Phase 2: Planning

Last week, I discussed how I was approaching my latest personal challenge as a project. So, pulling out the various project management tools out and whatnot – I’m firmly in the planning stage.

A part of planning is to define the project objectives. In my last post, I said the objective was to not die finish the race. That’s a pretty generic and frankly, a pretty weak objective. We need to refine it. Thankfully, refining the objectives is a part of planning! When I consider what needs to be done,  I come up with a few categories.

  • Training – how I get my body ready to participate
  • Equipment – what tools I need to be successful
  • Nutrition – fuel for my body
  • Other – a catch all for things not yet explored

Obviously, there’s overlap/dependencies between these groups. That’s expected. For example, I need shoes (equipment) to run (train) in. I need to eat to be able to move my body. Etc. That’s expected and normal.

So, thinking about training. What sort of things do I (think I) need to be able to do? I know that the race is on for 12 hours. I have to complete as many laps as possible, and one of those laps needs to be completed in the time between the 11th and 12th hour. I’ll have to complete the obstacles each lap. So, where in a normal race, I might just accept the inability to do a particular task and take the penalty – it behooves me to train for those to avoid as many penalties as possible. What do I need to be able to do?

  • Run for X distance (or time?)
  • Pull up my body weight
  • Climb a rope
  • Climb a cargo net
  • Monkey bars
  • Ring swing
  • Carry a heavy bucket/bag
  • Drag an object
  • Throw an axe
  • Shoot a rifle

That’s a good list to start with. What does it tell me?

  • Grip strength is going to be something I need
  • Functional training is going to be key
  • There are a number of specialized activities to consider
  • Endurance, endurance, endurance, endurance

Now, I’m going to think a little about objectives for my running. To date, my longest run has been a half marathon (21.1 km). I can complete this distance in roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes. This doesn’t mean a whole lot when compared to an obstacle/trail race though. So, consider the Spartan Sprint I ran (~6km) which took me about 1 hour 45 minutes. My most recent long trail race was 13km in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

There’s a big disparity in those times! What do I know about them? The Spartan was done roughly halfway through my training for my first half marathon. I had failed a lot of obstacles and had to do a lot of burpees. Also, trail running, which I hadn’t really been training on. So, my time wasn’t great for a lot of reasons. The trail race is closer to my half time for 8km less. Again, big difference in trail running and road – also, I wasn’t training hills and was gassed by the really large hill portions.

This gives a lot of information – one, I need to change focus to run more trails. Two, I need to add significant hill training. These changes will do wonders for my preparation.

Using my Sprint time as a guide, rounding it to 2 hours, then extrapolating a distance, that puts me to an estimate of 36 km. Using my trail race, I can extrapolate a distance of 70 km. This range is still pretty huge target range and the high end does not consider obstacles. What to do?

My initial gut feeling on where I can realistically end up is somewhere between 25km and 50km. This isn’t set in stone yet – I still need to consult with some experts to get their input on what would be realistic given the time I have to train. But, I have a starting point.

Next time, I’ll look a little more into the planning I have to do regarding equipment.

Black Ops: Project management

My interest in project management hasn’t been much of a secret. What else isn’t a secret? I’m a huge nerd. When thinking about the Black Ops race in June, I couldn’t really help myself from starting to apply project management methodologies to the whole endeavor, because clearly, it’s a project.

Why do I say this? Let’s take a look at the definition of a project from the PMI Institute:

A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.

And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal.

Well, first, yes, there’s a defined beginning and end time (from time I registered to the end of the race). Temporary. It’s unique in that this isn’t something I do every day. I’m looking to accomplish a singular goal: Not die complete the race.

So. There you have it. I’m gonna have to manage this like a project. Because I’m a nerd.

Phase one is Initiating the project. I kicked off with my registration and announcing my intentions to the world for accountability.

Phase two is Planning. Lots of planning, which, will be my next topic…

Press Start

This week, I registered for the X Warrior Titan 12 Hour Black Ops event.

What I know about this event:

  • It is run on a loop at the Boneyard compound in Barrhead.
  • To get a medal, you have to cross the finish line after the 11th hour.
  • There’s no burpees if you fail an obstacle (penalty loops are in place instead).
  • You can earn patches if you exceed certain distance thresholds.
  • You can earn a patch if you take a loop carrying a heavy bag.
  • It is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever chosen to complete.

That certainly isn’t a lot of information. More will come out as we get closer to June, but I did a little digging on what this event was like last year.

First, the penalty loops. Last year, X Warrior experimented with eliminating burpees and adding the penalty loop concept. It appears participants were given 2 wristbands. One would be collected by obstacle marshals you failed the complete an obstacle. At points on the course, there were penalty loops – if you were missing your bands, you had to complete the loop for each band you were missing (then I assume you gained them back). The loops were carries/pulls/etc. So, instead of burpees, you had a new obstacle to complete.

So, in thinking about training, I have to try and predict what sort of obstacles to expect. As this is an X Warrior event, I can expect that there will be an axe throwing obstacle. Last year, there was a can-shoot with airsoft rifles, I think this will probably make a return too. So, that’s at least two obstacles that are going to be a little tougher to train for – ie, they’ll take specialized time outside of ‘gym time’.

I can expect that I will need to work on swinging-type obstacles, be it a rope to rope swing, or ring to ring, or ring to rope, etc. This will require grip and upper body strength work.

Rope climbs are probably worth training for too. This is going to be partly technique (learning the S and J hook) and grip/upper body strength.

Climbing walls. Climbing other things.

Pulling things. Pushing things. Carrying things.

Basically, I need to get my whole body stronger. That’s cool. But not only stronger, the endurance to keep moving for a very long time.

And on top of all that…more cardio. I know I can run for ~3 hours if I pace myself right. Probably more. But, that’s only a quarter of the race time. So, I need to keep building my endurance.

Really daunting challenge. But, I’m starting 9 months in advance. Hopefully that’s plenty of time.