunday, maybe a bit of bridge action too – can only mean 1 place!! Aldenham- meet at the church at 7:20 for a 7:30 start” and that suited me just fine.  My running has been coming along well over the last few weeks and adding in some hills will only help that.  The bridge would also present an excellent challenge to measure progress in other areas over those last few weeks.

I was collected by Rebecca Cohen at 0645, we picked up Kirsten Whitehouse (on time) on our way over, and everything was going very well until we encountered our first obstacle – the police had closed off the road because of something serious just out of view.  Tony had parked up just off the main road and we followed him on an alternative route.  At one point he went past a junction we needed to take, so we ended up in front of him, which was good because it meant we could not be any later than him, and I was certainly prepared to use that as a defence and mitigation against any river burpees.  Parking restrictions have come into force since I was last here, so instead of being able to park between 0730 and 0900 on a Sunday morning at the top of the track we run down, we now have to park outside of the village church.  You can guess the potential complications with that one.  We do ensure we park as close to each other as possible to take up as little space as we can.  Daniel Spears was already parked up, Steven Lamb arrived shortly after us, and very soon we were all ready to go.

And stretch…

It was a cold, dry morning, with the wind certainly adding to the coldness, and I wisely wore a pair of gloves, as did everyone else.  We would be carrying lengths of rope with us to use at the bridge, but after Tony had handed them all out, sadly there were none left for me to carry.  We ran away from the church and down the road, getting onto a track as soon as it appeared, for the moment following our usual route down to the main area we train in here.  We stopped at a gate for calf stretches and a totally natural, completely not even slightly posed photograph, and I took over the rope carrying duty from Kirsten.  We headed off to the left, which was a different direction for me, and if I had thought the tracks we had run down were wet, it was nothing compared to the waterlogged ground we were soon running over.  The group had naturally split into Tony, Dan and Steven; Rebecca and Kirsten; and me, and now, as Rebecca and Kirsten turned right into the woods, I heard Tony shouting that they had gone the other way, and I cut into a gap to see them on the other side of a bridge.  We proceeded to cross it in a number of different ways, none of which were simply walking across it, and one of which, from Kirsten, is probably banned in a number of countries worldwide.  Tony had had enough by now and we set off running again, across wet, muddy fields, before crossing the river, on a wooden bridge this time, which was more than a bit dodgy on the far side.  It looked like it could have been one of the obstacles from Tough Guy. 

Who needs a bridge ?

Not that we  actually needed it, because now Tony took us from one bank to the other, going through the knee-deep river, zigzagging there and back again, before we pushed on, and those at the front found another water obstacle to loop through as those at the back caught up, until finally we arrived at our usual bridge. 

Finding obstacles everywhere

My legs had definitely felt tired and stiff getting here, but I was happy that my feet and toes did not feel too cold despite the river crossings – the Inov8 socks are working very well for me. 

Great socks

Kirsten was not able to do much running today, so she stayed behind to attach the ropes to the bridge, while the rest of us made a run to the hills.  Tony explained something completely different to anything we had done on this section before, and maybe it was my fatigue but it simply did not compute with me at all.  Everyone else seemed clued up, so off we went with Dan leading the way, as he carried straight on past the point where we should have turned to go down into a ditch…  It was steep going down and so much steeper trying to come up and out of it.  I got near the top after a big effort and slipped back to almost half way, wondering if I would ever actually get out.  Forget hill repeats, it felt like I was going to be lucky to even see the hill at this rate.  I moved further over to the left and found more branches and debris to help me, finally making it out and being able to get back to the main track to continue my stumble up the hill.  The climb out of the ditch had been very energy sapping and I was pushing to get any sort of upward movement as the hill loomed ahead of me, and now my hands were cold through my gloves.  I definitely need better gloves for winter OCR stuff.  Coming down the hill presented its own set of problems as my foot grip was hardly worth mentioning and any sort of pace saw me rushing headlong towards a tree trunk or some bracken.  I have worn my current running shoes into the ground (literally) and my kit wishlist just keeps growing.  I got to the bottom, did 10 push-ups, climbed over the gate and did another set of 10, before heading off on the loop again.  This time as I neared the bottom of the ditch and was looking for a way up, Tony shouted at me to go further to the left, to pre-rig the obstacle, and, of course, he was right.  The next couple of times getting out of the ditch were still a hard effort for me, but much easier than the first time. 

The ditch was tough to escape

Everyone else was bombing up and down the hill, and Kirsten joined us as we were some way into it.  The next time I passed Tony he told me to call this my last lap and begin the run round to the bridge.  I followed the track, and as I approached the bridge everyone else appeared from other routes.  Everyone was getting ready for the bridge crossings when suddenly Kirsten spotted blood. 

Surprised I can still stand

I had not realised I had grazed my knee until she pointed it out.  It was very much only a flesh wound (if that !), but that was not going to stop me hamming it up, wiping a streak of blood down my cheek as photographs were taken. 

Not sure I’ll live…

Getting back to serious matters, I had not got near the water yet and my fingers were already freezing. 

Rope traversing

I could see that Kirsten had attached the 4 ropes along the bridge, to allow a J-lock traverse on the ropes from one end of the bridge to the other.  That sort of move is still beyond me for the moment, so instead I climbed along the outer edge of the bridge, which was hard enough, given the state of my fingers. 

Climbing along the edge as Tony begins the rope traverse

To keep us warm (as if) Tony added in a run from the far side of the bridge to the top of hill and back, and once everyone had had enough fun trying not to dip in the water while hanging from the ropes, we began the run back to the cars for bacon rolls and pancakes from Rebecca, before clearing the cars out of the way of the morning church congregation, and heading home to get ready for an afternoon bouldering session at The Arch in Burnt Oak, Edgware. 

Some of us had far too much fun

I had covered 8.5 kilometres, Dan had covered 9.6 kilometres, and everyone else had covered somewhere in between.  It had been a tough session, and had given me a very good idea of where I am with my fitness and OCR ability right now.

Another brilliant morning with great friends

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Greenwood Park (Boundary Lap)

“Hi everyone, gonna do 1 more week at Greenwood Park this Sunday – will mix it up a bit – running a longer lap before some goalposts and playground action – repeat
Meet at 7:20 for 7:30 start”

You can read about the first session at Greenwood Park here.

You can read about the Greenwood Park circuit here.

You can read about the Greenwood Park pyramid here.

Reading those blogs will fill in the gaps from this one, which built on those previous three sessions.

Coach Tony Leary had spoken, and we were going back to Greenwood Park for my fourth time, which I did not have an issue with at all because I had really enjoyed what we had been doing there these last few weeks.  Once again I was very fortunate to get a lift from Rebecca Cohen, who picked me up at 0700, on a very mild, dry morning.  Which was nice, because it had clearly rained overnight.  I brought my gloves with me, just in case, and in the end did not wear them.  Ray was back !  After a few weeks’ absence, it was good to see Ray Fletcher already parked up in the car park as we arrived, and Steven Lamb was also already here.  Tony arrived just after us, and then Robert Boarder.  We carried the jerry cans, the beer keg and the heavy sandbag over to the other side of the big red climbing frame, ready for the carries in the circuit, and as we left the playground to get started on our warm up run, I saw a new sign which seems to indicate that not everyone is happy to see us here.

Get orf my climbing frame

Anyway, we set off on a long boundary run, following the path of the North Orbital Road before turning left at the corner of the park.  The ground was firm, not too wet or muddy or slippery, although some care was needed with footing in places.  At the top of the hill we turned left again, with Tony, Robert, Ray and Steven adding in an extra loop, while Rebecca and I headed straight on, following the track which would take us to the woods.  By this point we had naturally split into distinct groups – Tony and Robert, Ray and Steven, Rebecca, and then me.  Tony and Robert went past me after the extra loop and headed off to the woods, with Rebecca following them.  Ray and Steven went past me as we got closer to the woods, with some great encouragement for me from Steven as they did so, but they could not have seen where the others had gone because they began to head towards a track leading off to the right.  I called to them to carry straight on into the woods, and as they did that they appeared determined to turn right on entering, so I called to them that we turn left and follow that path, and potential disaster was averted.  Anyone who wishes to claim that this is organised has obviously never run with us.  We followed the track round to a part near the other side of the wood where we could run down into dips and then struggle up the other side.  I was very thankful for the roots of a fallen tree, which gave me something to pull myself up by.  Then we followed the track again before coming out on to the football pitches, running across them back to the playground.  We had covered 3 kilometres already.

Goalpost rope traverse

The plan now was to do one circuit of the obstacles, then run 4, 3, 2 and 1 laps, doing the rope traverse on the goalposts on the final lap of each run before going through the circuit.  We would go up the front of the big red rope climbing frame on this lap, and the challenge on further laps was to climb up the underside of the rope until the first level. 

That’s where all the carry items got to…

All the carry items had gone by the time I got to the other side of the climbing frame, so I was forced to just run up and down the slope unweighted.  We continued round the lap and gathered on the other side of the last goalpost, after going over the top of it.  Rebecca had picked up something of a strain, though she did not know from where, and in the following speculation I suggested it might have been from the sprints at the end of the bootcamp circuits session on Wednesday.  Tony made a comment about touching the far wall on the sprints, so I reminded him that I beat him on the final sprint, probably because of the extra momentum I gained from pushing off at that far end.  Tony tried to push me over from my squat position.  And lost for the second time this week.  Robert confirmed I had won the sprint, then added, “Although I gave him a huge head start, which he mostly gave away.”  Who needs friends, eh…

Then we were off, doing our 4 laps, 3 laps, 2 laps and 1 lap, with the obstacle circuit after each run.  I had been pleased to keep running through the warm up lap, and now my target was to run as many and as much of these laps as possible.  I can feel my running coming back together and sessions like these will only help.  I got to the ropes as I came to the end of my fourth lap, and tried just holding a position with the J-lock on each.  I really need to work on it because it kept slipping.  I cannot help but think that is because I cannot hold my leading leg in a bent position while hanging from the rope.  My current Road2Worlds training will help with that. 

Unconscious Competence on the Bridge Of Doom

There are areas of progress over the last few weeks – I can now climb through a picnic table without touching the ground, so I am looking forward to that obstacle at Nuclear Oblivion; I am also able to traverse across the swings. 

