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Rider Fitness Accountability Thread

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  • Rider Fitness Accountability Thread

    The Hagyard Midsouth T3D is 5 weeks away-- and I need to get fitter. I am thinking I will do workouts 5 days/ week.
    This thread has two purposes:
    1) Would anyone familiar with the level of fitness needed for a T3D care to comment on that, and maybe suggest some workouts? How do I know if I'm fit enough?
    2) I invite those of us who are working on our fitness (hi FLeckenAwesome!) to keep in touch here about whether we have done our scheduled workouts. Post here when you do it, and other folks on the thread will cheer for you and help you keep up the momentum!

    The list of participating COTHers is on post #119 (page 6)
    Last edited by CookiePony; Sep. 20, 2010, 09:28 PM.
    Taco Blog
    *T3DE 2010 Pact*

  • #2
    What I did...

    I've done 2 T3Ds, one at 17 and one at 23 years old.

    For the first one, I was working out 2x a week for 2 hours. This included running (20 mins), and strength. I also was riding 2 horses 5 days a week. (Gotta love high school!!)

    For the second one, I was working at a job were I walked (literally) 13 miles every day I worked. I was working maybe 2 days a week. As well as riding 1 horse 5 days a week. (yay undergrad!)

    I don't remember my fitness level for the first T3D I did... but for last year's I was GREAT until the 4th to last fence on D, then I could feel it in my back. I was happy with that! (And I'll add that we had a major fall (fell in a hole) during our steeple chase school the previous day...)

    If I did it over again, I would work more on my core. That's where I was feeling fatigued.

    Good luck and have fun, it's a wonderful experience!

    **GO TACO!**
    Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...


    • #3
      I suggest having your SO also read and reflect on any suggestions given on this thread. Happen to know that the cardiovascular fitness required for competitive rowing, PARTICULARLY when one is on the OLYMPIC rowing squad is beyond all others, including marathoners...

      I've stuck with my cycling even though I'm running 5-6 days a week again - any ol' road bike will do and wind trainers aren't expensive. Set it up in front of the tv or computer and 30 minutes goes by really quickly. The great thing about having the bike on a stand is that you never stop for traffic or traffic lights...and the time of day or weather doesn't matter (but it would be more fun out at Susan's!)

      That being said, see if you can do trot sets on some of Amy's or Lauren's horses on weekends or even during the week as your teaching schedule allows. Nothing is going to increase riding fitness more than riding...and you know I run for fitness (and pizza + ice cream ) xoxoxoxo
      Last edited by RunForIt; Sep. 14, 2010, 08:10 PM.
      ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


      • #4
        Stace, when you say "workout" what's that specifically for you? Do you want to get stronger? or improve cardio?

        How much of Taco's fitness routine at the trot and canter are you doing in 2-point? For me this was a big deal when working toward a 3D. I was also doing about 100+/- crunches a day which is pretty vital for my back. Cardio is always the challenge for me. Knees don't run, but biking is good. The gap time when I'm not riding I can bike 1k a year, but it's hard to juggle the time to bike AND ride.

        I've got a big clinic the week of the T3D I'm trying to get more fit for as well...if you want to bike let me know. I've got some great routes that loop around my place if you want to come out (on the way to Amy's even.) I could probably put you on one of the DDs' bike's too.


        • #5
          As a good reference from the current state of the science of fitness, start here: Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week?

          The Tabata Protocol -- eight cycles of 20-sec of all-out exertion followed by 10-sec of rest (4 min total) -- works. Since the first paper by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996, this high-intensity interval system has been confirmed and re-confirmed as an optimal way to increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

          (Anaerobic fitness is what you need when things get tough. If you're worried about the last couple of fences on steeplechase, this is what you need.)

          The beauty of Tabatas is you can do anything -- run, tread water, bike, jump rope -- so long as you go all-out for your 20 sec.

          Is it fun? Not if you do it right. But you could do worse for four minutes.

          With five weeks to go, I wouldn't pick something too different from what you're doing already. No point in using all new muscles and getting sore. Biking (the machine kind) is usually the best way to start, especially as it gets your HR up. Concept 2 rowing machine are also good for this.

          Also, you don't really need to do 5x week. 3 days would be enough if you're doing intervals.

