CMC 101: What is it and why should I care?

WHAT THE HECK IS THE CIVILIAN MILITARY COMBINE?

So, you’re thinking about joining our team for the Civilian Military Combine, but you’re still not quite sure what it entails. Well, beyond encouraging you to visit the CMC website and watch their awesome pump up video, we figured it was about time we wrote a post about it.

To give you the quick and dirty version, the CMC is a combination of a short, high intensity workout, known as “the Pit”, immediately followed by a 4+ mile race packed with military-inspired obstacles – climbing walls, crawling through mud, pushing sleds – that kind of stuff. The race was co-founded in 2010 by Matt Keller and Sean Rogers, two former college roommates. As mud races gained popularity, they participated in their fair share, and while they had a blast doing them, they felt there was an element missing. They wanted to add a piece that would require athletes not only to excel in speed and endurance, but also strength and power – enter: The Pit. Moreover, Matt and Sean both have close military ties, and they wanted a way to bring both civilians and military together to raise awareness and honor those who have or are currently serving. Thus, the Civilian Military Combine was born.

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HOW IS THE CMC DIFFERENT FROM ALL THESE OTHER MUD RACES THAT I HEAR ABOUT? 

Two words: The Pit. The Pit is the revolutionary piece that is completely unique to CMC. No other race has anything like it. The combination of the Pit and obstacle course has attracted thousands of hybrid athletes that do not specialize in one aspect of fitness, but aim to excel across the board – from power and strength to endurance, agility and speed. In other words, being well-rounded instead of specialized works to your advantage here.

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Another cool thing about the CMC is that 80% of participants register as part of a team. This doesn’t mean that you have to remain with your team throughout the entire race (yes, I know some of you are super competitive), but you all enter the Pit in the same heat and start the race together, and let me tell you that knowing you’re surrounded by a team of your biggest supporters as you walk into the Pit is HUGE!

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WHERE DOES A2A/POWERCAKES COME INTO THE PICTURE? 

Having participated in a couple of CMCs in the past, we were beyond AMPED and honored when Sean contacted us about creating a team and having a presence at the race this year. So we met with him (over a workout, of course), and were immediately blown away by his energy. Those who have run the CMC before might recognize him as “the guy on the mic.”

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His enthusiasm for CMC was infectious, and we could tell right away that this is going to be a huge year for them, and that we wanted to be a part of it. As we began putting a game plan together and reaching out to people about joining our team, we thought of our good friend, Kasey, AKA of Powercakes, and thought, why not team up with another fitness powerhouse, create a super team and race the CMC together?!

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HAVE YOU RACED A CMC BEFORE? WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

We were introduced to the CMC a year ago, by our good friend and trainer, Dennys, and signed up for our very first race in New York City last April. We weren’t really sure how to train, so we just continued working out like we normally do and threw in a “Pit Practice” once a week. It was a FREEZING cold spring morning and 7 minutes of the Pit left everyone sounding like avid smokers, but we powered through, pain faces included.

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The obstacle race for this one was short and sweet, just like we like it! A prowler push immediately followed by a sandbag carry up a gazillion flight of stairs, a few walls, farmers carry, cargo net rolls, and BOOM, we were done!

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Once we finished the race, all we could think about was signing up for the next event in September, which we did immediately (after a little post-race celebration…)

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September rolled around and we were stronger, faster and ready to rock. It was a much nicer day, and the atmosphere at the venue was infectious. There were dozens of teams getting amped up to compete – from gyms, Crossfit boxes, and random groups of friends. The energy was pretty incredible. As they called our team into the Pit, we each jogged to our stations, where our judges introduced themselves and reviewed each of the movement standards with us. As the countdown began – 3, 2, 1…GO!, the butterflies in our stomaches were in full force, and we once again why the heck we signed up for this. Once we started though, adrenaline kicked in, we found our own grooves and we kept pushing. Each time we wanted to stop and just lay there on the ground and catch our breath, we told ourselves, it’s only 7 minutes! You can do anything for 7 minutes! Plus, our judges were super encouraging and kept telling us what a great pace we were keeping, which helped a ton. Julia ended up going well beyond her expectations, outperforming her April performance by a long shot with 161 reps! Kayte rock in with 153 – a solid performance by average2athlete and our entire team!