Ray shows how to climb on the top of the big red rope climbing frame

In between those obstacles, on this circuit lap I stuck with climbing on the top of the climbing frame, rather than underneath it, and carried the sandbag up and over the slope and back. 

Rebecca does it properly

I was definitely slower on the 3 laps.  It is interesting just how much doing the obstacles takes it out of you before you set off running again.  I tried hanging by my hands from two ropes this time, which was as successful as I suspect you are thinking it might have been.  I carried the jerry cans up and over the slope this time, and really struggled with fatigue on the goalpost traverse. 

And here is how you do the goalpost traverse

I got good encouragement from everybody as they passed me on the 2 laps and that really helped me to keep going.  When I got to the ropes this time I tried holding on to the first while trying to fix the J-lock on the second.  I just keep sliding down so my feet touch the floor.  Definitely something to work on.  I carried the beer keg this time, and it always feels heavier than the other objects.  Everyone else had finished, so I decided to run the final lap while everything was tidied up and taken back to the cars.  It had been another tough session.  I had covered 8.72 kilometres and Robert had covered 9.68 kilometres, with everyone else somewhere in between.  Still, we had bacon rolls from Rebecca to look forward to !

The finishers of Tough Greenwood Oblivion 2018

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St Albans Striders : Fred Hughes 10 – A Marshal’s View

I was not in a fit state to run the Fred Hughes 10 this year – at the moment I cannot run 10 kilometres without having to walk some of it, so 10 miles was definitely not in my schedule – so I decided instead to put myself forward as a Marshal after I saw a post from Amy Heap, one of the Race Directors, in the St Albans Striders group on Facebook.  It was a very easy application process, sending in an email to offer my services, receiving a confirmation email almost immediately, and then receiving a further email from Peter Blackaller with all the details I would need for the day.  It was a very comprehensive email, containing a welcome letter, marshal allocations, a map of all the marshal points, marshal position instructions, general marshal instructions, and a runner flow diagram for where the route crossed itself, which was not relevant to my marshal position, so I would not need to worry about that !  I was allocated to Marshal point 13 with Tony Lillico, at the corner of Stanley Avenue and Chiswell Green Lane, with specific instructions to direct runners to continue along Chiswell Green Lane, because the race used to turn left into Stanley Avenue.

The weather forecast was not looking great, and as I knew I would be standing around as a Marshal, I dressed appropriately in my mountain hiking gear, and packed my rucksack with a fleece, waterproof jacket, two pairs of gloves, Mudstacle ruff, Judgement Day woolly bobble hat, a packet of Jelly Babies and a freshly made flask of peppermint tea.  It was lightly snowing when I left my house to walk to the Race HQ at St Columba’s College, but my choice of clothing meant I was prepared for it.  Even so, and despite it being less than half an hour’s walk, without having put on either of my pairs of gloves, my hands were cold by the time I arrived at St Columba’s College, the Race HQ, just in time for the scheduled 0845 check in time for Marshals.  I joined the fast-moving queue in the main hall to register, confirmed my Marshal point, was given a numbered fluorescent St Albans Striders Marshal vest, received a reminder of the specific instructions for the Marshal point, as well as being told to watch out for cars coming down Stanley Avenue to Chiswell Green Lane, took a photo on my phone of the numbers for the medics, while being reminded that 999 would always be the first call for a real emergency, and then I was ready to set off.  It had been a very smooth process.

Race HQ

I dropped off some flapjack at the kitchen for the after-race refreshments, put on my hat, ruff and my inner gloves and then ventured outside again to begin the walk to Chiswell Green Lane, which was just a straight walk down the main road out of St Albans.  The snow was still only lightly falling, and I was well wrapped up now.  I turned right down Chiswell Green Lane when I reached the Three Hammers pub, and Stanley Avenue was the next road on the right. 

Other Marshals got into position early too

I had got into position at Marshal point 13 in very good time at 0930.  The race would be starting at 1000 and I reckoned it would be at least 15 minutes after that before any of the runners made their way to this stage.  Tony arrived not long after, confirmed he was in the correct location, and then moved his car to a better parking place.  He very sensibly stayed in his car until much nearer the start time, while I sheltered under a tree, to the extent that you can shelter under a deciduous tree in winter.  The snow was definitely falling harder now and settling in places.  Our position came just after a corner, so I hoped everyone would keep their footing. 

I come with my own warning sign

I took the obligatory Facebook selfie, and received a very nice message from the team at the Three Hammers pub, “Good luck to runners today in this awful weather.”

Three Hammers pub, at the end of the road from my Marshal point

I had brought my camera with me, so I stood just in front of the tree to get a good view of the runners as they came round the corner.  My position would also serve to deter them from turning left up Stanley Avenue.  Tony took on responsibility for managing any traffic. 

Lead cyclist

At around 1017 the cyclist in front of the lead runner appeared, with a little group just behind them, and with everyone moving along at a great pace.  I think we must have been about 3 miles into the course and everyone seemed very comfortable in what they were doing as they went past, even with the snow now falling harder than ever. 

Not just St Albans Striders

It was wonderful to watch the field running past, all the different colours of the various local running clubs who had supported this event so well, together with the assortment of brightly coloured kit being worn by the non-affiliated runners, and everyone giving their best. 