          As for shortcuts, there's evidence that echinacea and l-arginine could help increase your endurance. Echinacea has the effect of increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood (IIRC, you take it for 10 days - 2 weeks and then off for a week, but I'd check on that). L-arginine, as described here, reduces the 'oxygen cost of exercise.'

          Good luck.


          • #6
            What do you do now??
            What do you think you are lacking and or need most?

            Five conditioning days out of seven with what I would guess is Seven days of on horse conditioning a week may be a bit much and if not planned could negatively affect your physical condition, leading to a decrease in your capacity and ability to perform.

            "Fit enough" is relative. Do you have any past data (training logs, etc) to compare to or test against? If not, there are norms for various tests you could check online and test yourself against. Unfortunately, there are no established norms for equestrian athletes to tests against.

            And as QR1 points out, if you have any existing injuries that cause you problems, they would need focused attention.

            Medical Mike
            equestrian medical researcher


            • #7
              Originally posted by JER View Post
              The Tabata Protocol -- eight cycles of 20-sec of all-out exertion followed by 10-sec of rest (4 min total) -- works. Since the first paper by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996, this high-intensity interval system has been confirmed and re-confirmed as an optimal way to increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
              I worry about the injury rate compared to traditional methods. As I've gotten older it's been rather depressing to discover that I have to be very careful about intensity as it leads--for me anyway--to injury...


              • #8
                Originally posted by subk View Post
                I worry about the injury rate compared to traditional methods. As I've gotten older it's been rather depressing to discover that I have to be very careful about intensity as it leads--for me anyway--to injury...
                1. The 'traditional methods' (like long, slow, distance) don't always have much/any science to support them. For example, walking on a treadmill while watching TV ≠ fitness.

                2. Like I said in my earlier post, if you stay within your current range of activity, you most likely won't increase risk of injury. One of the examples I gave -- treading water -- is very safe (provided you know how to swim ).

                3. The short duration of the Tabata protocol is a plus. You're not doing unnecessary pounding or impact for, say 30-60 min, you just do a short (5-10 min) warm-up and do your intervals.

                As many of you know, I participate in several sports that require a great range of activity from endurance to power to speed. I find that maintaining an aerobic fitness base is relatively easy but that real improvement, in terms of performance and endurance, comes through anaerobic training.


                • #9
                  Thanks Stacy!!!

                  So...... so far Fleck and I have been very lucky!!! And I aim to keep us both fit and happy!!! His legs (Knocking furiously on the wooden desk I'm stuck at right now) stayed nice and tight and cool despite the hard ground this week and despite the hot nail early in the week, he stayed sound and happy.

                  I'm having a hard time balancing getting him fitter with the heat and humidity and the hard ground. Part of me wonders how fit does he really need to be. We just ran the AECs and he was great! It was 470 mpm and a 5:20 OT course and I think 2500 m. He ran it in 4:59 and was not stressed. I was pushing a hair for time, but we also cut our lines tight. I didn't have to use my stick or spur, but did cluck and he responded easily. He was breathing fairly hard (but nothing crazy!!) and it took him about 30 minutes to cool off to normal respiratory wise, but his heart rate came down quickly. However... he always takes awhile to calm down in his breathing when the humidity is that high. And it was pretty brutal that weekend. Plus the dust was rather brutal too. I wouldn't say it was anything to worry about and his heart rate really never even got that high. In other words... I would think they wouldn't hold him in the vet box, but... he does seem to "blow" a little harder than I'd like in the humidity. Of course, I do too (Oh, and he had also done an hours worth of dressage warm up and a dressage test two hours prior).

                  He's only 3/8 TB, and the other Appy, so I always want to err a little on the fitter side because of that.

                  But again, I also want to keep him sound and happy. And our ground is so hard right now and up until this week, the heat and humidity were brutal. It's finally getting a bit cooler and less humid, but the ground is still pretty tough.

                  So anyways... my point is... is 45 minutes to an hour of dressage, daily riding, jumping, and XC schooling, and 1-2 hour walking and some trotting and galloping hacks enough, or do I really need to be drilling the trot sets too?? I just worry about all the trotting on the hard ground. I guess I can do trot sets in the dressage arena's but...ugh.. how boring

                  And... then there's me.... I'm skinny, but have so little wind... So guess it's time to start running now that the weather is cooperating And i have no excuses anymore..... Thanks Stacy hee hee.. Just kidding
                  Back to doing squats as I go back and forth in the clinic, doing leg lifts while I brush my teeth, and doing sit ups before bed!

