The Burpee 2 Miler – “The Most Inefficient Way to Travel”
Obviously, the first question you might ask would be, “What is a Burpee Mile?” A Burpee Mile, according to my standard, can be simplified into five easy steps:
1. Performing a chin-to-the-ground pushup.
2. Bring both feet together under your torso so that you’re at the bottom of a squat.
3. Jump as far as you can.
4. Dive forward and back down to the pushup position.
5. Repeat for the distance of a mile, or two in this case. (8 laps around a 400m track)
In the past few years, I have done seven Burpee Miles and one 1.5 miler. So, doing a 2 miler was a natural progression and logical stepping stone to my ultimate goal, which is to one day, do a Burpee 5k. I have done countless hours of internet research to see if anybody else out there has gone further than a mile, thinking surely they would write about such an accomplishment. My searches have all came up empty. The only thing that popped up time and time again was the Crossfit “Burpee 5k”, which consists of (run 1k + 10 burpees) x 5. Yeah, that’s not the same thing that I’m going for. Not even close. Typical Crossfit… So, seemingly I’m the first person to do a Burpee 2 Miler.
I have coached several of my trainees to their first Burpee Mile finishes, and last night was no different. My friend Dave (Davage) who I trained since last summer, had some unfinished business with the Burpee Mile. Back in November, Davage stopped at the half mile fearing he would be too sore to go to work the next day. Probably a safe assumption! Since then, he has trained hard specifically for this event, which we had been planning for the past few months. Also, my brother-in-law Matt, who did his first Burpee Mile in November, came out to support and do a quarter mile as fast as possible. He is almost 16 and had to go to school the next morning, so he couldn’t stay out too late. He did finish his quarter mile in 17:54 though!
Setting the scene: the weather was supposed to be rainy with temperatures around 70 degrees last night. I think out of the several times I have done these events, there has been only one time that I didn’t encounter rain. It’s almost a certainty. The wet grass and mud usually makes for multiple catastrophic falls due to the fact that you’re jumping as far as possible on every rep. However, I had a really good idea to combat this potentially dangerous situation. My wife Ashley is affiliated with a company called Solespikes. This company makes screws with a cleated head that you drive into the soles of your shoes. Ashley has used them on some pretty nasty trails and always raves about how great they are. I thought maybe I can borrow some to give me better traction during my long jump landing. The goat head spikes worked like a charm! I only fell once, and that was due to my knee buckling on the seventh lap. Davage, on the other hand, fell three times in his Burpee Mile.
Also, if you’re in Georgia reading this, you are well aware of the ridiculous pollen covering everything right now. We had a record pollen count of 9,000 on Wednesday and yesterday the count was 4,300. My body and pollen don’t jive, especially when I will have my chin on the ground sucking it into my lungs.
We originally intended to start around 8:30 last night after the Appalachee HS soccer game ended. Of course, it dragged out until after 9:00pm, forcing us to start at 9:17pm. Armed with water, Boost, and Coconut Water waiting for me after each lap, off we went. Davage and I stayed close to each other as we began to dig into the first lap. Matt smoked past us in order to finish his quarter mile as fast as possible. My plan was to pace myself at 5 bpm for the first mile. Davage planned on pacing himself at 3 bpm. This worked out really well because Dave is 6’5” and covers significantly more ground with each jump than me being 6’0”. Lap one down!
Lap 2 brought on some difficult challenges. To my surprise, it was not raining. But, the humidity was really high and temperatures did not drop as early as anticipated. I was sweating profusely after only a lap and a half and my heart started going crazy during my rest intervals. My legs began to tighten up as a result. My entire posterior chain started to cramp. Seriously?! I normally get through one mile without much effort and don’t even get sore the next day! I started trying to rationalize instead of panic.
Maybe inhaling pollen is jacking me up!
No, maybe I had too much caffeine today with not enough sleep last night!
Does my form suck tonight?
I shouldn’t have done those band Goodmornings on Monday…
I had never been in this position before so early in the event. I started doubting if I could even finish. Then, Davage and I were surprised by a random car approaching the track. A cop! Who else would it be? Our first thought was that he was going to kick us off the track. At the time, I was secretly and pathetically hoping he would. I was nauseous and cramping and this would have been the perfect excuse to wuss out. The cop car came right up to the fence of the track. We were on the opposite side of the field from where he was and the stadium was dimly lit. I quickly cut off my head lamp and Davage and I cranked out another set. We thought that if the officer even spotted us in the dark, he would leave us alone seeing that we were just working out. After a minute of looking around from his car, he slowly drove away. Dang it! I guess I need to keep going… Not even five minutes later, the same cop car shows up on the opposite end of the field. This time we were backlit from his point of view and in the middle of a set. Davage and I both realized it and froze at the bottom of our pushup and laid still. The officer sat in his car next to the track for what seemed like an eternity. After I convinced myself to keep going when he left the first time, I was now pumped up and genuinely didn’t want to quit. Eventually, he finished his Solitaire or his text message and again slowly drove off. Lap two done!