Brightening up the morning

They certainly brightened up the gloomy morning ! 

Such a variety of runners

It was also great to witness the variety of runners taking part because this was by no means only for the elite – there were young and old, male and female, elite and fun runner, and also a couple of guided runners who were going very strong. 

Very determined running in the conditions

The runner I know of from the St Albans Striders group, Tim Seaton, guided by Julianne Nightingale, even knocked 3 minutes off his performance from last year, posting a personal best of 1 hour 27 minutes 18 seconds, which is a remarkable achievement at any time, and especially given the weather conditions. 

Tim Seaton, guided by Julianne Nightingale

All of the runners looked happy to be out there, even in the snow, and so many of them thanked the Marshals as they ran past, with some even waving. 

Always nice to get a wave

Nobody fell or even stumbled as they approached our position. 

Any cars all gave way or allowed lots of room

All of the traffic was very courteous, and the last runners came through at 1041. 

Last few runners still going strong

It had been a quick shift !  I had just about managed to take photographs throughout, although my fingers did get very cold after a while and sometimes it was hard to actually push down on the button !

Other Marshals found ways to keep warm

We had a Caution Runners sign planted at our Marshal point, so Tony packed that into his car to take back with him, and I set off on my walk back to Race HQ, passing up the offer of a lift from Tony, and from another couple of Marshals who passed me when I got to the main road.  I met Jack Brooks on the way and we enjoyed a quick chat, when he told me they had had lots of traffic going through their Marshal point, which must have kept them busy.  The walk back was without incident, I returned my Marshal vest, and then popped into the kitchen area being run by Andy Normile for a cup of tea and a delicious fairy cake with a cherry on the top.  That pretty much made my morning.  There was no charge for refreshments, and instead a collection was being taken for the Cancer Treatment & Research Trust in memory of John Hope. 

Very generous donations from everyone there

They raised £1095, which is amazing, and very well deserved for laying on such a feast of refreshments.  From my point of view it had been a perfectly run event, with excellent communication and organisation throughout, and it had been a pleasure to be able to be of some assistance.  I would definitely volunteer to be a Marshal again if I was not intending to take part.

You can see more of my photographs from the event here.

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Greenwood Park (Pyramid)

After a brilliant session at Greenwood Park last Saturday, which you can read about here, we were going back again, with this message from Coach Tony Leary, fresh from watching himself on Fort Boyard, “Hi team – I have second R2W this weekend so will be training on Saturday morning again this week.  I plan to go back to Greenwood Park – 7:20 meet for 7:30 start – finish will be 9am.  Planning to repeat the session from last week with the addition of rope – rope (X4) traverse across a goal post included in the circuit.”

Coach Zumba

The weather was not too bad when I left my house to get a lift with Rebecca Cohen, but in the short time it took us to reach the car park at Greenwood Park it had really started to rain, and as soon as I got out of the car I regretted my decision to not bring my gloves because it was so cold.  At least there was no wind.  Steven Lamb was already there, and very soon we were joined by Robert Boarder, Daniel Spears and Tony.  Tony got the kit out of his car, and while he took the ropes over to one of the goalposts, we carried the kit for the carries over to the bottom of the slope on the other side of the big red climbing frame – 2 sandbags, 2 jerry cans, and 1 very heavy beer keg.  I took the very heavy beer keg, but Tony would not let me record that effort for Strava and 200 Kudos, so I only started my watch when we set off for the first run of 3 laps.  I was pleased that I was able to run all of the 3 laps this week, and then we stopped to stretch before going over the obstacle circuit for the first time – climbing under the first picnic table without touching the ground, then going over the climbing frame, picking up one of the carries on the other side (I took a sandbag this first time around), going over the slope and down the other side to the fence before coming back (although Robert and I only went to the top this first time, to keep the group together), walking over the seesaw before heading over to the swings to move over them from one end to the other, making sure to climb over the metal barriers at each side, before adding in a climb over a park bench which we had not done last week.  Next came the Bridge of Doom, a quick jump over a park bench, then over to more picnic tables, to go under the first one and over the second, before climbing on to the sliding part of the zipline so that we could reach up to touch the line itself.  A small, low set of goalposts were perfect for a traverse before running over to another set to go over the top of them.

