The Freak 5K

Quick Tips

This past weekend marked my second experience at the local “hardcore” mud run… also known as the:

The Freak 5K

Yes, The Freak 5K was held once again this past weekend in Chippewa Falls, WI.

First let me say that this race is not easy.  What it lacks in distance, it makes up for in volume of obstacles and elevation change.  Each team was required to carry a keg the entire 5K, which added an element to the race also.  Someone mentioned that The Freak 5k had the same number of obstacles in about 1/4 of the distance of a Tough Mudder.

Freak 5K Map

Second, let me say that I only have one gear when competing in races.  No matter how much I say that I am just going to run for fun and enjoy myself, as soon as we leave the starting line, my competitive side appears and I basically black out from that point on.  I’ll step on heads to get out of the mud pits, ask slower racers to move over on narrower paths and elbow the males and females alike to get to the front.  I honestly hate losing and also hate seeing other people push it harder than I am, especially when I know that I have another gear.

I wrote an article a while back about the idea of staying “physically prepared”.  I enjoyed writing that article, and I feel that it loosely represented my philosophy on staying fit for demanding activities… whatever those demanding activities may be.

For The Freak 5K, I tweaked my training about 2 weeks prior and added a few longer distance aerobic based runs into the normal training regimen.  Why?  Just to make sure that my body had a few training sessions to adapt to the demands of running.  Personally, I respect running but I am not a fan.  It’s not my go to hobby for killing time and I rarely have a good time during a run.

I was told by someone before the race that the Cross-Fitters would do the best because they train for everything and it is hardcore training.  I always chuckle when I hear this.  Cross-Cult has got people believing everything these days.  Our guys dusted all of the “hardcore” cross-fitters on Saturday.  It’s hard to imagine that performing 50 continuous hang cleans or 100+ box jumps “unbroken” wouldn’t be enough to help someone power through a race like that no problem.

A workout is more than burying yourself in a pile of fatigue.

So, I took it as a personal challenge to torch everyone on the course after I heard this comment.

Here is a brief commentary on how we maneuvered the through the race…

On the starting line, my team chose to leave the starting line last for our wave, to avoid raising any tempers early on in the race.  Most people flail around like idiots in the mud pits, so I was on board with waiting for the flailers to move through the pits before we entered.  Shortly after the mud pit was a 35-40 foot dirt hill that was nearly a complete vertical climb.  Nice.

We made our move here.

Passing numerous teams on the dirt hill, we made our way into the woods.  The entire time passing competitors who were proudly sporting Cross-Fit t-shirts like they were tattoos.  Badges of honor.  Ha.

The demands of a condensed run course like The Freak 5K are interesting.  By far, the most difficult aspect of the course was the elevation change.  The course designers did a great job adding to the volume of hill climbing.  I bet we climbed 50 yards up and down for nearly 100 yards of horizontal travel.  It was brutal.  Up hill climb was exertion and focused breathing while the down hill was recovery into the next climb.  We made it through in good shape.

Freak 5K Elevation Change

So it turned out that we met up with a local high school wrestling team who we trailed for the remainder of the race.  The guys were in good shape, but we could have been relentless assholes and passed them a couple of times in sketchy spots.  We didn’t and it chaps my ass that we got stuck waiting for them to scale multiple obstacles, 20 foot lake plunges, 50 yard slip-n-slide, etc.  At these obstacles, we were typically forced to go single file, which is difficult to swallow when you are competing to win.  It really takes the wind out of your sails.

Our keg crossed the finish line 2nd behind the wrestler’s keg, by a matter of a few seconds.  I would like to note that we ran with 3 guys, taking turns carrying the keg for varying distances.  The wrestlers had 5 guys, doing the same.  No excuse, just saying that the rest factor could have played a part in how fresh they were toward the end.  God I wanted to bring home the trophy.  Next year.

Regardless, what I learned was this:

1)  Cross-Fit makes you good at… Cross-Fit… Training isn’t a sport, training is a means to accelerate at sports.

2)  I can train minimally still perform well at a demanding obstacle course-based race like The Freak 5K.

3)  I can keep my workouts to less than 30-40 minutes a session and still push it to the edge for 55 minutes no problem.

4)  Hip extension is everything, so train your butt muscles to be powerful extenders of the hip, add in some stability and mobility while you’re at it.

5)  It doesn’t take long to make adjustments to your training to acclimate to a specific demand if you’re training regularly.

6)  Trail running is superior to beating the pavement for building athletic qualities.

7)  Along with #3, simplicity in your workout regimen and your nutritional regimen yields great results.

8)  The ability to put your mind in a place where it is resilient to the thought of losing or quitting is essential to pushing yourself physically and squeezing  more out of your performance (black out and go for it).

9)  Life and sport happens on your feet… Make damn sure your lower body is strong, mobile and stable while taking care of your health/function of your muscles/joints.

10)  Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone with regard to physical exertion, you’re capable of enduring much more than you think you are.

11)  Never lose the desire to compete and avoid being average.

12)  Beer tastes great after a race like that.

13)  Spectators shouldn’t stand so close to the mud pit located at the bottom of the 50 yard downhill slip-n-slide when I slide down with a keg on my lap and toss it prior to water contact. (sorry old guy in the Levi’s with the new Polo shirt)



Cheers destroying your next race and The Freak 5k!


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