When it comes to weightlifting, lifting weights, and strength training in general, the barbell is the signature tool we think of, and for a good reason. Various strength-training movements with the barbell can produce phenomenal results when done correctly. However, traditional barbell training can come at a cost. Learning Curve Understanding how to perform various barbell movements such as the deadlift and back squat takes a fair amount of skill. From the set up to […]
This year I have decided to enter the Men’s Health Chicago Urbanathlaon on October 13th, 2012. For the past three years I have pondered the idea of entering this race. I am by no means a runner, but I was intrigued by the thought of running through one of my favorite cities, and jumping over obstacles. The running up and down the stairs of the legendary Soldier Field is what really got me. So my fellow trainer, Scott Abramouski, and I signed on the dotted line and entered the race. Both of us being former power sport athletes, and former physique and bodybuilding competitors, it will be interesting to see how us non-endurance athletes will fair in such a long race.
A Quick Review of the Race
The Men’s Health URBANATHLON is a three-city event series comprised of 9.5-10.5 mile endurance races that incorporate city landmarks and urban obstacle courses set on the streets of three of the largest cities in the country; Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Post race, the excitement continues at the Men’s Health URBANATHLON Festival, with DJ sets, food and drink, and tons of stuff from our sponsors to demo, sample, and take home.
The course is subject to change, but the distance last year was 9.9 miles. A pretty good hike. I have not ran this far since 2005, where I ran my last half marathon in Mackinac Island in a time of 1:36. Not bad since I was in my bodybuilding days then. If you are interested in the course you can take a look at the link below from the last years Chicago course. Our course is yet to be officially determined.
I am most excited to go through the various obstacles that will stand in my way of the finish line and hoping my athleticism and training will kick in. The running is a different story. I don’t plan on running all that much during the next 74 days before the race, but rather going on my theory that if you are in shape, lift heavy, perform some interval training, and eat healthy, you can participate in almost any athletic event respectfully. I am not looking to win the race, but rather push my self to my absolute limits, and finish in the middle of the pack. The average time of last years event in Chicago was around 1 hour and 30 minutes. I think that this is a realistic goal.
My weight fluctuates around 185-190 pounds at a height just shy of 5 feet 10 inches tall, so I am sure the endurance athletes that run 50+ miles a week, and carry 10-40 pounds less muscle than me will be ahead of me in the race. I am content with that. In my past experiences, performing long bouts of running multiple times throughout the week has caused me to lose too much muscle, crave junky carbohydrates, and have less energy. The first half marathon than I ran I didn’t even train for it. I was actually 4 weeks out from a bodybuilding show, and decided to jump in the Rock n Roll half marathon in Virginia Beach. I was eating very clean, was a lean 188 pounds, was lifting in a bodybuilding type fashion, and only performing 10 minutes of interval training on the stepmill 3-4 days per week. I finished in 1 hour and 36 minutes and hadn’t even ran in months. A pretty respectable time for a non-runner.
I trained for my next half marathon by running 5 days per week, and only lifting 3 days per week for 30 minutes. I lost quite a bit of weight getting down to 176 pounds, had low energy, and was eating like crap. As I mentioned above, I also finished that half marathon in 1 hour and 36 minutes. Even though the course was different in Mackinac Island, it was quite discouraging to see that I made no improvement in time after I devoted my training to mostly running. Not to mention that I low energy, loss a bunch of muscle, and didn’t eat as clean as I usually did. My experience was very common in the running world. It is hard to hold muscle when performing long bouts of cardio. When training for endurance sports it has been shown to increase the release of the hormone cortisol, and reduce the release of growth hormone and testosterone. This is the major reason why I was craving junky carbohydrates, and not eating as clean as I should have. I will not make this mistake again.
I have outlined my training below. You will probably think that my style of training is much more unorthodox as compared to most endurance athletes. The majority of my training will be olympic and power lifting based, with some sprints, interval training, and metabolic strength training thrown in the mix. I will be doing at least 1-2 runs a week wherever I can fit them in. I don’t have a set distance for each run, but I am guessing I will add a little more time or distance as time goes on. Right now I am shooting for 20-30 minutes for each run. I also will be going on bike rides and walks with my family, so this will add a little more low-intensity endurance training to the mix.
Will my style of training work? I am not sure. What I do know is that I will be strong, explosive, athletic, have high energy, keep my muscle mass, and feel very physically fit. To me that is what it is all about. I am not here to break records, or beat the best marathon runner, but instead finish in a respectable time, and bust through all of the obstacle course with ease due to my strength and power training.
Monday: lift heavy
Tuesday: sprints and concept 2 rower or AirDyne bike intervals
Wednesday: Metabolic strength training circuit (the circuit may vary, but the concept stays the same)
Thursday: Mid-distane running workout
Friday: lift heavy, sled work
Saturday and Sunday: active rest
- A1- power snatch: 5×2
- B1- Barbell Deadlifts: 4×3
- B2- close grip bench press or Strict Overhead Press: 4×5
- Start with 6×15 yard sprints, add one each week until I reach 15 sprints. Rest no more than 30 seconds between sprints
- Perform 3×500 meter sprints on the Concept 2 Rower, or Tabata Intervals on the Airdyne Bike (8×20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
Wednesday: Perform in a circuit fashion for three rounds of 8 reps of each (pick one)
- Landmine Reverse Lunge to Press
- Single Leg RDL’s
- TRX Face Pull
- Landmine 1-arm floor press
- Valslide leg Curls to V
- TRX Reverse Grip inverted row
- Landmine Anti-rotation
- Box Jumps or 1-Arm DB Snatch
- TRX Rows
- 1-leg squats
- 1/2 kneeling Tip up Kettlebell press
- KB swings: 15 reps
- TRX y’s and T’s
- Explosive offset medball push-ups
Circuit #3: 3-5 rounds of 50 yards for each carry
- Farmers Carry
- Suit Case Carry
- 1-Arm Overhead Carry
- Mid-distance running workout (20-30 minutes or so)
- A1- power cleans or Hang Cleans: 5×2
- B1- chest to bar pull-ups (long holds to increase grip strength for obstacle course): 5×3
- B2- front squats or heavy Goblet squats: 5×5
I will keep you updated and let you know my progress. I feel confident that if I stay consistent and improve on all of my workouts I will finish the race in a respectable fashion. I want to prove that anyone that is healthy and fit can run a race like the Men’s Health Chicago Urbanathlon, and you don’t have to be a runner or an endurance athlete. Fit is fit, and you need to have balance in your training.
I will also be breaking down my nutritional protocol for you, so stay tuned for that. Follow me on my journey to Chicago!