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We then had about 2 minutes to recover before we were sent off into the obstacle race. The beginning was a nice jog, which most of us used as active recovery as we were still coming down from the Pit. We were then faced with about 3 miles of obstacles, from hopping over walls to crawling through mud, climbing cargo nets and pushing heavy sleds. It seemed to fly by because we were having so much fun. Even though our entire team got separated during the course, we were surrounded the entire time by athletes who were in the same boat, facing one obstacle at a time, helping each other over walls and coaching each other along the way.

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Crossing the finish line was a great feeling, especially knowing we had a cold beer waiting for us, but the best part was watching the other athletes coming through and seeing the combined look of pride, relief, and exuberance on each and every person’s face. Pretty awesome.

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We can’t wait to race again this year – not to compete, but to run alongside our teammates as they get to take part in this same incredible experience.

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And of course, to enjoy a post-race beer with a bunch of awesome athletes!

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OK, I THINK I’M INTERESTED…BUT WILL I BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT? HOW DO I TRAIN?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! To start, this year’s Pit includes 4 different variations of increasing difficulty, so that any athlete can participate, regardless of their fitness level or limitations.

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The folks at CMC will be posting videos with the movement standards for Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta very soon, so stay tuned.

As far as training, there are several things that you can do, and we’ll be helping you along the way:

  1. a2aWOW: Those of you who follow us on Instagram may have noticed that for the past several weeks, we’ve been posting workouts that people can do at home, requiring little to no equipment. These are typically meant to increase “metabolic conditioning” – aka get you read for the Pit. So take a look and start doing these if you haven’t already.
  2. Training Program: Taking the a2aWOW a step further, we’re going to be creating a training program for you guys. We’ll put together a calendar that will most likely include a day for the a2aWOW, a day to practice the Pit, a day of strength exercises (designed to increase your pulling strength for things like climbing over walls) and an endurance day, to help you conquer the obstacle course. Be on the lookout for this to appear mid-March!
  3. CMC Meet-ups: CMC will be hosting a series of meet-ups throughout the New York area, which will give participants the opportunity to practice the Pit and meet others who are doing the race. We will be attending several of these, and will let you know the exact dates and times.
  4. a2a-Powercakes Team Meet-ups: We will also be hosting our own meet-ups and will keep you informed via social media on dates/times.
  5. High Intensity Training – Learning how to push your body to maximum capacity and increasing that threshold is going to be the biggest factor in training for the CMC. Whether you are following our workouts, training on your own or with a trainer, taking classes or CrossFitting, high intensity training is key.

THIS BLOG POST WAS SO CONVINCING, I’M IN! WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

It’s pretty simple – all you have to do is follow this link to our team page and SIGN UP!!! Use the code CMC20 for $20 off. And stay tuned for more updates!

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I Work Out Because __________ .

Why do you exercise?

Is it because you feel like you have to or because you actually enjoy it? Do you have goals? What are they? Aesthetic goals? Health goals? Performance goals?

The reason I ask, other than my general nosiness curiosity, is because the reasons that you choose to exercise can play a huge role in whether or not you stick with it in the long run, and ultimately, it can either prevent you from or enable you to reach your goals.

I’ll start by describing the two types of motivation that continue to drive people to the gym, track, box, studio, garage, or wherever their exercise venue of choice may be.

Motivation Hierarchy

The first is extrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is all about external goals and can include rewards, guilt, coercion and health and social benefits. It is doing things because we feel like we have to in order to achieve some sort of physical or social benefit.

Most people (including myself) begin to exercise because of extrinsic motivation – you want to lose weight for the summer, fit into your jeans, become more attractive, be thin, get abs. Your doctor may have told you that you needed to start exercising for the sake of your health. You may like the fact that exercising allows you to eat more of what you want and not feel guilty. Maybe there’s a cute guy or girl at the gym that you enjoy staring at and hope to have the courage to talk to one day. The list goes on.

You may be thinking, ok, at least I’m getting my butt to the gym. Why does the motivation part matter?

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Unfortunately, extrinsic motivation does not always persist in the long-run. It may get you to the gym, for a bit, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing anything worthwhile during your time there and you may not see the results you want. Or maybe you did get results, but then the summer comes to an end, and somehow your schedule is suddenly too busy to make it to the gym anymore. The fact of the matter is that you’re much more likely to stay motivated and reach your goals if you truly love what you’re doing.

Enter: intrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is based on internal goals. It is the desire to do things because we want to, not because we feel we have to. We exercise because we truly love and enjoy it. Intrinsic motivation is usually tied to a performance goal, like mastering a skill or sport.

