Train Like a Pro: Rea Kolbl

Rea-Kolbl-Bucket-Carry-MontereyIf you haven’t heard the name Rea Kolbl before, there’s a good chance that will change soon. One of the newest members of the Spartan Pro team, Kolbl has excelled in the early stages of her career.

Because she mostly ran local Spartan races, Kolbl was a virtual unknown at last year’s Golden State Classic in Monterey, one of the five Spartan U.S. Championship races on NBC. So much so, that one of the race referees had asked her to spell her name while she was finishing burpees. Kolbl went on to finish 4th, under a minute from hitting top three in what was her first ever elite race.

Despite being caught off guard by the cold (like many were) at the 2016 Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe and having to complete 150 burpees, she still managed a 7th place finish at the site of the 1960 Olympic Games. That included an untimely fall on the descent, one of her typical strengths. “Usually I’m pretty fast on the downhill because trail running is what I do, but I was so cold that I was shivering and couldn’t see the ground at all,” Kolbl recalls.

Rea-Kolbl-Snowy-Mountain Climb

Originally from Slovenia, Kolbl came to the United States almost seven years ago to attend U.C. Berkeley before moving to Stanford, where she is currently a full-time grad student.

Like many other athletes on the team, she’s had to find a healthy balance of work, training and personal time: Working full-time, this means a morning run, a full day of work, then getting in a second training session with her husband, Bunsak. Kolbl attributes him for most of her ability to keep up with training. “He does all the cooking beforehand and all the cleaning and shopping,” she says. “I do dishes to do my part, but I’m definitely lucky from that perspective.”

Having a full schedule is nothing new to her, however. “Being on the gymnastics team when I was younger,” she recounts, “I had like seven hours of practice (every day)…and I still did school full time so there was always a balancing of the two.”

Rea-Kolbl-Fire-Jump-SoCal

This year, keep an eye out for this up and comer as she takes on more of the Spartan U.S. Championship Series races and looks to improve on her finish (and burpee count) at Tahoe. She’s already started 2017 with a bang, winning both the Sprint and Super races at the SoCal event in January.

Below is one of Kolbl’s favorite training sessions. She generally performs it the day after a rowing session, and follows it up with a low impact cardio day. As you’ll see below, the Stairmaster is one of Kolbl’s favorite forms of low-impact cardio. “It really pumps my heartbeat, but it doesn’t really work hard on my knees or ankles,” she explains. The rest of her week includes some training on a track, trail/mountain running and another HIIT session.

Rea-Kolbl-Spartan-SoCal-Sprint-2017

MORNING

RUN
This part should always be done in the morning. Go for a nine-mile run at an increasing pace. The second half of the run should be at maximum sustainable effort. For Kolbl, this consists of a sub-7 minute per mile average pace on a loop that has almost 800 feet of elevation gain.

Rea-Kolbl-Monterey-Sand-Bag

AFTERNOON

PART ONE
20-MINUTE STAIRMASTER CARDIO
Begin at 96 steps per minute. This is usually level eleven. Incrementally increase each level at the following times:

  • 2 Minutes – Increase to 103 steps per minute
  • 5 Minutes – Increase to 110 steps per minute
  • 8 Minutes – Increase to 117 steps per minute
  • 11 Minutes – Increase to 126 steps per minute
  • 14 Minutes – Increase to 133 steps per minute
  • 17 Minutes – Increase to 140 steps per minute

Pro Tip: If a Stairmaster is unavailable, substitute 20 minutes on a rowing machine or exercise bike. Any form of low impact cardio will work.

Rea-Kolbl-Beach-Swing

PART TWO

TABATA
Perform each set of two exercises in alternating fashion, executing 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest. Complete each one four total times so that each set ends up being four minutes long. Rest 30 seconds between each set. Kolbl usually does this part with an elevation mask set at 12,000 feet.