                  Not sure if my post even makes sense... I got distracted with work stuff mid-post so I apologize if it's choppy


                  • #10
                    Don't forget that appies are endurance type horses!!! Unless his appy genes are really heavy on the QH, he should probably not be too much harder than a TB or heavy on the TB cross to get fit! Neigh you could look at cross eyed and he'd be fit, even at 20!

                    I have been DESPERATELY trying to get on my bike more consistently for weeks and I have been failing miserably. I'm pretty fit as it is, but I would like to be fitter than I currently am for the three day. Plan is to bike 4-5 days a week between now and then...maybe a little core work, too.


                    • #11
                      I thought this was going to be a thread about our recently chosen tream and their fitness--or in some cases, lack thereof!!

                      Riders in the UK have to pass fitness requirements outside of the riding field if named to the long list. Could be a good idea here too.


                      • #12
                        I think having been involved intimately with setting up and working at the T3D, that there is a LOT of walking, more than you can sort of plan for.
                        You end up being on your feet for the better part of four days. You need some endurance and a little bit of muscle for that in your legs, back, and core (thinking back on my sore places after each one!)
                        I think that you ought to find a way to hit a treadmill while grading papers or reading or something -- low level impact type of thing but putting in the time getting your legs a little fitter, but not so much that you develop shin splints or something else painful.
                        And core stuff like Pilates. I wish I get time/place to do it. H.
                        Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                        Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                        • #13
                          I'd say the level of fitness required would be really hard to state without knowing the present fitness level of the rider.

                          I never did any "extra" fitness work for our T3D or CCI*. And this was before I had my farm and so I was only in what I'd call "average" shape, just mostly riding. But I've done sports and been fit most of my life, so it doesn't take much to maintain a fair level of fitness. I was also 5 and 6 years younger than I am now--just 40 at that time.

                          A half-decade later I think I would actually have to do a bit more, but keeping up with my farm is exercise enough for me in the good-weather months. In the winter (when I zip through my pared-down chores and get the heck back INSIDE) I do go to the gym 2-3 days a week. What I usually do is stretch for 10-15 minutes, 100 situps, then do selected weight machines (quads to keep my surgeried knee from falling apart, back and shoulders 'cause that's what barn work requires) then I do 20 minutes HARD on a stepping machine. In about 40 minutes I can absolutely wreck myself (in a good way) and not get horribly bored or waste a bunch of time. I loathe "exercising" and would much rather just physically WORK.
                          Click here before you buy.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RunForIt View Post
                            Nothing is going to increase riding fitness more than riding...
                            This. I have always been pretty fit, a runner and swimmer in addition to riding - not high level stuff or anything, but I run on average 15-20 miles per week and try to workout at the pool a few times a week. When I was riding just one horse (and not doing much conditioning work for the horse), I used to become fatigued on BN XC. I've found that by riding 2-3 per day and doing their conditioning work, I barely feel like I'm exerting myself at all at training level on XC. I have one horse conditioning for a T3D and one doing similar work to leg up for foxhunting, and I do ALL my trot and canter sets in two point. I've noticed a huge difference and feel very prepared physically for the three day.

                            Obviously, any sort of fitness work you can do off the horse will help with your riding and overall fitness for the weekend. I think you get the most "bang for your buck" by running - meaning that if you only have 20 minutes to exercise, running will elevate your pulse and resp rates faster and higher than most other activities. Swimming is also good for core strength, though, and I've also been using biking as a replacement for running a few days a week since its' easier on my legs.


                            • #15
                              Good point!!! He's definitely not a QH type appy... He's 16.2 and a half and well... not very Qh-ey.

                              And..... for me... great advice peeps!!! I'm fairly athletic.... but don't do too much. I mean, I have my horses at home, so I do the farm stuff and am fairly fit, but I do need more cardiovascular work. I also probably need more core work. Unforunately Fleck is really my only rideable horse. Roany pony is 27 years old and previously foundered so riding her (to the point of helping me get fitter) is not really in the equation. I might be able to scrounge up some other horses to ride, but honestly, I'll probably do better just to start running and save some time.

                              Thanks for all the advice. You guys are awesome!!!!

                              I already did some lunges on my way to the back of the clinic and back up front. Only now suddenly I've got three cats and one dog on the way, so... fitness may have to wait a bit! Unless cat wrestling counts


                              • #16
                                OK, I think this is a little bit about attitude.