We would now run 4 laps then do an obstacle circuit, 3 laps and a circuit, 2 laps and a circuit, and finally 1 lap and a circuit, and on the final lap of each run we would stop off at the goalposts about three quarters of the way round to do a traverse using the 4 hanging ropes Tony had attached to them.  My hands were already frozen, so I had a feeling this was not going to be the best fun ever.  I did quite well running the 4 laps, but when I got to the ropes all I could manage was holding on to the first rope for dear life before moving on.  My hands were frozen and they hurt.  After going over the big red climbing frame, I took the jerry cans for a farmer’s carry over the slope and back, slipping and losing my footing on the way back down, but my bum cushioned my fall and I was straight back up.  My right arm hurt after using it to hook on while I struggled to climb under the second picnic table, and together with my frozen hands, that made the low goalposts traverse impossible.  My running was suffering from my fatigue by the time I set out on my 3 laps, but I got good encouragement from Daniel every time he passed me.  When I got to the ropes this time around I spent some time working on the J-lock.  It still seems less stable than it should be, which most likely means I am not doing it properly.  I took one of the sandbags over the slope and back this time around.  I knew I was getting slower going over the obstacles so pushed on, making my best attempt at each of them, determined to complete as many circuit laps as possible before everything was brought to a close.  I almost lost my footing on the Bridge of Doom, and holding on to the ropes saved me.  My 2 laps running were a struggle, and as I came through the gate to begin another circuits lap I saw Tony had finished.  I carried on, really feeling it in my right arm as I went under the picnic table, but still able to make good time going over the big red climbing frame, before pushing it over the slope and back with a sandbag.  It seemed to me to be the easiest piece of kit to manage, and I wanted to be as efficient as possible this time around.  As I was finishing the circuit I saw Tony, Robert, Daniel and Steven heading off to retrieve the ropes, so decided to run the final running lap, even if I would not be able to complete the final circuit lap.  I caught up with them just as they were rounding the corner after taking down the ropes, and I made the comment, “It’s all right, I’m used to the course being dismantled before I have finished,” as I headed into the playground area to get the jerry cans, while Tony took the ropes back to his car and the others collected up the other bits of kit.

We were joined at the end by Emperor Palpatine

It had been a brilliant session, with us covering anywhere between almost 7 kilometres and 9 kilometres, and doing more than a few obstacles each lap, in cold and wet conditions.  I am not entirely joking when I say we should get a medal and technical tshirt for the Greenwood Rush Sprint Winter Challenge, and it was all done and dusted by 0900.

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Greenwood Park (Circuits)

Things were going to be a little different for the next couple of weeks, “Hi guys – the next 2 Sundays are R2W for me so wont be able to run a Sunday morning session – was thinking of maybe doing a Saturday one instead if anyone interested let me know – similar format – no details yet – to follow.” was the message from Coach Tony Leary, which was followed up with, “Ok team after being inspired by James’ (is that correct use of apostrophy??) latest blog we will be heading to Greenwood park on SATURDAY morning this weekend, 7:20 meet for a 7:30 start – we will be done and finished by 9 as I have to get back and ready for class etc.  I would really love it if lots of you could join me cos otherwise it just wouldn’t be the same!!  ( Ive been working on being more nice and inclusive )”  You can read that inspirational blog here.

I was lucky enough to get a lift over with Rebecca Cohen, and that was especially fortunate as I repeated my trick of waking up only 5 minutes before I was due to be collected !  We made very good time driving across St Albans and were the first there, soon to be joined by Robert Boarder, Tony, and then Steven Lamb.  Tony got a beer keg, two jerry cans and two sandbags out of his car and, after we had carried them to the bottom of the slope on the other side of the big red rope climbing frame that dominates the playground, we were ready to go, on a dry morning that was not really cold at all.  I had carried across the beer keg and it was the heavy one.  We ran three laps around the outside of the playground, which was about half a kilometre per lap, before coming back into the playground to follow a course which would take in practically everything the playground had to offer.

Previous footage of the Bridge of Doom !!!

We ran through it together for the first time, climbing under the first picnic table without touching the ground, then going over the climbing frame, picking up one of the carries on the other side (I took a sandbag this first time around), going over the slope and down the other side to the fence before coming back, walking over the seesaw before heading over to the swings to move over them from one end to the other.  Next came the Bridge of Doom, which was a lot longer than I remembered it, and split into two distinct sections, a quick jump over a park bench, seemingly just because it was there, then over to more picnic tables, to go under the first one and over the second, before climbing on to the sliding part of the zipline so that we could reach up to touch the line itself.  For the record, after Robert had succeeded with his third attempt, I did it first time.  A small, low set of goalposts were perfect for a traverse before running over to another set to go over the top of them.  I may have misjudged my leap as I came crashing down to the ground on my back, with my head very close to one of the uprights.  I was fine.

We continued on, running three laps before doing one lap of the circuit, and I got better with the picnic tables each time.  I carried the jerry cans the next time I came around, and then the beer keg on a third circuits lap, to complete the set.  And I got a lot better with the final jump, managing to land on my feet.  It was a fun, hard workout, and my running needs a lot of work, although I got a lot of encouragement as Robert, Tony and Steven lapped me.  I was just under 5 kilometres by 0.08 of a kilometre when Tony brought the circuit to a close, so I ran round one of the picnic tables to make up the distance.  That was dizzy work, and I changed it up to a figure of eight around the two picnic tables.  I need not have bothered as we headed off to the far side of the playground and a collection of shapes that made up a very challenging climbing wall.  Bouldering has become our thing, so, of course, we had a go, before carrying all the kit back to Tony’s car.  In the end I had covered 5.3 kilometres, and it had been an excellent morning which I really need to repeat myself more often.

All smiles after a hard workout

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Greenwood Park

We have started going bouldering on a regular basis over at The Arch North climbing wall in Burnt Oak, and apparently it is dangerous.  Or maybe it is only dangerous to the over 50s…as Coach Tony Zumba 50 Leary wrote, “Hello team – I had a bit of an awkward fall/landing at climbing last night and yanked my booty – consequently not up for anything too full on tomorrow but would like to do something – I’m thinking maybe Greenwood Park in St Albans for some running on playground shinnanigans!!! – no water Who is around??”  I was looking forward to anything that was not too full on because I have not been able to do much running since Nuclear Fallout.  Once again I appear to have picked up some annoying, niggling injuries to my feet and legs.

