Not a fitness blog part two:
I am still alive and well (following an extended period of recovery and getting my thoughts composed)!!
This is a long post, so, let’s get cracking and start at the beginning…
My team mate, Darren, was at a comedy gig the night before the event, which meant that we didn’t leave Nottingham until about 11:30pm and checked into our hotel in Bristol at 2:15am. I think we did pretty well and had lights out just after 2:30 and we both got to sleep pretty quickly.
Which was just as well because our alarm went off at 5:30!!
Dressed and ready in our fitness gear and a bag packed full of Lucozade, water and energy gels, we opted for a continental breakfast in the hotel rather than try to find somewhere open. Anybody involved in any fitness event will tell you that fueling your body is very important, so porridge and toast may not have been the breakfast of champions, but it was the best of what we had in front of us – that and a couple of strong coffees to get the energy levels up.
Despite a slow moving queue of traffic, which made us realise how popular the event was, we got parked up and registered with no bother and we took a moment to have a look around all of the workout areas that had been set up. Although the organisers experienced some issues, you wouldn’t have known it, the place looked immaculate. So, we scoped everything out – the assault course looked OK: It didn’t have any obstacles that would have affected someone with a very slightly less than average height, so we were both happy with that and, on the face of it, it looked a simple enough course (more on that later). We also checked out the other stations and felt that the weighted backpacks weren’t as bad as we thought they might be, the log felt lighter than expected and the keg seemed by far the most difficult thing to pick up and carry. Of course, at this time, we were brimming with energy and excitement to take all of this on, so the difference between picking something up once right now compared to a few workouts down the line would become apparent!
Before I get into the action, I need to mention the friendly atmosphere: there was a real camaraderie among the athletes, with everyone aiming to have a good time and encourage each other. The group from the same gym as me were there too – they’d been really friendly and invited us to train with them in the build up to the event, but we just couldn’t make it work time-wise – however, they were in roughly the same workout groups as us, so gave us loads of encouragement and support throughout the day. The positive atmosphere gave us both a massive boost throughout the whole event – there were times each of us struggled, but the encouragement and general vibe kept us going with a smile…that may have appeared as a grimace.
Prior to the event you are allocated a workout group number and lane, which tells you which workout you should be doing and which station to be at when you do them. We got paired up with a couple of guys who were the second workout group on our station, so we were required to help judge and count reps – there was no requirement to encourage or bond like a band of brothers, but that’s exactly what we did – they were great guys and I think we all helped each other get through some tough times during the day.
Onto the workouts…
Strength & Honour 20 mins AMRAP
- 30 x hand release push ups
- 50 x 50Kg thrusters
- 50 x 70Kg deadlifts
- 70 x sit ups
The rules for this are that you have to do the movements properly in accordance with the information given to us prior to the event and that for the first set only each person has to complete 10 reps minimum before handing over to their partner.
Man, was I glad we were doing this workout first! Thrusters have been my nemesis for some time: 3 months ago, I couldn’t do 40kg thrusters and was struggling to do more than a few at 30kg – It became a focal point of my extra training sessions and, although I still clearly struggled, I felt comfortable that I would be able to do my share as long as we were taking it on fairly early in the day, so I would have the energy and strength to do it. So, I struck it lucky with it being our first workout. It is also one of the few complete workouts that Darren and I had practiced, so we sort of knew what to expect.
It’s fair to say that the nervous energy and adrenaline really kicked in and we put in a good solid performance – the thrusters were the real issue for both of us in the dying seconds, but that was to be expected. The other aspects were far from easy, but we accomplished them in better form.
We were buzzing when we finished, but we worked hard to ensure we gave the guys in our spot the same encouragement and rep counts that they gave us.
Feeling good, we drank Lucozade, water and had a couple of energy gels before moving to the next workout area…
VO2 Max – 20Kg Weighted Run
This is a run around an uneven field with ling grass in searing heat with an army backpack containing a 20Kg sandbag. This workout is one where you don’t have to stick together, so we agreed to just run our own race.
We had not practised this workout at all. We can both run ok with some 10k and half marathon experience behind us, but this, as you may expect, is quite a bit different to that!
Putting on the pack was OK, but, when receiving the pre-workout run through, it already started to feel pretty heavy. I also think this was by far the hottest of the workouts. My theory is that the rain Bristol had received all week in the run up to the event had stored in the tall grass and, now that the sun was beating down, the water had started to evaporate creating heat rising from the floor as well as from the sun in the sky. The ground was very uneven and the course was undulating enough to make a gentle slope seem like a steep hill in these conditions.
Not having trained for this showed straight away, as I struggled to get my feet to lift up and move quickly enough to jog. This was also hampered by the long grass which made it feel like running on sand. However, once I got going, I felt like I got myself into a rhythm that I pretty much stuck to. It wasn’t fast at all, but I kept going and managed to speed up as the seconds ran out to ensure I reached a marker flag to score a half lap on top of the 3 I had completed.
