Bonefrog Charlotte 2018

Introduction

Ah, the Bonefrog. It is unique but very well known through the OCR world as the only OCR that is run and operated by the Navy SEALs. It’s an incredible opportunity for people who are looking for more challenging obstacle races than the typical Spartan or Terrain race.

With Bonefrog, there are 4 different ways to race. There is the endurance race, challenge, Tier 1, and sprint.

  • Sprint: 3 miles with 20-ish obstacles.
  • Challenge: 6 miles with 30-ish obstacles
  • Tier 1: Challenge + Sprint, so 9 miles with 50-ish obstacles.
  • Endurance: See how many laps of the challenge course you can complete.

On the day of the race, participants at each level are given a different color paper wristband. The color of the band is dependent on the race that they are doing. For instance, I was doing the challenge race, so I received a red wristband. Participants in the Tier 1 race received blue. Endurance and sprint were other colors, too. That way the volunteers could help out the people in the easiest, most appropriate way.

Disclaimer: I ran the challenge. My description of this course is going to be focused on the challenge. I am less familiar with the layout of the sprint course, so I will be going off what some of my friends told me.

Pre-Race Preparation

I had never done a Bonefrog before, and I wasn’t really prepared for what was happening. Registering online was easy, and I will say that they did a great job of posting a map online in ample time for athletes to view and prepare themselves. I was being a total wimp and decided just to brace myself and enjoy the ride. Whichever type of athlete you are, Bonefrog will accommodate. The race was on Saturday, but I’m fairly certain that they released the course map by that Tuesday. It made my friends who do prefer to check out the course map very very happy.

This particular Charlotte Bonefrog was hosted at Porter Farms. If you do the Charlotte Spartan races, this venue is all-too-familiar. You can expect a relatively flat course, and some cows to stare at you. You may also want to expect to be on the lookout for cow-pies; the most horrid obstacle of them all!

Arrival/Pre-Race

Now, this race took place on the same day as the World’s Toughest Mudder which was only a few hours south. I wasn’t exactly expecting there to be many people there. I was shocked by how few people were in attendance. My friends and I were competing elite and showed up maybe 40 minutes prior to the first heat, and it maybe took us 4 minutes to wait in line, pay ($10), and park. It was insane.

The festival area served its purpose. It was small but spread out. There were certain things that you noticed immediately: the finish line, the port-o-Johns, and black ops. There was a bag check provided (just like most races, it is $5), but there was also a tent that had tables. With their being so few people there, most people left their backpacks on these tables. Granted I don’t typically advise that, but if you have a friend who is willing to watch over your belongings, then you have to do what you have to do! The smaller atmosphere made it really easy to find friends and wish everyone else good luck.

They called all of the elites to the start at the same time. That meant all endurance, Tier 1, and Challenge athletes arrived at the start at the same time. There is not an elite division for the sprint, which I thought was interesting. We were not sure how this was going to work with all of us running different divisions. I looked to my left, to my right…I only counted 7 women with wristbands. Wow, there was really nobody there!

They ended up splitting us all up. The endurance athletes were up first. There were maybe, MAYBE 15-20 men in this division, with zero women. This was very unique and interesting. Up next: Tier 1. This was probably the largest group, at a whopping 3o-40 people. A few women went up, but not many. Then it was time for the Challenge. They gave us about 5 minutes between each elite division. We were greeted and motivated by the ever-wonderful Jarian Rich (who was rocking a red, silver, and blue sparkly beard; which I imagine is no coincidence with Veteran’s Day), and then it was showtime.

The Challenge Course

And we’re off! The start was a lot of fun. It started going on a downhill, instantly you could hear people talking about how fun it was and comparing it to the Charlotte Spartan Race. Then the sounds instantly turned to squish squish squish. I failed to remember that it had rained all week. Oh, boy! Listed on the map as the first obstacle was the Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder is one of those obstacles that Bonefrog is known for; it’s a simple, yet super obnoxious and frustrating obstacle that I’m pretty sure is only designed to get on people’s nerves. But, before that, there was a slight dip in the trail and an unmarked wire over the dip. Running by you’d just hear people go:

“ACK! ….Wire!”

Which was immediately followed by a

“Huh? ACK!…WIRE!!!!”