Laps three and four went by in a blur. Between these two laps I did something that probably saved the event for me. I dashed over to the half way point of the lap with a jug of water and dropped it off so that I could take in some fluids more often. This helped out tremendously. Not only give it give me a smaller goal to achieve each lap, but it kept me hydrated and cool. Davage and I were still holding to our planned paces. He was feeling on top of the world because he was almost done. And I realized that I was almost – half way done. This is going to be a long night…
With one mile complete, Davage ran home to get his Bolthouse Farms chocolate protein drink. He promised he would be back soon to support me and he would have Band-Aids for my toes, which I could tell were in trouble. So, for the second mile I planned on dropping my pace back to 4 bpm. I began as soon as Dave left, with a goal in mind to be done with lap five by the time he returned. By backing off of my pace, I was given more time to recover between intervals. I began to feel much better mentally and physically. I had less than four laps left and my posterior chain was finally loosening up. For the first time I began to feel capable of finishing. I started smiling randomly and giving audible pep talks to myself. Strange, I know. But, it was working! I began to take an additional minute of rest when I reached my water jug at the half way point on each loop. I used this time to stretch and bring down my heart rate. This was easily my best lap.
Davage returned as I was starting lap six. Here is some brief Blair Witchesque footage Dave captured using my headlamp:
Dave kept me going strong for this lap by playing me music from the Rocky movies on his phone and keeping me chatting between intervals. The only negative I remember from this lap was the chaffing forming below my arm pits and on the inside of my arms. Since I always do a tricep pushup, my elbows were scraping my sides on every rep. It was just a matter of time before the skin broke. I took of my shirt and that seemed to help. My arms now glided over my sides due to the fact that I was drenched in sweat and no longer wearing a soaked cotton shirt. Lap six done!
Lap seven is when I literally started to feel my body shutting down. I began to get really tight under my ribs on the lower right side of my back. This was impairing my explosiveness and breathing. All of the sudden, I couldn’t get a deep breath and my heart rate was sky rocketing between intervals.
Too much pollen inhalation?
Not enough water?
Not enough electrolytes or protein?
Was I just simply cooked?
I started gasping for air when I reached to half way point on lap seven. I took in some water and felt even worse. Nausea was setting in fast. I was dizzy and starting to stumble around during rest intervals. Now I know how Ashley feels in her ultras! I’ve seen her in pretty bad shape before, now I know what it’s like. The rest of this lap was a grind. My hands, shoulders, knees, feet, and neck were painfully tight and screaming at me to quit. I had been oblivious to these minor body parts hurting until this point. My major muscles groups were concerning me too much to care. But, they all crept up and bit me at the same time. However, I fought hard and stayed on pace and got back to the start line. Lap 7 done!
The final lap was finally here. It was right at the four hour mark and I was feeling beat. My body didn’t seem to listen to my mind when it said, “You have less than one lap left!” However, I was ready to get it over with. I decided against dropping my pace again and kept it at 4 bpm. It now seemed that with every rep I could feel my tendons and ligaments being stretched beyond their range of motion. Jumping as far as possible and diving onto your hands makes your body exert a lot of force in order to keep you from face-planting. However, the muscles used to exert these forces were shot. The tension in my connective tissue was now responsible for carrying the load. And it was painful. Very painful. There’s nothing like feeling your patellar tendon and rotator cuff being yanked too far every few seconds and knowing that you have to do it close to 100 more times. Davage finally turned on some 90’s grunge for me, which is my favorite genre. This pumped me up along with knowing that I just had to make it half way around the track and I would be done. A few long minutes later, I was finally done. I had completed the Burpee Two Miler in 4 hours and 31 minutes with a grand total of 1,013 long jump burpees.
Immediately after finishing at 1:48am, I had to put on my soaking wet shirt (which was nasty) and travel to the Winder Wal Mart. Turns out the kids didn’t have anything for lunch the next day. Needless to say, I have never been so jittery in my life while driving a car. I walked into Wal Mart and I was getting strange looks…in Winder Wal Mart, that’s a strong statement! I was drenched in sweat, bloodshot eyes from pollen and sweat, shivering cold (literally jaw-chattering), and I was covered in grass clippings. When I checked out, the cashier said to me, “Did you get arrested?” I just laughed and told her that I was not in jail, but had a rough night. She said, “You look like you need to go get some rest, Child.” I nodded and tried to muster up a smile, then waddled out of the store.
When I finally got home, I took off my shoes for the first time and assessed the damage. It looks like I will lose my big right toe nail soon. And my hands took quite the beating.
After going through this hell, where do I stand on the Burpee 5k? Nothing is impossible, but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to keep going last night. Not for more than another mile! I will keep that goal in mind and continue to train for it, but it won’t happen anytime in the near future. For now, I’m happy to stake my claim on the Burpee Two Miler!