By Kim Collings
1. Beast Profiles
3. Joe’s Corner
4. Looking Ahead
1. Beast Profiles
Articles and interviews dedicated to reporting on the amazing people and stories of Your Beast Team!
Meet Adam Birgenheier! He’s an amazing leader, athlete, and friend. He always has a smile and a warm welcome for everyone. From regional workouts, endurance events, a 501(c)(3) in the making, and of course the races, Adam’s hard work and leadership has been an integral part of the success and growth of our team.
How did you first get involved in the leadership of Beasts OCR?
My passions have really evolved and flourished off the foundation of taking deep pride and satisfaction in helping others, building them up and see one overcome. In 2015, I approached the BeastMaster, Andrew Hooper with that mindset and asked to help in any way I could. This lead to what we called out Beasts Workout Tour in early 2016 and ultimately the BeastWODs across three states currently – to date we are 123 free workouts! When there was time to make a transition in late 2016, Andrew brought up to me about making the switch – I was completely floored and deeply honored that he had asked me to oversee the growth and development of Beasts OCR. Since then, haha, along with falling on my face a few times, I really feel that not just Beasts OCR, but I have grown, become stronger and better, together.
What’s involved when you plan and execute a Beasts OCR endurance event?
Our Beasts Endurance events have been reinvented numerous times over, each one better than the last. It starts off with a vision – what do we want our athletes to experience, to feel, to walk away with and most importantly, what will they gain from the experience? I am a firm believer that the tone you set with your goals will be reverberated within the event and athletes. From there, it’s all about location, task vs gear, what are we trying to accomplish and of course – safety in everything. From there, it’s securing insurance, location, etc and then actually beta testing the event from start to finish. I would never ask anyone to complete something I have not done, tested or experienced myself. I think that is where some real satisfaction comes through for me in knowing exactly what is around every corner and how to tackle it before I ask athletes to give it a crack. I’ve a ‘little black book’ if you will of ideas for events, experiences that I would want to see, full event plans, hacks, etc. I seem to be constantly writing in it. I won’t pretend to be some perfect pro, but I believe we have better quality and more streamlined events every time and every year. Look at BeastBreaker 2018, this is our third year running this event and it is completely different, revamped and better than ever. I’m very excited to see how folks will react to this. You know, in the past we ran tons and tons of events – 2017 was chalk full of them monthly, going forward, I’d rather focus on 3 to 5 events, but really ensure they are high quality, go big or go home awesome experiences.
What was your first OCR race and what made you decide to try it?
My first OCR was Warrior Dash in 2015, I used it as a training/stepping stone to get to Spartan Race. It was local, got a good Groupon price on it and lots of Beasts were going – it was the perfect storm!
How has OCR helped you overcome challenges?
OCR is the one of the biggest catalysts of change in my life that I’ve ever experienced. I can talk for hours about the good it has done for me, my son and others around me. I’ll keep it short this time- OCR has helped me become close to the man that I envision I want to be, and I have never felt as confident as I do now that the Why and the Who of myself are the right, healthy direction I want to go than I do now. .
What do you love most about the OCR Community?
The people of OCR and their indomitable spirits. Hearing folks share their stories amazes and humbles me. We aren’t perfect, no community is, but I’ll tell ya, that the folks that hang about in OCR are generally some of the best people I have ever met.
Who inspires you?
My son, lady, family, brother and Beasts are are my reasons why. My son Brayden is my biggest source of inspiration and motivation. There is something deeply special about being a parent, even more so of an OCR kid!
What is your favorite OCR memory?
Seeing my son cross the finish line, not just the first time, but every time. I go full dad marshmallow mode. Seeing him knock out another race, gain confidence, become stronger and achieve things I never imagined as a kid is incredible. Additionally, turning the corner to see the monster of a sandbag carry at the 2016 Montana Beast!
Tell us something about yourself that few people know, whether OCR related or not.