But how do you find it? Well, you need to find some form of exercise you actually want to do. A skill or sport that you want to master. You may not know what it is right now, but try a few things out. Work with a trainer. Try out a Crossfit box. Sign up for a Spartan Race or a half marathon or anything that requires you to train for it.

Trust me, I didn’t hop out of bed one day thinking, I want to lift heavy weights! And do double unders and handstand pushups and pull-ups and…no. I just wanted to look good and after doing a ton of cardio and not seeing any sort of change in my body, I was fortunate enough to start working with a trainer who changed my entire outlook on things by making fitness fun and literally introducing me to a whole new world. And that’s when I knew there was no turning back. I was hooked.

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For the first time, a new level of intensity was brought to my workouts, and soon I wasn’t able to settle for anything less. I became motivated to work harder on my own. I wanted to learn new skills and to get stronger because I finally had goals. And those goals were not tied to a number on the scale or a pant size. They were performance goals. And I reached those goals. And I set new ones. And the more I continue to learn about this whole world of fitness and all of the different things I have to learn, the more excited I get to step into the gym each day.

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Why do you think people are so obsessed with Crossfit? Think about it, there are always new skills to learn. New PRs (personal records) to hit. And once you hit those, you set new goals for yourself, and you go after those. You focus on your performance. And guess what? Combined with a little healthy eating, your body changes and you forget about the scale. You’re focused on your goals and one day you look in the mirror and think, “holy crap, where did these muscles come from?!”

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Ok, that was a little bit of an exaggeration. Apologies for the shameless selfie.

But really, I encourage you to find what you love. It might take some exploring, but you’ll never know until you try. I can’t tell you how many people think they could never be into fitness until they’re introduced to it in the right setting and with the right attitude, and then they couldn’t get enough. I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone in my life that has made it fun for me and been a key factor in finding my intrinsic motivation. And there are people, or activities, out there that could do the same for you. You just have to go out there and find them. That’s the first step. The hardest and scariest step. The rest is easy 😉

Let’s get personal. Then eat some meatloaf.

The other day someone asked me, How long did it take you to get into the shape you’re in now?

Well, I wasn’t really sure how to answer that. I guess I had never really thought about it that way. For me, getting “in shape” is a continuous journey with no clear end in sight. I can always be faster, get stronger, jump higher. But I know this hasn’t always been my way of thinking. I’ve gone through several different mindsets when it comes to fitness. And several ups and downs.

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So how did I get to where I am today? When did working out stop becoming a chore and start becoming something I look forward to each day? Well, to answer that,  I’m going to tell you a little story about a few key influencers that have shaped me (pun intended) into the person that I am today.

Apologies in advance for such a lengthy post…

Influencer #1: The Gymnast

I honestly don’t even remember how I got into gymnastics. I always just assumed that cartwheeling and flipping and jumping around was just something that every little kid did. And I was obsessed with Mary Lou Retton. I wrote every report on her in elementary school. Dressed up like her on “Famous Person’s Day.” I wanted to train with Béla Károlyi one day. You get the picture…

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Every day after school, I would put on my leotard and be carted off to the gym for practice, which consisted of about 3 hours of stretching, skill work and conditioning. Then on Saturday morning I was back in the gym for more practice. When I went on vacation, I was given conditioning lists so that I could stay in shape while I was gone, which I obviously hated. Ironically, those lists look very similar to the types of workouts I do today – push-ups, jumps, squats, lunges, handstand push-ups, sit-ups, planks.

Needless to say, by the time I got to middle school, I was pretty burnt out and decided it was time to throw in the towel. I obviously wasn’t going to make it to the Olympics, and I wanted whatever social life I was missing out on as a 12 year old. Had I known what was about to happen to my body, I may have reconsidered that decision. The year that I quit, I grew four inches and gained at least 25 pounds. For the first time in my life, I hated my body. I felt short, stalky and chubby, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

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8th Grade Cheerleading

I wish I had better pictures from these days but unfortunately they are all stuffed away in boxes in Houston. Next time I’m home, I will dig them up and post a few, I promise…

Influencer #2: The Rugby Player

Luckily, I was still playing sports – volleyball, soccer and cheerleading – so I eventually adjusted to my new body. However, after quitting organized sports for good my sophomore year of high school, I noticed myself gaining some weight and joined a gym for the first time. I went through the usual introductory session with a trainer, learned how to use the elliptical and the weight machines, and while I rarely touch the weight machines today, this period served as my introduction to weight lifting. I noticed myself developing some muscle tone and losing some weight. However, I started to get bored with my little weight circuit and noticed myself starting to plateau.

