T Nation

World Coal Carrying Championships


I am wondering if anybody would be able to give me any pointers regarding a competition I am entering in a month?s time ? I would appreciate any input anybody is able to give, particularly any of the T-Nation staff.

The following is a link to the competition I am entering:


It involves carrying a 50kg sack of coal on your shoulders 1km uphill. The 'world' record is 4 minutes 6 seconds.

I am a 30 year old man, 5?10?, just under 200lbs at the moment and quite lean ? about 11% bodyfat.

For the past couple of months I have trained 3 days at the gym with mostly compound movements ? squats, power cleans, military press, wide grip pull ups, lunges, bench press and rows have comprised maybe 90% of my exercises. I?ve been playing squash once a week, running about 5 miles once a week and doing a weighted run (46kg of limestone in a sack on my shoulders 1km uphill) once or twice a week, always on a morning (about 6:30am if on a weekday and about 9am if on a weekend). Before the last couple of months my training was not quite so intense. I have also steadily shifted from high weight low reps to lighter weights and 10-15 reps.

Diet tends to be fairly strict, plenty of egg whites, granary bread, rice, tuna, chicken, reasonable amount of fruit and veg. Not doing any low carb rubbish. Multivitamins/minerals, glucosamine, cod liver oil & omega 3 capsules every morning.

I am naturally a sprinter and I am strong ? have squatted 210kgs and benched 150kgs - the bag is not particularly heavy to me, but once halfway up the course it is the stamina which plays the main part and it is that side of things I want to work on. The last 100 yards I will outsprint most as the finish line is in sight, but it is the halfway stage which is harder. I have got some reasonable times so far but would really like to improve. I have no intention of taking any supplements (unless you count the above vitamins etc) as my fellow competitors will not be and I do not want to have an unfair advantage. The race is in 4 weeks time.

My queries are as follows:

Should I be training high reps as I am, or perhaps should I go to higher reps or lower? Any particular tips on exercises? Daresay the squats, lunges, good mornings and power cleans are the main staple exercises.

Should I cut out anything? Quite conscious of overtraining, wouldn?t want to get to the race feeling burnt out. Perhaps dropping to 1 day a week weights (the exercises mentioned above) and an extra day of cardio?
Any dietary recommendations? The race is midday and was also wouldn?t mind some advice on what to eat on the morning of the race and also at what time. Not particularly bothered about bodyfat from a cosmetic point of view, only interested in performance for this race.

I appreciate any input any of you can provide.

Much appreciated,

Hairy Bulldog,


I would seem that you have everything under control and that anything we might say would be nit picking. But I digress.
Some tips in training and preparation would be:

Experiment multiple times before hand what your diet will be the day prior to and the day of the event. So, say this Sat you will give yourself a mini-test (1/2km or so) on Fri try out an approach and on Sat morning experiment with a breakfast. Then see how goes it during the test. Try to make is as authentic as possible.

Try some intervals with the limestone bag; basically work on your recovery time. Sprint, then jog, sprint, and then jog - so on - and over time (multiple days or weeks ? not the same workout) decrease your jog time.


Interval training... or HOC as they call it here. Build up your lactic acid tolerance. That will go along way in helping your stamina.


What kind of times are you putting in with the limestone sack over a Km


Maybe you should just wear a weight vest/ weight belt for the next couple weeks with like 20 pounds or something on it to simulate hypergravity. It will make the bag 20 pounds lighter when the time comes, which can certainly count for something.


Your parents must be so proud.


I love stuff like this.

I wish we had Wife Carrying Comps around here.


I would recommend the same thing, maybe carry a 60 or 70 kilo bag, so it will be jokes when you carry the real thing.


The majority of time spent should be event training.

How much time do you have until the contest?

If it were me I would do something like this:

Month 1: increase work capacity. Don't worry about time, but gradually work up to carrying the weight for up to 3 times the competition distance. Train 5 days per week.

Month 2: One day per week have a long carry for 3km (your previous max distance). Two days per week do intervals of 4 x .25K with set timed rest. The other 2 days do the competition distance without regard to time.

Month 3: 3 days per week carry for 3km. 2 days per week carry for 2 km. Bring down your 2km time.

Month 4: Drop volume and focus on your 1 km time.



I'm mostly with beef cake on this one.

Do a lot of carries. Try:
Carrying something over contest weight for the contest distance once a week.
Something under or at contest weight for more distance once a week.
Doing the event as closly as you can once a week.

Cool contest though. Good luck.


Is this held in Newcastle, by any chance?


Only got a week and a half left but have been trying a few different ideas, appreciation to all who have taken the time to give some input.

Down to one weight session a week and running on average about 4 times, the course once with the weight, a steeper hill onced with the weight, a relay with a pal once a week and about a 5 miler with just a couple of bricks in a rucksack.

Incidently this is the fittest I've felt in years, would definitely recommend it to anybody who likes a challenge. Might be a long way for some of you to come mind...

It's about 100 miles south of Newcastle, although I think they do have a similar event up there too.


Hey, I have a mate who did a similar event but you had to run carrying bricks on a hock and climb ladders and run up steep tracks afterwards.

Best prep is doing stuff as similar to the actual even as possible. So get a sack of coal and get running.


Wherebouts is the event held? Sheffield way ?


Somehow it figures.


I love stuff like this as well.

Not much to add. Since you seem to run out of gas near the end, you need to increase your anaerobic threshold. Since the event lasts around 4 minutes or so, try doing Tabata intervals as recommended by Dan John. Here is the link.


Load your limestone bag on your shoulder and do some squats with it. That would simulate the even well. Dan recommends doing Tabatas once a month, which is obviously way too little for your purposes. You could probably do these at least 3 times a week, perhaps more. In the original study by Dr. Tabata, he had his trainees going 5 times a week. That's probably too much, but it obviously can be done.

Let us know how this works. These are really cool competitions.


Anybody know of things like this in the US? I've always wondered about a mile farmer's walk or a 5k with a 100 pound pack, etc.