Read the coverage on The Austin-American Statesman’s Fit City blog here.
Why Night Ops Challenge – Jake Saenz
I remember going on a backpacking trip with 3 good friends. One of which was a Cat 1 cyclist, another a high level Crossfit Athlete, and the third was as former endurance athlete and all around bad ass. These were 3 extremely “fit” young male athletes. All got crushed hiking with a pack for 3 hours.
Austin and the fitness industry is flooded with Mud races, Crossfit competitions, triathlons, and other tests of physical ability, all of which deem the winner as the “fittest” that day.
Unfortunately each of these events require a high level of sport specific skills, training, and sometimes equipment, and this fitness does not always carry over to real world situations. Often times the winner of one of those events is fittest in that specific challenge, or discipline. To say they are the fittest overall or in any real-world way is wrong.
The Night Ops challenge was designed to take real world components and conditions and test not only an individual’s ability to think critically under physical stress but make them work in a team environment.
The military had a great influence on this event’s creation – take physically drained individuals in the dark with limited guidance and make them perform critical tasks and follow instructions.
The challenge also grew out of our methods at our training facility, Atomic Athlete. There we commonly use the phrase “Train inside to perform outside.” Our performance-based training is ultimately designed to make an athlete better at what he or she does – whether it’s a profession, sport, or hobby – by increasing all facets of the athlete’s fitness prior to dropping into a sport-specific program. For some of us we train for the unknown – for those things that life will throw at you unexpectedly.
We put our athletes under load to test their strength – athletes with great endurance are often weak. We make the athletes go long – exceptionally strong athletes struggle under longer durations. We make them think critically with difficult and sometimes frustrating challenges to test their ability to think clearly under stress – often times mentally weak athletes turn off their brains when performing.
At the first Night Ops Challenge in Austin, we found the perfect balance to test what we were training. Crossfitters crumbled at the volume, endurance athletes got crushed by the weight, doctors got stumped by mental challenges, and just about everyone took the long way home around a shallow water obstacle because they turned off their brains and didn’t realize they could just run across it. All in all it was perfect.
The first 3 teams were all co-ed and we had females athletes from our gym smiling at the finish. The fastest 3 teams through the course got slowed down because of the mental challenges. We even had all military teams get rocked. Then we drank. Another thing you hear in our gym is “work hard – play hard”
Having a 500lb deadlift looks awesome, but if it means it takes you 50 minutes to run 5 miles, then it’s ridiculous. A sub-40 minute 10k also looks impressive, but not being able to back squat your body weight is embarrassing. Being the fastest team is amazing, but choosing route that is 1 mile longer due to the inability to follow instructions or think critically, well……we don’t even know what to say about that.
The Night Ops Challenge is designed to level the playing field by testing strength, endurance, and mental fitness.
Think you are fit enough for the real world? Come prove it.