So here is what I know, January 31 is Hell and Back and I am ready for the shock of the ice baths, but am I ready for the rest.
Presently my fitness regime is solid. On Monday, I run and do a spinning class. This is high endurance spinning and has increased my stamina for running and other daily tasks.
On Tuesday I am in a high intensity body tone class. This comprises a circuit of 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds rest. The circuit this week was burpees, followed by lunges with the bar and weights, press ups, jumping jacks, squat with the bar and weights, planks, mountain climbers and high knees. We completed 3 rounds of these.
Wednesday is yoga and rest day. Thursday is a double shot of spinning and body tone, then Friday is the spinning and kettlebells. It is hard work, but I have found my upper body strength has increased immensely. The circuits have given me greater confidence as to how far I can push my body. Confidence was a big thing for me after having my last child, I always knew I was strong, but I couldn’t quite seem to muster strength after he was born, so all of this work is helping me to gain the confidence needed to participate in next months challenge.
This challenge is a big deal for me. I am stepping out of my comfort zone and trusting in others word of mouth, that I will be able for the challenge. I am excited and fearful at the same time. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am a creature of comfort.
Although my regime is going well at the moment, I fear that over Christmas I will loose my momentum, especially as my gym is not running classes over the Christmas period. So I have decided that I will do 5 km runs over Christmas and continue swimming in the sea. All this effort has to pay off somehow.
An Amateur’s Guide to Ice Bath Training
If you are wondering, I am 44 and this is my first adventure race. I knew nothing of the growing phenomenon of these mucky races until I rejoined a gym in January of 2015. Since that time, all I have heard are statements like, have you heard about, ‘Hell and Back, did you see the girls after ‘Run Amuck. So naturally when our instructor at Courtown Leisure Centre asked me to join in, I was terrified, apprehensive, however I reluctantly agreed. Our team comprises 30 participants who have agreed to raise funds for St Aiden’s in Gorey, Co Wexford.
The first obstacle on the Hell and Back race this year, is the Ice Challenge. Dun dun dun. So before all of the participants attempt the obstacles, they will all be subjected to the ice baths. In effect what this means is either you are prepared, or you are not. If you are not prepared, well expect the muscles to seize temporarily making it somewhat difficult for you to continue on the course. This is not to say that it is an impossible feat, rather a debilitating way to start a 10km obstacle course.
Having been a fitness fanatic in some form or another for a large part of my life, I know the limits to which I must push my own self to be comfortable even entering into a race like this one. And to be truthful, I have no idea what to expect, but I have ran enough long distance races to know that a half hearted attempt will not give me the results I want out of the race. I am participating in this particular race, not to compete against other people, but to challenge myself and take part in life. When my last child was born 3 years ago I sacrificed my fitness regime to be a full time Mum. Since January I managed to get back into great shape, and although I will regain the same fitness level I had when training Muay Thai, I am enjoying a comfortable training schedule for the upcoming, some would say ‘mad’ challenge.
When it comes to Hell and Back, preparation is key, so if you follow these simple steps you can expect the race to go smoother for you. And that brings me to mad plans for training. Twice a week now when I am at the gym for spinning, running and body tone, I take a dip in the sea….with no wet suit. I believe, read and am now experiencing that preparation is key and I will benefit from my mad sea swimming regime. My first attempt was difficult, I went in for a few minutes up to the hips and came out, then straight back in for a quick dunk, I ran out screaming, however forced myself in one more time. After that, I ran as fast as I could back to the car and into the gym.
This morning was my second attempt at swimming in The Irish Sea off Courtown and it was blissfully cold. I met my team mate Monica at the entrance to the beach, which much to our dismay was blocked off by diggers. Determined and being the adventurous types that we are, we were able to sneak in past the diggers and go for it. I did not expect to do any more than a dunk, but to my surprise once I got in-and screamed the shock off me, I was okay. After the jolt wore off, I was able to swim around with Monica.
After a couple of minutes in the sea, my skin burned intensely from the cold that I actually believed it might break part of my body. As well as that, my heart was pounding rapidly so I decided to get out for a moment and walk around the shore. It was exhilarating and exciting, my heart beat a little faster, my skin glowed red, and within moments I was back in the sea for another dip.
For me, it is important that I go into the sea prior to my normal training routine- it gives my muscles a good shock and has allowed me to really feel how difficult it can be to warm up after the swim. Not to worry however, the muscles do recover and although I am finding it somewhat harder to get going on whatever cardiovascular activity I have chosen for that morning, I eventually get into it and train away normally.
Here are a couple of suggestions firstly, don’t let your first cold water immersion be at the event, practice beforehand, become acclimatised and mentally rehearse entering the water. Knowing what to expect can actually help diminish the effects. Always make sure you have someone with you for safety.
I don’t know if these tips are for everyone because at the end of the day, I am an amateur and haven’t the foggiest how you train to do something as abnormal as diving into an ice bucket on January 31 in an Irish Winter. I am not hardy. I enjoy my comforts. My coal fire brings me great pleasure in the winter and in the summer; invariably I retreat to the sun. So why am I up for this you ask, well – I need a challenge and yes, I believe we can all agree that I have stumbled upon just that. Indeed!