                                When I did the T3d (and when I started to prepare for my second one, a few weeks ago, before my new t3d partner lawndarted me, earning him a trip to remedial jump school and me a trip to 6 weeks in a cast), I was a fanatic about my horse's schedule. He is a 17.3 wb and had never been this fit. I worked out a very strict schedule and stuck to it.
                                Luckily, he was SO MUCH WORK to do fitness on (complaining all the way -- 40 minutes of trotting that horse when he was reluctant is like double time on the stairmaster, trust me) that I was plenty fit with that plus Pilates 1x a week and the gym a couple times a week.

                                I realized that I needed to have the same attitude about my fitness that I did about his; that is, make a schedule, and stick to it. If you skip a day, that's ok. 2 days, not ok. Just put in the time, and you'll be fit, just like they will be.

                                For what it's worth, I designed the original schedule based on Sally O'Connor's * sched, but then added in a taper at the end as my coach was marathoning at the time, and they all taper. Horse was jumping out of his skin fit, and I felt great. Don't burn out at the end!!!

                                This time around I was going to the gym a bit more but honestly with two giant horses on the program, one for prelim and one for the t3d, that's a lot of saddle time, so..
                                The big man -- my lost prince

                                The little brother, now my main man


                                • Original Poster

                                  Wow, this is a lot of information! I have lots to digest.

                                  FleckenA-- this thread is mostly for *us*, not our ponies-- although riding them and especially doing those trot sets in two-point is part of our routine, too! But as for trot sets on the hard ground, that is a good question. We are lucky enough to have had some rain here in Nashville, so the ground is OK.

                                  My own fitness: I am a highly tuned desk jockey. I ride five days/ week. Three days/week I do about 40 minutes of walking. I am supposed to be working up to 1/2 hour on the rowing machine (courtesy of Olympian OH) but I have been having a hard time getting to it.

                                  What I can do:
                                  The rowing machine
                                  The gym at work (cardio and strength machines, plus some classes)
                                  Bike with subk (thanks for the offer-- that could be fun!)
                                  Trot sets on other horses
                                  Plain ol' running

                                  I once tried the workout that JER mentioned, with running. It sure was painful! I should also mention that I do have a history of knee problems.

                                  Whatever I do, I need to take it seriously, as asterix suggests.

                                  I have decided that I will go to a fitness class at the gym at work tomorrow. It starts with 15 minutes of "ab blast" and then moves to 45 minutes of something called "boot camp." That sounds like it could be good, right? I will post here that I have done it.
                                  Taco Blog
                                  *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by CookiePony View Post
                                    I once tried the workout that JER mentioned, with running. It sure was painful! I should also mention that I do have a history of knee problems.
                                    Then try it on the rower (). 5 min warm-up, 4 mins of intervals, another 5 min if you feel like it (there is no science to 'warm-downs').

                                    Originally posted by CookiePony View Post
                                    I have decided that I will go to a fitness class at the gym at work tomorrow. It starts with 15 minutes of "ab blast" and then moves to 45 minutes of something called "boot camp." That sounds like it could be good, right? I will post here that I have done it.
                                    Not sure what will be on the menu there but if you don't like it, or want to spend even less time on exercise, you might try doing bodyweight exercise circuits 3x week. The way it works is you do 6 or so series of bodyweight exercises in succession (no break, varying the muscle groups worked), take a one minute break, then do it again for a total of 3 cycles. This is what I do when I'm stuck on a job working miserable hours and have no other means of exercise.

                                    This is an example of a bodyweight exercise circuit. I like bodyweight exercises a lot as you can do them anywhere, they don't require any special equipment and you have to balance your body through them, unlike with weight machines.


                                    • #19
                                      Stace, if you're looking for some extra saddle time, I have a couple of trail horses who are steady and could handle some trot/canter work just to get you in better shape! I've got a nifty little track I've been riding, thanks to the hay they're currently cutting, not measured, just eyeballed, but it wouldn't hurt them a bit to get out and move their tushies!
                                      Big Idea Eventing


                                      • #20
                                        Good luck!

                                        For core strength I have always loved medicine ball work outs (you can use a gallon of water or milk if you don't have a medicine ball.)

                                        My favorite is #8 in this article, but they all look great:

                                        ETA the format is much easier to read if you hit print in the top right corner.