It wasn’t until I joined a new gym and met Kenneth, who showed me a different way of working out – using free weights, the Bosu, medicine balls and interval training – that I really began to notice a difference in my body. Moreover, this way of exercising was way more fun than sitting mindlessly on the weight machines repeating rep after rep. I began incorporating what he taught me into my own workouts, and I also started reading magazines and coming up with my own exercises and routines. This is when I realized how much I loved fitness (and some might say, when I started to become a “gym rat”). I will always have Kenneth to think for that 🙂

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Kenneth conquering the muscle up

Influencer #3: The Sergeant

The summer before going off to college, I did my first Bootcamp. A friend of mine had done it as part of his preparation before going off to the Naval Academy and knew it would be something I’d love. Just to clarify, we’re not talking Barry’s Bootcamp with air conditioning, music and a peppy dude with a headset leading the class. Think muddy field, 5:30am, dark, 95+ degree temperatures and 100% humidity (Houston in July). There was a lot of yelling, a lot of mud and a lot of pain. Bootcamp was led by a former Army Sargeant  named Jay, who screamed more than anyone I’ve ever met. There was no equipment necessary – just pushups, sit-ups, burpees, jumping jacks, sprints – you get the picture. At the end of Bootcamp, we completed the Army Physical Fitness Test to measure our progress: as many push-ups as possible in 90 seconds, as many sit-ups as possible in 90 seconds and a timed 2-mile run. I was very proud to score a 300, the highest possible score! I was shocked with my progress. There was no going back now.

Influencer #4: The Runn

Then I went to college. While I did continue my workout regime, I fell victim to the temptations of the unlimited Freshman meal plan as well as binge drinking and the late night and hungover junk food that comes along with it. I came home the summer after Freshman year very upset with myself about the weight I had gained and immediately put myself on a restricted diet. I lost weight, was back to my normal fit size by the time I returned sophomore year, only to repeat the process all over again. It wasn’t until my junior year of college, when I lived in my own apartment and was able to make my own food that I finally felt in control of my health.

However, I still felt that I needed some sort of fitness goal to work towards. Growing up, I watched my mom run every day, whether she was training for a marathon or just going for a jog to get away from the rest of us. I knew it must be great for you because my mom was in amazing shape, but I just thought it was torture. Maybe because it is used as a form of torture when you’re playing sports. Or maybe because Houston is just so damn hot that doing anything outside just seems insane.

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Mom after hitting a new PR during the 10k Turkey Trot in Houston

Well to my surprise, and thanks to the beautiful backdrop of North Carolina and the Duke campus, I started to enjoy running once I got to college. So at the end of junior year, a few friends and I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for our first half marathon senior year of college in Virginia Beach, VA. I trained all summer long and when the big day came I had a great run and was hooked. I finally knew what my mom had been raving about all these years. This was the first time since quitting sports at 15 that I had a goal to work towards and I loved it. I decided to sign up for the Houston half marathon the following January. And two more after that.

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After the 2010 Houston Half Marathon

Influencer #5: The Fighter

Please excuse me for getting sentimental in these next two sections. Feel free to scroll to the recipe at the bottom if I get to mushy for you…

While I still loved running, I started to get bored, particularly after I moved to NYC and found that the places to run were limited and repetitive. I also started to suffer from some nagging injuries, most likely due to the same repetitive movement of running. I still lifted weights in the gym, but I felt like I was in a rut. I was plateauing. I was always tired. I was overtraining. I needed to set some new goals.

That’s when I met Dennys. I was apprehensive to start training with him at first, mostly because if you’ve ever seen the cost of a personal trainer in NYC, you know it’s insanely expensive. But, I knew I needed that extra motivation to pull me out of my rut, so I decided that there were probably a few things in my life I could sacrifice for the sake of fitness (little did I know this would become my motto in life). Plus, how could I not be motivated by this?!

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For the sake of not turning this blog post into a novel, I’ll try to keep the rest of this short. Since I began training with Dennys over 2 years ago, he’s taught me how to be a badass. In other words, he taught me to stop training like a little girl and start lifting like a boss. I learned all about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), how to use kettlebells, TRX training, Olympic lifting and so much more.

