3 Reasons Why you should Join Spartan and 4 Steps to Train for the race

I first embarked on my Spartan Race in Nov 2015  at its inaugural race in Singapore. I was hooked the first time. I love running but after a few marathons i got a bit bored and was seeking a more challenging race to keep me motivated and on my toes. Spartan Race was a dream come true. I have participated in 12 Spartan races since then, held in Singapore and Malaysia. I hope to be able to take part in more Spartan races overseas to experience the different terrains and weather. I ran alone for all the races except the last Super (Oct 2018) and the latest, first ever Stadion Race in Asia last January 2019. Crossing the finishing line was fulfilling i thought, but crossing the line with 22 others (first time Spartans) brought “fulfilling” to a whole new level. We trained together for about 4 months and they started with much fears and concerns. I met so many others who desired to participated but fear kept them at bay. These 22 faced theirs fears and fought through their personal demons to achieve something they never thought they could.

We are STRONG alone but TOGETHER, we are STRONGER!

Alhamdulillah.. No women left behind. Look at our muddy attire!

WHAT IS SPARTAN RACE? 
(Taken from Spartan Website)

Three Main Race Types

  • Sprint 3 mi / 5 km, 20 Obstacles
    The Spartan Sprint puts endurance aside and tests your quickness through 5 km loaded with 20 Obstacles. A great starter distance for beginners, or a perfect test against time for the more advanced racer.
  • Super 8 mi / 13 km, 25 Obstacles
    The Spartan Super is as much mental as it is physical, spanning over 13 km that are just as unforgiving as the 25 Obstacles that litter the distance.
  • Beast 13 mi / 21 km, 30 Obstacles
    The Spartan Beast is just plain hard. This is the longest and most difficult race out of our three main race types and is aptly named for its brutal 21 km circuit with 30 Obstacles that try to keep you from your finish line.

ENDURANCE EVENTS

Ultra (30 mi / 50 km, 60 Obstacles) – replaced Ultra Beast, Hurricane Heat (3-4 hours of grueling team building), Hurricane Heat 12 Hour (12 hours of physically and mentally draining team and individual challenges), or the Agoge, a 60-hour event that builds physical, tactical, mental, and team-based strength through training, testing and evaluation.

3 Reasons Why You Should Join Spartan Race

  1. Holistic Challenge. As per most OCR (Obstacles Course Races) , the race not only requires one to be able to run. It demands a total full-body commitment, from strength to agility, balance, skills, endurance, ruggedness and mental resilience. The abilities to overcome the obstacles stretches you beyond your comfort zone. One needs to not only run the distance but, climb over walls, crawl through mud and tunnels, swim across waters, beat lateral walls, carry weights over undulating terrains, throw spear, hang, swing, roll, jump… you name it, they have it. What it means is that one has to train nearly every muscle in the body!
  2. Test One’s Limit. The race is a true test of one’s limit. The different obstacles, undulating terrain, surprise elements, the harshness of the outdoors and the weather forces you to perform at your best and then some. Going through the training and completing the race will make one humbled yet confident to be able to overcome any hurdle life may cast upon you in syaa Allah. Like life itself, every obstacle represents the challenges we face in our daily life.We all know how one gets stronger ONLY through difficulty. It’s a test of physical strength, mental resilience and GUTS.
  3. Camaraderie Forged. The race is like a battle and the racers like soldiers. Even when running alone, i never felt lonely. The positive spirit of each Spartan is so infectious, the stranger next to you will not leave you to in the ditch. A hand is always ready to pull you up the wall or through the mud. A battlefield where no one gets left behind. Going through the race as a team, the camaraderie forged as we overcome the obstacles together is beyond words. At the last Spartan ULTRA at Iskandar Putri, i jumped through the fire hand in hand with new found friends from Taiwan, Indonesia and Philippines with our own story to remember for the rest of our lives.

Too difficult? Our 59-year-old Cik Sumarne can do it. What’s your excuse?

Their first Spartan Race! 13km 25 Obstacles. The most senior in our team was Cik Sumarne 59 years old (most right). Check out her smile!

Olympus – The rain poured just as we crossed the Start Line and continued to bless us with coolness and mud! Yeaaay

Spear Throw

Crossing water obstacle at Sentosa Beach.

Final Obstacle – Fire Jump

Dunking Station

Since you have no excuse, cast aside your fears. Bury the worry and  burn away the jitters. Go sign up for a race already. There! First step done… Good job!

