Friday, December 14, 2018

The Spartan TriFecta World Championship 2018 

Who am I ... 
I am a Spartan  

What is your profession ... 
Aroo Aroo Aroo 
This is a common hype up call you hear at the beginning of every Spartan Race, where the cult and ideology of Spartans are brought in to racing grounds of Spartan Races. This has been a long long journey for me. The transition from average life to Spartan life. 

The first ever race I raced made me fall in love with it.  What I experienced was true fun and excitement in running. I will put it how my little daughter explains.

“Climb over a wall, jump over fire and run … and that’s what we do in a Spartan Race” sounds like fun yeh? of course it is …
Going to Spartan TriFecta World Championship was not the biggest excitement for me, the bigger excitement for me was the destination “SPARTA”  the home of Spartan, where the ancient Spartans lived, the love of the sport has always made me dream to walk on the foot steps of Spartan Worriers hundreds of years ago! I was qualified and I was ready. 
As I reached Greece, I was excited to be seeing the historical city of Sparta, I felt to myself the journey was worth it.
Upon arrival I decided to check out the city and also event village to be familiar for the race day. The race was arranged perfectly and I could give more than 100% to it from start till the end. During the athletes briefing the Race Director confirmed that Burpee Penalties will be properly counted and viewed through the VAR system. For me this was amazing, this was what Spartan Race needed, and the referees did execute it to perfection.
I was ready to run in the land of Spartan. 
Unlike any other TriFecta Weekends I have raced, the TriFecta World Championship started with a Super & Sprint on Saturday followed by the Beast on Sunday. Dealing with Beast as the last element will be the toughest call.

I was racing in the age group category with worlds top elite, I’ve always known that getting a placing in it would be near impossible (not saying impossible as there can be odds at times). But yeah my racing goals has always been not to finish last and keep it simple.

The race began and we marched through the gates and there we go, the races were a little longer than what I expected, i call it an extended Super of 16km and extended Sprint of 8km. I managed to finish both the races with a total of 120 burpees for both races, I was keeping my pace comfortable and I did not want to die off before the Beast next day. The most surprising and unexpected obstacle I failed on the first go was the Spear throw in the river! Burpees in cold water was a killer. Second time around on the Sprint I nailed it!  
Day one done! Day 2 the dooms day awaits for Sunday morning. Inside my mind I was doing my maths to work on the recovery process. A good carb loading process, proper hydration and an ice bath did the trick. 

As I reached the starting line up for the second day Beast, I felt fresh but as a human little sore areas around the shoulder still ready to crush the course.

To my surprise this Beast was real, it was a 29km in total with some surprises thrown into the route as obstacles. The hills were testing me in and out where at times I was barely moving with maximum elevation gains of around 1200+m. Fighting to get back to the finish line I was back to familiar zone of the course and hits the first surprise, a long and painful sand bag walk for few kms with severe elevations, walking through it was like being on the road to hell. Surviving the death march running toward the finish line came the second surprise, a pitch dark tunnel which was about a km long to run, speed wasn’t my best friend at this time. Battling through all these by the time I reached 01km to the finish line I was running Burpees free and then came the horror.

My shoulder and back had given up on me! I miserably failed the twister and the rigs and down to burpees. Not helping me was the legs with the heavy hills where I failed on the balance beams as well. To sum up during the last 500m I was down on my chest for 90 freaking Burpees! But I was alive!

After all this suffering finally when I went up the Stairway to Sparta, I clearly saw the final Fire Jump! A feeling hard to explain. 
Before the statue of Leonidas, past the tomb of Menelaus, through the waters of Eurotas … found glory in the ancient homeland of Spartans. 

What did I bring home. 

The OCR world community today knows Maldives have some passionate runners and my wish says there will be champions of OCR in Maldives in the coming days. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Exercise and Nutrition

How much carbs and how much protein per day, these are two questions you will always want to find answers. And you may hear many different ideas, concepts and theories around these questions which could leave you wondering as well.

Let’s be realistic, think about ancients days, thousands of years ago how humans lived, was there something called exercise? Was there a problem called obesity? Was there patterns of dieting like Keto, Paleo, Atkins etc.

History confirms that sedentary lifestyle was first observed during the days of agriculture revolution, yes I am talking about the first agriculture revolution, the transition from hunting and gathering to planting and sustaining. This thought always fascinates me.

This thought makes me think and ask more questions to myself about the days before the initial agriculture revolution.

