Regiment Fitness are putting on 4 free training camps in the build up to the Warrior Adrenaline Race in April and I intend to go along to all 4 of them, and report back on them here. You can read my blog about the first training camp here, and this is about the second one. The remaining training camps are being held on Dunstable Downs from 1130 until 1300 on Saturdays 15 March and 5 April. You do have to pay £2 for parking but that goes to the National Trust anyway so you should not have an issue with that.
I had to take a detour while driving from St Albans to Dunstable Downs because a tree was down over one of the back roads. Fortunately I had a lot of time to play with because I was getting there early to do some of my own training, which was a decision I came to regret – the last thing I needed to do before this training camp were extra hill climbs. Still, at least it was a dry morning, even if the cold wind was blowing up a storm ! I recognised a few more faces at this training camp, with some over from the Regiment Fitness sessions at Welwyn Garden City and a few more than last time here from St Albans.
I did not recognise all the instructors, though, with their numbers increased to deal with the huge demand for these training camps, although I did know Shaun Casey, Adam Meakins and Steven Nodwell, of course, and there was Coxy (Michael Cox) from Harpenden sessions and Dean Clarke from the last training camp. That is one aspect I really enjoy about Regiment Fitness, that you get to know these guys and they really do get to know you.
Steven was running the show again and told us to split into three groups, beginners, intermediate and advanced. It sounds like the intermediate group did much the same as I described in my blog about the first training camp, but being the fool that I am, I went with the advanced group. We were told we would be with Graham Grover, that we should each get a weighted bergen, containing 12.5kgs, and then we were off. No warm up, no introductions, just running away across the front of the Visitor Centre, heading towards the trees and part of the route which forms the end of the Warrior Adrenaline Race. We stopped to form two ranks and after Graham told us we would warm up around the corner, we set off again down the track on what was now clearly going to be a bergen run. When we reached the trees we turned left onto a track which was very muddy and wet thanks to the recent weather, and then turned right at the end of that before we joined a road track. Graham brought us to a halt and we took off the bergens so that we could warm up with some dynamic movements while running on the spot.
That warm up did not last too long before we put the bergens back on and were off again, running down the built up track to the other end, where we stopped in two ranks facing each other to do squats. Which is when I noticed we had another instructor, Doug Hall, with us. He kept telling us to go down another inch in the squats, and I kept doing that, until I realised he was repeating it as he went up the line and I was not actually meant to be another five inches lower at this point. I was still feeling good at this time, and the weight of the bergen was not causing me any problems.
We continued along more muddy tracks before coming into a field where we stopped to do squat jumps, still with the bergens on our backs. Doug came along to encourage us but in not time at all we were off again, heading to a gate into the next field which caused a bottleneck and saw me drop from the middle of the pack to the back. That was the beginning of my downfall. We were running through fields now, going through gates on to tracks which largely consisted of mud and water and muddy water and watery mud, and the bottlenecks were building as the tracks got narrower, to the extent that running at the back became walking at the back and I lost my momentum.
We came to a clearing and adopted the press up position, still with the bergens on our back, holding it until we were sent off one by one to run through a gate and out to Graham and back, and then we were off, going away from the Warrior Adrenaline Race route to run along the top of the hills, running down and up the slopes a couple of times before climbing over a gate and stopping to get into the squat position again. Then we were crawling along in the mud in pairs, racing to Doug, before getting up to run into the woods so that we could crawl through the tunnels which form part of the Warrior Adrenaline Race. I took off my bergen and threw it into the tunnel, pushing it ahead of me as I crawled along, until Graham helped it out at the other end and I found Adam waiting for us all with his camera.
We ran through the woods until we came out into another field, where we ran up and down the slope in daisy chains. Which is when I noticed I had cut my knee, and more annoyingly, seemed to have a bit of stone in the cut. Dealing with that would save until later. Abbie Sol and I got away from there first to follow Graham and we held the lead for at least 10, maybe even 20, metres.
We were running along the top of the slopes again before being told to run down, then across, and then up to the crows nest where Shaun was waiting, presumably because we were then heading to the vans to bring this to a finish. I did think it strange that we would not be taking on Regiment Hill, but thought we must have run out of time. Wishful thinking.
Once we got to the crows nest we were then running down the slope to the other groups (and I am so sorry that in my original post I forgot to mention the storming reception we got from them – I have no idea how so many people seem to know my name !!! It certainly puts an extra spring in your step just when you need it) before heading along the chalk path which follows the climb up Regiment Hill in the Warrior Adrenaline Race, and turning right off there to get to the bottom of Regiment Hill. You may recall that at the beginning of this blog I mentioned I had done my own training earlier in the morning. Well, I had already been here and gone up the hill three times, and now I was wondering if I had a fourth climb in me. With the bergen this time.
Only one way to find out so I headed off, starting with a little jog before really hitting the hill and being brought straight down to a hard slog walk up it. I have very quickly learned that it is best to just keep your head down and do not stop. No matter how slowly the feet may be moving, do not stop. So I just kept going and eventually found myself at the top of the hill, at the point where it joins with the chalk track, so now all I had to manage was the short walk up the slope and over to the vans. Yes, it felt like it would never actually come to an end. And then some of those who had already finished were running out to help us stragglers, including giving a lift under the bottom of the bergen to share the weight, until finally we were at the vans and finished. We had a quick warm down and a group photo to bring everything to a close.
It had been a tough session and a fun session, and all that remained for me was messing around with a pair of tweezers to get that little bit of stone out of my knee. I cannot wait for the next training camp in March !