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 my blog about the second one here, and this is about the third one. The final training camp is being held on Dunstable Downs from 1130 until 1300 on Saturday 5 April. You do have to pay £2.50 for parking but that goes to the National Trust anyway so you should not have an issue with that.
My time up at Dunstable Downs did not get off to the best start. First of all I bought a parking ticket, put it on my dashboard and then when I opened my door to answer a question from the people in the car next to me it was blown off by the wind and I could not find it despite a thorough search, which was a little baffling. I put up my parking ticket from last week in the hope that anyone checking would not look too closely. Then I tried to get my Strava working to record whatever running we would be doing today but my phone was telling me that despite being in the open air on the top of Dunstable Downs it could not pick up a GPS signal. Still, it was not as bad a situation as Dean Clarke found himself in, with what seemed like hundreds of participants and with only five minutes to go before the start him the only Regiment Fitness instructor present.
And there really were a lot of people up for this today – so many, in fact, that I did not notice some familiar faces until after we had finished, or indeed not at all. Dean told us what was going to happen and as his introduction came to an end a couple of Regiment Fitness vans came screeching round the corner and we were ready to be split into our groups.
I decided to go with the hard group again, which was being taken by Liam Trainor and Graham Grover, and there were so many of us that we had to get into three ranks so they could count us. Then we were off for a running warm up, going across infront of the Visitor Centre and over to the other side of the top of the hill, adding in dynamic movements before enjoying some sprints out to Liam and back, after which we ran back to the vans and began a long series of squats, starting with ten and working our way down to four, holding in a low squat for some time between sets. I think we also managed to get a run down to the crows nest and back for our troubles before the full horror of today’s activity was revealed to us – a log run.
We split into teams of 4 for each 20kg log, and as there were so many of us that there were not sufficient logs to go round, those left without a log were instructed to swap in and out as fatigue required. We were told to carry the logs under our arms and not on our shoulders, because that would mean the log would not bang against our heads, and then we were off, running over the top of the Downs before we left the area infront of the Visitor Centre and entered the next field. This already felt more difficult than the last time with the bergens, because not only were the bergens an easier carry on the back than the awkward logs, but now we were also having to work in a team rather than pushing on alone. And the logs were awkward, seemingly not quite long enough for four people to fit comfortably along their length while running with them, and because of the weight on the arms we were having to swap around sides in any event to give each arm a rest, and then there was the matter of the different heights within the team – we were quite fortunate to have two pairs of around the same height, but there was still a distinct difference between myself and the shortest person in our team.
We stormed into the next field and stopped at the bottom of the slope to hold the log above our heads with straight arms while in the squat position. Then we were instructed to run up the slope and back, and in our team we ran to the top, then turned ourselves round on the log so that the person at the back (me) was now at the front running down the slope. Some teams were being told to run again because they did not have four people on the log, but we were told to return to the squat position with the log held over our head, which we did. In fact, Graham came past and said we were good, but then he came past again and said one of us was not squatting low enough while looking at Jasmine, who was the person in front of me. That seemed a little harsh as I had not seen any difference in her position, but there we were, running up and down the slope again, although as we were running down the slope this time another team came in from our right and we had to slow down to avoid a collision. There seemed to be a constant stream of logs going up and down the slope, and then we were off again, running along the bottom of this slope until we reached another and were running up to the top of it before we put down the log and got into the plank position on it. That was not intended to be a rest and certainly did not feel like one. We were soon off again anyway, running down the slope with Liam encouraging me to push from the back of the log, then running back up to the top again and round to the right to run along the top of the slope before going through a gate (which almost caused all number of collisions) and running to the edge of the Downs and the stony track which led off to the left.
It was at this point, as we stood there holding the logs and waiting to be set off running again, that I spoke with Amy (without realising it ! Oh, the shame of it, and for that I am eternally sorry !) and we made the comment that this was so much harder than running with the bergens. I guessed that we would be following the route which had brought us to this point on the last training camp, and sure enough we were soon off running along the muddy, stony track, sometimes running alongside another team, sometimes going down to single file, overtaking and being overtaken as people moved about on their logs or tried to avoid the puddles of mud. Or just trying to get past the accident that is waiting to happen which is Nina. Then we were queueing to get through some more gates into another field, where we lined up in our teams facing each other, holding the log while squatting, before we ran through the middle of the lines, and as we had lined up at the end we were now in the lead ! And we kept that lead as we carried on to the end of the field, before being overtaken as we turned left out of the field and came up a pathway. We turned right, then left, and eventually came out on to a lane which we all recognised and knew we would be following until we came to the Downs again. We were now going down to two on the log to allow people to recover, but also because it was just getting too difficult to run with the four of us on the log, swapping in and out by height in our pairs until we were out on the Downs again and could see the Visitor Centre at the end of the track. It did not look that close. We had been running for the whole time that we had switched to carrying the log in pairs, with the pair not carrying running alongside, and I had come back on to the log as we came out on to the track which led to the Visitor Centre. Now I was determined to continue with it until the end.
As we came off the track and onto the grass some of those who had already finished came running back to help. In some cases that appeared to work very well, but in others, as we found with Ian (who I know from the St Albans sessions) the height variation just made it impossible for him to get on to our log. His words of encouragement did the trick, though, as he ran alongside us and got us over some humps and across the ground infront of the Visitor Centre. We ran the log back in to the far side of a one of the other groups doing their warm down, but our session was not over yet.
Now we were back in our teams of four holding the log above our heads, then raising it and lowering it on to our shoulders, before running out with it to the crows nest and back. And still our session was not over as we continued squatting with the log, and squatting, and then some more squatting. I thought we had already done all the available squats in the warm up.
Then we had some plank, because there is always a time and some space for plank, but because we were seemingly not doing the plank sufficiently well enough we had another run out to the crows nest and back before another brilliant session was brought to a close with the warm down. This had definitely been another step up and there is a part of me which cannot wait to find out what they have planned for Saturday 5 April. Of course, there is another part of me which wants to run away and hide for the day ! I will see you all there…