Tuesday, August 21, 2012


A group of us went over to Crawfordsville, IN last a week ago last Saturday to participate in an event called Warrior Dash. You might recall that earlier in the summer, we were in Indiana for something called Tough Mudder, which was a 12 mile obstacle run.

While Tough Mudder was a pretty serious event which took a lot of training to get ready for, Warrior Dash was just a 5 K obstacle run, which equates to 3.1 miles. This brought it well within the reach of almost everyone, including people relatively new to exercise. If someone had difficulty running the entire way, or up the hills, they could simply walk when they felt like it.

On the other hand, if someone wanted to push through it as fast as they could, that was fine too. During Mudder, it required a team approach to get over many of the obstacles, but in Warrior Dash, there wasn’t really anything you couldn’t get over yourself.

We started out with a quick dash through the field, and went right into the woods. I found these to be a little challenging, especially the first hill, which just seemed to go on and on. Several hills were so steep that they had ropes strung for hand holds as you went down them. You were on your own going up, though.

After several up and down undulations, we stomped out into the river bottoms and ran through about 8 inches of water several times. You did have to be careful where you were stepping, so you wouldn’t step on a slick rock, so the best bet was slowing down a little bit.

There were several more hills, dales and river bottoms and then they brought us to our first mud pit, with barbed wire strung overhead. The point there was to keep people down in the muck, and it worked!

A neat little rope bridge brought us back to another river bottom, and then we ran up our last hill before coming out of the woods area to a neat little climbing wall about 32’ long with a few hand holds and a 2 x 4” across the bottom. You had to make your way across by using the hand holds on top and staying on the board as you went. If you missed a grip or slipped, you ended up in the water below.

After a little more running, we came to an undulating series of small mud hills. These were so slick it was tough getting over them. They had them stacked together back to back, so you got over one, slid down into the water at the bottom, and had to do it all over again something like 5 or 6 times. That probably gassed me the most, and felt like a two minutes fighting someone twice my size (which I’ve done)!

After another short run, they had some hay bales piled up with junk boats strewn in between them. You had to really watch your footing there, so again, slowing down seemed to be the wise move. There was also a horizontal climbing net you had to make your way over.

Finally, we came out of the woods to the edge of a small lake. There was a pontoon structure you had to swim out to. Once you got there, you climbed up on the pontoons and then jumped back in the water, and then did some more swimming to get to the other side of the structure. Then you climbed over that end, and jumped back in the water and walked to shore.

After that, it was a simple matter of one more cargo net to climb over, two jumps over fire, and then crawling through one more mud pit to the finish line. All in all, it was a challenging 5K, especially if you pushed yourself a little. You can go to www.warriordash.com to get the details. Several of us have already pre-registered—I’ll see you there!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness !

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


If you’re like me, you’ve probably been keeping an eye on some of the events from the 2012 Olympic Games going on in London right now. I have to say, the athletes are both amazing and inspiring, even in the sports I didn’t know anything about.

Take table tennis, for example. Sure, I played a game or two as a child, and we’ve all watched “Forrest Gump” in the movie. But these guys and gals are fast! How can they react so quickly to such a little ball on such a little table?

It’s the same thing with beach volleyball, and even regular team volleyball for that matter. You just know there is no way they’ll ever get to the ball, and then somehow they dig it out and put it back in play.

I watched the USA women’s soccer team win a nail-biter the other day—after over two hours! That was two 45 minute halves, two 15 minute overtime periods, plus 3 extra minutes for some reason that I never quite understood. They got the head bounce to win 4-3 with just seconds left on the clock. I’m not sure what was more impressive—the endurance it would take to run full speed up and down the field for over two hours, or the sheer determination it took to keep trying to win.

It’s amazing to see the kind of control the gymnasts have over their bodies. They’re the best in the world, and their ability to keep focused under such pressure, at such an important moment in their lives, is as huge as the crazy things they can do—and most of them are still kids!

2012 was the swan song for Olympic champion Michael Phelps. While he seemed to struggle a little early on, he refocused and put together some wins with the team and in two individual events. This brought his total count up to 22 medals, making him the most decorated athlete of all time. He said he’d be leaving the sport having done everything he set out to do. How many of us can say that, whatever our endeavor?

If I have a beef with one sport, it’s got to be the speed walking event. At some point, why not run already! It’s a herky-jerky looking sport that I’ve heard is pretty tough on the body, especially the hip joints. Of course, the winner is able to power walk faster than I can run, so I probably should just keep my mouth shut.

In all the events, the stories behind the athletes are just as inspiring as their winning performances. It’s impossible for most of us to ever understand what it would be like to perform at such an elite level, where the difference between the best in the world can be less than 1/100th of a second. We’ll probably never know what it took either to get there.

What we can learn though, is that effort matters, sacrifice counts for something, and a commitment to excellence brings great rewards. We might not have the genetics to be Olympic athletes, but we all can work to improve ourselves. What do you want to accomplish today?

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness !

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


This week I’d like to talk about a quality that can take you a really long way called staying power.

Athletic ability is great if you’ve got it, but even that only takes you so far. Pretty soon, you’ll run into someone better equipped and just as talented, if not more. At that point, it becomes about conditioning, preparation, experience, and finally, who simply wants it more.

Back in my competition days, I won quite a few matches against better, more talented fighters simply because I was able to outlast them. I couldn’t defeat them, but I could defend long enough to survive the initial onslaught. Then, when their meter started running down, I still had a pretty full tank of gas. As their reactions started slowing down, I could often catch them with one or two moves I’d practiced a thousand times. That was good because I only had a couple moves back then!

That’s why when I work with athletes during the off-season, my goal is to teach them how to train so their workouts are much harder than their actual events. The game should be easy compared to the training.

But if skill, conditioning and experience are equal, it comes down to one other thing: “Who wants it more?” This is about heart and desire—where staying power goes past your actual physical capabilities.

There’s an awesome long distance runner named Dean Karnazes with the nickname Ultramarathon Man. He runs marathons (26.2 mi) on the way to 50 mile races! This guy has actually run 50 marathons in 50 days. He’s also run 100 mile races in the desert, and gone even further under other extreme conditions.

Dean’s obviously an amazing athlete at the super elite level, but these events take it to another level. He has an ability to keep going, when the extreme pain and suffering would make almost everyone else on the planet to stop.

Look at our combat soldiers. Their training is designed to develop this capability, even at the basic level. Then, as the warriors become more elite, their training gets even more intense, weeding out those who might give up under such extreme circumstances—with no shame, by the way—all of us would. But those elite few who survive learn their mind can take them a lot further than their bodies alone.

We see examples of this quality here in our normal lives too. People right around us are often faced with unbelievable trials and challenges like dealing with disease and disabilities, and still find a way to keep on going.

And I don’t know anyone who got a college degree by dropping out in the first semester. You have to finish before you can graduate and get that degree.

What we need to do, is learn how to put that kind of staying power in our exercise and weight loss programs. When we can learn to apply that kind of discipline and attention to staying the course and getting it done, that’s when we’ll finally see the results we want.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness !