“Have you ever done a bear crawl?” How do you respond to that aside from a curt “no”? What the devil is a bear crawl?
I’m pretty sure you know what a bear is and bar crawl and even a bear’s claw. But this is not a delicious pastry or even a tour of niche nightspots – the truth is it is crawling like a bear, although we forgot to establish which kind of bear on account of struggling to breathe.
This is Spartan Race training and there is no time for confections. There is only time for bursts of exertion and short periods of recovery spent pondering physical imperfections as personal trainer and boot camp coach Andrew Power puts us through our paces as the early morning sun beats down on us at Happy Valley.
It feels like everything is beating down on us, although the beat down is much less severe for my noticeably fitter work(out) mate. This week’s session focused on crawl techniques, with Power keen to explain that we needed to develop comfort and skill with several as they would be put to the test when the Spartan Race comes to Hong Kong on April 14.
We’ve only done the bear crawl and all I can think is it’s no wonder bears hibernate.
If you think if you’ve seen one crawl, you’ve seen them all, you’d be wrong. Power demonstrates two more and we attempt to follow suit. Apparently the “army crawl” would be vital to complete the “Barb-Wire Crawl” obstacle.
I have a feeling now that has little to do with visiting various bars to watch the Pamela Anderson film Barb Wire that stank out cinemas in 1996. Nope, we will be crawling under barbed wire. Wire with actual barbs, with our thoroughly non-army skin. So that’s great.
My technique for crawling started badly and got worse. It would be safe to say that the last time I crawled with any regularity was over three decades ago and my technique was not critiqued. That may also have been the last time that I had done any upper body conditioning. Big mistake, as it turns out.
Power explained that coordination is key to the various crawls as the more efficiency in the movement the less wasted energy and the less tired you will be over the course. That also means less burpees for failing an obstacle, which can only be a good thing.
There is a big problem, though. I apparently have the coordination of a giraffe who has been overdoing it on the ripe marula fruit.
This is not a pretty sight as I struggle with the elementary task of moving opposite hands and feet together as we learn the bear crawl, the Spiderman crawl and two variations of the army crawl, the one used by the army which is at least 100 per cent beyond my limited physical capabilities.
My colleague does not suffer the same problem and the difference in our progress can be measured in the several feet between us as he races away during our 40-second intervals, comfortably doing twice the distance I manage before we’re allowed a 20-second rest that feels much shorter. I say comfortably, he’s absolutely blowing. But so am I.
We’re not done, though. There is still the core conditioning to work on. As Power says, “a well-conditioned core is hugely important for a Spartan Race, whereby your entire body will need to work in sync as a solid, efficient unit to avoid premature fatigue”.
We may be experiencing that as we do double leg pushdowns, where we have to hold Power’s ankles and raise our legs together before he throws them back to the floor.
What did we learn? That “body weight crawl variations are an excellent training tool in themselves … largely due to the total body strength, muscular endurance and coordination benefits gained ”.
Also bears are dead strong. That and artificial turf is maybe the least fun thing to crawl over this side of barbed wire and whatever else the Spartan has to throw at us.
And at least one of us might be in a bit of trouble with this Spartan Race even with these training sessions.
Next week: we fail at something else while feeling utterly ashamed at our lack of upper body strength, specifically grip and hang strength as there are a lot of obstacles where this is required and additional core conditioning drills because, to quote Power, “I have identified this as an area with a great deal of room for development for you all”.
Oh, and some more high intensity interval training. Can’t wait.