Running with a tyre… what do you need ?

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How it started… I don’t really remember but I think I was joking with my running friends that we should train pulling a tyre. I think it was after seeing last year Standard Chartered Singapore where a South African runner (Jethro de Decker) was running the full marathon pulling a 17″ tyre with South Africa and Singapore flags on it. And then on March 18, 2017, the morning before heading to Titi Ultra, my my friends gave me a tyre for my birthday ! That was Bob…. now no excuse, I had to get it ready for rolling… Here are some of the steps I have done after some research on the internet.

What you will need

The stuff you need are fairly simple and cheap to find and acquire:

  1. A used tyre
  2. 3 to 5 meters of rope, 5mm diameter
  3. An eye bolt with its nut
  4. A weight lifting belt

Optional items:

  1. A sea dog snap hook (aka boat snap)
  2. A crown bolt

To help you you can see photos of the items below

Now, the tyre part is fairly straightforward. The belt side is the one you need to put more attention to for the following reasons:

  1. All the force applied will be on your abs and lower back muscles: don’t mess up there
  2. You will pull this for a while, so it has to be comfortable and the right size
  3. The force should be distributed and applied in the middle of your back

In addition, you will need to have something to make a hole in a car tyre. Car tyres have metallic threading embedded in the rubber, hence it’s not easy to go through it. I used a combination of drill, screwdriver and cutter. Typically for the drill, using a head that drill into wood is good to make the hole.

Budget wise it’s something like that:

  1. Used Tyre – Free (ask a tyre repair shop to give you one or use one of your old ones)
  2. Weight lifting belt – 30-40RM – mandatory
  3. Eye bolt – 4-5RM – mandatory
  4. Rope – 15RM for 10m – mandatory
  5. Boat snap – 15RM – optional, nice to have
  6. chain link – 4-5RM – optional, nice to have
  7. spring snap – XXRM – optional, nice to have

Step 1 – Install the eye bolt on the tyre

You will need to use your drill to make a hole in the tyre. You want the hole to be located in the mid section of the tyre, so that you can use both sides of the tyre as contact with the ground. Your tyre will last twice as long and will also be well balanced weight wise. The eye bolt is secured inside the tyre using the nut. If you are worried about stability inside the tyre, you can add a small ring before fitting the nut.

Below the step by step procedure with some photos. We will drill at the location of my index finger, right in the middle of the tyre belt.

Now we need to take the drill using a head to drill in wood. The profile of the head is the best to drill into the rubber of the tyre, despite the metal threading. When you drill, just go through it and do not worry about the resistance or the sparks due to the metal threading. The head I used was about 2-3mm wide.

 

Next step is to add the eye bolt. Basically, the diameter of your drill head must be the size of the eye bolt you have. Insert it in the tyre hole then turn it like a normal screw. It will fit in and get to the other side. Turn the tyre upside down and add the nutt to the eye bolt.

You’re done with the basic preparation of the tyre. We now have to look at the rope side.

Step 2 – Get the rope and hooks ready

One word of caution first: do not underestimate the length of rope you need and start cutting it to “the right length”. It will take some experiment to find out the best length for yourself. I would recommend you over-estimate the length you need: you can always adjust it using a knot (not cutting it necessarily) and if someone else borrow it… adjust it for that person (although anyone serious would either have their own tyre and rope or their own rope). Every time you step forward, the tyre is pulled forward by the rope. The hook point at your waist is higher than the tyre on the ground, which means you will pull the tyre up at every steps. If the rope is too short the tyre will bounce and if you run as oppose to walk, the bouncing can be more pronounced. For my own case, I had a long rope that I initially shorten the rope (not cutting it !) so that it does not bounce when I was walking then realised that when I was running it was bouncing too much. I then lengthened it so that also for running it would not bounce.

Attach on the waist side, attach the chain link to the rope and do a knot to secure it. You need to do a secure and tight knot. Best was to look at the internet, you can find anything ! One amazing site I found to teach you “how to tie the knot” is http://www.animatedknots.com. The site features all kind of knots you want and classify them by type of use.

For our rope, first burn the extremity to harden the sides and ensure that your rope won’t fall into pieces later on. Then we need to do a halyard hitch knot. Below how to make that knot, courtesy of animatedknots.com:

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If the knot is too complicated, you can also do a more basic Noose knot.

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On the other side adjust the length of rope you need and do another halyard hitch knot to the boat snap. The excess of rope needs to be put along the rope and you can secure it using a Rolling hitch. This knot is nice because part from being robust, it slides along the main rope (the red in the example):

 

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The final result should be something like this. Next is to hook the boat snap to the weight lifting belt. I prefer to attach it to something metallic if you have.

The part with the boat snap hook will be located on your back side, while the bigger part of the belt will be in front to distribute the forces due to pulling onto your abs.

Step 3 – Decorate your tyre !

Not really but if you are planning to go run with your tyre on open roads, you need to make sure people can see it. I usually would go run with some friends and early morning when the traffic is light. However being night and with little public lighting, you need to add some reflective tape onto the tyre to make it visible and also on the rope itself. One bike blinker attached to the tyre is also a good idea (although I have not done it yet).

To add reflective tape, you will need:

  1. A roll of reflective tape 3M or similar
  2. Some tape (for the rope)
  3. A proper stapler (not the desk one for paper)
  4. A pair of scissors

Stick the reflective tape on the tyre, along the mid section. This section will not be in contact when the tyre is being pulled. You can basically have 3 layers max depending how large is your reflective tape. Once applied the tape needs to be secure on the tyre, that’s where the stapler is required. Put as much staples as needed to secure your tape.

For the rope, you basically have to roll the the reflective tape along the rope. The traditional tape is used for the 2 ends to secure the extremity of the reflective tape. Be generous in those areas to make sure it will remain in place. The end result will look like this. Again the goal is VISIBILITY in dark areas.

Bonus: adding weight in the tyre

The easiest way of adding weight to the tyre is to add bricks inside. The bricks fit quite well and hold – mostly – in place. To secure them (I lost quite a few – luckily on closed roads – due to vibrations with holes, bumps, … I added some plastic and staple it on the side of the tyre to keep the bricks inside.

Some other ideas

I had to do some bike tyres for my kids who wanted to try to pull one for fun and I didn’t want to invest in all these as I wasn’t sure they would use them much… So here’s what I did:

  1. Get a used motorbike tyre
  2. Drill a hole
  3. Pass a small thinner rope I had from some old packaging into the hole
  4. Make a big knot (2 to 3 times) inside the tyre – nothing much sophisticated here -.
  5. As replacement of weight-lifting belt, I used a recyclable cloth bag, cut in half. At the bottom I tied the rope then the kids tie the handles on the front.

I have also seen on the internet people drilling a hole in the middle of the weight lifting belt and wearing it like a normal weight lifting belt. They have a knot inside the belt to hold everything. Some are then passing the rest of the rope around the belt and putting the knot back on the rope. I doubt this is comfortable though. No children were harmed during the process and the dad had to pull the tyre after 400m… !

Conclusion

Pulling a rope is great exercise to complement your training and make you stronger. There are bug variety of exercises that can be done to work out your endurance, running form or explosive power. More in a future post.


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