First off: What is a Spartan Race?
Turns out, it’s a lot of fun. Well, maybe not while you are doing it in some cases, but that’s a good word for it when you look back at it. A Spartan Race is a challenging race full of different obstacles meant to test your entire existence. Each location and race is different, even if they are in the same location as the year before. It’s a muddy adventure that can really push your limits!
These races generally come in three different distances:
- Sprint/Stadion: 3-5 miles with 20-23 obstacles
- Super: 8-10 miles with 24-29 obstacles
- Beast: 12-14 miles with 30-35 obstacles
- Ultra: Their biggest race clocking in at 50 kilometers / 30+ miles and 60 obstacles
Each race is filled with various challenges, like climbing ropes, crawling under barbed wire, and carrying heavy sandbags. The biggest challenges on the course are usually the terrain themselves.
In some places, you are running a lot of stairs. In others, you are running a lot of mountains. Regardless, you will find something at each race that is challenging, especially if you signed up for a Spartan and didn’t do any race training.
Why I Signed Up for My First Spartan Race
Honestly, I have no idea.
That’s a lie.
I know exactly what happened. I ran a Tough Mudder years ago, way back before the world ended in 2020. My buddy and I ran an 8 mile race and we did alright. Took us about 1.5 hours or so. We got fairly dirty, but otherwise it went well and I always thought about doing another.
Fast forward a bunch of years and one extended end of the world meltdown period for society and everything is roughly back to normal (except the economy). I love a good challenge and lift 5 days a week, plus a few assorted runs of various distances thrown in.
I had seen a lot of Spartan ads come up and had tossed around the idea all summer but didn’t actually sign up until I got emotionally manipulated by one of their emails about price increases and a promo code expiration.
Went on their site, found the nearest race that wasn’t in a stadium or a ‘measly’ 3 miles.
Turns out the race I signed up for was a half marathon on their hardest course, but I didn’t know that it was their hardest course until much later. I’m not a quitter and had already told people I signed up so I couldn’t back out of it.
I got the usual, “why don’t you just ask for a refund” from the unsupportive people in the family circle but they just don’t always understand my need for a challenge.
Get Ready, Get Set… Prepare!
As someone who works out quite a bit, I knew that you need to do some sort of preparation for every race or competition you sign up for. I was in the Marine Corps for years, so a lot of the obstacles looked easy enough, my main issue was the distance and terrain.
So, I set out to build myself a prep cycle to help ensure I was able to cross the finish line.
This is going to be an overview of what I did, what I would change up, and what you can do for Spartan race training.
It was my first Spartan, so these are my thoughts with only that experience.
A lot of what I did can be found in greater detail throughout the rest of this blog.
Signing Up and Setting Goals
If you are anything like me, choosing which Spartan to sign up for can feel kind of like being in a candy store. Lots of stuff to choose from! But, how do you pick the right one?
Sprint, Super, Beast, or Ultra:
Every Spartan Race offers a different roller coaster of fun and challenges. Here’s a quick breakdown to help you decide:
Sprint: This is the shortest and easiest Spartan Race. If you help are new to obstacle races or just starting to get fit, this could be perfect for you!
Super: This race is longer and has more obstacles than the Sprint. If you’ve been working out for a while and want a bigger challenge, go for Super!
Beast: This is the Spartan version of a half marathon. If you’re a fitness guru looking for a monster challenge, the Beast is calling your name!
Ultra: This is the longest race Spartan offers, clocking in at over the length of a full marathon. If you want a major “I did that” card, choose this.
The only wrong choice here is overestimating your capabilities. Pick what sounds like fun, but also what you know you can finish. Do some appropriate Spartan race training and you will finish.
Assess Your Fitness Level and Set Goals
Before you start training for anything, it’s a good idea to figure out where you are fitness-wise. This way, you can set realistic goals and track your progress. Maybe you want to complete the race without stopping, or perhaps you aim to conquer a specific obstacle. Maybe your entire goal is to just finish the race no matter how long it takes. Set some goals that will guide and motivate you to train hard and do your best.
