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Hell and Back – 12 km – 4 week Preparation by David Branagan. Beginners guide.

image5_Hi Guys, Welcome to my no nonsense beginners approach to getting ready to take part in Hell and Back. This will be my 3rd Hell and Back and probably my toughest to date as i am coming off a four month hernia injury. Having said that, i am feeling positive about taking part and i am ready for the challenge ahead.

I have set a time frame of 4 weeks for my preparation which should be plenty for most people as long as you’re willing to put in the work. We have been running 4 week Fitness Bootcamps for the past 5 years now and we find that if you put the work in you can achieve great things over the course of 4 weeks.

Day 1.
Today i will start off by a simple early AM jog. I won’t kill myself today but instead i will ease my body back into fitness mode. I will walk, jog and run over a 30 minute period and hopefully put in at least 4km. Remember hell and back is a 12km cross country race, so realistically if we can gradually increase our runs every few days it will prepare our bodies for the event. Keep this in mind if you only read this far. 12km of hell and back will feel like 15km on the flat. That’s what we are aiming for, reach 15km and this will be fine. Tonight i will be teaching Bootcamp classes but i will try to get involved as much as possible, i will put in as much extra work as possible. As for my nutrition, i will be following the exact High Protein diet plan on our nutrition page. http://fitnessbootcamp.ie/nutrition-plans/
Stick with me, we will get through this together!

Day 2.
This morning i got up at 6am and jogged/walked for exactly 1 hour. Not sure what distance i covered but my legs were a bit like jelly all day afterwards. I wouldn’t be a keen runner as i find it too boring but this is something you have to do if you are going to last through hell and back.

Day 3.
Woke up this morning feeling a bit sore but i still got out and done a bit. I decided today i would do sprints instead of jogging. Basically i sprint until my lungs burn and then walk until i recover. I lasted about 35 minutes before i had enough. Roughly 20 sprints. It burned my lungs but i feel great for it now as i type. I will be taking part in a one hour Bootcamp this evening which will be focusing more on upper body strength and conditioning and some ab work and cardio to finish. This is a great way to prepare for the obstacles which lay ahead.

Day 4.
Today i am going to try reach 6km jogging without stopping. I will probably do this at lunchtime as i have a few personal training clients early AM. Like i said before, i don’t like jogging, its too boring for me. Id much prefer hill sprints and strength training but it has to be done or i won’t make it round the full circuit without stopping. At least after all the obstacles! Next week i will be soaking my feet in ice water before all jogs and i’ll explain why soon….

Day 5.
Yesterday i reached the 6km easily enough so i kept going and finished just under 9km. I went for a swim early this morning and i will rest the legs until tomorrow.

Day 6.
Decided to do a full legs strength training session this morning instead of jogging again. I own a fully equipped strength and conditioning studio in the city center so that is a huge help. Here is my legs day program.
5 x 12 weighted squats. 60kg, 70kg, 80kg, 90kg, 100kg
4 x 20 step weighted walking lunges 20kg, 25kg, 30kg, 35kg
4 x 10 weighted reverse lunges 40kg, 45kg, 50kg, 55kg
4 x 25 weighted leg extensions 40kg, 35kg, 30kg, 25kg
4 x 10 weighted leg press 120kg, 130kg, 140kg, 150kg

Day 7.
Today i spent about 2 hours hiking around Devil’s glen in the wicklow mountains. It was only at walking pace as we were with friends and their children.

Day 8.
I am still a bit sore from my legs day workout but i got out and jogged 10km today. I am surprised at how quickly i have adapted to jogging again as i was off injured for a few months. I am really happy with this progress. I am just going to be as active as possible until about 2 days before the event were i will completely rest up and do nothing. Tonight i am at Bootcamp training clients but i will try get a bit of a workout in with them.

Day 9.
No running at all today. I will hit the studio and do an upper body workout. Chest, back, shoulders and abs. It will be all calisthenics (Body weight exercises) I really enjoy working out using only body weight and for something like hell and back this is perfect.

Day 10.

My upper body was sore this morning. I felt a bit drained but i’m eating clean and i’m recovering well so i’m not too worried. Today i am happy to say is a recovery day and i ¬†won’t be training. Recovery is as important as all this training. If you over do it, its so easy to get injured.

Day 11.

This morning i got up at 6am and it was bloody freezing out. I decided i would jog towards the phoenix park as i don’t live too far from there. I want to challenge myself on all terrains so i went in the island bridge gate and pretty much jogged up and down every hill i came across. I have to be honest, it was a killer, this really tested my stamina. My feet were soaked which is probably a good thing as the first challenge in hell and back normally involves water. I covered 11km in total. I will only have two or three more major runs between now and hell and back. My final run will be about 5 days before the event.

Day 12.

I have personal training clients all day in my studio today so i will work small muscle groups for most of today. Calves, Biceps, Triceps and so on. My legs feel sore after yesterday. The fat is falling off my body too which is great as i have just booked a holiday to Thailand in march. I will try to be in or around 7% body fat for that as i feel that is when i am at my physical peak. It’s just a personal challenge for me. I feel its important to set yourself goals. We (Personal Trainers) spend a lot of time training others and sometimes its easy to neglect ourselves.

Day 13.

Rest day as i have lots of admin work to catch up on and tomorrow we are doing a hike around Glendalough.

Day 14.

Today we walked, climbed and slid about 12km overall. We spent 3 hours navigating around Glendalough Co. Wicklow. This was a magical experience. It was my first time to do the full circuit and honestly if you are Irish and reading this, you need to do this! There was a tonne of snow on top and i was great fun. I packed an extra 10kg into my backpack because i knew this would be a steady climb so i wanted it to be slightly tougher. When we got back down i had a well deserved pint of Guinness. My first drink since NYE.

Day 15.

Back out for a jog first thing this morning. I covered about 8km in total. Tonight i will be taking part in a Fitness Bootcamp class so that will probably leave me quite sore. Tomorrow will probably just be a light jog or a swim depending on how i feel.

Day 16.

Ouch! Done a tough session at Bootcamp last night. Today i am just going to go for a swim and loosen up the muscles. Feeling quite sore.

Day 17.

Went for a cycle today. It was a bit windy so it was actually quite tough. I cycled roughly 40km over the course of 2 hours. It was nice to ix it up a little bit. Tomorrow i am going to attempt my longest run to date and use the phoenix park as my course.

Day 18.

I had great intentions for today but it was so miserable i ended up just hitting the gym and doing a leg workout. It is good to have alternatives in mind. If one workout is out, turn to your 2nd option. My leg workout consisted of leg strength training. Squats, lunges, dead lifts, prowler runs and some leg extensions.

Day 19.

Rest Day. Having a rest day can be as important as working out. Don’t feel guilty about this. You will come back stronger.

Day 20.

Today i done the full 15km i was hoping to do in the Phoenix park. It felt good. I didn’t just stick to the paths, i went off track slightly and challenged myself up and down hills. It was enjoyable but tough but i feel ready now. I won’t do any more long distances until the event itself.