Train Like a Pro: Beni Gifford

Beni-Gifford-NBC-Spartan-Ultimate-Team-Challenge

If the name Beni Gifford sounds familiar, it should. Gifford led his team (The Comeback Kids) to victory on NBC’s premiere season of Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge. He was also the captain of Team Dallas on Battlefrog’s League Championship, which aired on ESPN. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll now be able to watch him on CMT as he competes on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.

Beni-Gifford-Terrain-Racing-Finish-in-Flagstaff

Off the small screen, Gifford has won fourteen races, with twenty-one podium finishes overall in just two years. That includes an undefeated record when competing in the Terrain Racing series.

Below you’ll find a workout that Gifford uses to train his body and mind to continue to perform, even after fatigue sets in and his muscles become tired. It helps with situations where your heart rate is high or your legs become heavy.

Beni-Gifford-Running

PART ONE
2-MINUTE RUN / 1-MINUTE SLED DRAG INTERVALS

Run for two minutes at an aerobic base effort. You should be able to carry on a conversation at this pace. Once the two minutes is up, do a one-minute sled drag at the same effort level. Alternate between the two until you reach thirty minutes. Once complete, perform an aerobic pace run for up to thirty minutes. You can adjust the time based on your level of fitness, but aim to hit at least ten minutes.

Pro Note: Part one is about getting your legs pumped and strained (sled pull) and going right back into a run. This teaches you to run with heavy legs.

Writer’s Tip: If you don’t have a sled to drag, go to your local hardware store and buy several feet of rope that is at least ¾”-1” thick (usually about $1-2 per foot). Then punch holes in a flattened cardboard box and thread the rope through. Stack as much weight as you can handle onto the cardboard box for your own homemade sled. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look pretty. It’s more about function over aesthetics, here.

Beni-Gifford-Savage-Rig-Dallas

PART TWO
BURPEES – 10/100 SUPERSET

Do a set of ten burpees at 90% effort, followed by 10/100 pull up/dead hang. Complete six total rounds. To perform the 10/100, start a timer and, with palms facing forward, immediately do one pull up. Then lower yourself into a dead hang. After ten seconds of dead hang, do another pull up. Repeat this until you hit 10 pull ups and 100 seconds or failure, whichever comes first. You must remain on the bar the entire time. The 10/100 is considered by OCR coach, Yancy Culp, as the Gold Standard for grip endurance and strength.

Pro Tip: Keep your transitions as short as possible from the burpees into the 10/100. This will help with your ability to tackle obstacles successfully without having to spend valuable seconds slowing your heart rate down before attacking.  If you can’t meet the Gold Standard at first, don’t worry. You now have an easy goal to track so you can match the best in OCR.

Writer’s Tip: For the 10/100, use an interval timer app so you don’t have to keep your eyes on a stopwatch. These apps allow you to customize so that an alarm sounds every ten seconds, giving you the signal to do apull-upp.

Writer’s Note: Thanks to Beni for providing this workout. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo Credit: NBC, Terrain Racing, Beni Gifford and Savage Race

Check out past Train Like a Pro articles:

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