Although it was a little frustrating, it was kind of funny. Then it was onto Rolling Thunder. It seemed like there were two of the obstacle; the men ran to the one on the left, while the women were using the one on the right. There was no rhyme or reason to it. I saw a woman use the side, and I asked if we were allowed to. The volunteer said that the women were allowed to, while the men were not. I shrugged and made my way onto the next part of the course.

Bonefrog Rolling Thunder

After a little run, we came across a 6-foot wall. It wiggled a little on the top, but it was easy to get over.

We kept running through some muck (which, at the start line they announced they removed a water obstacle, which I was very thankful for), and up a hill and we were back near the festival area. We ran into most of the men who had left in one of the earlier divisions here. There were three stations: bar dips, burpees, and pull-ups. The first station: do 19 dips, calling your number out loud. I’ve never seen this in a race before, but holy smokes it was not pleasant. Next up: 31 burpees. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to call out names while we did our burpees, but I could not see them so I said the numbers and was not corrected. I don’t know what it was about these 31 burpees… granted, I’ve gotten all too familiar with them during Spartans, but right after dips, these suckers hurt. Next up: 7 pull-ups. Sweet; I love pull-ups. They had us do pull-ups in front of the pictures and names of fallen Navy SEALs. Rather than count the number of accomplished pull-ups out loud, we said their name. This, I thought, was fantastic, unique, and totally appropriate for Veteran’s Day. I also really appreciated that the men and women were expected to complete the same amount.

Next up was a rig. It wasn’t anything particularly scary, just some squishy thing on the bottom. The squishy thing looked like a ball, and the ropes stretched a little when you grabbed it. As long as you had a hand on the rope, you were good to go! Followed by that was a rope swing, which was…interesting. I’ve never seen anything like this. The volunteers were really helpful: they provided lots of tips on how to make it easier.

Then was The Krakken. I was really surprised by this obstacle; I was really impressed with how tight the strings were that comprised the obstacle. Bonefrog made it pretty sure that I couldn’t have fallen through the top even if I wanted to. One of the next obstacles was called Get a Grip. No obstacle has scared me as much as Get a Grip ever has. Remember how I said it was really muddy? Well, it was extra muddy underneath this obstacle. If you slipped off the rig, you slid in the mud. I saw a few men hit their heads. I saw one guy slip and fall before even leaving the step to reach the rig. He fell onto metal. The fall was long, too. This obstacle terrified me. Many women struggled. Sooner than later, it got crowded. People got kicked if there were two people on it at a time. It was not super enjoyable. I would like to try it again if it were not so high, or not with such an intimidating, slippery, and dangerous fall.

This was followed by more running, and obviously more obstacles. There were some frustrating moments, like weird course markings which resulted in me going up a 7-foot wall backward, but throughout the course, I still had fun. There was a lot of opportune time for running, and a lot of opportunities for slipping in mud, too!

There were certain things about this course that I enjoyed. I really enjoyed the Brute Force Bag carry. They had us go through walls with openings, and the openings got higher with each wall. Other than this and a hoist-like obstacle, there were no heavy carry races in this race.

When we hit the back area of Porter Farms (which I had never seen before,  so this was fantastic) there was a long stretch where we didn’t see many people. There were so few people that I actually went off-course for several minutes, and accidentally took some other people with me. In another instance was a big tarp laying on the ground. I asked the guy next to me if we were supposed to do anything, and he said no, so we went on. I much later learned that we were supposed to go UNDERNEATH this tarp…there was no volunteer to tell us! We also came across the only balance obstacle, and a few other cool ones in the back.

After a while, we came across some other things in the back also: all of the open sprint runners. It’s honestly like they came out of nowhere! It went from being a calm, race with people who it was easy to become close with to being really crowded. There were lines for obstacles, and it made it more difficult to pass through. Running on certain trails openly and easily turned into weaving. Although I like running around people, the fact it got so crowded so quickly caught me really off-guard.

Other obstacles in the back area included some rope climbs, a log obstacle that made you have to go through a wall once you climbed, and some other unique obstacles.

I came up to one obstacle that I really wanted to attempt all day. I don’t know what it’s called, but I know that you have seen pictures of it, if you’ve seen Bonefrog pictures at all. It’s the green monkey bar thing. A friend of mine had spent the whole week volunteering, and he assured me that there was going to be a rope there to climb before you got to the green grabby part. Except, when I got there, there was no rope. I was greeted at the obstacle by a man similar in height, and he was stressed. Even with the step, he and I couldn’t reach to even attempt the obstacle. Since I had already lost my band, I just had to move on.