Wouldn’t they skip breakfast?
Wouldn’t they miss meals while they are hunting for food?
Did they measure portions?
Did they take proteins for recovery after loads of activity they do to maintain life?

It is clear that exercise is a product that came to existence due to civilization when humans gave up on hunting and started planting and sustaining. We as human started to lack movement, started to adapt a lifestyle which eventually turned us in to couch potatoes. It is also clear that eating processed food and eating meat in large volumes came to human lifestyle as part of civilization. Imagine the days of hunting, would one be able to eat a portion meat or diary on every meal. For obvious reasons eating meats can be called celebration to mark success of hunting?

All these facts, questions and its answers makes life very simple for someone who loves start a better lifestyle. Take things simple, make exercise and eating habits simple.

There is no harm for you to miss a meal, there is no harm to miss a breakfast, there is no harm for you to train empty stomach. In fact these can be beneficial to build you as a stronger and better human. The best food comes from plants. The raw format of these vegetables, fruits and nuts are the most nutritious and best food to consume on a regular basis. Eating meat; be it beef, lamb, chicken or any other should be occasional. Fast occasionally by skipping a meal or if you want to hear on a modern trendy terminology “intermittent fasting”. 

And coming to exercise, do it to become stronger as a human, to build stamina both physically and mentally. Don’t get caught up in the single activity plan which you think or some concept said is the best fix for everything. Play a game, go run, swim, climb a tree, climb some stairs or maybe crawl on the beach. Whatever you do make sure you love it and that’s when you can call it exercise. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sentosa Super 

Its been a while since I ran a single race on a weekend, to be honest 2018 has been a very different year. I started with an aim of completing 03 TriFactors but as of now I am done with 04. And this one goes towards the 05th for the year!

Few weeks ago I decided to do this race, a Spartan Super in Sentosa, Singapore. It was a good feeling to get back to where I started obstacle racing. I arrived at Singapore just before the race day, and was prepared to nail a good race with a good timing.

Before the race I had a glance at the route map provided by the organizers and came to understand that race itself is on a very flat land with parts of the beach used on the terrain. Again racing on beach sand wasn’t new to me as i did experience the same in Bahrain early this year. 

There we go on to the race, straight from the road to the beach dealing with the first few obstacles. The layout of the obstacles looked interesting, early in the start the racers were tested with some heavy hercules hoists, rope climbs, bucket carries, atlas carry and sandbag carries. These carries are some of my favorites inside the race.

As i passed the 08km mark I came to understand that if I can take the rest of the race seriously I will be able to do my first under 2 hours Super which became the target. I can still remember the memory test obstacle “MUSCULAR 5700 1153”, and after this came the toughest of all in this race. The weight drags on the sand, it was long and challenging. Coming towards the finish line I saw the monkey jobs on the area with a dunk wall to freshen up before the final fire jump.

A very well organized race, with a good scenic route, the heavy rain did make the hanging obstacles tougher than it should be.

For me it was my 03rd clean race, with zero penalty burpees! not my first one. And the first under 2 hour Spartan Super. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Part 1 - Cold showers

Water heaters or heating systems in the houses are considered to be part of the luxury that one will always look forward to, what I am trying to do here is to break some of your conventional thinking and tell you that, it’s time you say bye bye to your heaters. 

Recover muscles and prevents DOMS 

In the modern world we see athletes being immersed in ice for recovery. There are hundreds of findings out there that confirms when a person is immersed in ice (10 degrees to 12 degrees) for 18 to 25 minutes after heavy resistance or aerobic exercises has eased people from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) significantly.
The interesting news is that hitting a quick cold shower right after your training session can get similar benefits.

Build strong will power 

I was never a fan of cold showers until recently. Doing something you are resistant to until it becomes a habit takes a lot of discipline and courage. It tests you mentally.
Getting up early in the morning and getting in to warm shower and being in the comfort zone might be the best feeling for you. Imagine yourself waking up to stand under the shower where your body will be tested until you build the courage and it becomes and automated habit of your life. 

Improves hair and skin health

If only I discovered this during the days I had hair!
Many of you maybe struggling with hair loss and rough skin. Hot water have a tendency to dry your skin and if you are looking to seal the pores in the skin and the scalp, cold water is the solution. When it comes to the hair experts believe that cold water can make your hair look shinier, healthier by flattening the hair follicles with increased grip on the scalp.