Rockhounding runs in my family and I’ve recently really picked up the torch from my grandfather. Depending on what you are looking for, some excursions are essentially rucks! My goal is to find a perfect pyrite diploidal.
What are your goals for 2018?
My biggest personal event goal I am tackling is the Spartan Ultra in Breckenridge, Colorado. Also, to have a killer Beastbreaker 2018!
2. Beast Nutrition
Banana Fun Facts
I always think it’s fun getting the “Victory Banana” at the end of the race. Here are some banana fun facts:
- Bananas are low in calories and have no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. They contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6.
- Research shows that eating bananas may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as decrease the risk of getting some cancers.
- Bananas are the only fruit that contains the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6. They help your body produce serotonin—a natural substance that alleviates depression.
- Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive (thanks to their potassium content)—but the level of radiation is not high enough to cause harm.
- Thanks to its oil, rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite (or other bug bite) or on poison ivy will help keep it from itching and getting inflamed.
- If you rub the inside of a banana peel on a scrape or burn, it will help the pain go away, keep the swelling down, and keep the wound from getting infected.
- More than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product.
- Americans eat an average of 27 pounds of bananas per person every year.
- More songs have been written about bananas than about any other fruit.
- Bananas float in water, as do apples and watermelons.
- The fastest marathon ever run by a competitor dressed as a fruit was 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 20 seconds—recorded at the Barcelona Marathon on March 6, 2011. The runner was Patrick Wightman from the United Kingdom, who dressed as a banana.
Recipe – Banana, nut butter, and cacao
There are so many ways to eat bananas, but I like this for a healthy snack when I’m craving something sweet:
1 banana cut into slices
1-2 Tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter
I put the slices on a plate, cover each with nut butter, and sprinkle cacao over the top. That’s it. Simple and so tasty! Sometimes I’ll use frozen bananas that are half thawed which is yummy too.
Photo Credit: Adam Birgenheier
3. Joe’s Corner
The final piece of the puzzle to bring my last two write-ups to a close is how you can improve mobility. Improving mobility involves lengthening and strengthening the muscles that I have talked about in my prior write-ups. Each stretch should last for sixty seconds for optimal results, but realistically anything is better than nothing at all. All strength exercises are expected to be done as three sets of ten reps. Also, reps should be done slowly up and down with focus on control and the elimination of sudden drops or rises.
First, we will start with ankle stretching and strengthening. As someone who has shattered his ankle in the past, I firmly believe that ankle strength is just as important as anything else. Since the ankle is one of the most complex joints in the human body, the following exercises only scratch the surface of what could be done. Post workout stretching is often neglected, but this important step is something that separates a good runner from a great one.
There are two different wall stretches. First, start with your toes up on the wall, then move your body closer to the wall decreasing the distance from your toes to your shin bone. You should feel the stretch in the calf, achilleas, and maybe even the foot.
The second wall stretch is a forward lunge performed with your hands on the wall (to help keep balance). You keep both feet flat on the floor and lean in to the stretch. If you are unable to keep your heels down, move your legs closer together. If you need more of a stretch, move them farther apart. Once again, you should feel the stretch in the calf and achilleas.
Exercises to strengthen the ankles often take a stair or a resistance band. Using a stair or ledge to perform barefoot calf raises is the simplest exercise and requires no further equipment. The reason for not having a shoe is so that you have adequate range of motion. With only the front portion of your foot (the ball and toes) on the edge of the stair, allow your heel to lower to as close to the ground below the step as possible. When the ankle and foot can no longer drop anymore, raise your body back up. This exercise can be done in different foot positions like with the heals out and the toes close together, or with the heels close together and the toes spread apart. A similar exercise can be done lying down with a resistance band wrapped around the toes and done with the exact same motions and different positions. If you don’t have a stair, ledge, or resistance band, you can do an exercise called alphabet soup. While sitting or lying down, write the letters of the alphabet from A-Z using only your foot and ankle.
