Strength & Speed


"If you want something you never had, you have to be willing to do something you have never done."

S&S Articles

The Athlete's Mind

Posted by Strength & Speed on April 15, 2021 at 4:40 PM

As I run out of things to say about the physical side of preparing, competing and performing, I have started actually using my undergraduate psychology degree from Johns Hopkins combined with some critical thinking to deep dive into the mind of athletes.


 

This deep dive will eventually culminate with my book, coming out in 2021 called “On Endurance: A Practical Guide to Unlocking the Secrets of Super Human Performance”. The book focuses on the mental side of endurance training and performance. Thus instead of being an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) specific book it can be used by anyone competing in any endurance sports like running, cycling, triathlon or even sports we wouldn’t necessarily consider endurance. Endurance is largely self-identified based off pervious life experiences and future goals. For example, a two minute max effort strongman event might be what you consider endurance as a strength athlete, and this book will help you mentally prepare for that.


 

An unintended side effect of this contemplationon the mental side of endurance training is I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an athlete. Some of that material doesn’t necessarily make the final cut of the book due to it not fitting well with the overall logical line of thought, so you get some articles on what is going on inside the athlete’s mind.


 

Check back here over the next couple of weeks to explore the mind of athletes with the first two articles “You’re Only as Good as Your Last Race” and “If I’m not an athlete, then what?”

 

2020/2021: A Time to Pivot?

Posted by Strength & Speed on March 4, 2021 at 3:20 PM

2020 was a different year for racing and made training a little more challenging because it seemed like every event was in flux. While talking to my filmmaker friend Bobby Ross, he casually mentioned “it might be time to pivot”. At the time I was upset by this, I’ve invested too much into Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) in both time, money, effort, sponsors and articles to pivot to something else.


 

Well I took a little bit of his advice, and honestly I hope other people did that too. I’m still producing podcasts, still writing articles for both Mud Run Guide and Strength & Speed, however I’ve picked up some new hobbies.

 

While this will still be an OCR focused website with touches into other sports like running, strength training and endurance training, we are adding in a new touch, martial arts. After picking up a long ago retired hobby of karate, I’m going to post the occasional martial arts related article here along with increasing the amount of OCR content I’m producing specifically for Strength & Speed.


 

I have no intentions of pivoting away from OCR, but rather you are going to get all the usual great content (podcast, articles, Ultra-OCR charity events) plus a little flare of something new.

 

Did you pivot in 2020? Or planning a pivot?

Listen to Episode 147 of the Strength & Speed podcast: The Pivot to hear what some of our athletes adjusted to with limited OCR occurring.


 

4th S&S Development Team Window Now Open

Posted by Strength & Speed on December 6, 2018 at 8:05 PM


Strength & Speed is opening the application window for their 4th S&S Developtment Team. Each year has brought success to our athletes with a list of different benefits that change but also expand slightly every year.  2018 included athletes getting their first sponsors, several becoming ambassadors for brands and many hitting new PRs including first Ultra-OCR win, first win, first cash podium, most podiums in a year and more. To check out some of the athletes from the last three years, check out the Teams page.

 

Unlike Pro Teams which often provide larger benefits like free access into races spanning multiple states and other perks, the biggest benefit of this team is access to knowledge for improvement not published elsewhere. Upon entrance into the team you will have small group access to personal trainers, a nutritionist, physical therapist, OCR professionals and other sponsored athletes. As part of the Development Team, you will get unprecedented access to knowledge includes training information, workout templates and guidance when applying for sponsorship.


Additional benefits of the team include name/S&S score on the website, a couple of items of free apparel, marketing support, discounts not available to non-team members and the opportunity to expand you influence in the OCR world. As S&S gets perks they are allowed to share, those discounts, free items and free entries are passed along to the team. Companies want athletes that not only provide them quality finishing results but also have an outlet for spreading their message. Being a part of Strength & Speed gives you an established platform to spread your desired message to a larger audience rather than trying to build something on your own from the ground up.

 

Getting sponsored by a larger company is not an easy task and it requires significant work. The athletes at Strength & Speed have already solved a lot of the challenges associated with this process. If you do not need training advice but just knowledge on how to get sponsored, the Development Team will also help you with that.