I got a lift over with Kirsten Whitehouse, and it was fortunate she was collecting me from outside my house because I did not wake up with my alarm.  In fact, I woke up no more than 5 minutes before leaving the house to find Kirsten waiting in her car outside.  We still arrived in good time, which some might suggest makes a change.  In fact, we had arrived in good enough time to do a selfie for the Stuart Amory Advent Challenge.

It’s too early for this

We were joined with Coach Tony by Rebecca Cohen, Robert Boarder, Steven Lamb, and Karen Ballard, who drove up just before Rodney McNamee, who lived a very convenient distance away, walked over.  There was no Ray Fletcher.  We will pause for a moment, just to let that sink in.  There was no Ray Fletcher.  Kirsten and I arrived on time and there was no Ray Fletcher.  It must be the end of days…

It was a cold morning, but dry, and we started off running on the grass, from the car park, outside the playground and around the boundary, which took us parallel with the North Orbital Road, until we followed a corner round to the left and came to a hill, where we stopped to run hill repeats, doing 5, 10, 15 and then 20 push-ups between repeats, before going back down through 15, 10 and 5 push-ups.  I am definitely getting better at push-ups.  We split into two teams to do a plank relay, jumping over the others in our team as they lined up in the plank position, before I swapped with Robert for a similar race between the teams, going through the legs of the people lined up ahead of us.  Both times we just kept going until Tony decided we had gone far enough.  Then we paired up for piggy backs at the bottom of the hill repeats slope, poor Rodney being paired with me.  I took one stop near the top of the slope before carrying on to finish with the rest of the group.  Then we jogged down to the bottom and swapped round.  Unfortunately, Rodney suddenly got cramps before the top of the slope and had to stop, such is the peril of having me as a very heavy load.  We returned to the bottom of the slope and continued along the boundary, coming up a hill and around the top of the slope until we reached St Julian’s Wood.  We ran through the wood, then ran across the open football pitches back to the playground. 

Such a brilliant obstacle, just in the middle of a playground

Once there we were faced with the most amazing climbing frame, all metal pipes and red ropes, and resembling something like the rigging from a big ship.  Tony had us going over the climbing frame, from one side, right over the very top, then down the other side, before running up a slope on that far side, going down to the bottom on the other side before turning around and coming back again.  It was brilliant fun, although once I had got to the top of the slope on the other side I decided to come back down on the slide.  That was even better fun.  We kept this going for more than a few repeats going over the climbing frame, there being quite a bit of congestion at the top as people approached from both sides.  Obviously, we could not miss out on the excellent photo opportunity. 

All smile

Then we were off running again, going round to the woods so that we could do 5 pull-ups on each of 10 goalposts on the open football pitches, and as I cannot do a pull-up (yet) I did a 5 second deadhang on each. 

Bridge Of Doom !!!

We came back to the playground and Rob and I took on the bridge of doom before it was decided we would not be able to do anything with the zipline, which was a pity.

Someone said we could not play on the zipline

We went back to the swings, to climb along them from one end to the other, just using arms.  Tony, Robert and Steven took it on, going up the chains on the first swing, going along the top bar, then coming down the chains on the far swing.  Then we tried something Spartan Race UK had posted during the week – burpees, over and under a swing.  You get the swing going, jump over it, lie under it until it passes back over you and past your head, then get up and keep repeating those movements until you either realise it is all about to go horribly wrong, or you bat the seat of the swing away with your hands, like Robert.  Tony, Robert and Kirsten all gave it a very good go.  We returned to the car park, where Robert took on a balancing exercise, bending forward on one leg to pick up a folded piece of paper with his teeth, while the rest of us enjoyed the breakfast picnic of sausage rolls, sausages, hard boiled eggs and mini mince pies.  It took a few attempts before Robert was successful with an awesome effort.  Kirsten also gave it a go, and continued when she got home until she too was successful.  Before we left, Kirsten and I took another Stuart Amory Advent Challenge selfie, just in case. 

It’s still too early for this

It had been another brilliant session.

Awesome selfie time

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Aldenham (Rebecca’s Blog)

Getting our Arses in Gear for Canada            Sunday 10th September

I am going to tread very, very carefully in the shoes of the eloquent James Allen to write a brief review of St Albans OCR Training Group latest Sunday morning training session – so bear with me!

Early in the week, Tony posted a great little video on FB of a low rig he’d set up on the bridge at Aldenham, where we often train, with the opener, ‘I need to get my arse in gear for Canada’. Don’t we all?! He received many responses and it looked like there’d be a good turn-out. Tony added a late disclaimer about the chances of getting feet wet – only feet Tony?? – we’ll see.

Sunday arrived and it was synonymous with going back to school; summer holidays at an end, new term starting and back to serious training sessions. This doesn’t mean we had all taken time off over the summer, you only need to look at posts in FB or Strava to see that everyone was running, racing and staying active.

