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Entries in training (7)


Metro Dash Recap

Yesterday I competed in the Charlotte tour stop of the Metro Dash.  This is an event combining all the "fun" of CrossFit training, and mud runs (minus the mud).  The event features a giant obstacle course with elements like rope climbs, tire flips, wall climbs, monkey bars, and carrying lots of heavy implements like logs, medicine balls, and sledge hammers.

Ideally I would have rested and taken an early morning heat, however I was a guest instructor at a charity fundraiser boot camp in the morning.  I was able to get into a later 1:30pm heat (which can also be taken literally, as it was ridiculously hot).  The schedule meant I had about a two-hour window to cram fast-digesting carbs (rice cakes, bananas, Gatorade, Gu gel) into my system to replenish muscle glycogen.

When I arrived for check-in, I was immediately intimidated impressed by the apparent fitness level of the other competitors I saw.  Even the female competitors looked like they could pick me up by my feet and hold me over a balcony. As I sat in a shaded part of the stadium I definitely had a few voices going through my head wondering if I should even go through with this.  My training wasn't ideal leading up to the event (more on this later), however I felt far more prepared for this event than my horrible showing at the Duke Energy Stair Climb this past March.

My waiting time flew by quickly, and after a few last-minute trips to the water fountain, I downed a Gatorade Prime and another Gu gel and headed over to the holding tank for my heat to begin. 

I ended up finishing the course in 11:39 (unofficial) which certainly was not the best time of the afternoon, however mostly I felt good about the performance.  Overall, I was pleased with how I did, since there was no point during the course when I felt the challenge was so great that finishing was in-doubt.

My worst challenge was the first one out of the starting gate - the ladder climb.  One of the tough aspects of an event like this is that unless you have tried a Metro Dash before, you're bound to face an implement for the first time ever.  I had never climbed a rope ladder of this nature before, so after getting my foot caught for the third or fourth time, I just took my legs out and climbed it with upper body alone.

After the subsequent sled push, during the crawl through pipes I paused for a brief moment to catch my breath. My body definitely had its first "woah this is insane, we should have stayed home and watched TV" moment.

After that, I was able to largely push through the rest of the course.  (*note - the one other scary moment was nearly racking myself at the top of one of the wall climbs, which momentarily put my baby-making future in serious jeopardy.) As I said, I was not the fastest competitor there, but definitely came away encouraged enough to be a lock for next year's event if they return to Charlotte.

I would HIGHLY recommend this event to anyone who thinks they are close to having the necessary physical skillset.  Here are a few other scattered thoughts and points of analysis from Metro Dash:

 Train specifically for this event

Much like the Stair Climb events, this event requires event-specific training, or as reasonably close as one can accommodate. If considering an event like Metro Dash, the check list of training disciplines would be:

  • CrossFit
  • Rock or Wall Climbing
  • Bootcamp or Athletic Conditioning classes
  • Pull-ups & Dips (should be able to complete 8-10 reps)

Guys - if you like fit women, this is the place to be.


Sorry but it has to be said.  I've never before been in an atmosphere where 75% of the females in attendance were probably better athletes than me (and I ran college Track & Field for 2.5 years).  In all seriousness, ladies if you spend an hour on the elliptical or stairmaster everyday and think you are getting the most out of your fitness, the women of events like Metro Dash (and CrossFit) would encourage you to branch out a little more.


Get comfortable being "one of the worst"

That's a bit misleading, however I was serious about my earlier point regarding comparative fitness of the ladies group.  Among the men, I would safely put myself in the bottom 25% of overall performers - and I'm a former two-sport college athlete, and certified fitness trainer who works out 5-6 days each week with targeted dietary habits. As I said, I was happy with my performance, but was far from the top of the group.  And I left this event feeling even more motivated (in a positive sense) to attack my training and diet moving forward. 


This is a lesson to anyone who stands on the perimeter of a group fitness class feeling too intimidated to jump in, or skips past P90X or Insanity infomercials on TV because they know they're out-of-shape compared to what they are seeing.  Once in a while everyone should be in an atmosphere that challenges them to improve.  Even the best and the fittest of recreational athletes should challenge himself or herself in an environment where they look around and wonder if they can keep up with everyone else.  Leave your ego in the bag with your car keys and wallet, and go compete.  Chances are one or two of the "all-stars" might end up giving you some encouraging words or helpful tips along the way.  And you might find yourself hungry to come back for more.

As I said, an event like this requires total body fitness, which is why groups like the Navy Seals endorse this style of training.  I will definitely be signing up for the 2012 event, and highly recommend this event to anyone who may fit within the necessary fitness range.




Why Do You Train So Hard?

"Why do you train so hard?"
I get this question a lot - as I'm sure many of you do as well.  I'm asked why I watch what I eat so closely.  I'm asked why I'll sprint on the treadmill like there's a dog behind me.  I'm asked why I'll set my alarm for 4:30am to squeeze in a good workout before heading to the office.  I'm asked why a sane person would enter a half-marathon in the dead of winter.
I have many reasons for why I train so hard, for why the work part of "working out" is actually a labor of love.  But for this project, I wanted to share a lot more than just my own reasons for why I do this.  I wanted to show that the average person you see training like a mad man or a crazy woman isn't so different after all.  They are regular people.

I train so hard because...
"...I believe being physically fit carries into confidence, focus, and clarity in every aspect of life. It also sets a person apart from the sendentary masses."

Andrew, 31
Specialty: Tricep Push Downs

"I train so hard because mom told me to "never settle!" Also, as a former athlete I know nothing but to give 120% at everything I do. Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best!"

Gordon, 25
Marketing & Social Media Manager
Specialty: Soccer, Weight Training, Nutrition, HIIT, Plyometrics


"I train so hard in order to reach my God-given athletic potential and hopefully inspire others along the way!"

Kelly, age 27
personal trainer and triathlon and running coach
specialty: triathlon, running, tennis.
"I train so hard so my mind is clear from stress from all the challenges I face from a hectic but rewarding job. I also like to challenge myself to do better in all aspects of my life, including fitness."
Sharon, 43
PR/Media Manager
Specialty: Long-distance running
"I train so hard for those who cannot. My older brother was born with cerebral palsy and is very limited in his physical activity. I grew up observing his desire to participate and every day I am reminded not to take my ability to be active for granted. Every race I run is for him.
Bethany, 23
Specialty: running, half-marathons, spinning, cross training, P90X.
"I train so hard due to my personal belief that health is the most important investment in the world."

Philip, 27
Director of Information and Technology
Specialty: Running (8k, 10k, half/full marathons), weight training, cycling, swimming, tennis, racquetball, hiking, snowboarding, soccer, life coach.
"I train so hard because it lifts my spirits and makes me a happier person all around.
I like setting goals and challenging myself; there's a great feeling of accomplishment in meeting or exceeding a goal!"

Mary Dare, 34
Group Fitness Instructor/Mother of three
Specialty: long distance running and boot camp classes. Aspiring tri-athlete
"I train so hard because I want to live a long and healthy life with my family. I also want to set a solid example for my children, friends and others who struggle with their weight."
Jonathan, 34
Sports Marketing
Specialty: Interval, Spin/Cycling, Running, Basketball
*Note - Jonathan has lost 60 pounds since the end of 2009 with a goal of losing 80 more.


"I train so hard because it has become a part of who I am. Pushing myself on a daily basis to accomplish task’s that I once was nowhere close to completing, generates such a sense of self achievement that it drives me to continue my progression. My hard training has helped me drop from a totally out of shape 296 lbs to a fit 215 lbs in just 6 months. It has also helped me maintain this 215 lbs for over a year now and drop my once 12 minute mile to a personal best 5:29 mile. This kind of progression is what drives me to train so hard on a daily basis..."

Brendan, 29
Specialty: YMCA classes & Crossfit
"I train so hard because it's the ONLY way i can shed body fat, stay lean... and really stay positive about life in general! Fitness people are usually the MOST positive group of people!!"
Jmiah Williamson, Type 1 Diabetic for 22 years
2nd Place Winner of Model Universe 2007 and 2008
3rd Place Winner of Model America 2007
"I train so hard because I like to be as strong as I can possibly be. I run, but I don't run for time, just run as fast as my body says I can, but then run faster. I lift, but it's not based on how much I lift. I lift as much as I can, then lift more. I do plyo's and cycle and when my body says "it's over", I say "it ain't over until I say it's over." I guess to me training hard is a mind game. How strong am I mentally? That's what I like to explore."
Desiree, 42
Personal Trainer and Fitness/Sweatcamp Instructor at Frye Gym
Specialty: Running, Power/Endurance lifting, hiking, and motivator
"I train so hard because it is my desire to honor God by striving for growth in the 3 areas of my being: Spirit, Soul & Body. I also feel like being the best person I can be in these 3 areas may allow me the opportunity to encourage & inspire others to do the same."

Jill, 38
Wife, Mom & Homeschool teacher of 2 beautiful kids
Specialty: Athletic Conditioning, HIIT, weight training, yoga, plyo, Surfing (where there's waves!)
"I train because I love a challenge and enjoy working towards a goal. I train with Ward because it makes me feel nostalgic about my college field hockey days!  Can't wait for the Cooper River Bridge Run this year!"

Caroline, 28
Account Executive - Marketing/Advertising
Specialty: Running, Mountain Biking, Field Hockey, beginner Triathlete
"I try so hard so I can stay sharp...I think when you are fit, you feel better about yourself and thus produce better work.  Plus I like to give myself goals when it comes to working out - I don't stop until I achieve those goals."
Dixon, 27
Specialty: Half-marathon
"I train so hard because proving someone wrong is the greatest feeling ever.  I was once told I would never be good enough for one certain college (will remain nameless to protect the innocent), well my whole college career I never lost to an athlete from there!  All in all I have been told I was always too fat or too slow to be a top-level athlete.  Once I got out of my own way and started training with an open mind, I achieved success unlike before." 
Director of Sales
Specialty:  Former all-american (Javelin), 2008 Olympic Trials Qualifier, beginner Triathlete
"I train so hard because.....my body CALLS me to do so.  I believe pushing myself to the limit is the only way to honor God for the gift."
Theresa, 25
Graduate Student
Specialty:  Group Fitness/Mud Runs

For me - I train so hard because it is one of the few aspects of my life that is within my control.  I cannot control the weather,  I cannot control the economy.  I cannot control my family members, or my job, or my favorite sports teams.  MOST of life is largely out of my control and in the capable Hands of the Good Lord.  However one of the few things I can control, is how well I take care of my body.  I get one body, one single chance to take care of it for better or worse.
I also agree with a few of the above contributors.  There's something special about pushing your body (and mind) to places you previously thought were not possible.  The sense of accomplishment in achieving a feat (whether it's a half-marathon, fitness class, mountain bike excursion, or weight loss goal) that previously left you intimidated.
There are a littany of reasons why people train so hard. One person's reason is specific to him or her, and I invite you to find your own.  However the overall point is that those of us who seem fanatical about this part of life, aren't that much different than anyone else.
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