 

Apply today by filling out the information below and sending it to Evan@TeamStrengthSpeed.com as AN ATTACHED WORD DOCUMENT if you are interested. We are not necessarily looking for the best athletes, just those with a strong desire to succeed. Application window closes on January 15, 2019:

(Cut and paste the below into a word document and fill out) 

Name: 

Is this your first year applying?: 

Major Goal for 2019: 

Minor Goals for 2019:

Races for 2019: 

2018 Race Results: 

Race Highlights from 2017 or Earlier:

Social Media Sites (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/YouTube/etc.):

Other Relevant Information You Think We Should Know:

Other Sponsors (if applicable):

Possible Interests in Expanding Influence (interested in writing articles, reviews, videos or other ideas?):

(Reference Criteria section of the website for below information. Proof of score not required at the time of applying.)

Strength Score:

Speed Score:


48 Hours of Endure The Gauntlet- Expectations vs. Reality

Posted by Strength & Speed on November 5, 2018 at 5:25 PM


My friends: “You’re going to do Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) for 48 hours?”

Me: “Yeah”

My friends: “Have you ever done that before?”

Me: “No, no one has. That’s the part of the reason I’m doing it.”


I’ve done around 20 Ultra-Obstacle Course Races (Ultra-OCRs) with around 10 podium finishes and only a handful of results outside of the top 10. I’ve also completed some pretty big Ultra-OCR challenges (OCR America and Ultra-OCR Grand Slam). From this accumulated knowledge I wrote the only book available on the topic and in a desire to push limits even further decided to do a 48 hour OCR this summer called Endure The Gauntlet. So while I had a good understanding of what I was getting myself into, there is a still a mismatch between expectations and reality.

Endure the Gauntlet involved running multiple laps of what most consider the hardest OCR series in the US, Conquer The Gauntlet. I would start on Friday at 1130 AM and stop on Sunday at 1130 AM. The goal of the event was to raise $5000 or more for the charity Folds of Honor and challenge myself with an event twice as long as any other OCR. Folds of Honor provides scholarship money for children whose parents were killed or wounded in US Military service.


1. Injury Prevention Pre-Event:

a. Expectations: Thanks to JRen Fitness’ Jared Renyer, I took some pre-event tests including a functional movement test utilizing a several hundred thousand dollar machine used to analyze movement. One of the things it confirmed was my left knee isn’t 100%.

b. Reality: Knowing this from personal experience on confirmation from the analysis, I liberally used RockSauce Fire leading up to the event and RockTape at the beginning of the event to avoid further injury. Even with a technical course, lots of climbing and 48 hours of activity, I managed to finish without any injury and I didn’t even notice any knee problems over the 48 hours.


2. Contingency Planning:

a. Expectations: With Ultra-OCR there are so many variables it can be overwhelming. External factors like terrain, weather, elevation and obstacles can make it easy to get a lot of miles or very hard. Add in all of your personal choices like shoes, clothing and gloves and the situation gets that much more complicated. It’s actually so complicated, I wrote a full book (and the only book) on the topic, which covers all aspects including training plans. I knew I would have to try and plan for every contingency that I could think of.

b. Reality: I packed a lot of clothing changes, a lot of shoes and a wide variety of nutrition. When packing, I always bring a roll of RockTape. The versatility of it is unmatched, allowing to support nagging injuries or help solve ones that pop up mid-event. My experience prepared me well and I felt I had the right tools to tackle the problems I faced. Had I not purposely over packed, I would have found myself wishing for an extra pair of dry clothes or fresh shoes.


3. Weak Points: Legs, arms, hand or all three?:

a. Expectations: Training for such a long event, I was primarily concerned with the endurance and strength of my legs. Being an experienced Ultra-OCR athlete, I had a lot of time and experience under my belt, although nothing as long as 48 hours. I was less concerned about my upper body since I have a lot of experience passing obstacles when most of my peers are failing, especially in the 2nd half of 24 hour races.

b. Reality: However, my legs would be in pretty good shape at the end of the event, it was my upper body that was the problem and more specifically my hands. The abuse my hands took during this event was unmatched. Normally during a 24 hour World’s Toughest Mudder event (a course designed for multi-lapping) I might lose a callus. In 12 hours of Conquer The Gauntlet (a course designed for one lap), I had 13 open wounds on my hands. The swelling caused by trauma to my hands was my ultimate limiting factor on obstacles. Even doing something which is easy for me like climbing an inverted wall, a slip wall with a rope or a tire wall became so painful in the second half of the event it was insurmountable. Although my back and arm muscles were severely fatigued, the tenderness in my hands was the most painful part physically. In hindsight, perhaps some RockTape could have assisted with fluid drainage in my hands.