However, there is something very special about the Sunday morning training sessions that leaves you feeling on top of the world (as James often relays in his blogs, so make sure you read them). This Sunday was no exception. By 7a.m. outside the church in the beautiful village of Aldenham, 7 of us were sorting gear to take for rigs on the bridge. The two missing were Kirsten (I’m on my way dude) and Dany (I’m not getting wet) – last to arrive but not late! It was great to see everyone, especially Neil (been a while), Matt (hadn’t been to Aldenham before) and Rob (still nursing an injury from the Euros), not forgetting the lovely Ray (also nursing injury) who brought a fantastic piece of kit to set up a rope traverse over the river. Actually, I think all of us are nursing some kind of ache or pain at the moment – a bi-product of loving to race over obstacles!

Stunning start to the day

It was a stunning start to the day – blue sky emerging from the mist, clear, crisp air, not a whisper of a breeze and no-one else around. Perfect. We set off down the lane to hit the trail towards the bridge. Myself and Kirsten led as we had nothing to carry (not sure how we managed that!) and Dany, the two Tony’s, Neil, Matt, Rob and Ray followed on, carrying a mix of slings, ropes, chains, rings, nun chucks plus a long metal bar. Exciting!

The jog along to the bridge doubled as a good little warm up. Once at the bridge, Tony gave us instructions as to where attachments should go to make an easy rig and a hard rig on either side. Tony L did harder rig as Tony C organised easier one. Ray and Neil jogged along the river to set up the rope traverse.

Hanging around

As he hung attachments, Tony L tested to check grade of difficulty; the first version was obviously too difficult as he ended up in the river pretty quickly! Not his intention so early on but it gave us all a laugh !

Within a very short time we were ready to start the serious training. Tony gave us instructions on the course which was as follows:-

  • Start from the bridge, run/jog around the outside of the field, cross a ditch and join the track.
  • Follow the track to the gate where the hill section is in the woods. Then three reps of running up the hill and back, over the gate with 5 press ups. Each time over the gate, we had to do 5 press ups – that was made very clear! On the first run up, we had a carry to do from a pile of logs and tree stumps –
  • just to make it a bit more challenging.
  • After hill set, run back along main track, through the field and up to the bridge.
  • Do easy rig first followed by the hard rig, feet were not to touch the ground or water at any point.
  • Next, the rope traverse. Once across on the rope, then wade back to the other side through the river.

    Rope traverse

  • Repeat!

We set off altogether. Tony is excellent at making sure everyone knows where to go and what to do. Only once has he lost someone! By now the sun was out and warming, the ground was soft through the field and we had a nice steady pace going. One of the best features of Sunday group training is that anyone can join in. There is absolutely no pressure to compete nor to keep up with the leaders, although we all aim to. We work our hardest within our own capabilities and one of the best qualities Tony L possesses is his ability to adapt exercise to people’s needs.

Inevitably I ended up near the back (this is where I missed you most James Allen!!) and arrived at the gate to find the others doing press ups whilst they waited. Tony explained the route again, adding a log carry to the first rep. There’s never any hanging about – off we went. Any brief chat soon stopped as we worked hard on the incline. The only voice was the booming one of Tony C as he hollered ‘HOLE’ randomly as we ran!

Arriving at the log pile, I chose a light but long log to carry across my shoulders; some of the guys carried tree stumps which were extremely heavy. This made the next stage much harder on the calves but reminded me it was nothing compared to the steep inclines we would face in Canada.

The run back down was speedier, Dany reminding us to recover on the descent. Although I stomped up the track, I ran back down each time, taking care with my footings and missing the holes! We all remembered to launch over the gate and drop for press ups. Our heart rates were high by now.

Rig time

Once this section was complete, Tony led the way back along the track, heading for the rig section. He was straight on the rig with Rob and Ray waiting to follow. I headed to do the rope traverse with Neil so we weren’t queuing. What a great job the boys had done with the rope – they had found an excellent spot with the rope up high in the trees. I whizzed across, dropped down and strode straight into the river, enjoying the water cooling me down.

There were many interesting was of getting along the easy rig which turned out to be not so easy! Hauling myself up over the top of the bridge, I was pleased I hadn’t fallen in. This was short lived, as I struggled to reach from the ring to the thin rope on the harder rig section. In I went. As did everyone in the end I think! Dany was determined not to get wet and she worked brilliantly on the hard rig, but inevitably got wet feet!

Determined not to get wet

Unfortunately this was not the time to play and practise. The nagging voice of Tony L cut into our reams of advice for each other, telling us to get a move on. He was quite right. Focus.

The second lap of the route saw Tony way out in front (his injuries definitely improving). We followed, now knowing exactly where we were going and what we were doing. Unsurprisingly, the second lot of hills was tougher. Tony thought it would be fun to add some quick sprints up the first steep hill section to end with – a mean trait he has of adding more, just when you think you’ve finished!

Time to pose

Back at the bridge, we all completed the rope traverse and as much of the rigs as we could manage before we were then allowed to play! By this time we were all soaked at least up to our waists and because the water temperature was cooling in the warm air, we were happy to hang out in the river. It was turning out to be a beautiful morning, and a great opportunity for a photo shoot!!

Very arty

Rebecca smashing it !!!

We did some transition practise on the rigs, as well as the usual challenge of climbing out of the water onto the bridge, over the top and back underneath the bridge without touching the water. There are some bars under the bridge that you can hook feet onto to help, but it is still quite difficult; lots of upper body and core strength needed.