How do you assess your fitness? Do some benchmark workouts. How far can you run without stopping? How long can you do a dead hang? A good thing to test would be if you can lift 60lb sandbags and carry them for a certain distance.
Push yourself and find your limits.
Timeline to Race Day
Once you’ve chosen your race, figured out where you are physically, and set your goals it’s time to make a plan! Creating a timeline leading up to the race will help you prepare effectively. Start by marking race day on your calendar, and then work your way backward, planning your training weeks in advance.
Plan on starting your training at LEAST 3 months out. That will (hopefully) give you enough time to get yourself in enough shape to run through the race and complete it.
As I had already been working out for literally years prior and could run a decent distance I gave myself about 2 months to train specifically for the race.
And, just like any competition prep, as you build towards the date you want to build the difficulty of your training up until about 1.5 weeks before the race and then taper is down to almost nothing in the final days leading up to the event.
Spartan Race Training and Prep
Once you’ve signed up for a Spartan Race, set some realistic training goals, and built out a timeline guess what? It’s time to start training! Where do you start? Glad you asked.
Incorporating Various Workouts to Improve Overall Fitness
My Formula for completing this race: Cardio + Strength + Flexibility
Just like your diet needs a good mix of lots of different foods, your training regimen needs a good mix of different training types in order to be successful. Unlike a road race where you can train by running a bit further than the race as fast as you possibly can, or bodybuilding where you needs to focus on muscle size, OCR (Obstacle Course Races) require solid cardio, good grip strength, a lot of endurance, and a good mix of various muscles other than your legs.
Cardio: This is all about getting your heart pumping so you can run those trails, stairs, or mountains. Toss in some running, biking, burpees, rucking, or biking to your routine. If you have a stair master, that also works. Use it.
Strength Training: This will help you power through the obstacles. Do a lot of compound lifts, isolation work, and grip training. The stronger your muscles are, the better prepared you will be. Notice I didn’t say bigger, just stronger.
Flexibility: Stretching can help you avoid injuries and recover faster from workouts. Do some dynamic warmups before and yoga or simple stretches after your workouts.
Ensuring you are a well-rounded in your training will help you finish the race without issue.
Focusing on Obstacle-Specific Training
Spartan Races have a lot of unique obstacles, so it’s not just about running as I have alluded to, but also some additional training. If you have access to any of the obstacles you will encounter, do them at least a few times prior to race day so you are familiar with how to beat them.
Rope Climbing: Practice this at a local gym if you can. Most CrossFit facilities have them, but others may as well. If you live on, or have access to, a military base you may also find them there. Practice your technique getting up the rope as quickly and safely as possible.
Wall Climbing: This can be tough, but it’s a post-apocalyptic survival skill! This one might be hard to find outside of the aforementioned military base, but some gyms may have them available if you can find one. Occasionally, you may also be able to find a Parkour park or other recreational area that has one available as well.
Carrying Heavy Objects: Pick up and carry heavy things. Anyone can do this. A bag of rocks, a sandbag, all your grocery bags, a log. Whatever you have, use it. This will help you get ready for sandbag carries and bucket brigades!
Listening to Your Body and Avoiding Overtraining
Remember, rest is also a part of training! If you feel too tired or you are in pain, it’s OK to take a break. In fact, if you don’t you might not be the smartest person. Giving your body time to recover will make you stronger in the end. Listen to your body. You only have one, so you have to take care of it.
Signs of overtraining can be found: HERE.
The Spartan is just a race, and not worth you really hurting yourself to prep for. If you need the time, take it. Then get back on the bus when you are better.
Physical training for a Spartan Race is super important. But, did you know that your mind needs a workout, too? Let’s talk about how to get mentally tough, visualize success, and overcome anxieties!
Building Mental Toughness and a Positive Mindset
Becoming mentally tough is just like building a muscle. You need to do it, and do it repeatedly, in order to get there. I’ve always ‘enjoyed’ doing the hard things. Maybe it stems from childhood when I was terrified of being singled out or having the focus on me. Perhaps it is from when I was younger and was never someone others associated with the guy who can do things.
I always preferred to watch others do it because I was terrified of others watching me. Until high school when I joined the wrestling team. You can’t get more point of focus than that sport.
