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Building Endurance without Sacrificing Strength

Have you ever heard the phrase “You can’t serve two masters at one time”? I think for the most part this is true, especially for those who have been training for an extended period. Beginners can make gains simultaneously in many areas of fitness: strength, cardio-vascular, flexibility, endurance – for untrained individuals it’s not uncommon to see results in all areas at once. When you hit a certain level of fitness, however, achieving goals like gaining muscle while losing fat or increasing strength while eating below maintenance calories become difficult if not impossible.

I read about an event called “Volkslauf”, which is a 10k obstacle course set up by a Marine Corps unit in Bakersfield, California, and decided to take on the challenge. The course has 75 obstacles which include mud pits, hills, ropes, walls, culverts, monkey bars, belly crawls, and a half mile trench filled with knee to waist deep water.

My conditioning level going into this was pretty solid, but I knew that in order to cover over six miles in one event I would have to adjust my training. The focus needed to be on endurance, but I also needed to maintain my base strength level in order to tackle the obstacles.

The first thing I did was recruit a virtual training partner, Leo Rios, known as Diablo on the Iron On Line (IOL) message boards. Leo and I each mapped out our own training strategies, but we had a common goal – take on the Volkslauf challenge and have as much fun as possible. In the end, we met our goals and surpassed our expectations.