  • Set 1
    • Burpees: If you’re an avid OCR fan, chances are you know what a burpee is. Just in case: Begin in a standing position with your feet together. Touch your hands to the floor and kick your legs back so that you are in a push-up position. Perform a push-up, then bring your feet back up in between your hands and jump straight into the air.
    • Star Jumps: Stand with your feet slightly spread apart and arms at your sides. Bend at the knees and explode up, spreading your arms and legs out. Your body will create a star shape. As you land, bring your arms and legs back in. It’s similar to a jumping jack, except you aren’t landing on the jump out.
  • Set 2 
    • Squat Jumps: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and jump up in the air. Land softly.
    • Lunge Jumps/Split-Squat Jumps: Get into a lunge position. Jump up into the air while simultaneously switching legs. You should land so that your front leg is now your back, and back is now front.
      • Writer’s Tip: This one is not fun. If you run out of gas, rather than stopping, modify if you need to. Instead of jumping straight up in the air, bring your back foot up with your front, sending the previously front foot back almost instantly. If you can, still try to ensure each foot is off the ground at the same time (at least a little) during the switch.
  • Set 3 
    • High Knees: Run in place, but make sure you are bringing your knees to at least a 90-degree angle when it leaves the ground.
    • Mountain Climbers: Get into a push-up position. Bring one knee towards your chest and tap your toe on the ground. As that foot returns to its original position, bring the opposite foot up and tap that toe. Be sure your butt does not stick up. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  • Set 4 
    • Back and Forth Frog Jumps: Squat down and bring your hands to the ground in front of you. Jump forward, briefly bringing your hands above your head. Then do the same, but backward.
    • Kettlebell Swings: With a 25-pound dumbbell or kettlebell, stand with your feet at least shoulder width apart. With a slight bend in the knees, hinge at your waist so that your back is parallel to the ground and the weight is between your legs. As you transition into the standing position, thrust your hips forward so your body forms a straight line. Simultaneously swing the weight in front of your chest, while keeping your arms straight.
  • Set 5 
    • Push-ups: Your hands should be at least a little wider than shoulder width and your back should remain straight through the each repetition.
      • Writer’s Tip: If doing a push-up normally hurts your wrists, grab a pair of dumbbells that won’t roll (hex-shaped or adjustable normally).
    • Elbow Plank with Knee to Elbow: Get in a plank position with your elbows touching the ground. Your first set, bring your left leg up to your elbow and back. Alternate to your right on the second set, so that you are doing two total sets per leg
  • Set 6 
    • Russian Twists: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet touching the ground in front of you. Lean your torso back, while keeping your back straight. It should be roughly 45-degrees off the ground. Straighten your arms and clasp your hands together. Rotate your arms to the right, pause, then back in front of you and to the left.
    • Sit-ups: Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet touching the ground in front of you. With either your hands across your chest, or touching the side of your head, use your core to lift your torso up to your knees. Return to the starting position.

Rea-Kolbl-Monkey-Bars-Monterey

PART THREE

GRIP STRENGTH
Perform one minute of jump rope. Once finished, immediately dead hang from a bar for one minute. Repeat this five times with no rest, totaling ten minutes of work.

Writer’s Tip: As odd as it sounds, jumping rope may be a bit difficult if you aren’t used to it. If you can’t quite get the hang of it, just keep going. You’ll find that you’re rope jumping will improve each round!

Writer’s Note: Thank you to Rea for sharing her favorite workout. You can follow her on Instagram and catch her training at King’s Camps and Fitness.

Photo Credit: Rea Kolbl, Spartan Race

Check out past Train Like a Pro articles:

Ryan Kent

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Episode 215 – Today’s show is a conversation with Ryan Kent. Matt and Ryan dig in and discuss what Ryan has been up to since their last chat back in early 2015 including:

  • What he can tell us (so far) about History Channel’s The Selection.
  • Ending 2016 strong
  • His experience on the Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge
  • What his goals are for 2017

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

MudGear – Order now for free shipping in the United States on all products.

Show Notes:

Running Bear with lyrics (Now you know the words!)

A clip from Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge of Ryan and his team.

The Selection Cast Bios

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

Train Like a Pro: Faye Stenning & Josh Stryde

Faye Stenning ran her first Spartan Race in 2013. Two years later, she placed ninth at the 2015 Spartan World Championships. This year, Stenning joined the Reebok Spartan Pro Team and continued her success by finishing second or better in each of the five Spartan U.S. Championship Series races. Her 1197 points in the inaugural series was good enough for second and only three points behind winner, Lindsay Webster.

Faye-Stenning-Medal-Picture

Though Stenning does have a background in track and cross country, success like this comes from a number of areas, including a great training regimen. The following workout is one that she designed with boyfriend Josh Stryde. Stryde, himself, is part of the Western Canadian Spartan Elite Team. He’s also the Calgary Place World Health Regional Nutrition Director.

The workout comes in four parts. Try to rest as little as possible throughout since you don’t get much, if any, during a race. Stenning and Stryde perform this weekly.

Pro Tip: Stay positive throughout and work your way up each time. Don’t use the workout too close to race day. As you’ll see, if you do it right, you’ll be too drained to perform at your best. Give yourself at least a week if you have an upcoming race.

