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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Spartan Beast Trifecta


Spartan Beast at Pippingford Park, Nutley was the venue for the gruelling last race of the Spartan Race Obstacle racing season.
The course was very muddy and full of hills, various weight carries, punishing obstacles and water crossings.
My back decided to call it quits after 1.5 miles

It took me nearly 5 hours of cursing, grimacing, hopping and being offered help by many amazing racers to make it around the course.
A big thanks to everyone that helped drag me out of bogs, ditches and offered me support (as they ran past).
It was all worth it as I crossed the finish line a member of the Trifecta family, having completed the Spartan Race Sprint, Super and Beast in one race season.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Obstacle course medal hanger

Obstacle course medal hanger has arrived.
Now I just have to complete the Spartan Beast and claim my Trifecta.

'just, have to...'

It seemed like a good idea, 10 months ago when the training began. Now with a week to go and reality dawning, it's more than a little scary.
"Legs don't fail me now".

#SpartanBeast #Trifecta

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Training lacking direction? Set yourself a goal and deadline.

There are lots of reasons why you decide to do something that will challenge you mentally and physically.
  • Reducing body fat
  • Testing your fitness
  • To focus your traininng
  • Overcome adversity
  • Challenge yourself to something extraordinary....

The prospect of entering your first obstacle course race is a great motivational tool that will get you off your couch, focused on your training and make positive life changes.

Will I be able to finish the race?

 The Spartan Sprint is a 5k muddy ostacle course with 10 or more obstacles. This is an excellent starting point in obstacle course racing. Participants range from marathon runners, elite racers, tough guys and gals to first timers with little or no previous fitness experience. Elite runners tend to finish the course in about 45 minutes whilst absolute beginners with a low level of fitness can expect to take 2.5 hours.
99.9% of all people who enter a Spartan Sprint will finish!

What training do I need to do?

For the Spartan Sprint, race participants should aim for at least 3 training sessions a week.
For the Spartan Super or Spartan Beast you will need 5 training sessions a week covering total body strength, functional movement, flexibility and endurance.
  • A long run of approximately 8k or 5 miles
  • Hill runs and sprint circuits
  • Total body training with an emphasis on the upper body and core strength.
The long run, hill running and sprints will prepare your legs for the Spartan Race hills, muddy terrain, water wading and any climbing, pulling and pushing obstacles.
Women especially need to focus on upper body strength training as they are generally weaker in this area.

Performing exercise circuits that work the arms, shoulders, chest, back and core muscles will prepare you for the demands of the obstacles.
Devise a circuit that includes exercises such as: explosive press ups, tricep dips, inverted pull ups, jump or assisted pull ups, medicine ball slams, shoulder press, wood chops and hanging knee raises.
Doing total body functional exercises such as burpees, bear crawls, crab and gorilla walks helps to greatly strenghen the body, increase your fitness and flexibility.

Don't like running? - then crawl


People are put off from entering races because they hate running. I fully understand this hatred of pounding the pavement or even worse clocking up the miles on a treadmill. I tend to put the headphones on and run through the leafiest green space I can find.

 If this doesn't appeal you can still get your leg training done so you are ready for race day. There are numerous exercises you can do that will help you develop the kind of leg strength necessary to overcome the muddy hill runs. Try and add some of these into your routines:
  • burpees
  • squats and jump squats 
  • lunges, pulsing lunges and split lunges
  • mountain climbers and squat thrusts
  • skipping
  • Step ups 
  • To increase the difficulty of these exercises hold a medicine ball/, dumbbells or wrist/ankle weights whilst performing them.                                                                                                                                                            

What obstacles will there be?

Spartan Race are very secretive about the obstacles in upcoming races and course maps are not made available to participants before race day. The main stay obstacles are the hills, rope climb, monkey bars, hills, barbed wire crawl, wall climbs, hills, cargo net climb, spear throw, did I mention the hills?
It is beneficial to practice floor movements such as the bear crawl, rolling and crab walk and to train for pulling, pushing, lifting, throwing, crawling, climbing and hanging. 

If you fail to complete an obstacle you will have to undergo the Spartan Race penalty.

 Scared of getting hurt

The risk of injury can be greatly reduced by effective training. Increasing your balance/ stability, muscular strength and aerobic fitness. Spartan Race hold training camps across the country that will instruct you into how to safely prepare for and overcome the obstacles in any Spartan Race. 

What clothes do I need to wear?