Bonefrog-NJ-Seat-bars

The Chopper was a cool obstacle. This one wasn’t long; there were three of the spinny parts, each one separated by a ring. I haven’t seen anything like it.

There was a large A-frame, then Black Ops for the classic Bonefrog finish. I was really impressed again, by how sturdy the A-frame was. I felt very safe. I think it would have been difficult to get hurt. Black Ops made me sad…I couldn’t reach it! I wish they had some kind of step to be able to reach it for us…really really small folks. Either that or ladies, if you’re a tiny titan like me, be prepared to jump.

Volunteers

The volunteers at this race were fabulous. There were so many unique obstacles and the thing with unique obstacles is that they can be difficult to figure out what you have to do. Volunteers were spectacular about providing instruction for newcomers. They were really paying attention to what the athletes were doing. If you volunteered at the Charlotte Bonefrog this year, you did a fantastic job, and we appreciate you!

Overall Thoughts

The Bonefrog is an OCR that requires more strength than your typical, bigger name OCR like Spartan, Terrain, or Rugged. They feature a lot of unique obstacles that require the grip strength of a monkey but the courage of a tiger. I’d say if you are considering Bonefrog as a first OCR, you may want to try something else first. Not because it’s a bad race by any means, but, it is going to be more challenging, and you may want to get your feet wet first. Overall it was a great time; I personally enjoyed the smaller feel because I felt like I got to know the people that I was running against a little better than usual. If you’re looking to challenge yourself and feel a little sore the next day, Bonefrog may be the race for you!

 

Spartan Race: Beauty and the (Montana) Beast – 2016

As I sit here pondering what to write for my review of the Spartan Race Montana Beast, what repeatedly pops into my head is this…

TANGO 521-5409, over and over and OVER again!  Forever etched in my memory and likely the only thing that kept me from full on delirium, at least for a few miles while trudging, cursing, and sweating up those brutally relentless hills.  Plus, who wants to do more burpees if they can avoid it so the memory challenge was one that no one wanted to fail!

Speaking of that elevation, THAT ELEVATION!  Anyone that was at the Spartan Race Montana Beast knows exactly what I’m talking about and the starring role it played.  For those that chose not to lose a piece of their soul that weekend, let me paint you a picture of the cruel mistress known as Bigfork!  A battle royale between you and your mind is the best way to describe it.  Saturday’s Beast entertained us with a cool 13.05-ish miles (21-ish kilometres) and over 4,000 feet of climbing!  (Stats provided by Canadian Elite racer Stefan Wieclawek…follow him and his bro at @yycbrosocr on Instagram to check out their OCR journey)  For a gal from The Pas, Manitoba where we have zero, I mean ZERO elevation change (search it on the internet and you’ll know what I mean), this was a test of not only my physical grit but mental as well (and undoubtedly why I thought at several points that breaking my own ankle to get off course was a viable option)!

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montana beast 2016

(Photo Credit: Gene Quisisem)

Mile 2 was likely the one that crushed everyone’s soul.  The sandbag carry to end all sandbag carries!  And see where the picture was taken?  That wasn’t the full length of it.  We were about halfway up at this point!

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One of two of the barbwire crawls…but look at that view?  How could you not stop and take in the scenery?  I talk plenty about the suckage that occurred that day but really, in hindsight, would have been utterly disappointed if Spartan race had lightened up to appease the masses.  Isn’t this what we all sign up for anyway?  The view was breathtaking (although that may very well have just been the lack of oxygen).

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Along with the usual obstacles (more to come on those) and wicked elevation (I know, I sound redundant but for real, THAT ELEVATION!), we had to contend with THIS for most of the race!  Bushwhacking at its finest!  The buzz through the festival the next day was that the elites blazed most of the non-existent trail for the rest of us that went in the later heats, so thank you for that!  With that being said, there were still plenty of nature’s obstacles to avoid while clipping along downhill.  One wrong step and one would have ended up with quite the tale to tell (and probably losing a good chunk of your tail from landing on your butt)!