After high school I chose the Marine Corps because it was the hardest branch to join with the greatest reputation and the best uniforms.
You can’t help but build mental toughness when you choose the hardest things and then push through them when you really want to quit. Wrestling is painful. The Marine Corps will break you down and rebuild you. Running a mountain in an OCR can destroy you mentally if you are not prepared.
If you plan on running a Spartan, this is not a part of the training you should avoid. Here’s how you can start getting in the proper mindset to finish the race regardless of how much you are going through or how much it hurts:
- Create a “can-do” mantra – this is a simple, positive phrase you repeat to yourself when things get hard. Like “I am strong!” or “I’ve got this!” Perhaps you are like me and just tell yourself that you can’t go home without finishing whatever you are doing (without an actual legitimate reason like injury, of course) and look others in the eye.
- Practice gratitude – find something to be grateful for each day. Maybe you’re grateful for your muscles for getting you through that tough workout! Or having the ability to even attempt something that so many people choose to never try.
- Stay positive – try to focus on the good stuff, even when the workout is tough or life gets tricky. If you let your brain quit, your body will follow. Mentality is everything when it gets tough, and you cannot let the brain win. It will quit far before your body will, and trust me, if your brain keeps going, your feet will follow.
Visualizing Success in Tackling Race Obstacles
Visualizing yourself successfully tackling the race obstacles is a hidden gem of a trick. Picture yourself running up to an obstacle, conquering it, and continuing onto the next one. Really take the time to feel it. Visualizing each and every obstacle and running through how you will tackle them can pre-wire your mind to automatically know what to do when the time really comes to knock them out. This is an underrated aspect of Spartan race training
Overcoming Fears and Anxieties Related to the Race
Nervous about the race? That’s normal. If you weren’t nervous, it wouldn’t be worth the challenge would it?
Here are a few tips to help:
- Educate Yourself: Learn about the race – the course, the obstacles, the rules. The more you know, the less there is left to the imagination to worry about. Research everything about the elevation gain, course spread, and, if possible, how many people did it last year. Knowing as much as possible can help alleviate the worries while also training accordingly, which is another way to reduce the nervous jitters.
- Train Well: Depend on your training. You researched the course and know everything there is to know about it. You modified your training to conform to what you will encounter. Your body knows what to do because you practiced for the real thing. Cops do this. Military does this. Doctors do this. You do this, and you will do well.
- Breathe: Deep, mindful, calming breaths can help reduce the jitters and focus your mind.
Remember, it’s supposed to be fun. You are capable of way more than you know. You just need to prove it to yourself. That is literally the entire point of the race.
Nutrition and Hydration
Training for a Spartan Race is hard. The race is hard, but it is only one day. Your training needs to be on point and ongoing for awhile before race day. Prepping for the race should also have you prepping nutritionally. Your body needs the right fuel in order to put in the work ahead of, and during, the big day.
Balancing Energy Intake with Workouts
To keep your body fueled up for training, you want to strike the right balance between eating and exercising. Training for the race is no time to be on a calorie deficit, unless you are trying to lose enough weight to finish to race. Remember, a lot of these races are either on tough, hilly (mountainous) terrains or have a LOT of stairs in them.
Moving through the course needs a LOT of energy, but it also needs a manageable weight that you can pull up and then back down the course.
The key is to balance energy input (eating) with training/race day needs. I have written an entire piece on how to eat enough without going overboard: HERE
Here are some quick tips:
- Listen to Your Body: If you’re hungry, eat! But try not to eat too much right before a workout. Pre-workout should consist of a good carb/protein mix about 1.5 hours before the workout. If you plan on working out longer than 45 minutes, having a snack mid workout is acceptable, provided it is small and is something like a banana or other quality simple carbs for energy.
- Go for Quality: Fill your plate with healthy, tasty foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. This should be everyone’s standard meal layout, but we live in a western culture. Most people’s dinners aren’t the highest quality, and are void of most nutrients.
- Timing is Key: Try to spread your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day so your energy stays steady. 3 meals a day is great if that is all you can swing, but if you can do more. Personally, I shoot for 4-5 smaller meals each day.