I know you all love your warm showers, I am not asking you to throw the water heaters away but yeah those water heaters are of no use in Maldives. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Roshi Maths

It was 1982, a normally day, where me as a kid woke up and got ready for breakfast. I never expected anything more than having some roshi for breakfast. I still remember as a kid i was able to eat 3 of them. My grandma as usual wasn’t happy I was eating so less! 

After 32 years when i speak about this, the modern culture of breakfast has changed. At least 25% of Kids do not eat roshi as parents try hard to feed their children with better food like bread and eggs. But even today the culture of eating roshi is common in many household or even on a weekend family outing in the morning.

Here is the question  

How do I lose weight without replacing roshi from my diet? At the same time a lot of my clients wants to know why I always advise them to replace roshi with more complex carbs.

Below are some maths regarding the calorie values of roshi, comparing it to the amount of activity which may be required to burn similar amount of calories. 

If you look at the nutritional facts you will see that 01 roshi carries 120 calories, out of which 33 is derived from fat, and below is a simple exercise guide to compare how much activities are required to burn similar amount of calories. 

Here is an exercise guide you could follow to burn our 120 calories.

32 minutes Walking
17 minutes Cycling
12 minutes Running

Now lets look at the the average consumption of roshi in a meal as per our habits. I have come to understand that a male on average consumes 04 roshi and a female 2 roshi (I have used very low values)

In this case the total calories consumption from roshi per meal goes up to 480 calories for a male and 240 calories to a female. 

Here is the maths; every man needs to walk for 128 minutes, cycle for 68 minutes or run for 48 minutes on moderate to low intensities for every meal. And every woman needs to walk 64 minutes, cycle for 34 minutes or run for 24 minutes! 

From what I see to create a calorie balance and consuming roshi at our scale is merely impossible! 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Run for your life, run till you fall

The journey 

The total travel time to reach the destination was 9 hours 30 minutes with a transit of 02 hours. For me the race begins when I step myself to catch the flight. Here are some guidelines I followed during traveling.

1 - Initial meal from the airport, a sandwich 
2 - Liquid fast on the flight, only water to stay hydrated. Do note that dehydration is a common problem when we fly for long hours. The most important thing is to drink enough water and go to the loo. (I know it is not easy to move over the next passenger to go to the toilet)
3 - Transit in Singapore was feeding time again with a small sandwich
4 - Kept myself on liquid fast through the second flight.

I am a believer that unhealthy eating patterns as carb loading leads up to bloating more than loading carbs. As a second rule our body cannot cope with excessive carbs to store it as reserves for the race.

Before the race 

Upon arrival I understood that the weather was really bad at the location, in fact it was in one of the alert area for a typhoon. And the race director of Spartan Race Philippines issued a plan B if the race (Beast) could not take place on Saturday, it will be done on Sunday and Super and Sprint will move on to Monday. Later in the evening the race director announced that the race is pushing forward as scheduled.

In the morning I prepared myself for the race packed my hydration with gels got my gear on and was ready to move to the race venue, normally my pre race meal is simple just two slice of whole grain bread and a cup of tea. It was windy with heavy rain and the typhoon was hitting the area. As I was stepping on to the car I came to know the race has been called off for the day and to wait for further news. I was expecting the race to be moved to the next two days, Sunday & Monday! 

The news 

Went back and after a brief nap, woke up to the most unexpected news. The TriFecta Weekend becomes TriFecta Day. The race director announced that all three races will be back to back with some serious cut off times.

Start time for 21km+ Beast as 0730hrs, and to complete Beast and 14km+ Super before 1400hrs to be able to start the 8km+ Sprint, where the race course will be shut down at 1800hrs. The 6 hours for a Beast and Super cut off was a tougher call than an Ultra Beast cut off! Having no choice started carefully preparing myself mentally to face it.

Race day 

Finally a beautiful day on the Sunday morning with the normal preparations methods I was at the start line up to kick off the first race. The only thing I was telling myself was “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, RUN TILL YOU FALL”. I had some cut offs in my mind and was running to meet it.

It was brutal, tough, painful and mentally exhausting!

1 - Paced myself at 7km/h to make sure that in worst case scenario I will be done at 4hours for the Beast.
2 - Decided to run three races without wasting time to fill up the pack, therefore started heavy carrying all hydrations and food for three races.
3 - Decided to run on the elevations no matter how strong the burn was on my legs.