4. The Hardest Part:

a. Expectations: These events are always mostly mental. Through a series of successively difficult challenges, I felt I was ready for this event. I had been doing endurance sports since 2003 and got involved in Ultra-OCR in 2014. In 2016, I ran OCR America, a seven day, seven venue multi-lap event where I did 8-10 hours of OCR every day for a week. I would end up running 161 miles over the week (averaging 23 miles a day), complete 1000+ obstacles and climb 31000+ feet in elevation. In 2017, I did the Ultra-OCR Grand Slam, finishing 1st or 2nd at every 24 hour OCR in the US. In 2018, this was my big event.

b. Reality: I knew the heat of August would play a factor but it turned out to be the hardest part. With temperatures that hit 96 degrees, little shade, periods of no clouds and no water on miles 2-4.5 of each lap, I was baking. Ultimately, I had to take a break to let the sun go down after almost passing out on lap 15 (mile 67.5). I had planned for this contingency by talking about putting a cooler on the 2nd half of the course with ice. I ended up not following through with the plan because there was aid stations there and it wasn’t super easy for my pit crew to get to that part of the course. With the conditions though, I don’t think it would have saved me from taking a break, but maybe it could have extended it one lap.


5. Recovery Post-Event:

a. Expectations: Having run multiple 24 hour OCRs, without any DNFs (Did Not Finish) and done well (usually in the top 10) I have finished each one with anywhere from 55-90 miles, course dependent. The mileage differences are largely determined by obstacle difficulty, obstacle density, terrain and weather. I didn’t know how many miles I would get in 48 hours but I imagined it would be in the low 100s.

b. Reality: After my first couple of laps of the course, I knew that initial estimate was too high. Regardless, I kept moving forward because the goal was to highlight endurance and strength to raise money for Folds of Honor and less about achieving a mileage goal. The tougher terrain and tougher obstacles meant lower mileage, which means my legs are recovering way faster than I expected. Endure The Gauntlet’s 91 miles is a lot in 48 hours but I’ve done other courses with easier obstacles, fewer obstacles, less challenging terrain, in nicer weather and reached 90 miles in 24 hours. In the end, the recovery has already started better than expected.


In the end I made it across the finish line still standing raising over $5000 for Folds of Honor. When I took my first break (one longer than a couple of minutes) at 26.5 hours into the event, I had already exceed the longest OCR in the world (that I know of) by over two hours. After stopping for a couple of hours to cool off, I went back out for nearly another full marathon of OCR, ultimately finishing with 20 laps total (91 miles). After having spent a cumulative time of 49 hours on the course (counting pit stops), I crossed the finish line glad to be finish line injury free minus the normal stresses of ultra-endurance racing. It’s safe to say that RockTape has a home in OCR whether you are running a one mile short course sprint or pushing the limits of human endurance. #stronger #longer #rocktape #gostrongerlonger

Is Quitting Genetic?

Posted by Strength & Speed on August 15, 2018 at 8:15 PM

Many of our articles have started publishing through other websites.  Here is a recent one off of SOFLETE "Is Quiting Genetic or Can We Control Our Destiny?"  Enjoy.


http://soflete.com/blogs/knowledge/quitting-let-s-talk-about-quitting

Are You Sabotaging Race Performance by Racing Too Often?

Posted by Strength & Speed on March 1, 2018 at 9:40 AM

The trend in the obstacle course racing (OCR) community almost looks like a competition to see who can cram the most races into their year. If your only goal is to have fun and enjoy racing, then continue to do that. However, if your performance goals are more important than your experience at races, you may want to reconsider your schedule. Ideally, racing falls in between period of building and tapering, that is preceded by a long off season of just training. By “building and tapering”, I mean you keep applying high levels of stress to your body to create fitness adaptation, then you reduce the stress prior to your race allowing for peak performance. Instead of signing up for a race every weekend, follow these simple rules when planning your race schedule if you are looking to maximize performance.

1) Allow for base building: Your OCR schedule should not mark the start of your training, but rather create an event that allows for backwards planning. Two to four months prior to your first race should be the beginning of your serious training (plans can be found in “Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR”;). This allows you to follow a training plan that involves weeks of building along with the occasional recovery week. If you want to see real improvements in fitness, you need to build a strong aerobic base with high volume running. What is high volume? That depends on your current level of fitness, fitness history and overall goal. It may be 20 miles a week, 50 miles a week or 80 miles a week.