map

Nothing too out of the ordinary for obstacles.  The course map stated there were 40 of them and the newest of the bunch, the Tyrolean ladder traverse was included in that.  It wasn’t difficult per se, but it took till the Sprint the next day for me to figure out a flow for it.  I think the biggest hurdle for this was the backlog of people waiting for it on the second day.  This seems to be an ongoing issue for races so hopefully it’s something addressed in the future because it definitely kills your vibe when you’re stuck in line for 15 minutes.  Chastise me for my opinion but I am not of the belief to skip obstacles simply because of a line up.  Other honourable mentions in the obstacle line up were the second barbwire crawl that was I believe was approximately 500’ long.  And yes, the dust was insane, but I have to say it was one of my absolute favourite ones.  I also wasn’t as unfortunate as my friend, Glenn (check out his review of the Sprint here and check him out on Instagram at @thespartanupguy) that almost lost an eye the second day.  The dunk wall washed off whatever dust remained into a nicely smelling mix of mud and manure.  A quick little trek up and down a small hill brought us to what everyone was likely dreading from before they were even corralled into the starting line…the BUCKET BRIGADE!  It was long, it was steep, and I legitimately saw people pulled to the side in tears.  For those of you not in the know of this obstacle, the gist of it is to grab a five gallon bucket (red for women and black for men) that have holes strategically drilled in it near the top.  Fill the bucket up from the gravel pile to cover the holes and get on with the ascending climb, holding on for dear life so you don’t lose any of those rocks that were more precious than all the gems in the world at that point of the race.  If they didn’t cover the holes upon return (and yes, they were checking EVERYONE when I went through), you had to repeat the obstacle.  A friend of mine saw a girl trip right at the bottom and literally just lie there, sobbing uncontrollably on the ground.  As the popular term goes, embrace the suck.  We signed up for this!

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(I have never been so happy to see this wall in my life!)  It also marked that the end was near, but not before the a-frame cargo net and multi-rig that included an ascending bar and rings mixed with more rings and ropes.

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The Hercules Hoist that was perched atop the action was an amazing view as well and of course, didn’t disappoint.  It wasn’t so heavy that it made me take flight but it was definitely enough to make me earn completing it!

Other noteworthy bonuses from the course that day were the water stations.  Most had a hydration pack on for the race but if you didn’t, rest assured you would have stayed hydrated adequately and one of them even provided Shotbloks.  It definitely made for a no-brainer decision to toss the pack for the Sprint the next day.

Overall, my first attendance at the Montana venue was a memorable one and I think everyone that attended can attest to the anticipation already building for next year.  For the ones that didn’t, it’s safe to say that we will all be recruiting newbies to get dragged into the awesome suckfest of this particular course!  Till next time Montana!  It’s been a slice.

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(My crew and I looking naively optimistic and excited in the corral before the send off…9.5 weeks cannot come SOON enough for the next one!)

Is Everything Old New Again? Luna Sandals, the Origins of Minimal Running and a Tribute to the Tarahumara

lunas circleI was introduced to the concept of running in huaraches (Spanish for sandals) at the inaugural Fuego y Agua Hunter-Gatherer Survival Run where the first “obstacle” was to fashion footwear we’d then wear over the course of the 50k race. Months ahead of the event I began training in Luna sandals and it was during these long runs that I came to appreciate, and soon love, how organic and primitive it feels to run in sandals.

The concept of minimal running is probably not new to most. Since 2009, when Christopher McDougall published “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen,” millions of people have learned of the elusive Tarahumara, a tribe of ultrarunners who brave the steep and rocky trails of the remote Copper Canyons of Mexico in sandals they make from tire treads and leather. In the book, McDougall asserts that modern cushioned running shoes are a major cause of running injury. He points out that the Tarahumara Indians are able to run pain-free and injury free for hundreds of miles, well into their 70s, while there’s been an explosion of running-related injuries since the introduction of modern running shoes in the 1970s.taRAHUMARA

Before then, runners used shoes that had no padding, no pronation control, no orthotics, and no high-tech materials. Born to Run is also about the first ever ultramarathon held in the Copper Canyon and the fascinating characters who were attracted to that race. One of those Manuel_Ted_web_banner_grande“characters” is Barefoot Ted, who traveled to Urique in 2006 in order to compete in the CCUM. While there, he learned the art of sandal-making from a Tarahumara named Manuel Luna. Ted subsequently returned to Seattle and, with the help of Scott and Bookis Smuin, started Luna Sandals in 2010. Since then, they’ve been hand-making a growing variety of sandals appropriate for almost any activity.