And the best part was, not only did he just tell me what to do each session, he told me why we were doing it. He wanted me to learn. For the first time, I felt accountable and I wanted to make the most out of my time with Dennys. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was working towards at the time, I just knew I wanted to get faster and stronger. Basically, I knew I wanted to be as awesome as him.

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48″ box jump

If it weren’t for Dennys, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. His outlook on life and drive to positively impact the lives of others, inspires me to strive to do the same each and every day. And I am forever grateful for that.

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Influencer #6: The Girls

Finally, there are my “swollmates.”

First, there’s Kayte, my blogger-in-crime. Without her, I would not have had the motivation to actually get my butt in gear and start this blog. She has also inspired me to get back into gymnastics.

Then there’s Nicole. Dennys introduced me to Nicole as another one of his clients. I immediately recognized how awesome she was and knew I needed to befriend her. She’s an allstar athlete (Penn State Women’s bball star!) and one of the strongest and most positive people I’ve ever met. And a great workout partner!

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Last but not least, there’s Emily. I also met Emily through Dennys (like I said, I don’t know where I would be without that guy!), and I am so thankful for that introduction. She is incredibly supportive and always willing to listen to my “problems”, regardless of how silly they may be. She also won’t hesitate to put me in my place if I’m being a twit, which happens often. Oh, and did I mention she’s a total beast?

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32″ box jump!

It is so important to surround yourself with people who support you in reaching your goals, and these girls have done just that. They motivate me to get my butt into gear each and every day!

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Back to the Present

So I guess that was a long-winded answer to a simple question, but I feel like it paints a pretty good picture of how I got to where I am today. Working out is no longer a chore, it’s something I enjoy. Not only because it relieves stress and gives me energy, but because each workout is an opportunity to become stronger, faster and hone my skills. In a way, I feel like I’m back where I was as a 6 year old gymnast because my training actually has a purpose. I can’t stress how much focusing my goals around performance has totally changed my outlook on fitness. As soon as I stopped focusing my fitness goals around my body image and more around athletic performance (combined with clean eating, of course), the physical appearance part took care of itself.

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If you’ve made it to the end of this post, I think you deserve a recipe. So I give you turkey meatloaf.

Turkey Meatloaf

Recipe adapted from paleOMG and Fed & Fit.

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Loaf:

1 lb ground turkey

1 small yellow onion, chopped

½ bell pepper, chopped

½ cup fresh tomato, chopped

¼ cup almond meal/coconut flour (optional)

1 egg

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt/pepper/any other seasonings of choice to taste

Sauce:

½ jar Rao’s Homeade Marinara Sauce or other organic tomato sauce

½ can tomato paste

3 tbsp grainy/spicy mustard

2 tbps balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all loaf ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix (use your hands!) until well combined. Add mixture into 2 mini loaf pans, 1 large loaf pan or form a loaf on a turkey roasting pan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix all ingredients for the sauce together. After the loaf is done baking, remove from oven and turn the heat up to 450. “Ice” the loaf with the tomato sauce mixture, covering all sides (or just the top if you’re using a loaf pan). Once the oven has reached 450, place the loaf back in the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. When finished, the tomato sauce should form a thick “icing” on top of the loaf.

Let cool for a few minutes, then dig in! Great for leftovers too 🙂

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Have a great weekend, y’all!

Julia

Team Sparta: CMC Intrepid Recap

Last weekend, we competed as a team in the Civilian Military Combine (CMC) on the USS Intrepid. For those who are not familiar with the CMC, it’s an obstacle race that supports Operation Homefront and the Heroes of Tomorrow. While it’s similar to a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race, there’s one additional element that is unique to the CMC, Hell The Pit. But before we go into the details of the race, we want to introduce Team Sparta.

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  Our team was made up of 12 awesome athletes, evenly split between ladies and gents. We all love to train, and we also love flexing.

 Ok, back to the Pit. The Pit is a workout that you complete before the obstacle course. For this event, the Pit was a 7 minute AMRAP (as many repetitions as possible) of:

 7 Push-press (45lbs, girls/75lbs, boys)

7 KB swings (26lbs, girls/40lbs, boys)

7 Box-jump over burpees (20” box, universal)

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  I’m pretty sure our faces say it all.

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 After 7 minutes of the Pit, it would be nice to lay down and take a little rest, right?. WRONG. You have 90 seconds to recover or grab a sip of water (if you can swallow in between gasps), before you’re “released” into the obstacle course.