4 Steps to Train for Spartan Race

  1. Prepare Well. Plan your training. You don’t want to suffer on course and call it quits. To finish strong, you must plan for every training, endurance, building up strengths and learning skills and techniques to overcome obstacles. You can follow Spartan’s Workout of the Day or subscribe to a training program with them. Read up! there is plenty of resources online to teach and show you how to train up. Look up the different obstacles you need to train for, rope climbing, swing trainer, hurdles, spear throw, etc. Watch the demonstration videos and training tips from the pros. Penalty for every failed obstacle is 30 burpees. The number of burpees you do, depends on your training.
  2. Commit and Be Discipline. Set goals and keep to the plan. Commit yourself to the training and don’t falter. Treat yourself sometimes too after a good workout or once you finish a cycle. Consistency is always best. Push yourself but also rest and recover well.
  3. Make Training fun!Include variety in your training. Train at different places, run a new route, venture new venues. Use different props/equipment while training. Embrace the sweat and soreness and learn to enjoy the training. Remember, its a process, you need to savour the journey to taste the sweetness at the finishing line.
  4. Train Together. Gather your kakis. Having great company while training is always awesome. Join the Spartan Community where they will provide free training or find a community near you who are as enthusiastic as you. Motivate one another during training and help each other to achieve the training goals. Together, you are definitely stronger.

My Spartan Journey – 12 races since 2015

A satisfying finish with the team

The Z Wall

Inverted Wall

Join me at the next race on 02 March 2019 at Semenyih – Spartan Super/Sprint!

My Inspirations

Assalaamualaikum… I am feeling exceptionally grateful today so I decided to write about my Inspirations.

“Your ONLY limit is YOU”

Like every other souls in this temporary platform, the journey of life has presented itself with trials and challenges as promised. Each with its own uniqueness and timing. And like many others, I am bestowed with gifts at every pitfalls and crossroads (as promised!) and often, it comes in the form of a human being who came to shine light to my darkness. Because sometimes, we only need a little nudge or a hand to hold, to get back up on own feet and continue the run. Someone who inspires you. In my fitness journey, they are my inspirations…

First and foremost, meet mummy dearest. Mdm Mahlia, 62, homemaker, mother of 3 beautiful girls (ahem.. me being the middle child thank you) 41, 37 and 32. As a young girl, i don’t remember Mak ever being involved in sports but she was always busy helping my auntie, baking cakes or at home sewing curtains, clothes and bedsheets and making hand-crafted flowers to decorate our home. Our home is always beautiful and bright. Although not sporty, Mak is very sporting! She loves thrill rides like the Triple Looper @ Genting and banana boat rides (unlike Abah who will graciously decline to participate and volunteer to “jaga” our belongings instead). I know who i inherited my fearlessness from!

As the years passed, Mak put on quite a lot of weight (which she blames me for). When she was diagnosed with Diabetes and Hypertension a few years back, she took it upon herself to opt for a lifestyle change. She did not complain nor lament at her plight. She religiously followed the doctor’s advise, took care of her food intake, put in effort to reduce her weight and started to exercise. She did not really plan a workout schedule but incorporated them in her daily routine. She would sometimes cycle to my sister’s place (10km to and fro) or stop by the Fitness Corner at her neighbourhood for a 20-30mins workout before heading home to continue her duties.

Mak overcame her fear of swimming and joined me for class!

Today, Mak is actively involved in fitness activities organised by the mosques and community centres. She continues her daily routine and has loss nearly 15kg since she started. Her blood pressure and blood sugar level has also improved tremendously. When she got injured and tore a tendon in her right foot, she did not let that injury deter her one bit. We were slightly worried about her safety but I am amazed by her tenacity and determination to recover and get back in shape. I see that in her, all my life. That stubborness and never give up attitude. And it is that strength that got me through adversities and life’s worst moments especially during my time in the armed forces.

Mak… you are always my inspiration!

 

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Our favourite past time – Chilling by the beach. Mak never wasted any opportunity to get wet and enjoy the waves

Meet Mdm Hayati, 52, homemaker, mother of 3 (23, 22 and 16). I love her bubbly-ness! There was never a dull moment when16807477_10155023304164680_982816217414646884_n she is around. Kak B, as we lovingly call her, did not like any sports before. She hates getting sweaty she said but when she sustained a slipped disc and was immobilized for a month, she knew she had to do something.

“I do not want to die like this”.

Upon recovery, Kak B tried slow jogging but found it too strenuous for her due to her health condition. So she tried swimming as recommended by a friend. But she did not know how to swim. I met Kak B at the pool during one of my lessons in 2015. She approached us and requested to join our class. Allah definitely is the Best Planner! I think I learnt more from her than she did, ma shaa Allah. It’s always interesting and beneficial to hear these veterans talk about life and sharing their motherhood experiences. Makes one feel so humble yet excited for what more lies ahead.