This year, Luna has paid homage to their roots and introduced the Origin
sandal, a remarkable synthesis of tradition and technology. The Origin uses an upcycled tire tread as the outsole in a manner reminiscent of the Tarahumara. The midsole is layer of Vibram rubber which is topped with a footbed of sticky “Monkey Grip Technology” (MGT) rubber. Upon opening the box, I first noticed the tantalizing aroma of fine leather. The Origin’s straps are made from a high-quality, supple leather which,bft_origen_luna_5a41dc6d-c9bf-4de9-ba71-db3d9cebc847 according to the website “is sourced in the USA and is the same leather used by Sperry Top-Sider, maker of fine boat shoes.” Although a tad heavier than some other Luna models, this weight is offset by what I can only imagine will be the tremendous longevity imparted by the tire tread sole. Remember, there’s no need to replace sandals every 500 miles like regular running shoes, they will last until you wear the soles down to nothing. On the road they provided a comfortable platform and the wide straps kept my feet comfortably snug after some initial adjustments. The Vibram upper nicely mitigates the stiffness of the tire tread and will, over time, mold a bit to your feet.

On the trails, my “go to” Luna has been the Leadville, which has an 11mm outer sole of Vibram rubber. If you’re looking for greater “ground feel,” there are many thinner options, but this thickness prevents my feet from turning to hamburger on long, rocky runs. At 13mm, the Origins are slightly thicker, and the stability and stiffness of tire tread allows for a rock-dampening feeling that will, I think, surpass even the Leadville at origins_feetultra-distances. Although the leather is simple to tighten, for races, I’ll likely opt for the ease of adjustment of the Performance laces, which are also available on the Origin. Overall, these sandals are a wonderful tribute to traditional huaraches, and even if you’re not planning on running in them, the Origins would be great for hiking, trekking, or just post-race chillin’. The fact that they can effortlessly transition from the wilderness to kicking back at the bar with only the addition of a pair of jeans makes them ideal for today’s modern primitive!

In an age where endless discussions about “what shoe should I use?” litter Facebook groups devoted to obstacle racing, I think there is some merit in the concept of simplicity. Although the jury is still out (and probably nike-high-heelswill be for many years to come) about the injury-reducing potential for minimalist running, there is still not a single study to support the claim that cushioning or any of the other gimmicks shoe companies advertise will prevent running injuries. However, the scientific evidence does strongly suggest that humans evolved to run long distances, most likely to engage in “persistence hunting.” For millennia, before the invention of projectile weapons, our ancestors literally ran their prey to death on the African veldt.

At Harvard University’s Skeletal Biology Lab, Daniel Lieberman has demonstrated that most barefoot runners tend to land with a forefoot or midfoot strike. This does not generate the large impact force that travels through the ankle, knee, and hip joints as occurs when you heel strike. Fig1aConsequently, these runners do not need shoes with elevated cushioned heels to cope with these impact forces and can run easily on the hardest surfaces without discomfort.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you switch out your super-lugged, speed-laced, neon-hued shoes for sandals at your next obstacle race. It’s important to choose the “right tool for the job,” but I can’t imagine a good reason why you shouldn’t start incorporating some sandaled runs into your training and can think of many reasons why you should.  Running in sandals engenders the “back to basics” approach of training for functional movement on which OCR is based. Running in sandals will help you improve your form as well as strengthen the muscles of your feet and calves. And, aside from all the attention you’ll attract, you join a growing group of minimalistic runners across the world. Lastly, of course – it’s fun!

If you’re used to running in traditional, heavily-cushioned “foot coffins” with lots of “drop,” remember to start slowly, mixing sandaled runs slowly into your training regimen. Stretch your calves and Achilles tendons after each run, and expect some initial soreness as they adapt. Finally, listen to your body, and don’t do anything that causes pain!

Corre Libre Amigos!

tylertom

If you’re interested in the book that started the minimal running revolution check-out:
Born To Run.
Want the science behind minimal running? Dr. Lieberman’s website: http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/
A nice tutorial on good running form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H26liWMDH8U
Ready to try a pair for yourself? Go to http://lunasandals.com/
For more on Fuego y Agua’s international lineup of ultramarathons and Survival Runs check out: http://fuegoyagua.org/#home

funnylunamuralShenanigans with friends in Urique, Mexico at this year’s Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon (formerly CCUM), a race that was ultimately cancelled at the last minute due to drug cartel violence in the city. Although denied racing in huaraches that day, the author has since enjoyed the experience of “flip-floping” numerous runners in “foot coffins” while running in Lunas.