Faye-Stenning-and-Josh-Stryde
PART ONE
TREADMILL HILL CLIMB WITH MEDICINE BALL (10-15 minutes)

Set a treadmill to an incline that will make you uncomfortable. Try increasing the level each time you do the workout. If you become comfortable with the incline, you know it’s time to bump it up. Every minute, get off the treadmill and do five burpees. Keep the timer running when you do your burpees. Most treadmills shut off after 30 seconds, so try to perform the burpees in that time frame. Hold the medicine ball however you feel comfortable. Stenning loads it onto her shoulder, while Stryde alternates between shoulder and front, to simulate a bucket carry. Stenning normally does 12 minutes at an incline of 15 and speed of 4.0, using a 40-pound medicine ball.

Writer’s Tip: If you don’t have a medicine ball, find something other than dumbbells to carry. Anything that would give you the option to carry it on your shoulder or in front of your body. I used an open bag of grass seed weighing about 35-pounds that I had in my garage. If you do that, just make sure it’s sealed up!

Josh-Stryde-Loaded-Incline

PART TWO
EMOM/Every Minute on the Minute (15-30 minutes)

Alternate between the following three each minute.

  • Hook a TRX strap up to the end of a weight sled. Run forward, dragging the sled behind you. Go as far as you can for one minute. If you don’t have a strap to attach, push the sled instead. Stenning and Stryde use four 45-pound plates on the sled.
  • Hop on a fan/air bike and go as hard as you can (bike or row) for one minute. If you don’t have access to a fan bike, use a stationary bike and pedal as fast as possible on as high of a resistance as you can stand.
  • Do between 5-15 toes to bar, depending on your core and grip strength. Grab a pull up bar with an overhand grip, roughly shoulder width apart. Engage your core and lift your toes up to the bar. If you’re unable to do toes to bar, do knees to elbows or knee raises instead.

Pro Purpose: This part of the workout hits your entire body. The sled drag gives your lower body strength and power, which helps for hill climbs. The bike portion is great for general aerobic conditioning and the toes to bar gives your core and grip both strength and endurance training.

Pro Tip: Try adding a couple minutes to this part each time you do the workout.

Writer’s Tip:If you don’t have access to a sled, you can take a larger weight plate (45-pound should work) and put it on the ground, flat part down, and push the plate. Add a dumbbell for extra weight.  Another option is to put a treadmill on an incline and turn it off. Then, hold onto the sides and run for the minute.

Faye-Stenning-Sled-Drags

PART THREE
MAX HOLD: SINGLE-ARM DEAD HANG

Grab a bar with one arm and hang for as long as you can, then switch arms. Your only rest is doing the opposite arm. Do three sets per arm.

Pro Purpose: This improves grip strength, while also getting you used to being supported on one arm. This will help on obstacles like rigs and monkey bars.

Writer’s Tip: If you aren’t strong enough to do single-arm, throw a towel over one end of the bar and grab it with the opposite hand. Focus on mainly using whichever side is holding the bar, and only use the other to lightly hold the towel, giving yourself some support. This doesn’t give your arms much rest, but will allow you to work your way up to using one arm.

Faye-Stenning-Monterey-Rig

PART FOUR
FOUR SUPER SETS

Do the first exercise, then move right onto the second.

  • Hold a weight plate with a pinch grip in each hand and walk, like you would for a farmer’s carry. Your distance is determined by how long you’re able to hold the plates before putting them down. Aim to hit the same distance each set. Also, try only squeezing with your fingertips. Stenning considers it cheating if you’re using the edge of the plate to hook your fingers around.
  • Do 15 reps of barbell bent-over row.

Pro Purpose: Doing these at the end of your workout will help to burn out your grip.

Writer’s Tip: To avoid cheating, use two plates per hand and press them together so that the flat sides face out. This removes the temptation to hook your fingers around the edges.

Writer’s Note: Thank you to Josh and Faye for sharing this workout. You can follow Faye on both Instagram and Facebook. Follow Josh on Instagram

Photo Credit: Faye Stenning’s Facebook Page, Faye Stenning, Spartan Race

A Day in the Life of…Miguel Medina

Follow along as we examine the daily routine of elite obstacle course racer Miguel Medina to get a feel for how he mixes training and racing into his already busy life.  With over 10 podium finishes spanning stadium races to ultra-distance events, including a 1st place team finish at WTM in 2014 and a 2nd place finish at the 2015 Spartan Race Ultra Beast Championships, there is no question that this Spartan Pro Team and SISU Pro Team member fits into the class of elite obstacle course racers.  However, there’s more to Miguel than OCR.

Miguel Medina Spartan Ultra Beast

Miguel Medina (left) on the Spartan Race Ultra Beast Podium

5:30 am:  Alarm goes off.  The sun may not be up yet, but Miguel Medina is.  The 27-year-old Torrance, California, native doesn’t even give the snooze button a second look.  After answering nature’s call for himself, he lets his three dogs outside…nature is calling them as well.  Back inside, he starts a pot of coffee while stretching and getting warmed up for the day.  Then Miguel heads out the door for what Coach Yancy Culp calls his ‘daily necessity run’.  Miguel uses this three miles of relaxed aerobic running to clear his mind so he can concentrate on the day ahead.