Completed my Trifecta in a day, an amazing race and an amazing adventure. The catchy thing about the race was I nailed to finish all the races much earlier than the cut off times.

03 hours 17 minutes Beast (40 minutes faster than my best timing)
02 hours 11 minutes Super (This is my average Super Finish time)
02 hours 02 minutes Sprint (Slower than my average Sprint time, I took it easy)

It was great to know how much I can push myself and how much the body can cope with the right training and nutrition.

Photo: #paksitphotos #IwearthReeofme 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Trans Fat

Trans fat is known as the silent killer, as many of you would have heard a thousand time “trans fats are bad” and “trans fats can cause many harmful health problems”. Lets look at what trans fat really is, what are the top 07 foods to avoid if you would want to avoid trans fat from your diet.

Trans fats are known as trans fatty acids. These fats acts quiet similar to saturated fat but in larger scale. What it does is it increases the “bad” LDL-cholesterol level in the blood, at the same time it can decrease the level of “good” HDL-cholesterol. This is the simple process that may occur deep inside you which will have harmful effects on your body in the long run. 

If you look at the nature of trans fat there are two different ways one can consume trans fat. 

1 - It’s found in lamb, pork, beef, cheese, milk in small amounts. Although there is little evidence that shows these can make things worse, its good to be careful. 
2 - Partial hydrogenation (solidifying vegetable oil) is the industrial form of trans fat, a process the food manufacturers find useful in production of fried and baked food. 

If we have a good look at the above two points it’s very clear that eating dairy and red meat should not exceed the daily recommended value. To make it simple consume it on small volumes and bigger precaution should be avoiding the industrial form of trans fat which is found in processed food. 

Let me give you a quick guide on the worst foods which are very rich in trans fat. 

1 - Popcorn, I know corn is healthy but the oil/butter coating on it on the process of production makes it rich in trans fat.
2 - Vegetable oil - whatever the label says the process of refining and heating makes it the wrong choice 
3 - Deep fried fast food - potato chips, nuggets, deep fried local short eats!! I am sorry if I sound rude but this is absolute rubbish to put inside your body. 
4 - Frozen spring rolls, crumbed chicken or fish fingers are added with a high number of industrial trans fat. 
5 - Packet cake mixes
6 - Pastries such as croissants, pies etc
7 - Fried canned snacks such as potato crisps, crackers, biscuits and cookies!

Make right choices, food rich in trans fats are not good for you and also to a growing child. 

Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) for Beginners

Obstacle course racing is not easy, it’s tough it’s challenging both mentally and physically. Having said that I can also say you do not have to be a top class athlete or be in top class fitness to run your first Obstacle race. 

If you are looking to just survive your first race you might not enjoy the race, hence it is important that you prepare yourself with gaining a reasonable amount of endurance and strength. I can guarantee if you are prepared you will end up having a lot of fun. 

Choosing your first race is the tricky part, running a short race can leave you sore, if you are a newbie get on to the shortest race. I can still remember my first ever race which was a Spartan Sprint 5K+ 20 obstacles, I finished the race soaked in mud running inside the trails and crawling under the barbwire with thick mud. I had the time of my life, it was meditation at another level. 

Training for the first race! 

I hate to say this, but if you think you hate running and you could love obstacle racing you are thinking wrong. obstacle racing requires running long distances, you will need to move those legs as much as you could and build good base of aerobic fitness and endurance for this adventure. This is the number one requirement. 

Imagine yourself running through the trail and facing a 10m long monkey bar station which you have to conquer before you move into running again, there are a lot of such powerful obstacles inside the route which you will need to complete to successfully finish the race. This requires strength on your upper body, core and also a reasonable amount of agility and coordination.

What I am saying here is simple, obstacle racing is aerobic as well as anaerobic you will need to build up strength and agility at a similar level.

If you are looking to get started, here is how!

Train the same way you be performing.

Cardio training:
Do as much as running as you could and try getting a feel of a terrain. Avoid running on roads and chose to run more on sand and grass. If you are training on a treadmill vary the treadmill height, chose many different degrees of incline during your training.

Strength training:
As a new comer to the sport start to train with bodyweight, exercises like dead hangs, pull ups, chin ups, push ups, planks, air squat, lunge jumps, planks and hip bridges could be a good way to start.

What I have given here is just and idea of how you could get started, in the coming days I will be posting beginner OCR programs.