Photo Credits: Luis Escobar, Mikko Ijäs, Tim Burke, Tyler Tomasello

‘MAF’in It’

I’ve been running for about 10 years. With zero athletic background prior to that, the beginning of my running was pretty sad. Mostly, I was just walking as I graduated to baby jogging and then a walk/jog combo, over several years, before actually running. I have only identified myself as a ‘runner’ for the last five years.

Melanie Blenis Article MAF

As a runner, the last several years have been challenging. I badly sprained one ankle and just as it was in full service again, I sprained the other. Those literally affected my run for two years! Sigh. Many runners can relate to being sidelined by an injury. Admittedly, I did not take the time off that I should have. In the midst of that, I did the Spartan Vermont Beast – twice! I also had two crazy ‘flus’ that took me out for several months. But, the biggest thing that has affected my running has been Crossfit.

Initially, I began Crossfit as a way to get stronger and be a better runner. Pulling back on the running, due to the sprains and sickness, meant that I was self limiting, without really thinking about it, my daily activity load. For the past 6 months, I have been perfectly well and injury free. So, I have been going full throttle, doing two a days and loving it until this summer – meaning, running 6-10 miles most every day and doing CrossFit WODs. I began to break.

I began to notice that my running times were stagnating and that my weigh lifting was going nowhere. I was battling frustration. I was considering quitting CrossFit. And, I was pushing hard running, with most runs at 80%. In hind site, it is all so clear. But, of course! Here’s the deal: I love doing all of it. I want to do all of it. It is fun!

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But the reality is…I cannot do it all, at least not every day and certainly not well. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. I was just living in the moment.

To make a correction, I now have a running coach. In just a short time, about two months, I can see a difference. I have actually set three PR’s with a strong dose of tough love and through pulling back on everything some. This means looking a the CrossFit WOD ahead of time and skipping METCON days in favor of running programming. It means letting go of the need to focus on things at CrossFit that are not necessary for my goals, like double-unders. It means that strength training takes priority over extra cardio. Also, it means that as a runner first, I may not be able to kill it at CrossFit and that’s okay. I also must understand that, as an endurance athlete, the norms of weightlifting may not necessarily apply to me. Standard one rep max charts may not work for me. I may have muscular imbalances that need addressed. One day off per week is now mandatory.

Most importantly, coaching has brought more variety and specificity to my run training. This means not just going through the motions of a daily, moderate-intensity run. Sometimes, I run as fast as I can, but I’ve also been coached to do a lot more easy runs – both recovery runs and “MAF” runs.  Essentially, MAF runs are heart rate based runs designed to develop the aerobic system. The formula is 180 minus your age and then plus or minus 5-10 beats based on certain personal variables. You can figure out your heart rate zone here. This is slow running!

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MAF may be boring at times, but I credit MAF runs with my ability to set new PR’s at forty-seven. I had no idea what MAF running was a few months ago… and, boy did I detest it. After my first MAF run, I was nearly in tears as I slammed the car door after I had finished. Running slow enough to reap the benefits of easy running requires a big ego check. It took a month of diligently attempting MAF until I actually settled into it – just another mental exercise in discipline. Now, I understand that MAF running is like making deposits that allow the ‘fast’ days to happen.

Thanks to these MAF “deposits”, I’ve gotten to experience the thrill of running faster than ever before (for me)! I have spent years running at 80%. Running faster is crazy addictive, but I would never have experienced it if not for MAF. The daily grind of running at 80% eventually leads to chronic fatigue and performance plateaus, but a balance of easy days and faster days leads to continuous progression. MAF is a forced easy day. For me, MAF means watching my heart rate monitor and not letting it over 140.  It takes practice and patience to begin running faster within your heart rate zone. MAF training incurs many benefits, but at the end of the day, you have to run fast to run fast. This is why tempo work and high-intensity workouts are still extremely important! I was simply going too hard too often.

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Lastly, as a way to counter over training, I understand that a day off, at least one per week, is essential. This is, perhaps, the hardest aspect of being coachable, for me. Just knowing that on my off days, I am ‘allowed’ to take a walk makes it palatable. couch1While I am no elite athlete, I still face similar challenges just on a different scale. Accepting that and slowing down, just a tad, is making a huge difference in my life and in my performance.

And…my lessons in running and taking on more than I should apply to life because who we are in one area reflects who we are. There is nothing wrong with working hard, every day, and pushing personal limits – those are great qualities. It is, however, important to be mindful that we don’t have super powers – unfortunately!