In a weird and twisted way, I really enjoyed this workout and both of us were happy with our performance.
600m Assault Course 20 mins AMLAP (As Many Laps As Possible)
A glorified relay race (one person competes a lap and then tags their partner to go next).
Although the course looked simple enough when we arrived and also on the pre-workout walkthrough, it was really tough. I think it was down to each obstacle being different and a bit awkward, so I couldn’t settle into a steady pace or rhythm. The first lap felt like it took and age and that I’d left my partner under pressure to go faster. As it was, I think we both found that first lap awkward and slow, but we both improved massively to go a bit faster on the second lap. Most of it was down to knowing how to take on each obstacle when you get there, so the first lap is working that out and the second is just going for whatever you think worked ok first time round.
The details of the obstacles in brief:
Tyre step through; zig-zag run; hay bale; A-frame climb up/down; cargo net crawl; tyre tunnel crawl; over and under beams; hay bale; over a wall and down a ramp; up a ramp and down a wall drop; wall ledge; over bars; hay bale; monkey bars; over tyres; balance beam.
If you fail any of the obstacles, e.g. I failed to get across the monkey bars, it’s a 10 chest to floor burpee forfeit. Thankfully, we didn’t fall of the balance beam or fail any of the other obstacles because we’d have been gutted to have to do 10 burpees for that! In my defence, the monkey bars were quite far apart and my grip slipped! J
Although the whole event was running a bit late, we had a lunch break. Ordinarily, that’d be a great time to refuel, but because we weren’t used to having to do that (we just go to the gym for an hour at a time). Any solid food at that time would have made a reappearance quite soon after, so that’s something to regard as a tip for first-timers: get used to having to eat between intense workouts.
The event it billed as family friendly and that family, friends and pets are most welcome, however, if you’re looking for something to entertain children for the whole day, you’d be really struggling. There were a couple of things, but not enough to keep them occupied and I’m not sure how much of a spectator sport Superhuman is, so I was glad that my family and I had decided that I would come and do this without them. There were very few stalls and food outlets too. None of this is a complaint – I’m just telling it like it was. I’m sure the organisers had enough on their plates putting the whole thing together without worrying about stalls and family entertainment.
Unconventional Beast 20 mins AMRAP
- 30m synchronised walking log lunge with overhead press
- 30m 50Kg keg run
This was an absolute killer and I felt that it was by far the hardest and most gruelling workout. Initially, we struggled with synchronising the lunges, but with me taking on a sort of cox role and shouting out repetitively “down, up, over”, we got ourselves into a rhythm of sorts. The keg carry was something else. The rule was that you could only carry it a certain way which meant a lot of pressure on your abdomen to keep the keg up and also, due to being only very slightly smaller than average height, my reach couldn’t get all the way around the keg. I think I managed a couple of carries, but was very grateful to my partner who picked up the slack and came through with some great carries for us. This was also the first workout where we were actively taking a breather to refocus and go again. Certainly my brain was trying to get me to give up which was also a new feeling for the day which made this workout much harder. I think it was the moment that I became conscious of how tired and sapped of energy I was. It felt like we had to really grind this one out and it felt like a long 20 mins!
Brutal Beat Down 20 mins AMRAP
- 30m synchronised burpee long jump
- 50 x 24Kg kettlebell swings
- 30m partner carry
The final workout of the day! Another one we had to really grind out. I was a spent force and we had a lot more occasions of taking a breather before getting moving again. Once again, with the synchronised part, we had a shaky start, but sorted ourselves out to get going and find our pace. The kettlebell swings were brutal at that weight, especially on top of everything else we’d done that day. Weirdly, I found the partner carry to be a pleasant respite!
I can’t quite put together the right words to express how we felt when it finished. We were elated that we had completed everything and it was big sweaty hugs all round with the guys we were grouped with and just about anyone else around at the time!
We stayed to watch the podium announcements for each category and a pair from my gym came 3rd which was a huge achievement! Our huge achievement was that we didn’t finish bottom of the leader-board, but also that we completed the whole day to the best of our ability. There was an after party arranged for somewhere close by, but we had to hit the road and head home…
A couple of pit stops (including the largest Burger King meal I have ever eaten) and we were home: sore, achy, grubby, bruised and happy…and just under 24 hours from when we left!
I’d definitely recommend it – the workouts and the atmosphere are awesome! I’d definitely train more and specifically concentrate on the events that are included, as soon as they are revealed. I’d get used to doing multiple workouts and refueling in-between.
Also, be prepared for the aches and stiffness they day or so after – I rested Sunday and Monday and returned to the gym Tuesday – thankfully, once I got warmed up, I was fine!
Would I do it again next year?! Hmmm…to be continued…?