The hamstring is a muscle that is easy to stretch, though it is often forgotten. Most people
probably know how to stretch the hamstring, but I’ll still describe a few stretches just in case. The starting stretch is to stand with your feet together and then bend at the waist to touch your toes.
Next, is the basic yoga position, downward dog. While in the standing hamstring stretch, walk your hands away from your feet until your weight is evenly distributed between your feet and hands. You could also start in the plank position and lift your pelvis until your body is in an upside down “V” position. This position stretches not only the hamstring but the calves and ankles as well depending on how far you can drop your heels towards the ground.
The final stretch is the hurdler or figure four stretch. Begin by sitting on the ground with your feet in front of you. Keeping one leg extended, bring the other leg in until the foot is pressed flat against the inner thigh of your other leg. Bend over at the waist and attempt to touch the toes ones again. If this stretch doesn’t give enough of a hamstring stretch, it can be made more difficult by placing the bent leg foot not against the inner thigh but on top of the thigh, pushing the leg straighter.
Strengthening the hamstrings can be done in various ways, but the two I describe here can be done anywhere at any time. The single leg squat is done with one foot on the ground and the other foot up on a chair, couch or bench behind you. The foot on the ground must be quite a distance in front of the bench or chair to be able to squat down without having the knee go too far past the toes. Any time the knee extends past the toes in a workout setting, it could cause injury. This exercise can be done with or without weight. If attempting this exercise for the first time, I suggest not using weight at all.
The next exercise is called the bridge. Lie on the ground with your knees bent, scoot your feet as close to your glutes as possible, and lift your bottom into the air. You could feel this in your quads as well as your hamstrings, but if you repeatedly lower yourself down and then back up, you will be working the hamstrings a lot. If this is very easy for some people, then the difficulty can be increased by lifting one leg in the air. Much like doing the single leg squat, focusing on a single leg at a time doubles the work on the hamstring muscle.
Stretching the hip flexor is quite easy, and the stretches that help the hip flexor are often
performed to stretch different muscles. With just a slight change in the body position, these stretches will include the hip flexor. The starting stretch is done in the lunge position. The main change to ensure hip flexor stretching is to keep the torso completely upright, making sure the rear leg is straight. This will help align the pelvis correctly, and you should feel the stretch in the hip. If this position doesn’t cause a stretch or becomes too easy, then an upright torso twist toward and away from the back leg can be incorporated.
Another great stretch for the hip flexor is the yoga pose Pidgeon. This is done like the lunge position except the (forward) bent leg is actually laid on the ground under the body with your shin bone as parallel to the direction you are facing as possible. The back leg is still straight behind but should lower until it comes in contact with the ground. Make sure to keep your hips square to the direction you are facing.
Several common abdominal workouts are used to strengthen the hip flexor. The two that I talk about here are by no means the best or worse, but simply options. Standing knee raises can be one of the hardest and best hip flexor exercises that can be done. While standing on one leg, you simply just bring the knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and hold that position. You will start to feel the burn in the hip flexor quickly, but the exercise isn’t done. When you feel the burn, you know you are working the correct muscle. Now, simply raise the knee up and down slightly (not fully lowering the leg down to the ground–the thigh should still be nearly parallel to the ground). After ten up and down knee pulses, you should work the other leg. To increase the difficulty, you simply straighten the raised leg and raise and lower the foot.
The other easy exercises that you can do to strengthen the hip flexor is any abdominal exercise and just keep the feet off the ground. You could technically work your hip flexors while doing other abdominal work.
The last item I would suggest, to help stretch and strengthen each of these areas, is foam rolling. Rolling different body parts can also help lengthen and strengthen the muscles if the rolling is done correctly. No, I am no expert on foam rolling, but there are plenty online tutorials to ensure that you are doing the rolling correctly.
I hope that my fellow Beasts have enjoyed this series on stretching and I look forward to bringing more topics in Beast reports to come.
4. Looking Ahead