 

2) Allow for taper prior to a race: While it is cool to see posts from the top athletes the week before the Obstacle Course Racing World Championship (OCRWC) called last chance workouts, it is not the best technique to perform at your best. Doing a super hard work out the final week before a race is not tapering. If you go too hard or too close to your race, you will be standing on the start line sore. Even if you may not be physically sore, your muscles may still be weak from you maxing out two days ago. Whether you notice it or not, you are limiting your ability to peak because your muscles will still be recovering from that workout. You can still do a lactate threshold (long interval) or VO2max (short interval) workout the week before a race but it should be towards the beginning of the week and it should be a lower volume than you usually do.

 

3) Allow for recovery before your next race: If you race every weekend, you will constantly be recovering from races or tapering for a race, which will not allow you to build or taper to your next event. If you are racing the longer OCRs like Toughest Mudders or Spartan Ultra-Beast and not allowing your body to recover, you are not optimizing your gains and may result in injury. Depending on your fitness level, a race like a Spartan Super may also require extended recovery. The shorter races like Conquer the Gauntlet will allow for more frequent racing and the shortest races with the easiest obstacles like Warrior Dash will allow for the most racing.

 

4) Set appropriate goals for double race weekends: If you are planning on racing twice in one weekend by doing two races in one day or one race Saturday followed by another race Sunday, you need to set priorities. Your goal should either be to perform at your best in the first race and accept risk with the second race or perform mediocre at both races. If you are truly maxing out your effort in your first race, you will not be able to perform as well in your second race. You may be thinking, “Athletes like Ryan Atkins and Jonathan Albon, were able to excel doubling down on a weekend at OCRWC.” They did well because they are in better shape than their competitors are, so a drop in their performance is less noticeable if everyone’s performance is suffering. Hence, the ability to do things like place high on both days.

 

5) Pick two to three races a year as your most important race: While everyone wants to do well at every race they participate in, you should pick a couple that are your most important, sometimes called an A race. This will allow you to conduct a true fitness build and a proper taper to peak for your event. Everything else is a B race, one with a short taper or a C race, one with no taper or almost no taper.




 

So what should an “ideal” race schedule look like? Ideally, you have 2-4 months of building of fitness prior to your first race. Then after you start racing your races should be spaced out every 3-4 weeks. This allows for a 2-3 week build in fitness and a 1-2 week taper for each race. This does not always line up so well in a perfect world, but the concept should be there regarding building and tapering. If you are looking to just finish, race a lot and have a lot of fun, then keep signing up for races every weekend but if you are in it to win it, take a hard look at your calendar.

 

3rd Strength & Speed Development Team Window Now Open

Posted by Strength & Speed on December 6, 2017 at 9:40 PM


Strength & Speed is opening the application window for their 3rd S&S Developtment Team. Both years have been successes including athletes getting their first sponsors, several becoming ambassadors for brands and many hitting new PRs including first Ultra-OCR win, first win, first cash podium, most podiums in a year and more.  To check out some of the athletes from the last two years, check out the Teams page.


Unlike Pro Teams which often provide larger benefits like free access into races spanning multiple states and other perks, the biggest benefit of this team is access to knowledge for improvement not published elsewhere. Upon entrance into the team you will have small group access to personal trainers, a nutritionist, OCR professionals and other sponsored athletes. As part of the Development Team, you will get unprecedented access to knowledge includes training information, workout templates and guidance when applying for sponsorship.



Additional benefits of the team include name/S&S score on the website, a couple of items of free apparel, marketing support, discounts not available to non-team members and the opportunity to expand you influence in the OCR world. As S&S gets perks they are allowed to share, those discounts, free items and free entries are passed along to the team. Companies want athletes that not only provide them quality finishing results but also have an outlet for spreading their message. Being a part of Strength & Speed gives you an established platform to spread your desired message to a larger audience rather than trying to build something on your own from the ground up.



Getting sponsored by a larger company is not an easy task and it requires significant work. The athletes at Strength & Speed have already solved a lot of the challenges associated with this process. If you do not need training advice but just knowledge on how to get sponsored, the Development Team will also help you with that.


Apply today by filling out the information below and sending it to Evan@TeamStrengthSpeed.com as AN ATTACHED WORD DOCUMENT if you are interested. We are not necessarily looking for the best athletes, just those with a strong desire to succeed. Application window closes on January 15, 2018:


(Cut and paste the below into a word document and fill out)


Name:

Is this your first year applying?:


Major Goal for 2018:

Minor Goals for 2018:

Races for 2018:

2017 Race Results:

Race Highlights from 2016 or Earlier:

Social Media Sites (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/YouTube/etc.):

Other Relevant Information You Think We Should Know:

Other Sponsors (if applicable):

Possible Interests in Expanding Influence (interested in writing articles, reviews, videos or other ideas?):


(Reference Criteria section of the website for below information.  Proof of score not required at the time of applying.)