Importance of Hydration Before and During the Race
Drinking enough water is just as important for your body as eating. Without water your body cannot properly process nutrients, remove toxins, or operate effectively and efficiently.
But, water isn’t the only name in the game when it comes to an active lifestyle. While water is fantastic and should form the basis of your liquid intakes, heavy sweating and excessive water can flush out electrolytes from your body which can also negatively impact your performance. Include QUALITY sports drinks and a good mix of hydrating electrolyte powders into your daily routine if you need them.
Here’s how to stay hydrated like a champion:
- Drink Water Every Day: It’s important to drink water even when you’re not thirsty. The old mantra of a gallon a day is great IF you can swing it, but don’t forget to also throw in electrolytes occasionally.
- Carry a Water Bottle: This will help you remember to sip on water throughout the day. I have a bottle I carry with me everywhere I go. Helps to get the water in during long car trips or while at work.
- Race Day Hydration: During the race, stopping at water stations and drinking water can make a big difference in how you feel and perform. I would also encourage you to bring a CamelBak filled with water or electrolytes during the race IF you need it. Personally, I would recommend carrying one for anything over 6 miles or 1.5 hours of exercise depending on water station spread.
Race Day Nutrition Tips
In the lead up to the big day you can do some cool advanced nutritional things if you want such as carb cycling and pre-loading in order to ensure you have stored energy for the race. However, when the big day finally rolls around the rules change slightly.
To make sure you’re properly fueled for your race, follow these tips:
- Eat a Good Breakfast: Choose something that’s easy to digest, like oatmeal or toast with peanut butter. MAKE SURE you eat this about 1.5 hours prior to the start. No one wants to be running with a heavy belly. It’s just not fun, and if you barf you lose all that potential energy.
- Snack Wisely: Bring some easy-to-eat snacks like energy gels or fruit for during the race, if needed. I’d recommend you bring a few gels, fruits, or energy snacks for anything more than 6-8 miles. Alternate consuming them every 2-3 miles or as needed. Experiment around to see what schedule works for you, but running out of energy on the course is NOT fun and can cost you a lot of time.
- Celebrate with a good meal: After the race, treat yourself to a well-balanced meal. Or a chicken sandwich, some fries, a large second meal from somewhere on the way home, and then everything in your kitchen when you get home (if you can walk, of course). I’m not joking here. If you run anything more than 3-5 miles on a mountain you WILL be hungry. Eat what you need that night and jump back on track in the morning. Your body will burn a ton of calories during the race. Just focus on getting in enough protein and try to focus on whole foods as much as you can.
You are what you eat, so choose wisely! Prepping for the race properly with quality nutrition is important for results. Nutrition is indeed part of your overall Spartan race training.
Dress for Success: Gear and Clothing
What do you wear and bring on race day? From shoes to clothing and essential gear this can be daunting, and it starts far before race day. Training how you fight is a real thing, so whatever shoes/clothing you plan on wearing, wear similar during training as much as possible. Shoes, socks, pants/shorts, and shirt can all play a major role in how well you do during the race.
Remember, to research the course so you can prep accordingly.
Choosing the Right Shoes for a Spartan Race
Picking the right shoes is incredibly important. You don’t want any slips or trips while on the course, after all. Once you know what to expect on the course you can move towards shoes that will help you get through it. Remember, some courses are flat with a lot of stairs and others are rocky, mountainous terrain. A lot of them have a good amount of mud in them as well. The proper shoe is a huge deal.
- Tread: These should be comfortable, properly supportive, and have good grip for tackling whatever terrain you encounter. You probably don’t need shoes with big lugs in order to tackle a flat course full of stairs, but you absolutely do not want flat road running shoes to tackle a mountain full of steep inclines and mud. Match the tread to the terrain.
- Toughness: Make sure the shoes are tough. You don’t want them falling apart mid-race. My soles fell off mid-crucible back at boot camp and I had to keep going to the next break before I could change them out. Not a good time. Additionally, if you are on a rocky terrain you might consider front bumpers and tough siderails/bottom panels to keep your toes from hitting rocks or jagged rocks from poking your arches. That hurts and can potentially ruin your day.