If your wearing shorts go for light water-wicking shorts that have a drawstring waist tie. It is hard enough trying to drag yourself out of muddy bogs without your shorts halfway down your hips or thighs.
Compression tops and leggings keep you cool in hot weather and warm in the cold. The compressive nature of the materials also help to reduce muscular injury, limit swelling and reduces the time needed for muscles to recover following exercise. They will also protect you from the scratches and scrapes that can happen during crawling and climbing etc.
Gloves will protect your hands from chaffing on rope climbs, pushing and pulling obstacles as well as when you have to crawl across rough ground.
Opt for a pair of trail shoes will give you good traction, are light in weight and allow the water to quickly drain out of the shoe. This will help to stop you slipping down muddy banks, losing your footing on hill climbs and getting blisters.
Avoid cotton and pockets at all costs; cotton will act as a sponge and will become very heavy and pockets unless zipped shut will quickly be filled with water and mud.

What do I do now?

The first races this year are not until August so there is still plenty of time to enter and get training.
  1. Register for your Spartan Race event and enter code 2toughenup during checkout to claim your 10% discount
  2. Book your place at a Spartan Race training camp. You will learn the three Spartan Training core elements, Spartan Race FitSpartan Race SafeSpartan Race Ready.
  3. Subscribe to Spartan Race Workout of the Day and receive daily workout routines direct to your inbox.
  4. Get training
  5. Run your race, facebook your pictures, tell your friends and motivate others to get off the couch and change their lives for the better.


Photos courtesy of Epic Action Imagery

fficials just told me it is actually measuring around 5.3 miles today.”
Keep in mind, I am not a long distance runner, so the whole 5.3 mile thing was not what I wanted to hear…  Oh well, time to man up…
You’ll Know at the Finish Line. Sign up for a Reebok Spartan Race Today!

The Obstacles:

I may end up missing some of the obstacles, but here are the ones that stood out:


  • The race started with a jump into the Moats.  Basically mud pits filled with water…
  • We then had to jump a couple 6 foot walls, crawl under walls, and go through holes in walls…
  • Then came the monkey bars…
  • Possibly one of the most difficult obstacles was the 100 feet we had to crawl up an extremely muddy hill, under barbed wire the whole way!  It was so muddy that you could not get good traction and the mud really held you back…
  • There were numerous areas where we were trekking through the creek, falling into deep areas of water, climbing muddy mounds and then dropping into more water…

Mid Race:

  • There was an area where we had to jump two 6 foot walls, followed by a 7 foot wall, and then try to spiderman our way across a plywood wall with 2×4′s screwed to it…
  • Then came the cargo net cross, climbing 30 feet up a cargo net, across a suspended cargo net, and back down the other side.
  • Then came the slippery, muddy, rope climb.
  • Followed by Spearman…  Where we had to throw a spear into a bail of hay and make it stick.
  • Then came the most difficult of trails, with extremely steep hills.
  • There was a point where we had to drag a 35 pound block on a chain through a little loop course.
  • We then had to use a rope and pulley to pull a weight 20 feet in the air and back down.

Home Stretch:

  • Then came a grueling sand bag carry about 100 yards down a hill and then back up again…
  • Tried our balance at the stump walk…  No dice…
  • More f**king hills…  Followed by a dip back into some cold, muddy water…  Which then led to a “victory run” around a lake.
    • At this point I and two other guys on my team started getting cramps in our calves.  It was almost the same exact time…  The only thing I could think was the cold water, followed by the run started to make my calves cramp up…
  • We then got around the lake and had to jump into 5 foot deep water, cross, and climb up a barbed slip wall.
  • That then led to the famous “fire jump” and finished with a clash of the Gladiators who smack you with one of those giant q-tips from the American Gladiator show
After plowing your way through the Gladiators, at the finish line they place your medal around your neck, refuel your body at the banana table, and grab some water.
Now, take that free beer ticket that they gave you upon registration AND GO DRINK A BEER!  You have earned it…
They do have “showers” which is just a row of garden hoses and some VO5 shampoo…
- See more at:

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Public Enemy #1

Sugar its all around us. An almost unoticed part of many of our daily meals
but there are increasing concerns that sugar is harming us.

It comes in different forms; such as sucrose naturally found in sugar cane and fructose naturally found in fruit.
Over the last century it has been deliberatley added to many foods. Lots of which you wouldnt expect,
from low fat spreads, salad dresssings, fizzy drinks and even some fruit juices. Experts have been concerned for some time that this gives us extra calories that we do not need.

Sugary food often contains lots of fat and other calorie rich ingredients too. The more excess calories we eat the more likely we are to become obese, and obesity is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and other serious illnesses.
Increasingly it isn't just the calorie content in sugar that worries scientist, some say our bodies do not deal with all calories in the same way. The calories found in sugar may be more harmful than those found in some other foods.