Because the event was held on the Intrepid, the obstacle course was a half mile sprint, which consisted of a sled push, sandbag and water bucket carries, crawling through nets and lots and lots of climbing.

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  We were one of the only teams not from a Crossfit box, and we came in 18th out of 48. Not too shabby!

 We were pretty happy with our individual results as well 🙂

Pit Obstacle Course Rank
Kayte 144 reps 9:05 5/188 females (and first in her age group!)
Julia 142 reps 10:20 10/188 females

 And even happier to be finished!

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  The atmosphere on the Intrepid was incredible. Despite the freezing temperatures (ok, maybe it wasn’t that cold but it was on the water and some of us may not have worn enough clothing…), everyone was amped to be participating in such an exciting event. The judges were all super supportive as well, cheering on each and every athlete and encouraging them to get out every last rep. And it was cool to see people of various athletic backgrounds in all different stages of their training come together and give it a go.  Really goes to show that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it!

Since we each approached the race slightly differently, we thought we’d also give you a recap of the event from our individual perspectives…

Kayte

 I was a little apprehensive about this race.  For the last 2 months, I haven’t been training for power or working on upper body strength because of the pinched nerve in my neck.  I wasn’t even sure I would be able to participate until the doctor gave me the “OK” 1 week before.  On the Monday before CMC, I decided that I should go for a test run of “The Pit” in a closed environment.  I got through the whole 7 minutes at a moderate pace and didn’t feel any additional pain, so I made the decision to go for it!  My goal was to just get through the day without hurting myself.

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The morning of, I was a little anxious, but as Team Sparta started to gather at the gym, I began to get more and more pumped!  We all seemed to feed off of each other’s energy, which is the great thing about doing these events with other like-minded, positive athletes who inspire you.

Although I hadn’t trained for this specific event, staying active and doing what I was able while injured, along with a solid base of power and strength that I have from years of training, allowed me to be able to complete the course at a competitive level.  The course involved a lot of climbing, and I’m pretty much a monkey with my gymnastics background, so I really felt comfortable with the obstacles.

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 Despite being able to get through the course without serious preparation, I really felt the effects of it afterwards.  My shoulders were so sore and I couldn’t lift my arms up until Wednesday without being reminded of the CMC on Saturday!

Julia

Signing up for the CMC was an easy decision for me. I sort of have a hard time saying no to any type of physical challenge. Plus, a couple of my teammates did the CMC in Brooklyn last September and wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it was, so I knew there was no chance I was missing out on this one.

 As someone who always likes to be thoroughly prepared, upon signing up I immediately visited the CMC website and watched the Pit instructional videosso that I would know exactly what each element entailed (no way was I going to get a “no rep!”). I practiced the Pit once a week for about a month, and even though I knew exactly what to expect the day of, my stomach was still doing somersaults as we waited for the countdown to begin. There really is no other feeling like pre-race nerves!

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 My performance during the actual event was pretty much on par with my performance in practice. But it felt SO much harder. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t properly warmed up, or if I was just having a bad day, but by the time I was on round 3, I wanted to lay on the ground in the middle of my burpees and not get back up. Luckily, the screaming judges and rowdy crowd were enough to push me through, and the 7 minutes of torture finally ended.

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  Even though I know my score was definitely above average, I was slightly disappointed because I had been hoping to do a little more with adrenaline kicking in and all. But, at least I know a couple of things that I’m going to do differently in my training next time: use heavier weight and practice lateral box jumps (that part really threw me for a loop). I’ll also be incorporating more running and climbing stairs with sandbags and medicine balls in preparation for a longer, more rugged obstacle course.

It was a pretty amazing day all around, and we could not be more proud of our team’s performance. Check out more pics of Team Sparta in action here.

 Oh, and the day obviously would not have been complete without a few post-race beverages.

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 So what’s next? Several members of Team Sparta have decided to sign up for the another CMC in Camelback, PA on May 18th. Follow our workouts on Instagram (@average2athlete) to see how we’re preparing, and let us know if you’ll be there too!

 Now, time to start training…

 Kayte & Julia

Performance Training, Plyometrics & Pizza

I’ve mentioned before that I love plyometrics. (Plyometrics, “Jump Training” or “Plyos” are explosive exercises that exert max force in a very short amount of time. For more info, check out this page.) I also love any kind of training that really gets my heart rate up, gets me breathing heavy and leaves me feeling like I might fall over or pass out! I guess it reminds me of conditioning for sports and makes me feel athletic…or maybe I’m just an adrenaline junky! Either way, any HIIT, circuits, cross-fit, sprints etc makes me feel amazing and yields results!