- Fit: Choose shoes that fit just right, not too tight and not too loose. You should be able to wiggle your toes but you don’t want your foot slipping around inside. That is how you get hot spots and other really, really bad things that can ruin your day.
- Heel-Toe Drop: This is the difference between heel and toe height while in the shoe. Lower heel-toe drop encourages mid-fore foot striking more than heel striking. This aspect of shoe can make or break your performance. Find a quality shoe store and ask them to help you decide on this.
- Socks: Yes, this is somewhat different than shoe selection but they play together. Do NOT think that everyday socks are appropriate for these races. Invest in quality running socks that can compress/support your feet/arches properly. Also, ensure you do some trial runs with your chosen socks/shoes prior to the race day to make sure they play well together and are comfortable.
Selecting Appropriate Clothing
Next up, let’s talk about clothing. Believe it or not, you need to put some effort into this. Some materials are good for distance, others are good for warm weather but not cool/cold weather. Still, others are good for wet weather. Take some time to invest properly here.
- Material: Skip cotton. Why? When cotton gets wet, it stays wet! Wet is heavy, and it can slow you down. Plus, you want to shed that water because of temperature. Being wet is fine while the temperature is warm/hot, but most of these races aren’t warm, especially the ones with big mountains. Remember, the temperature at the base might be in the 70s, but once you hit that 1200ft elevation gain at Killington in the September those temps drop quite a bit and the wind is blowing. Not fun if you are wet. Look for clothes made from quick-dry materials.
- Weather Wise: Consider the weather on race day. If it’s cold, layer up! If it’s hot, lighter clothes can help keep you cool. Just make sure that you do not wear too many layers or bring excessive clothing. Play around with what you will need ahead of time. Extra clothing means extra weight, especially when you consider water obstacles and the extras getting wet.
- Comfort: Choose clothes that are comfortable and let you move freely.
- Obstacles: There are some obstacles that might not be great for shorts. Case in point, mud crawls under barbed wire. There is not a single person who will pick out the rocks from the mud before you get there. Shorts can see your legs get torn up pretty badly. Perhaps consider leggings, athletic tights, or compression pants to help protect your skin. Same goes for the Tyrolean Traverse. That can jack up the back of your legs.
- Compression: Compression gear is amazing. This type of clothing (obviously) compresses your muscles, helping with stability and increased blood flow. It is great to kickstart recovery by helping you reduce overall impact in the first place. it comes in all varieties, shorts, pants, socks, and shirts. Pick and choose what you need.
Packing Essential Gear
Apart from shoes and clothing, there is some additional gear that might come in handy:
- Hydration Pack: This could be helpful to keep you hydrated during the race, especially in hot weather. Bring it if you need it. I’d say anything over 6 miles, dependent on water station setup and weather, would be useful.
- Gloves: Some Spartans like to use gloves for better grip on some obstacles. If you have some grippy gloves, they would be helpful on the hang obstacles because the bars tend to get wet.
- Sunscreen: Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun if you need too. Probably not something you need in cooler months, and perhaps you are someone who doesn’t need it at all, but just a thing to consider if the sun isn’t your friend.
- Headlamp: Many courses, especially for the longer races that go high into the mountains, require a light source. The race I did allowed people to bring their cell phone but who really WANTS to do that and risk destroying it? Bring a headlamp in case you get stuck in the mountains in the dark. They aren’t the average suburban road after dark, either. They are absolutely dark and the divets, holes, bumps, hills, rocks, and declines just get harder to navigate when you cannot see.
Remember, comfort and practicality are key when you’re choosing what to wear and bring. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t underdo it. The extra weight needs to be balanced with extra benefits. You aren’t rucking the race. You should be running it.
Race Day Strategy Tips
The big day is here. You’re going to conquer a Spartan Race! I’ve already covered Spartan race training, equipment, nutrition, and clothing that worked for me but I have not talked much about how to actually run the race.
