‘I’m doing my first HYROX, here are 6 things I've learned while training’

hyrox training
‘I’m doing my 1st HYROX, here’s how I’m training'Hearst Owned

This year won’t just mark my first ever HYROX, but actually my first ever fitness competition and a trip waaaayy out of my comfort zone.

I’ve entered running-only events before, I ran the London Marathon in 2019, have taken part in a few half marathons (including two already this year) but am rarely spotted doing anything fitness-y in public, apart from the occasional IG post. I started Crossfit and functional training back in 2016, but up until now, that training has been by myself, or kept to the group of people who show up to the first pre-6am class of the day at Crossfit Huntsman.

Luckily for me (and my nerves) I’m entering the HYROX-sphere as part of the relay with some colleagues, so will have some familiar faces to join me on the day. In the last couple of years, HYROX has become very difficult to ignore, as someone who spends a lot of time online and in the fitness space, so I was keen to find out for myself exactly what’s been drawing in the crowds, and get one of those cool profile pics everyone has on their WhatsApp (you know who you are).

For those that are familiar, the relay runs to the normal HYROX race rules, but with the work split across four people (2x work stations and 2x1km runs for each team member):

  • 1km run

  • 1km ski

  • 1km run

  • 500m sled push

  • 1km run

  • 500m sled pull

  • 1km run

  • 80m burpee broad jumps

  • 1km run

  • 1km row

  • 1km run

  • 200m farmer's carry

  • 1km run

  • 100m walking lunges

  • 1km run

  • 100 wall balls

The good news is, I’m not starting totally from scratch. Thanks to my CrossFit training, I've got some experience in endurance workouts and a bit of grip strength which I'll need to rely on, as on the day, I'm taking on the 200m farmer's carry and the 100 wall balls. The hardestAn important factor in taking on the relay is trying to make sure the individuals in the team can lean into their strengths but also aren't taking on events that are next to each other, to optimise the rest and recovery time in between.

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My recent training has more been focused around running, and with limited training time I have been prioritising longer distances and hitting weekly mileage targets to ensure I'm half-marathon fit. I’ve still kept up some functional training while I’ve been running, which I’ll still be doing daily, but shortening my overall distance and increasing pace. With just four weeks between finishing my second half marathon of the year and the big event, it’s time to get my head down and focus on some more specific training and nutrition to get focused.

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My current typical training week consists of: daily runs broken into 5x5kms, 1x10km and a run for time which can vary from 90mins-2.5hours. I'll also complete 1x partner endurance workout and 1x 40 min functional workout, with some shorter CrossFit workouts and some mobility sessions in between.

Here's how my training will change to gear up for HYROX in the next few weeks.

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Sample training week:

  • Monday - 10km run + short/high-intensity/HIIT workout

  • Tuesday - 5km run + HYROX specific workout

  • Wednesday - 5km run + long workout

  • Thursday - 10km (minimum) run + skill specific work (squats/thrusters/grip strength work)

  • Friday - track run (4x600m, increasing m per week)

  • Saturday - 5km run + long workout

  • Sunday - recovery run

Why relay?

‘Strength in numbers’ is definitely not just about what you’re pulling around the gym floor, but also having some group accountability in your training. This can be so helpful when you’re lacking motivation - a bit of pressure that you’re not going to let your team down is really going to help me stay on track. The social side is also the perfect reminder that this is supposed to be fun! With that in mind, we’re also planning a team training session as prep a couple of weeks ahead of the event.

In a team of four (all work split as necessary, rest while other team members are working), here's what we'll be doing:

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

  • 100 wall balls

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

  • 100 burpee broad jumps (male/female pair working at same time)

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

  • 100 cal ski

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

  • 100 sandbag walking lunges (male/female pair working at same time)

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

  • 1000m row

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

  • 200m farmer's carry (male/female pair working at same time)

  • Complete a 1km relay run as quickly as possible

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6 things I've learned during HYROX training so far

1.Sprint and endurance running is very different, and switching to sprints for HYROX is hard

The main challenge for me so far is changing my training focus quite quickly from lots of running and focussing on long distance which I've really found my flow with, to now cutting down to short distance at a sprint pace because I have definitely got into the habit of running slowly to keep consistency.

2. Having a competition to train for helps give my workouts structure, and that structure helps me progress

Previously with my gym sessions, I can be guilty of prioritising exercise and movements that I really like, which sometimes means my workouts are a bit random. I've found the pressure of training for just two specific events has actually helped me because I've got a really clear focus of what I need to achieve.

