Ahead of Muderella, a 10-kilometre adventure race for women in Whistler on September 24, two Straight writers are prepping for the race in two completely different ways. In this blog, they’ll detail important exercises, expert advice, and all the neuroses that go into race prep.
On September 24, myself and fellow Straight writer Kate Wilson will be cramming into my tiny Toyota for the drive up to Whistler, where we'll be taking part in the women's adventure race known as Mudderella Whistler.
We'll be tested by roughly 10 kilometres of muddy trail and 12 obstacles that will involve shimmying through trenches, trudging through deep muddy pits, and climbing over 10-foot walls, among other things.
Are we excited? Absolutely. But are we physically ready?
Enlisting expert advice
In an effort to get myself on track, I looked to a trainer whose workouts kicked my ass into incredible shape back in the spring of 2012.
"The first step is getting your stamina up," says Fit Body Boot Camp owner and instructor Jonathan Lerner.
"If you can't survive the length of the run, you're going to be gassed out before you even get to the obstacles.”
Lerner, a certified personal trainer with a UBC kinesiology degree, has trained everyone from stay-at-home moms and weekend warriors to high-performance Olympic athletes.
In 2009, he opened up Fit Body Boot Camp in Marpole, where he runs high intensity interval training programs for people of all ages and abilities.
Unlike other, more military boot camps, Lerner encourages his clients by creating an energetic atmosphere, while still reminding them to keep their goals in mind.
Having trained a team of his clients for Tough Mudder in the past, Lerner knows a thing or two about what it takes to get the body in the best shape for the intensity of a serious adventure race. His preferred method? Short but effective workouts.
"High intensity interval drills are what will shoot your fitness through the roof. What they do is teach your body how to recover," he says.
While having good cardio and stamina for the long run is an important aspect of the race, Lerner says it's not the most important: strength training is vital to conquering pull-ups, rope climbs, and other exercises that require pulling, pushing, or carrying.
"That's where those bodyweight exercises come in."
Bodyweight exercises are Lerner's jam. While he does supplement with medicine balls, weights, and battle ropes, 80 percent of the exercises in his classes use one's own bodyweight as resistance.
It's crunch time... literally
Lerner dedicates each class to a separate part of the body, and on the morning I show up, it happens to be ab day.
On a whiteboard, he's detailed four different circuits containing two exercises each: v-ups, side-to-side planks, Russian twists with a medicine ball, and corkscrew squats are just a few that make my core burn before we even get started.
Lerner demonstrates the techniques, and then it's go time.
We're instructed to do each of the four two-exercise circuits a total of three times, dedicating 45 seconds to each exercise, and resting only to move from one exercise to the next.
Loud, up-tempo music blasts out of a boom box in the corner as we push through long lunges with open side twists, jumping jacks, and planks.
Halfway through the first circuit, I'm positively drenched in sweat.
Lerner stands over me as I'm doing v-ups—a crunch-type exercise that starts lying flat with arms overhead, and ends with your legs and arms off the ground in a 'V' shape—and yells, "Mudderella, Mudderella, Mudderella!"
It works. I rapidly up my pace as he counts down to the end of the exercise.
We wrap up circuits and peel ourselves up off the floor before Lerner leads us through a nice stretch.
The 45-minute class is short, but incredibly powerful. (It's two days later. My abs are still on fire.)
After the class, I ask Lerner if he has any advice for those who might be struggling with the mental aspect of a race like Mudderella.
"Remember that you started it with the intention of finishing it," he says. "You're not being timed. If someone around you is having a rough time, stay and help them out.
“Even if you end up by yourself, you're still going to get encouragement along the way from people who aren't on your team; it's just the mentality of the event."
I remember that there will be a few Straight cohorts accompanying me through the course, and suddenly the race becomes less daunting.
With just a few weeks to go, I can't guarantee that I'll be in peak physical condition come race day, but either way, I'm looking forward to repacking my tiny Toyota the next day, feeling accomplished and knowing that at the very least, my team and I finished the shit out of Mudderella.
For more info on the 28-day Transformation Challenge Lerner mentions in the above video, click here. Enter to win a six-month membership to the soon-to-open Kitsilano Fit Body Boot Camp location here.
The Straight has teamed up with Tourism Whistler to offer our readers a chance to win a Mudderella prize pack that guarantees a day of some serious post-race R&R, and a stellar night out on the town. Valued at $1,800, the package includes two nights accommodation for four guests, with four entries to the race, access to Scandinave Spa baths, along with a $200 Whistler gift card… because the only thing sweeter than a weekend away with the ladies is when it’s free. Try your luck here.