Pre-Race Routine and Warm-Up
Warm up. That’s legitimately an order, not a suggestion. But, before you get to the starting line, here are some things that might help:
- Wake Up Early: This gives your body time to fully wake up and allows you to eat and hydrate. Some races start at 7am, so maybe get up at 5 to have a good breakfast and get yourself mentally prepared. Your grab bag should be all set up and your clothing should be set out, so stress is at a minimal. Jut wake up, eat, mentally center, and head out.
- Good Morning Workout: A light warm-up can get your muscles ready for the action to come. Do not go hard and do not go far if you do this. Just a quick loop or two to get out some jitters. Toss in some dynamic stretching before you head out on the course as well.
- Stay Calm: Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself of all the awesome training you’ve done.
Pacing Yourself Throughout the Race
Remember, if you need to, take it slow and steady. Not everyone finishes these races quickly. For some people, just finishing is the goal. Others go for speed, but it’s important to only go as fast as you can for many reasons.
For starters, you don’t want to use all your energy in the first 20 minutes of a race. Pace yourself so you still have the energy and drive to finish. Some races are long, and most people won’t be finishing them at a record pace. If you can run, great but there will be times you need to walk. That’s fine. For me it was while pushing up the multiple inclines.
And breath. You won’t get far if you stop breathing, but you will only go a bit further than that if you breath erratically. Control your breathing with deep, slow breaths as much as you can. Breath control is a hidden gem but it will get you much further than huffing and puffing uncontrolled ever will.
Supporting Fellow Participants and Teamwork
Spartan Races are individual races, but they also are about helping others get through the race. If you aren’t in a competitive heat (or even if you are) and see someone struggling, help them out.
Cheer them on, coach them through an obstacle (physical help is a no-no in most cases), or even share your snacks if you have any to spare. Help them get through it. The world is a terrible place and people are generally unhelpful, but on these types of races everyone is helpful. It’s part of the spirit of the event.
After the Race: Relax, Rejoice, and Reflect
What you do post-race is almost as important as pre-race. From nutrition to training, to getting ready for next year, the journey continues with some important post-race steps.
Proper Cool-Down and Post-Race Nutrition
Your body has been through a lot, so treat it right. Just like with any workout, you need to take certain steps to ‘come down’ from the intense level of shock and stress you just put your body through.
Stretch It Out: Stretch your muscles gently to help them relax and recover. This should be started within 20 minutes or so of crossing the finish line before your body starts to cool down. Celebrate, hug friends/family/supporters and what not, but do not neglect the post race stretch. Take about 20 minutes to walk some cool down laps, then get to stretching. Loosen up all the muscles you just worked, from your calves that are probably burning/cramping to your quads that powered you up the hill to your hammies, glutes, and even upper body.
Hydrate: Drink plenty of water or a sports drink to replenish your fluids. Warm weather races are notorious for heavy sweating, but you lose just as much during cold weather races even if you don’t feel like you do. Drink your water, have a sports drink or two, and sip them. Do not chug. You’ll just pee it all out.
Eat Right: Refuel with a balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and some healthy fats. Have a celebratory meal if you would like, but do your best to make it at least a good mix of protein, carbs, and fats. If you take the first meal as a cheat meal, that’s fine, just hop back on the wagon afterwards and keep on training.
Celebrating Your Achievement and Sharing Your Experience
If you finished, you’ve earned the right to celebrate regardless of if you stand on the podium or not. There is a very small percentage of people who even run a 5k. Even fewer who do a 21k or a 50k and finish. Count yourself among a very small group of people. Take some pictures to remember the day, how you felt during/after, and possibly even write down your thoughts so next year when you consider signing up again you can read through them.
I told myself I was one and done at about mile 10, but here I am a week later contemplating signing up again for next year just to beat my time. Does that make me crazy? Possibly. But I have a good time.
You will get some sort of swag at the end provided you finish. Display it if that’s your thing.
Lessons Learned and Future Goals
Now, my lessons learned.
Strength training: Physically, I could easily pick up and move any of the objects I had to. My grip was on point. Walls were easy to get over. Ropes were easily climbed/pulled. Overall, the 5 days a week for strength training worked in my favor for the obstacles.