3. Shorter HYROX training sessions are easier to complete first thing in the morning

Getting my training sessions in first thing before work is really important to me, even if it means getting up before 5am (yes, on the weekends, too). This has been more manageable with the HYROX training programme because I'm doing shorter workouts (at a much speedier pace than I'm used to), so I don't have to wake up quite so early to fit them in.

4. Following a nutrition plan with my individual macro goals gives me the energy to train to my full capacity

I'm a real creature of habit and have found the nutrition plan from registered performance and health nutritionist Nell (more on that below) really helpful, because I can meal prep in bulk, but there's still enough variety that I don't get bored. I also feel like I'm getting all the nutrients I need; the focus on carbs means that I'm always feeling full, with plenty of energy for my workouts.

5. Energy gels are a more realistic source of energy than solid food prior to a workout, first thing in the morning

While my nutrition programme has been beneficial, one challenge I've come up against has been getting fuel in before a workout. I know from experience it can make such a difference in performance and how much energy you have, but I often don't have an appetite since I wake up so early. When I'm running, I'll supplement with gels instead, because I find them a bit more digestible that a rice cracker and jam at 4am!

6. HYROX is hard, but your training might not be as hard on your body as you expect

By cutting down a lot of the volume of my normal training (running and in the gym), I have considerably more energy. It sounds obvious when you say it, but I wasn't aware of how tired I was getting during the day, if I was getting a 10-mile run in before work.

My nutrition during HYROX training

I know with all this training and still trying to keep my run streak going, I’ll be hungry. @nellnutrition was on hand to help my get my nutrition dialled in to make sure I’m optimising my training and fuelling my workouts with the right foods. This is a sample week of meals, designed for weeks one-three of training, based specifically on my height/weight/dietary needs/current training (this will need to be adjusted to suit each individual).

Weeks 1-3 HYROX nutrition advice

My nutritionist provided me with three sample days of food to eat across weeks 1-3 of trainingHearst Owned

Nell is a registered performance and health nutritionist, who has been on hand to ensure my food choices have been on point throughout the training process and that I've got plenty of energy to help me recover and perform at my best.

Along with the plan, she says: 'To optimise performance and recovery for your morning training, I wrote your plan with a focus on carbohydrate consumption. Pre-training, prioritise easily digestible carbohydrates to fuel your workout effectively. Following your session, aim for a balanced breakfast incorporating carbohydrates and protein, with minimal fats, to enhance recovery. Distribute fat intake later in the day, away from your training period.'

'For hydration, ensure you drink between 2 to 2.5 litres of water daily, incorporating electrolytes during your training to maintain optimal hydration levels and support your body's needs throughout your workout.'

'On week two-three, it's recommended to simulate your competition-day nutrition during training sessions. This includes scheduling your workouts at the same time they would occur on the actual competition day and following your planned on-the-day nutrition strategy. This approach will help being prepared on comp day and testing out the plan. We don’t want to try anything new on the comp day.'

Week 4 HYROX nutrition advice (Pre-comp week)

When it comes to the week leading up to HYROX, Nell advises: 'A proper carb-load is not necessary for an event <90mins. But an increase of carbohydrates 1-3 days before will help topping up glycogen stores (used for energy when working out) for the day of the event. Think of it as a drip feed rather than a load.

'Three days before the event, start increasing overall carbohydrate intake by adding extra portions of carbohydrate to each of your meals and snacks.'

Here are five ways to help you do that:

  • Add a glass of fruit juice with breakfast

  • An extra handful of rice with lunch

  • Add a handful of granola to your afternoon yoghurt bowl

  • Add agave syrup to your smoothie

  • Add an extra pre-bed snack such as fruits or chocolate milk

'Avoid excessively increasing your carb and energy intake the night before an event. A sudden increase in your diet of carbohydrate and overall energy intake could lead to feeling sluggish or experiencing digestive issues on the day of the event.'

Nutrition on HYROX race day

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Race day fuel will be just as important as the prep, so Nell has provided a plan to ensure I'm raring to go. She suggests, 'During the event to maintain good glycogen levels for energy, you might want to take some carbohydrates with you. A sports gel, chews or sweets could help after station 4 (halfway though the race). This will be important to refuel and recover.'

Good luck guys!

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