Finally, it was time to head back to the cars. Selfie done, rigs dismantled, we steadily jogged back through the field and track to the village. Kirsten and I headed off first, chatting as we jogged (any opportunity). We could hear everyone behind chatting too. The camaraderie of these sessions is one of the many reasons they are so popular and successful (much like the OCR community in general).

End of session selfie !!!

No session would be complete without coffee and bacon rolls (unless I really can’t haul my arse out of bed early enough). As everyone tucks in before they faint, I am reminded it is always worth getting up extra early or staying up late to make these because everyone is so grateful and I am always starving at the end! However, in view of eating healthily for Canada, it will be yoghurt, fruit and porridge options from now on!

Only four more Sunday training days before the big one…

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Obstacle Course Race Training : Verulamium Park (Rebecca’s Rig)

Our glorious leader was away, but in the words of Starship, nothing’s gonna stop us now.  Tony Leary had given us some inspiration during the week, anyway, treating Rebecca Cohen to a low-rig experience over a river on her birthday; and as some of us are taking on the Virtual Three Peaks Challenge organised by James Burton and The Wolfpack’s 2017 Strive Challenge to raise money for Big Change, a UK youth charity, we need to get in some elevation at all available opportunities, because St Albans is pretty flat.  We have 100 days to run or hike the elevation of the UK Three Peaks Challenge – 3,407m (11,178ft).  If we succeed we “get some shiny bling in the post to honour your achievement and of course super-human calves” – so hill repeats was always going to be on the agenda, as was clear from the initial communication from Rebecca, “Hi James- r u doing virtual 3 peak challenge? I am and thinking if 4 of us training in morning, we could do hill reps in Verulam then come to mine for rig work ( I have injured shoulder so won’t go mad on rig!) Will message Kirsten too and see what she thinks.”  A plan was definitely forming, and was very quickly confirmed by Kirsten Whitehouse, “Plan for tomorrow: meet in Verulam museum car park for 7:30am start.  Session will focus on hills – feel free to bring any carries or whatever you want to focus on.  We will leave the park at 8:20 and head to Rebecca’s for some rig work. Finish by 9:15 as always.”  I managed to fall asleep again after my alarm in the morning, so it took a brisk walk down to get me to the car park for 0730, immediately seeing Kirsten and Rebecca, and also Daniel Spears and Coach Tony Campbell, and not long after I arrived, Matt Stewart also drove up and parked. 

Far too much kit

Rebecca had brought along some equipment, as had Coach Tony Campbell, and we got that sorted to take it over to where we would be training.  Coach Tony Campbell made the point of how quiet it was this morning, in Coach Tony Leary’s absence.

Warm up time

We took the kit we were going to be using to the open ground near to the gap which leads into the field next to the road, and began a warm up under the guidance of Coach Tony Campbell.  It must have been a rigorous warm up because Matt managed to split his shorts, which we got the full benefit of later on.  

Matt. Shorts. Ripped.

And then, almost before we realised it, Rebecca was off running up the hill, dragging a tyre behind her, so we all got on with our own training, which was varied, due to the differing levels of injury within the group.  

Running up that hill

Daniel and Coach Tony took to the battle ropes, Matt and Kirsten did sandbag carries, and I decided to stick with doing basic hill repeats, completing 5 in the time available.  It was a good opportunity for me to try them out to determine if they were suitable for the next part of my 10K training plan.  There was good encouragement along the way as we passed each other.  

Battle ropes

Coach Tony was taking Kirsten through a serious of drills for her shoulder, so I joined in with that because I am always looking for ways to better my shoulder mobility.  It had been a good little session, and I had covered 4.6 kilometres with 111 metres of elevation in 47 minutes and 33 seconds.  We took all the kit back to the cars and then drove over to Rebecca’s house.  I had wondered if we would be running to get there, but this was a far better idea.

Half-way selfie !!!

The rig looked excellent.  By which I mean it looked way beyond my capabilities.  Rebecca showed us how to do it.  By which I mean she absolutely smashed it !!!  

Awesome rig

She climbed up on to the rope traverse, got across that to a trapeze bar, moved on to some bars, rings, a hanging tyre, and another traverse.  Coach Tony had a go, and demonstrated some different techniques, although I honestly believe you have to be part gorilla to be able to use them.  Daniel had a few attempts, improving each time, benefiting from the advice the group were providing, with Rebecca and Kirsten able to pitch in as well as Coach Tony, and really showed us how to use the trapeze bar.  

Daniel showing his best side

Matt was working on his monkey bar technique.  I did some hanging around on the rings and the bars to work on my grip strength, tried the rope traverse until it began to hurt and burn because I only had short socks on, and also got back on a rope, working through the excellent advice I had received at the Wild Forest Gym from Tristan Steed (and, no, I am not going to shut up about that any time soon !!!), again until I started to burn the bottom of my legs on the rope.  

Must keep trying…

I must get some longer socks.  And more upper body strength.  And less weight.  Rebecca had disappeared and soon came back with tea, coffee and bacon sandwiches – the real reason why I come to these training sessions.  

The real reason we turn up every Sunday morning

It had been another excellent morning training with an awesome group of friends.

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