Nutrition: Nutritionally, I did pretty well. I followed a carb load cycle in the days leading up to the race, with a bit of a pull back the night before. Breakfast was small but nutritious.
Shoes: I chose the Salomon Speedcross 6s for this race and they worked like a charm. The tread was great. I saw others slipping during the inclines or while in muddy areas, but these shoes held up magically. Mud shed incredibly easy, and I can count on one hand the amount of times that I slightly slipped.
Areas to Improve
Clothing: Overall, what I chose wasn’t ‘bad’ but it could have been better. I wore a moisture wicking polyester tee and some compression shorts. The shirt was a great choice, but I may consider something a bit warmer for next year. The top of the mountain was cold and windy, and, while the shirt dried quickly, the wind tore through it. Same for the shorts. They did what they were supposed to, but the mud pits I talked about earlier ate up my knees and shins while the traverse scraped up the back of my ankle. I’ll probably shoot for compression pants next year, both for the protective abilities but also to help reduce the cold at the top of the mountain.
Obstacles: The obstacles weren’t that hard, save one. Olympus. Not really much to train for there. It’s just slippery and you have to use all upper body while your feet are slipping all over.
Cardio: One major mistake I made was only running a single 12 mile run prior to race day. I ran it well enough and thought I was good. I did not do many hills in my prep, and I did not do many truly technical trails. The trails I did run weren’t bare and easy by any means, they just did not compare to Killington. I’d recommend a LOT of cardio in the lead up, really pulling back in the week leading up to the race.
Drive in: This was my fault. I kept seeing people recommend staying nearby, but I decided the drive was doable the day of. Next year I’ll probably need to stay nearby for a few reasons. The first was traffic and check in. You can pick up packets on Friday or on your race day. Check in went slow and I had to be pushed to a later heat (along with a LOT of people because they ran out of timers), so I’d recommend picking up the packet the night before if possible. The other reason is how uncomfortable you probably will be afterwards, and nothing says cramp quite like a long car ride afterwards with little leg room.
Water/Snacks: This might have been my biggest mistake. Clothing worked, but wasn’t a game breaker. Cardio held out and I finished in a decent time even if I wanted to go faster. I did not bring a water source or any snacks. That’s a mistake. I usually run without either and do all right, and, while I hit all the water stations, it wasn’t enough and those stations did not have any electrolytes. By the end of the race I could feel myself dehydrated with very low energy levels. I’d bring some energy gels/goos and other quick energy sources, staggering them every 45 minutes or so or as you feel like you need energy.
Goal for Next Year
This year I had drastically underestimated the mountain. I thought I could easily finish in under 4 hours considering my only 12 mile run time was 1 hour 44 minutes roughly. That was a bold assumption.
I ended up finishing in 6 hours and 44 minutes, which, as you can tell, is much longer than I wanted. However, I finished unlike so many others which is an accomplishment on it’s own.
Next year I WILL get a sub-5 hour race and complete every single obstacle. That’s the goal. I’ll also shoot for an age group heat instead of open. The more competitive crowd will probably help me push through all the nonsense mentality and just keep going.
A Journey Worth Every Minute
Anytime you have the opportunity to strengthen yourself in some way and patch up weak areas, go for it. It will only make you a better human. Whether that is through Spartan race training, actually pushing through difficult situations, working on your nutrition, or generally just expanding your reporistory of experiences, it’s all for for you.
The Power of Planning and Preparation
As we’ve seen, being well-prepared can make a huge difference on race day. Spartan race training pays off. Proper clothing choices pay off. Proper strategy pays off. It all is an equation meant to help you achieve what you think isn’t possible.
Final Words of Inspiration for Aspiring Spartan Racers
To all you aspiring Spartans out there, here’s a final dose of inspiration:
Believe in yourself! If you lose hope in yourself, you won’t get anywhere. Believe you are stronger than you think, and you will be. If you visualize yourself conquering an obstacle, train properly, and believe you can get through it, you will. That’s a huge takeaway from the race, and any other difficult thing in life.
Keep pushing at whatever you want to accomplish, and you will get there.
Let Us help You Out
At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member.
Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.
We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.
The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.
Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.
Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.