Episode 6, Ben Abruzzo and training for the 2015 X-Alps

Gavin Mcclurg (USA2) and his support team of Ben Abruzzo and Bruce Marks celebrate at the final turnpoint in Monaco

Gavin Mcclurg (USA2) and his support team of Ben Abruzzo and Bruce Marks celebrate at the final turnpoint in Monaco

Ben Abruzzo was the guy who turned me into a machine for the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps. My knees are a cartilage wasteland and I’d never done any endurance training or racing in my life. But when I approached Ben about doing the X-Alps he was all-in and had zero hesitation that he could get me there. This episode is kind of an “inbetween-cast” of the usual Cloudbase Mayhem in response to all the myriad of questions we’ve been receiving about how I prepared for what is billed as the hardest adventure race on Earth.  In this episode we go deep on Ben’s approach and methodology and what came down to handling not only how to get me ready physically, but how he supported me in the actual race and helped keep my head together. My team, Ben Abruzzo and Bruce Marks laughed their way across the Alps and what should have been a total sufferfest was actually a total blast and was one of the greatest things all of us have ever participated in. Find out what we did right, where things went wrong, and how I became pain-free in my knees for the first time in twenty five years. Follow Ben’s work and find out about his training programs on his website thesnowgoat.com.


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes:

  • Ben talks about his history in the Army and how he became interested in physical training
  • Why Ben knew he could make my knees handle the task of the race
  • Ben discusses his long-view approach to the training and the various stages we had to tick off on the way
  • How most people train incorrectly
  • How Ben trains people in the special forces, elite marathoners, and elite athletes
  • Learning from mistakes and failure
  • The value of having a coach, and why you can’t do it on your own
  • The methodology and difference between training for “normal” hard-core adventure races vs the X-Alps
  • The value of rest and recovery, and how we approached the taper
  • The important of “having a frame”
  • Some of the specific exercises we repeated and why
  • The value of programming specific exercises for psychological gain

Social Media


Share this post with your friends!
Connect with the Mayhem!


10 thoughts on “Episode 6, Ben Abruzzo and training for the 2015 X-Alps

  1. Hey Gavin, I to have some pretty “used” knee’s, which make me super curious about your experience….Do you feel like your knee’s are better now, the same, or more worn? When you started your training how much “managing the symptoms” were you doing? ie. did you find yourself “backing off” because of the pain, or pushing through? Thanks

    • Hey Brian,

      We talked quite a bit about this in the podcast, but to recap- Ben got me to a place where I had absolutely zero knee pain. The first month of training they would get sore on the long walks (but these were WAY shorter than what they turned into- like 10-15 km, whereas we got up to regularly doing 40-60 km walks on concrete) but as soon as we started incorporating all the mobility training with Kelly Starrett’s “Supple Leopard” methods of using rollers, lacrosse ball, and bands I had zero pain. During the race I had zero pain. First time I’ve not had pain in my knees since my ski racing days in my late teens and all the surgeries. Pretty amazing. The only pain I had in the race was because of my feet, they totally fell apart. Got swamp foot BAD and blisters everywhere. Check out the podcast I did with Kelly Starrett for more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwVc338BZDQ&feature=youtu.be

  2. Pingback: CloudBase Mayhem Podcast Episode 6- Training for the X Alps |

  3. Congrats on making the raft. Wondering if you have a fitness maintenance plan, or if you are just going to ramp as future needs dictate?

    • Hey Gregg, thank you! I’m on a maintenance plan this year, and then will ramp up to proper training again October 1st 2016 for the 2017 race as we did this last year as that seemed to work great.

  4. Pingback: Countdown to the The Red Bull X-Alps, Training Anyone? | CLOUDBASE MAYHEM

  5. Hey Gavin,

    It was interesting to hear about the excercises and the physical preparation.
    You mentioned that you were measuring certain ‘things’ or metrics and shared with Ben regularly.
    Could you elaborate what metrics you were measuring, what tools or applications were you using?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Laszlo, we used an app called “Training Peaks” for him to put up all my workouts, and then I would record every work out with my Garmin Fenix Phone and Garmin’s “Connect App” that records all the data. Then you can sync Training Peak and Connect so after every work out I simply opened the Garmin app and it would do it all automatically. Then Ben could see that I’d done the work out, see all the metrics (ie step rate, weight of lifts, heart rate, O2, etc.) and adjust if necessary for future training. Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.