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A Week in the Life: Ryan Atkins Reveals All

We have gotten multiple request to figure out the training schedule of the current #1 Elite Male in OCR, Ryan Atkins. Luckily, we have a pretty great relationship with him, so he was excited to journal his 2 weeks leading up to the Spartan Palmerton Race! 

For the past two weeks, Ryan Atkins, the current Spartan US Championship Series Leader, has hiked mountains, raced bikes, climbed cliffs, boated with his new wife (Lindsay Webster), sky raced Whiteface, dominated a BattleFrog and won his 3rd Spartan US Championship Series in as many tries. Here is how he managed to do it all. 

Ryan Atkins’ Travel Journal:

Tuesday, July 5:  Did some hill repeats, 1:30 run with lots of short steep hills. Felt sluggish. I went for a 1:40 mountain bike ride in the evening. Legs felt heavy and slow, but I had lots of fun. 🤔

Pro Tip: Hill repeats are a great way to prepare your body for the repeated steep hills we often find in a race! This allows you to go really hard up the hill, then recover in your way back down.

Wednesday, July 6: Feeling pretty tired yesterday, so I took an unplanned rest day today. Went rock climbing all day (a favorite active recovery treat), and got on some fun trad and sport routes. It was a great day and super hot out! 🏔

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Thursday, July 7th: Woke up and did an easy 9 km trail run, drove to my cottage, which is on the way to the Battlefrog race this Saturday. Spent the evening boating around, swimming and jumping off the rope swing.

Friday, July 8th: Woke up, slammed a BeetElite and went for an easy 5km recovery run, followed by a 500m swim across the lake. We hit the road in the evening to finish the drive to Montreal.

Pro Tip: Recovery runs are typically done at a low heart rate and exertion level. They are great for “flushing” your legs out and diminishing that “dead” feeling from traveling.

Saturday, July 9th: Raced the BattleFrog near Montreal today. The course was very challenging and fun, made even harder with the heavy rains. Overall it was a great day!  (Ryan ended up taking 1st in the race

Sunday, July 10: Raced a sky race at Whiteface mountain, in New York. It was approx 15.5 miles with 8000 ft ascent, I felt sort of slow, but the legs felt strong. Good place to be at the part of the season. It was super wet and rainy. Awesome day!! (Ryan ended up placing 2nd with a time of 2:52)

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Monday, July 11th: To say that the legs are sore would be an understatement! Took the day to go rock climbing and catch up on a few chores around the house.

Tuesday, July 12: Woke up feeling super sore from the sky race, so I decided to take it easy again today. Went for about an hour mountain bike ride, where we saw a porcupine! What a spiky little guy.

Wednesday, July 13: Today was to be a tough “test” workout of a 10-minute long hill, which I run as hard as I can. The first 1/2 was really good, and my heart rate was being very reactive, showing high values without too much pushing. I rolled through the effort feeling great, but still not 100% ready to race yet. Overall did about 10 miles in 1:20 with about 1200ft ascent. It was really hot again today, so some afternoon swims were mandatory!

Thursday, July 14th: Got out for a chill morning run. About 7km, with some gentle hills. Got home to find the water in our house wasn’t working, so I had to fix that. Did a short strength workout, then left for the 8 hour drive to Palmerton. We stopped on the way, to get some burrito bowls from Chipotle for dinner.

Pro Tip: The strength workout involved some grip strength hanging, heavy bucket carries and lots of abdominal work. I did these in a circuit style, but only did 30 minutes, with a low rate.

Friday, July 15th (day before Palmerton):

  • Breakfast: Toast and eggs, BeetElite, then we went for an easy run.
  • Run: I included 5 efforts of 2 minutes about 85% of max, followed by 2 minutes of jogging. Did all the efforts on up hills.
  • Lunch: Oatmeal & Smoothie
  • Relax: Went to watch Tarzan
  • Dinner: Lasagna and salad. Ate lots of melon for dessert

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Saturday, June 16th – 3rd Race of the Spartan US Champion Series Race at Palmerton

The Spartan Race Pennsylvania was the third stop of the Spartan US championship series of races in 2016. I had won this race last year and I had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of course and difficulty.

Woke up at 5:00am had breakfast and I took some BeetElite at 5:30, and 7:15 am. Race start was 7:30am.
The Race started with a big uphill climb, over 1000 ft ascent. At the top was the spear throw. I came into it in 5th place and all the top 7 men all nailed their throws. We descended down the mountain, where I moved up into about 4th place.

After this, there were a few obstacles and a long barbed wire crawl. I moved back into 5th place. Another big climb and into the DOUBLE SANDBAG carry. I picked up the bags, and was able to move up from 5th place into first place. The bags weighed about 50lbs each and the hill we went up was STEEP. Probably a black diamond ski run. At the top was the herc hoist, which felt pretty easy and then I took off.

I didn’t see anyone else for the rest of the race. I slowed off the pace substantially, to save some energy in case I needed to make a last minute push at the finish line. I didn’t need to and finished with a 1.5 minute lead over Spartan World Champion Robert Killian, and 2 minutes over Hunter McIntyreI felt pretty good during the race, but the heat caught up with me after the finish and I had to lie down to start feeling better.

Ryan Wins Palmerton

Overall it was a great course, which equalized pure “runners” against more “strength” type athletes. Congrats to Spartan for putting on a great day. #HOOYAH 

Thank you all for reading my journal, as always, reach out to me on social (Facebook, Instagram) if you have any follow up questions. Ryan signing off. ✌

Ryan wanted to thank his other Sponsors: BattleFrog for having the toughest obstacles, Athletics8 for the best race day compression wear & IceBug for keeping him on his feet no matter what he gets into!

Author Ryan Atkins

Ryan Atkins, OCR Champion, Mountain Runner, & Outdoorsman

World's Toughest Mudder. Battlefrog Champion. Mechanical Engineering Background. Ryan is someone who is always on the look out for a new challenge, and his analytical mind pushes him to find the best ways to train and get better each and every day. When he's not training for OCR, his favourite things to do are to go mountain biking, rock climbing with friends, or chop up some firewood and play with chainsaws.

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