A number of experts are concerned that the sugar we take in in liquid form may be dealt with in a different way to the sugar we get from whole fruit. The chemistry behind the quick spikes in blood sugar we get from things such as fizzy drinks, chocolates, sweets and cakes might in itself be linked to diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

People will be advised to halve the amount of sugar in their diet, under new World Health Organization guidance.

The World Health organization's recommended sugar intake will stay below 10% of total daily calorie intake, with a recommended target of 5%

The Director  of Nutrition and Diet, Alison Tedstone, said "our surveys show that the UK population should reduce their sugar intake as average intake for adults is 11.6% and for children is 15.2%, which is above the 2002 recommendation of 10%

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Resolution: 30 Days later

10 ways to make your diet and fitness resolutions last

Lose weight. Eat healthy foods. Exercise daily. Drink less.
Many people make these or similar pledges during the annual New Year's Day ritual of resolving to improve our health. Resolutions are easy to start; the challenge is sustaining them. One month later, have you held true to your good intentions?

Some would have you believe that New Year's resolutions are a waste of time. In fact, the very act of making resolutions improves your odds of success.
Studies show that people who resolve to change behaviours do much better than non-resolvers who have the same habits that need to be changed.

Statistics show that, at the end of January, some 64% of resolvers are still hanging in there; six months later, that number drops to 44%.

It's All in the Planning
Making resolutions is the first step, but, experts say, you need a plan and a healthy dose of perseverance if you want to succeed.
People most often resolve to lose weight; quit smoking; get more exercise; and reduce their alcohol consumption, in that order.

These habits and behaviours are very difficult to change, and when you don't have a well-thought-out plan on how you are going to make sustainable changes that fit into your lifestyle, it leads to failure.
t's not enough to simply say, "I want to lose weight and exercise more." You need a detailed blueprint that addresses how you'll reach these goals.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, If you want to succeed, you need to have a concrete plan that plays into your strengths and avoids distractions from your goals by your weaknesses.

Realistic Expectations
Part of that planning is anticipating situations in which you're likely to slip up -- such as when you're stressed out, eating at a restaurant, or travelling.
For example, if you plan ahead and pack a meal for the plane or carry some nuts, you won't just grab anything because you are famished, and are more likely to minimize the slip-ups and stick with your resolution for healthier eating.

Experts say it's also important to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. A realistic resolution is one you can sustain for at least a year -- not just for a few weeks.

Of course you'd like to see those extra pounds gone in a hurry, but quick weight loss is usually not permanent weight loss. Diets that have strict rules, eliminate or severely restrict certain foods, or otherwise take a lot of effort are usually only successful in the short term. After all, anyone can lose weight eating mostly cabbage soup -- but how long could you keep that up?

Very low-calorie diets lead to quick weight loss of not only fat but muscle, too. These diets also lower metabolism and when an individual goes back to eating the way they used to (because no one can live on cabbage soup), their slower metabolism will require fewer calories and, ultimately, they gain all the weight back and then some.

Tips to help you stick with your own New Year's vows:

1. Have a Realistic Eating Plan
An eating plan that has plenty of variety, yet is simple, interesting, and tastes good -- such as the Mediterranean-style diet with its "good carbs" from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; healthy fats from nuts, fish, and olive and canola oils; and lean protein.

2. Believe in Yourself
Seeing is believing; once you see you are capable of making changes in your behaviour, it inspires confidence. Try to imagine changing a particular behaviour for two weeks, two months or two years. If you can't visualise yourself realistically sticking to this change in behaviour, re-evaluate to make sure the goal is do-able.
Breaking down a lofty goal into smaller steps is often what is needed to gain the belief that you can do it.

3. Get Support
Support is critical, especially after the first few weeks when your motivation flags. Seek out someone who will be there for you long-term.
Some people find success with on-line support groups while others do better with an exercise buddy.
You need to figure out what kind of support will help you during the tough times that are inevitable when changing your behaviours.

4. Spell Out the Details
So you want to lose weight or exercise more -- just how do you plan to do it? How will you handle eating out, or a schedule that allows for exercise? Devise a sensible plan for how you'll shop, cook, and fit in fitness.
Think through how you'll deal with cravings, but don't deprive yourself. If you give yourself permission to eat what really matters to you, it puts you in control (instead of the diet), and empowers you to make a healthy decision on portion size.
Eliminating your favourite foods can be a recipe for disaster, instead, allow yourself small portions, on occasion. Otherwise, the denial may create an obsession that derails your goals."