Strength Score:

Speed Score: 



Top Comic Book Stars that are PED users

Posted by Strength & Speed on November 24, 2017 at 9:45 AM

1. Captain America

      As if there was ever a doubt…Captain America, the superhero created using drugs. Captain America’s “super serum” is real, but modern day people call it steroids and human growth hormone. They literally inject him with this stuff and he goes from skinny to jacked. While actual performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) require more work, the concept is still the same. Even my favorite group of nerds over at Dorkly agree with me. Check out this video:

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9VylAHKVkg

2. Bane

     Batman’s juiced up, back breaking enemy is definitely on drugs. Instead of “super serum” he calls it “Venom”. I’m assuming that it is a mix of steroids, HGH plus probably a couple of other things. Maybe that singlet is hiding the gynocomastia around his nipples. I would say Bane is a pretty open and shut case too.


 

 

3. The Incredible Hulk

     While not quite as bad as the top two injecting themselves to achieve their massive physiques, I am pretty sure gamma radiation would fall be banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) if it gave you super strength instead of just making you sick and giving you cancer. At 7 ft. tall and 1040 lbs. I do not think there is much grey area there (unless you are Grey Hulk….nerd pun!)

1000+ pounds with chest striations and veins?


 

4. Batman

     Alright Bruce Wayne is not on the definite list, but I’m throwing him up there as very suspect. I mean the guy runs a billion dollar company, fights crime almost every night and still has time to train to be in top shape? Something has to give. He probably says they are “for recovery” like some of the baseball players were citing. Definitely suspect….luckily there are not drug tests to enter the Justice League.


 

      Do I really care my super heroes are doped up? No not really, but I think it is good to look at things from more than one angle instead of just accepting things at face value. What do you think? Did I miss any known super hero or super villain egregious PED users? Comment below or on the Facebook post that led you here.

 

Star Wars Anti-Fitness: Porkins

Posted by Strength & Speed on May 4, 2017 at 7:00 AM

     Last year we covered Inspirational Star Wars quotes on May the Fourth.  Since we used up most of the good quotes last year, this seems like a perfect opportunity to go in the opposite direction.  Here are my favorite pictures and memes from fatest human in the Star Wars Galaxy, Jek Porkins.  Enjoy!









Everyone I know on Steroids Looks Like Crap

Posted by Strength & Speed on April 16, 2017 at 11:40 AM

      “Everyone I know that took steroids looks like crap.” I have said it before and I will probably say it again in the future. I am not referring to the damaging health effects of steroids but I am referring to the quality of their physique. If you are reading this, you may be thinking I am saying steroids do not work effectively at building muscle. That is also not what I am saying.

      What I am saying is that most of the people I know who have admitted to anabolic substance use currently have mediocre to poor physiques. People who I work with or have trained with that used Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) usually look like crap because they were missing the key ingredient to begin with….consistent hard work. Most of the guys I know who turned to PEDs is because they were looking for the quick fix from a couple months of hard work. However, eventually other things take priority, the drugs become too expensive or they just lose interest. The missing ingredient, consistent had work comes back to bite them in the ass.

      Once they stop using and the major effects of the drug wear off, their shitty work ethic shines through. This leaves them with less than exceptional physiques, often leaving me with the thought “You used steroids?!?! Maybe you should ask for a refund.”



      There are obviously a ton of exceptions to this as demonstrated by hundreds of bodybuilders and physique competitors just one Google search away. There are also a ton Facebook and Instagram which are also just a click away. Consistent hard work plus PEDs will produce significant results as demonstrated by Lance Armstrong, Alberto Cantador, any professional IFBB bodybuilder, Rita Jeptoo or Justin Gatlin.

     If you plan on using PEDs (which I am against), then make sure you are at least putting the key ingredient of consistent hard work before using them. Furthermore, if you do plan on using them stay away from competitive races (see my article about Lance Armstrong showing interest in Obstacle Course Racing) and organizations/events that are declared as drug free. If you do your research feel free to legally take them if you plan on competing in drug using events (NPC, IFBB, some powerlifting and strongman organizations) or are using it solely for aesthetic reasons. In my opinion if you are not competing it is not much different than getting plastic surgery to improve you appearance and consists of a personal choice.