Miguel Medina Necessity Run

Miguel during his morning necessity run

6:45 am:  Back from his run, Miguel feeds the pups and preps his breakfast shake.  After downing breakfast (a shake made from flax milk, kale, banana, oatmeal, flax, and chia seeds), Miguel hits the showers, puts on a polo or a shirt and tie, pulls back that famous long hair, and heads to work.

Miguel Medina Breakfast Shake

Typical ingredients for a Miguel Medina breakfast

7:30 am:  The commute is not arduous.  Since moving to Ft. Collins, Colorado, this year, Miguel has started working from home as a Medical Interpreter and Translator.  If you’ve been following OCR for several years, you probably already know this, having seen a hypoxic Miguel on 60 Minutes Sports, tearing off his training mask and testifying, “I’m a medical interpreter”.  What the heck is a Medical Interpreter and Translator?  Picture sitting at your desk in your office when a Skype call comes in.  On the other end of the call are a Doctor and Patient, one of which speaks Spanish, the other English.  Miguel’s job is to bridge the cultural and linguistic gaps in communication between the two.  It requires effective communication skills with an understanding of both cultures.  In any given conversation, he could be communicating the topics of neurology, nephrology, gastroenterology, psychiatry, nutritional science, etc. in two languages with two people from vastly different backgrounds.  He says every day is a little different.  Although the job can be very challenging, it is also very rewarding because Miguel gets to help people who may have some very serious health problems.  Without Miguel, they would have difficulty getting treatment.  Miguel fields calls from around the U.S. off-and-on all day long.

Miguel Medina Medical Interpreter

The Medical Interpreter in Action

In between calls, Miguel is squeezing in some basic movements, like the stationary bike, pull-ups, Turkish get-ups, or stretching.  Anything to get his heart rate up in the 135-145 range.  He also squeezes in snacks all day, such as carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes, as well as peanut butter and some awesome and healthy cookies made by his girlfriend Meredith.  Lunch is eaten on-the-fly as well, and today includes a vegetable curry with cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, garlic, onion, kale, and some legumes.

Miguel Medina Typical Lunch

A typical Miguel Medina working lunch

He also uses the time in between calls to catch up on questions from his Yancy Camp athletes and have his almost daily conversations with Coaches Yancy Culp and Richard Diaz, his BFF Hunter McIntyre, and his family.

4:00 pm:  The medical interpreter clocks out, and the obstacle course racer clocks in.  After work you’ll find Miguel on the trails, at the track, or at the gym.  For roughly three hours a day, he’s running, bouldering, rock climbing, swimming, doing crossfit, or lifting heavy things.  You will also find Miguel knocking out one of his Yancy Camp prescribed workouts, a sadistic mix of aerobic run, tempo run, speed run, burpee, pull up, burpee pull up, farmer’s carry, sandbell snatch, sandbell step up, sandbell squat, lunge, weighted lunge, or some other form of body torture.  Once the season picks up, those three-hour training sessions will be extended to almost six hours.  Miguel is especially psyched today because he is going to his new favorite gym in Ft. Collins, Maniac’s, where the highlight of the workout will be tire drags in the parking lot.  Miguel says he listens to a variety of music while he works out, including classic rock and metal, but his playlist lately has shifted into a lot of electronic music.  Maniac’s is totally cool with that.

Miguel Medina Tire Drag

Miguel (right) drags a tire at Maniac’s

7:00 pm:  Just getting out of the gym, Miguel and his girlfriend will typically pick up something for dinner to save a little time.  Not tonight, though, for tonight there’s a big roast in the oven with some sprouted bread and a ton of vegetables.  We’re talking 4-6 services of vegetables, which Miguel insists is a requirement for the OCR lifestyle.  He tends to avoid alcohol so it doesn’t distract from his goals this season.  The remainder of the evening is spent discussing plans for the upcoming weekend with his girlfriend, playing with the dogs, and catching up on questions from Yancy Camp athletes.

10:00 pm: In bed, after a long day of working and training there will be no problem going to sleep tonight.

Stats for the Average Day
Sleeping:  7.5 hours
Eating:  1 hour
Working Out:  3 hours
Working:  8 hours
Driving:  0 hours
Rearing Children (well, pets):  1 hour
Other (Yancy Camp, Phone Calls, etc.):  3.5 hours

Miguel Medina Family

Follow Miguel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Up for a challenge?  Join Team Medina at www.YancyCamp.com