5. Set Mini-Goals
Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds, but you'll be more motivated to succeed if you celebrate every 10 pounds lost. Realistic resolutions are ones you can live with.
Look at them as lots of "baby steps" strung together. Setting the bar too high can be demoralizing. People who set attainable, realistic goals are more likely to succeed.

6. Manage Your Cravings
Cravings for foods are caused by swings in your blood sugar. If you eat the right kinds of foods and snack strategically, you can eliminate cravings. Almost everyone who is overweight has cravings, typically late-afternoon hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). They frequently choose simple carbs (like sweets, soda, and refined bread products) that give them a quick boost.
The problem is that a quick rise in blood sugar is usually followed by a quick fall, and hunger strikes again. Eating every 3-4 hours, and always including lean protein (from nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meats, or beans) will satisfy your hunger for fewer calories and without the dramatic swings in blood sugar.

7. Control Your Environment
Stack the deck in your favour by eliminating tempting, fattening treats from your surroundings. Instead, stock the pantry and refrigerator with plenty of healthy foods. Surround yourself with people, places, and things that will help you change your behaviour.
Avoid those that invite problems, like going to happy hour or eating at a buffet restaurant.

8. Do the Opposite
Do the opposite of the problem behaviour. The opposite of sedentary behaviour is an active behaviour. It is not good enough to diet; instead, you need to replace the unhealthy foods with more nutritious foods."

9. Reward Yourself
Reward yourself all along the way for continued motivation and success. A reward can be a massage, flowers, or removing chores you dislike. Figure out what will work for you, and reward yourself whenever you achieve a mini-goal (such as losing 10 pounds or exercising every day for a week).

10. Anticipate Slips, and Deal with Them Constructively
Don't let a slip-up derail your resolve to improve your health. Setbacks are inevitable; it's how you respond to them that matters. One of the most important things is how to recover from slips. Successful resolvers use slip-ups to help them get back on track, serving as a reminder that they need to be strong.
People who see slips as a failure often use one as an excuse to give up.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

5 steps to reduce Dementia risk


Related Stories

Exercise throughout a person's life plays a significant role in reducing the risk of developing dementia.
The Cardiff University study which began with 2,235 men from Caerphilly in 1979 found factors including diet and not smoking had an impact on preventing illnesses developing in older age.
The research by Cardiff University found the five factors that were integral to helping avoid disease were:
  • regular exercise
  • not smoking
  • low bodyweight
  • healthy diet
  • low alcohol intake.
People in the study who followed four of these had a 60% decline in dementia and cognitive decline rates, with exercise named as the strongest mitigating factor.
They also had 70% fewer instances of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, compared with people who followed none of the factors.
Exercise had the single biggest influence on dementia levels.
Professor Peter Elwood, who led the study on behalf of Cardiff School of Medicine, said healthy behaviour was far more beneficial than any medical treatment or preventative procedure.
"The size of reduction in the instance of disease owing to these simple healthy steps has really amazed us and is of enormous importance in an ageing population," he said.
"Taking up and following a healthy lifestyle is however the responsibility of the individual him or herself.
"Sadly, the evidence from this study shows that very few people follow a fully healthy lifestyle."
'More active lifestyle'
Prof Elwood stressed that while one aspect of the five strands of behaviour mentioned may have more impact on certain illnesses, the emphasis was on an overall healthy lifestyle.
"Exercise happens to be the most important but the other factors come in very close behind," he added.
He told BBC Wales while the recommended levels of exercise were half an hour five times a week, it did not mean having to go to a gym.
"We should all live a more active lifestyle. If I park my car a mile from work - that makes me likely to do more than the half an hour a day. Any exercise has some benefit and the more, the better."
The research showed that while smoking levels had dropped over the 35 years, the number of people leading what the team described as a fully healthy lifestyle had not changed.

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This study provides more evidence to show that healthy living could significantly reduce the chances of developing dementia”
Dr Doug BrownAlzheimer's Society
Prof Elwood added: "If the men had been urged to adopt just one additional healthy behaviour at the start of the study 35 years ago, and if only half of them complied, then during the ensuing 35 years there would have been a 13% reduction in dementia, a 12% drop in diabetes, 6% less vascular disease and a 5% reduction in deaths."
Dr Doug Brown from the Alzheimer's Society said: "'We have known for some time that what is good for your heart is also good for your head, and this study provides more evidence to show that healthy living could significantly reduce the chances of developing dementia.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the study "threw into sharp relief" the extent to which preventing illness lay in a person's own hands.
The research is being published in the PLOS One journal.