Three weeks into the preparation for the Spartan at Citifield in New York City in May 9, and both long- and short-term goals are becoming a little clearer. First, a friend (and Spartan veteran) mentioned the rope climb over and over again. Not for nothing, but if he mentions it once, I know that he is simply informing me. More than once in the same conversation and I know that those ropes are still weighing very heavily in his memory. Now, this is a guy who lacks neither strength nor determination, so I have started spending a bit more time on ropes. Unfortunately, the only high ceilings we have at our DUMBO, Brooklyn, gym are right over the front desk. As the idea of members having to watch out for falling Spartans as they check in is an unpleasant one, I have found an alternative. One or two times a week I am running Tabatas on the rope machine. A Tabata is HIIT, with 8 rounds of 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest. The work needs to be all out, the rest is—well, the rest is a blessing. The rope machine is an endless rope attached to a pulley with a gear to adjust the resistance. The endurance aspect is awesome, and I can feel my body adjusting to the rope. That’s not to say I don’t want to find a real rope to practice on between now and race day. But the preparation must continue with what I have in front of me.

I have also returned to an old upper-body workout that I used to do: 12 sets of 30 push ups and 15 pull ups with 30 seconds of rest between each round. By the end, I need to use the adjustable pull up machine. But, again, like the Tabatas, the cycle is great for building endurance.

The team also met again on Sunday to try our workout. The one change that we made was that we removed the Sumo Squat. Everyone agreed that it was not as aggressive as the rest of the workout and, pushed a bit harder, everyone confessed that they looked forward to it as a break time. So we scratched that off the list and added a weighted-vest stair climb: we strapped on the vests and climbed the eight stories of the building the gym is housed in. The change was intense, with far more cardio-vascular work coming right at the time we wanted to take a break. 

Which all leads me to the word of the week: patience. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of event training. But it is especially important to remember that the training, like the event itself, needs to be paced. I remember my first marathon in NYC, coming over the Verrazano Bridge at the start and being met with a wall of cheering in Bay Ridge. I started to pick up my pace from all the excitement, as though the victory was right there in my grasp. By the time I hit mile six, I realized that I had been outpacing myself by about a minute a mile and, if I kept it up, I’d never make it to the finish line. As this is the first Spartan for me and my team, I know how important it is to train and compete patiently. I don’t want to see anyone burned out or injured. But, as it stands now, we are working our tails off and laughing as we go.