“I feel more alive, healthier mentally and physically. Don’t let age be an obstacle for you to be active again. It is never too late to start.”

Today, Kak B swims 30 laps every week. She continues to amaze me with her constant cheerfulness and is always keen to learn more. She diligently listens to my instructions and continues to improve her strokes weekly. She can tread water for more than 5mins without breaking a sweat! I’m dying after just 2mins! Sometimes we had to pull her out of the water because while the rest is pancit after 20 laps, she is still smiling through 30… AMAZING!

Last but certainly not the least, meet my Iron ladies! They say “Friends who work out together, stays together”. And they prove it right. These ladies not only work out together but they eat together, attend religious classes and bakes together.

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Kak Has and Kak Normah were both part of their school’s athletic club (donkey years ago)  but sheepishly admitted that they stopped being active after marriage and having children. By 40, both commented that they became overweight and started to feel the strains due to the weight and inactivity. It was Kak Has who took up the challenge and participated in a “Lose to Win” programme organised by the Health Promotion Board (Singapore). She definitely loss weight but she also rediscovered the zeal of an active life again. Since then, Kak Has remains active with weekly programmes and participating in races. She completed Swissotel Vertical Marathon tau! Something I myself malas nak attempt hehehe… She then encouraged Kak Normah and Kak Mus to join her weekly activities. Kak Mus who has always been active ( you can tell by her sturdy posture and strong look) represented her school in hockey, badminton and softball. She continued being active doing brisk walking during her stint as a bus driver. She says she needs to do this because she wants to be able to keep up with her 11 -year-old daughter.

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Now these iron ladies swims every Tuesdays/ Fridays. They also have Aquarobics on Thursdays and group training on Sundays. POWER kan! Of course, while being active, they never neglect their duties. They attend religious class on every other day and they are wonderful cooks and terrific mums+wives. They are always up and about attending new classes and searching for new makan places. Who dare says that we women cannot do everything?? All 3 agrees that being active makes them feel more energetic unlike their comrades who leads a more sedentary lifestyle. They say they are able to perform their ibadah and daily routines much better with a healthy body and mind.

“People sometimes laugh at us. Maybe they think its funny that we makcik-makcik is exercising. Tak pe…

Instead of talking so much or laughing at us, I think they should join us”  – Kak Mustakizah

These 5 gems have definitely created a great impact in my life. Not only am I inspired to continue this fitness journey till I’m wrinkled and old, I learnt so much from them in other aspects of life  as well, as a mothers, daughter, wife and friend. May Allah bless them with strength and perseverance to continues this journey.

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Sunday Group Training @ Sengkang Park with Coach Hayya (FitFab)

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Our Hong Kong Trekking Adventures

My new year began with a promising trip to Hong Kong for an overseas assignment. Needless to say, we immediately planned for new terrains to explore, to be inserted in-between assignments. Why waste an overseas opportunity right? Surprisingly there were many highly recommended ones. One would not normally associate “Hiking” with Hong Kong you see. We finally decided to indulge in two of the more popular sites, The Dragon’s Back Trail and Ng Tung Chai Waterfall.

The Dragon’s Back is a popular escape that deservedly gets regular mentions in travel guidebooks. A short hop from the bustle of Hong Kong East, the trail provides stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea. The Dragon’s Back is a path connecting Wan Cham Shan (226m) and Shek O Peak (284m), stretching vertically over D’Aguilar Peninsula. The path undulates between these hill tops, reminiscent of the shape of a dragon’s backbone.

The Dragon's Back  - 8.5km undulating path of connecting hills

The Dragon’s Back – 8.5km undulating path of connecting hills

The Start Point - Shek O Wan

The Start Point – Shek O Wan

We started in the late morning after a good breakfast and completing my first assignment. The start point was easily accessible by bus but we took a cab since we were residing at Repulse Bay which was quite near. Do note that cab fares are rather high in Hong Kong. It was a sunny day and the temperature was between 14-15 degree Celsius. We dressed lightly and traveled light with just water, some energy boosters (chocolates and nuts!) and warm clothing just in case. A caution we took because the wind could be icy cold they say.

The initial climb up was a steep 60-75 degree elevation, mostly steps. We were surrounded by mainly shrubs and the view was awesome. It became magnificent as we reached the first peak. Do pardon us Singaporeans as the little red dot is although rich in other things, we are not blessed with natural monuments which our neighbours have aplenty. We get dumbstruck at the first sight of natural beauty hehe. We were struck first by the biting coldness of the wind which was blowing us off-balance!