Some of my favorite plyometrics!

Some of my favorite plyometrics!

I mentioned last week that I had, on occasion, received flack from other trainers about all of the high-intensity jumping and plyometric training that I previous had in my program.  While most of the jabs were well intentioned, after a while I started to question myself and began to shy away from jump-training. Instead of listening to my body and training in a way that worked best for me, I was altering my program to fit other people’s expectations.  My body wasn’t responding as well as it previously had and I wasn’t feeling as accomplished post-workout.

Last week, I came across an article in oxygen magazine about the benefits of plyometrics, that got my wheels spinning. Some of the key notes from the article were that plyos;

  1. Improve athletic performance
  2. Encourage muscle change and adaptation
  3. Increase metabolism and post-workout calorie burn

While these statements certainly support my love of plyos, it was this quote from strength and conditioning coach, Molly Galbraith, that really hit home and got me thinking:

“Plyometrics teach you how to produce force, absorb impact on landing and enhance body control, all of which contribute to stronger joints, a reduced risk of injury, and better skills when playing sports.”

This really opened my eyes and I began to notice a correlation between my training and recent injuries. Over the last 6 months I have incurred 2 injuries that have completely halted my training.  I currently have a pinched nerve (possibly a herniated disk) that started as a sore neck the day before I left to cheer for the NBA All Star Games in February and worsened during the week while we performed.  In addition to that injury, I sprained my ankle in October at practice the day before leaving for a 2 week NBA cheerleading trip around the world.

I Spy!  Can you spot the air cast in all of these pics?

I Spy! Can you spot the air cast in all of these pics?

Before these incidents, I had never really been one to have injuries.  Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely a little reckless and careless in a bull-in-a-china-shop kind of way, but I’m also very “durable” as my husband would put it.  I’ve spent a fair share of time in the ER for stitches, concussions and the occasional broken finger, but I’ve never really had an injury that kept me “on the bench” so to speak.  Since Both injuries happened while cheerleading, I initially came to the most logical conclusion, Cheerleading = Injury.  I thought, “Maybe this is a sign that it’s time to hang up my pom-poms, because lets face it, 29 is a little old to still be cheering!”  And while age may play a little part, I’m thinking there may be more to it.

After taking another look at my training and injuries with the article in mind, I started thinking that maybe the correlation wasn’t directly caused by cheerleading (or age,) but by the change in my program.  Since I began working out in a gym 11 years ago, I was training for my sport….Cheerleading. Everything I did in the gym was geared towards becoming a better athlete.  And while I have always kept a well rounded program, we (the cheerleaders) definitely had more plyometrics and jumping than say, a marathon runner would…and for good reason, you practice what you will perform.  Maybe these injuries had occurred because I was no longer as conditioned to perform cheerleading skills as I had been in the past.  You need to train for your sport.  If I am going to jump and flip, I should continue to train to be able to jump and flip.

Jump & Flip

Jump & Flip

Moral of the story, listen to your body. You are the one who is ultimately responsible for your health and the one who has to live with your decisions.  When it comes to training, there is so much information out there…so learn all you can, apply what think you need and make the decisions that are best for you!

listen-to-your-body

I am so looking forward to returning to my normal, balanced training program, complete with plyometrics!  If you are looking for some plyometric moves to add to your routine, check out some exercises on our YouTube channel. My friend, college roommate, and kick-ass group fitness instructor, Caitlin McGowan and I videoed some of our favorite moves after her class yesterday.

Check out our YouTube channel here!

After Caitlin's class

After Caitlin’s class

As a final note, while working through these injuries, it has been especially important to keep my diet extra clean! Check out this Egg White “Pizza” that I tried this week!

Egg White Pizza

Egg White Pizza

Egg White Pizza

1.) Spray frying pan with oil, then cook egg white mixture (below) into omelette “crust.” Flip when fully cooked

  • 5 egg whites (Add 1 Tbsp water and pepper to taste)

2.) Mix the following together and spread onto cooked eggs

  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

3.) Add to following onto the tomato sauce until cheese melts

  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • sliced veggies (we chose mushrooms)
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese

*Recipe adapted from “Clean Eating Quick & Easy Meals”

Enjoy!