Obstacle Course Race Training : Verulamium Park (Circuit)

It feels like a long time since I was last at obstacle course race training on a Sunday morning.  Too long a time.  My life has been dominated by work since the end of 2016 and as a result my fitness has really gone downhill.  I am pushing on again now, determined to get back to the good level of fitness I had been able to reach back in December, before continuing on to improve on that, and these sessions will be a big part of that.

Coach Tony Leary had set the scene earlier in the week, “Morning everyone – putting on a race simulation training session next Sunday morning – non technical but a mixture of upper/lower body strength/power exercises (6-8 carries, pulls etc) followed immediately by a 1k hill loop in Verulamium Park which will be repeated 4-5 times.  As usual it will be tailored to different fitness levels but we will need to know numbers to work out the details.”  He followed that up on the Saturday with the words, “Got everything ready for the morning – I’m planning the exercises so please no maybes, if you have said you are coming I’ll see you at 0730.  That’s all, thank you.” and the following photo :

The kit

We had a good idea of what to expect.

I arrived at the museum car park at 0730 to help set things up and Ray Fletcher was already there, with Tony Leary arriving not long after that.  We were soon joined by Coach Tony Campbell and Dany Grade (both from Team Bigfoot (although between then and the time of writing, Dany has now moved on to Team Nuclear Phoenix, joining Nick Day and Tony Leary from these Sunday morning sessions)), and also by Holly Hall.  Four (very) old timers and two new faces.  I am sure you can guess for yourselves which is which.  We had got everything out of Tony’s car and were setting it up by the time everyone had arrived.  The concept was very simple – a run to the top of the field to warm up, then 6 stations in a circuit, after which we would go on a run again.  The 6 stations were a farmer’s walk using either a pair of dumbbells or a heavier pair of sandbags (which used cut down scaffold as handles); a tyre drag using a harness which went over the shoulder, and with a sandbag in the tyre; a tyre pull using a rope, where we would run out to the end of the length of the rope and then pull it and the tyre to us (with a barrel inside the tyre), before pulling it all back to the beginning; burpees; a barrel or a tree stump carry, carrying it to our chest, the Spartan way; and a sandbag carry.  The drags or carries went from the edge of the park near to the footpath over to the first row of trees and back.

It really was as simple as that.  I found the farmer’s walk, especially, tough with sandbags that heavy, and the running of the laps was difficult for me after putting everything into doing the station relays.  The laps would have been difficult for me anyway.  They were not posing any problems for either Dany or Holly.  We went through three sets of each station in the time available – I covered 6.2 kilometres and Ray covered 7.1 kilometres, with everyone else doing somewhere in between – and it had been an excellent session.  Tony Leary had noticed something about Coach Tony Campbell’s burpees, which Coach Tony Campbell explained were his ‘fast’ burpees.  He did ten of each so that the sets could be timed, and there was a difference of less than 10 seconds between the two, so I think those ‘fast’ ones will be consigned to the bin.

A great little group

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