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                                              The journey ahead from the first peak

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The view of South China Sea

We continue the hike along the undulating hill tops that made up the dragon’s back, enjoying the fantastic view of the beaches, islands and South China Sea. Back in the army, walking along the ridgeline was a big mistake. I’m sure glad to be here today as a tourist! The highest peak was at 284 metres and it took us about 45mins. We stayed awhile to admire His wonderful creations, refuel and continue the remaining 7km towards the end point which is Big Wave Bay.

Difficulty level : 3/10 Beginners Total time Taken : 3hrs  Satisfaction level : 100%

The peak at 284m

The peak at 284m

Look at the wind!

Look at the wind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Two days later, we set off again across mainland Hong Kong towards the north.

Ng Tung Chai Waterfall is the best-known and biggest waterfall in Hong Kong. Located at the northern side of Tai Mo Shan, Ng Tung Chai Waterfall consists of 4 waterfalls at different altitudes. From bottom to top, you will see Bottom Fall (Fall under the well), Middle Fall (Horse Tail Fall), Main Fall (Long Fall) and Scatter Fall. The steady flow of water of Ng Tung Chai Waterfall comes from Tai Mo Shan and irrigates the farmlands around Lam Tsuen River, and ends at Tolo Harbour.

The scenic route towards the first fall

The scenic route towards the first fall 

We took the MTR to Tai Poi Market Station followed by Bus 64k to the start point. It was drizzling and temperature was between 16-18 degree Celcius. My last visit to a waterfall was donkey years ago, so i was really excited for this trip. Again, do keep in mind that we are Singaporeans and there are no natural waterfalls here. Do excuse my raging excitement. The journey to the start point took nearly 2hrs. We started climbing around 3pm knowing that we had to start descending before dark which was by 6pm due to winter.

The initial climb was a series of steep winding slopes through a village, a cemetery, many dogs and a monastery. I would be kidding if i said that I did not feel frightened at all. I was! Kecut kejab jantung akak! I was well-trained in the army to somehow mask the expression and keep the fear in control. Fortunately, I have my partner to protect me Yeaaay! If I have long nails, it would have cut into his poor hands… (Good for him that I don’t).

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Are we there yet??

Anyway, the ground was wet. The mud and slippery rocks made the climb much harder than it was and it took longer. We took great caution throughout as I remind myself that I was here in Hong Kong for work so, I couldn’t afford to get injured.  Looking up and welcomed by more steps and up-slopes, the sight began to suck the life out of me. These are moments when I question myself why..Efah? Why did I choose to do this? (This usually happens around the 30km mark of a marathon, halfway through a round-island canoeing expedition and the likes. When your energy level in nearly used up and motivation is down low). However, the sounds of the roaring fall and snippet sights of its magnificence amidst the beautiful canopy, propelled us to continue climbing regardless of the exhaustion.

Alas, the first fall came into view. It was love at first sight. The sun was still shining and the reflection from the water made it magical. Allahu Akbar!

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The Bottom Fall

I was reluctant to leave but I knew we were short for time. The Middle Fall was not too far away and it was more awesome ma shaa Allah. As darkness slowly looms above, we took a few moment to admire its magnificence before we hike on towards the last fall.

The Middle Fall

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The Main Fall – We took a dip! If you can see my face, it was all frozen from the cold. I couldn’t feel my legs!

We took a wrong turn and had to retrace our steps. I was actually quite concern about time but I knew I had to reach the Main Fall regardless. The last one was much further than expected and I was totally exhausted but the view that welcomed us was worth every ounce of pain and effort! We performed Asr by the fall which was totally invigorating. The experience brought khusyuk and gratitude towards the blessings of the AlMighty to a whole different level.

Darkness falls and out came the headlamps! We changed and made our way down the same path. The trek continues to the peak of Tai Mo Shan but we only planned to visit the falls so down we go, back to reality.

Descending was easier of course but much tougher for our aged and torn knees. After “swimming” in the icy cold water, I couldn’t feel my toes so my shoes felt empty. It was rocky, muddy and slippery from the rain so it was doubly hard to get down. Every step was a calculated one. I slipped a few times, heart dropping moments as I see the steep fall below.

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As we stride towards the last stretch, hand in hand, (limbs no longer cooperating), I reflected on the journey we took. Like life itself, I know that in my best and toughest moments, He will always be there and He gives me the best company always.

To more adventures!

Difficulty level: 5/10   Satisfaction level : 100%   Total Time Taken : 4hrs

Things to note: Wearing the right attire is of utmost important to ensure safety and comfort throughout the whole journey. I am glad I have on comfortable and modest ones. Ensure you have sufficient water and food to sustain and replenish your energy. Do read about the destination, heed warnings and check the weather condition especially if you are going up by yourself. Get a great buddy for your trips! Enjoy and be safe!

Love, Efah Anuar