Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Train for Your First Spartan Race

I completed my first Spartan race back in 2014 (full race recap here) and I had an absolute blast. I didn't really know what was in store for me and I think I was fine with being in denial. I figured I had the run part down. I knew how to run so an 8 mile run would be the easy part. I also assumed that since I was carrying around my 20 pound toddler all the time that I was set in the upper body department. Let's just say that I may have been a bit undertrained for the event. As a result of my mistake(s), I would like to offer some tips to help those of you training for your first (or second, etc.) Spartan race.

Train on hills. Not like dinky "hills" around your subdivision. As I live in the nice and flat midwest, my definitely of hills is a bit different than someone that lives in PNW. When training, go to a real trail, like a hiking trail, with sharp inclines. Do your long runs there. I'm not kidding. That is how the terrain will be on race day so why not train in the thick of it. If the terrain in training is more grueling than on race day, that will just make things seem easier, right?
Out for a run with Patsy, trying to train on some hills

Hiking in Leavenworth, WA.
We don't have this type of terrain in Illinois!

Don't Underestimate the Obstacles. Spartan usually posts photos of their obstacles the week before the race on their FB page, but check out some of the obstacles from events in other cities or events in previous years. This will give you an idea of what to expect and what to train for on race day. As a reminder, for each obstacle you don't/can't complete, you have to pay the toll of 30 burpees. Yes, 30. It eats up a bunch of time and burpees suck. I saw there were monkey bars and I thought, since I was awesome at these at the age of 9, that this would some how translate 20+ years later. Spoiler alert, it did not. I shouldn't have been surprised by this. Also, you should give every obstacle a try. Even if you don't think you can do it and you think 30 burpees might be easier, you never know what you're capable of until you give it a try.

Here is a preview obstacle from Spartan's 2014 Illinois race

Think About Your Race Day Outfit. As the Spartan super is a longer race, I was worried with what to do on race day. I ended up buying an inexpensive pair of capri pants so I could have some leg coverage for the woods. They definitely came in handy. I also opted for the short sleeve shirt versus tank top for some of these same reasons. Although the 2016 race is in June so capris and a short sleeved shirt may not be a smart option, given the probably temperatures. I also ran with an Ultimate Hydration pocket to hold a mini bottle of water and Picky Bar. If you don't wear pants with pockets, I highly recommend something like that. There is mud and water to climb and wade through. I do not recommend ziplock bags if you plan on eating these items. Get something factory sealed and if you usually only eat half, just bring 2. That opened item probably won't be good when you go to eat it later.

I don't know if I own enough green

30 burpees is a lot. 30 of any type of exercise is a lot. If you miss one obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees. There are a lot of obstacles out there. You probably will end up doing much more than 30 burpees on race day so you best be prepared. If you have to do less, that's great too. As much as they suck, practice doing burpees. That's really all there is to say about that.

Have you run a Spartan race before? Do you have any additional tips you'd like to add to the list? Is there anything I missed?

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