Training for Spartan Iceland—in Iraq

Training for Spartan Iceland—in Iraq
Presented by Spartan Training®

Training for Spartan Iceland (the ultra world championship this December) can take some innovation depending on circumstances.

Through email I recently met Travis Atkinson, who is one of our challengers in our 30-day Spartan Burpee Challenge. We have almost 500 Spartans, different ages, countries, backgrounds, levels of ability and reasons they’re doing the challenge.

In reporting on his first week of burpees, Travis wrote me this:

“My goal is 2500 [for the 30-days] .  No daily goal. It's simple, really. I have to do 5 burpees to earn going inside to the A/C every time I am outside.”

He sent a picture with a note that offered a pretty complete explanation:

“This is me with my worn burpee spot on the deck," Travis wrote.

In our conversation, Travis, serving in the U.S. Army, is stationed in Iraq. Using the challenge to earn a little air conditioning time is one thing. But a tougher training problem he’s out to solve (in the pockets of free time he has) is to train for the Spartan World Ultra Championship in Iceland. The race starts December 7 so he has roughly 20 weeks.

Per Army security policy, he can’t reveal certain specifics about his deployment, but he could share with me how he is training for Iraq.

Training for Spartan Iceland — The following is from Travis, answering my question about how he’s managing this:

“When we first got here, all we really had out where we are located was gravel. I found a bucket and started there.”

“We don't have a lot of big hills, so I just go over the uneven terrain.  If I remember right, the course we set up for the carry is about 300 yards.”

“I always travel with my TRX, so I hooked it up to a container and started doing bodyweight exercises. Everything with the TRX works your core for stability and one leg burpees are not fun at all.”

“The picture is me doing the one leg chest press.”

“After being here a little bit, I noticed that the Air Force had some old tires in their yard, so asked if I could take two of them.  They were more than happy to oblige since they were just throwing them out. The smaller tire is for single person flips, the larger one takes a team.” 

“A unit left our location and gave us a pull up bar, dip stand and punching bag, so we incorporated them into our little gym.  The straps that stop our sun shade from flapping too much in the wind serve as lines to hang from and traverse. We use it like a Twister without the spin.”

“Some of our coalition allies here also provide ways to help out.  The Danish do a 15-mile ruck march with about 25 pounds every couple months, so I try to get in on that when I am able.”  

“The French had a little obstacle course, they called it "Dust Day" and used their vehicles as slip walls and such for over and unders, as well.” 

“That was a lot of fun.  When the engineers leveled off a section for parking, I grabbed more ammo cans and started marking intervals for a speed/agility course.” 

“The last thing that I started was the burpee challenge.  I never looked at burpees as a workout, more as a punishment for not finishing obstacles until I read your narrative about them at the start of the challenge.  Then I started to look at them as a workout. Now I have to do 5, every time I am outside, to be able to come back inside my office and the A/C.”

“Have to go to the bathroom?  Burpees. Lunchtime? Burpees.  Talk to people? Burpees. Burpees, burpees, burpees.  I'm at 620 since the challenge began.”