For those of you who don't know the Carleton coaching duo that is John Langstone and Don Moxley, a.k.a. 'John `n Don', you will be unaware that these two are known for their efficient training sessions. Everything is calculated down to the 'T' and all the important things ( such as go, stop, end of session) are marked with a whistle blast to ensure you don't get behind schedule. For those who start the morning off already behind schedule, a white board can often be found propped up in the appropriate team meeting spot awaiting your arrival with detailed instructions as to where the team will be at each minute of the session. For the newbies to this method of training, it can appear to be a bit of an overload and can sometimes be a bit stressful to the untrained athlete (in John `n Don protocols). However, if you are sufficiently trained, and on time, you will find that this is an extremely efficient way to get an effective workout in, in an easy-to-follow manner!
This leads me to the Carleton Strength Circuit. This is the last portion of the team's weekday training sessions and is by far the epitome of the 3 E's displayed by John `n Don! The one slight glitch in the session is that it doesn't have a specific start time, as this changes depending on the amount of time it takes the team to run from Mooney's Bay to the Carleton Athletics Center. Upon arrival you will find all the stations set up with the appropriate equipment and the key poster telling you the number and name of the current station as well as the station that comes next. This poster is by far the most important and crucial aspect of the circuit and your workout. I've found the best way to ensure a successful and fulfilling circuit is to glance up at the poster upon arriving at the station, so that when the whistle blows to signal the end of that station, your second glance at the poster will not be consumed with the first information of what station you are currently at, but more importantly where you need to go next. A recent modification which I find changed the workout significantly and definitely added to the intensity of the circuit, was the incorporation of the time needed to get from station to station. For example if John `n Don wanted us to do 1 minute of each activity, they timed the whistle blasts to come at 1 minute and 15 seconds so that we would be able to get to the station, get set up and still get in a minute of activity!
Now I know I paint quite an idyllic picture and most of you do not have a gym with each piece of equipment set up for you individually. Nor do you have descriptive and directive posters telling you where and when to move on. Nor do you have an enthusiastic coach blowing a whistle at regular intervals so that you are free to concentrate fully on your workout. However, this situation can be somewhat replicated at your local gym - just find the time when the fewest people like to workout (I find at the regular Carleton gym, this time is early in the morning before the students crawl out of bed, usually anytime before 11am is fine). As for the handy-dandy posters, you can write up your own workout schedule to bring with you and keep you on track - I like to write mine on a cue card which I then attach to my water bottle with an elastic band. Not only does this keep you on schedule but it reminds you to stay hydrated as you move between stations. Finally, nothing can possibly equal a whistle blast from both John `n Don simultaneously, however the timer option on a standard Timex watch or heart rate monitor is a decent substitution and should help you somewhat stay on schedule.
As for the workout itself, I quite enjoy having such a large mix of exercises as John `n Don supply. They have managed to find or build equipment for everything from medical tubing for adductor/ abductor exercises to circular or square balance boards to double poling simulators to roller boards also for double poling! In total John `n Don have created a very efficient, effective and easy-to-follow 20- something exercise circuit.
At the moment XC-Ottawa has been holding their weekday practice at the same time as one of the Carleton strength workouts so I am only able to make it to one Carleton workout a week and recently other things have been getting in the way. However, I'm excited to have the XC Ottawa weekday workout change in the winter hopefully enabling me to get to both Carleton strength sessions each week!