What is the Spartan Race?
The Spartan Race is an outdoor obstacle course with varying lengths of 3 – 25+ miles. It ranges from the Spartan Sprint (3 Miles), Super Spartan (8 Miles), Spartan Beast (12 Miles), and Ultra Spartan (26+ Miles). Throughout these courses are various ‘stations’ with unique physical/mental challenges that range from swimming through ice cold water or carrying sand bags upwards of 50+ lbs. These events are held nationwide almost every weekend and even expanded to overseas.
While the Spartan Race is nothing new as there are several similar events like Tough Mudder, it is the one that caught my eye and lead me to participate in my first Spartan Sprint in Malibu, CA. In fact, it was the first (but not last) event of this kind that I’ve participated in.
What can you expect?
The Spartan Race is a test of more of your mental strength versus your physical strength. If you browse the photos of participants, you can see that many people that participate are often just normal everyday people ranging from kids, adults, female, male, handicapped, and even those that are obviously out of shape. The course is meant to break you down mentally rather than physical although it is still very exhausting. While it may take you longer than others, the course itself is not impossible.
From my personal experience, the Spartan Sprint was a 3 Mile adventure through the mountains of Malibu, CA. As you know it never rains in California but with my luck it happened to rain the weekend of the event which made it a little more miserable. My obstacle course consisted of 3 miles of treacherous hiking through the Malibu Mountains where it was extremely rocky, slippery, wet, sometimes dangerous, and rugged. I initially had a fast start and quickly realized it was nearly impossible to run the course due to the inclement weather and poor conditions. Instead I paced myself with quick spurts here and there as ultimately I was competing against myself to try to finish with a fast time.
The obstacles themselves were not as bad as I had imagined. Perhaps the most difficult one was treading through an ice cold pond which shocks your body or army crawling on your knees and arms through barbwire and rocks. There were other simpler obstacles like monkey bars, carrying weighted sand bags, throwing spears, and what not. The catch is that if you fail to complete the obstacle within one try then you are required to do 30 burpees before advance to the next station.
Crossing the finish is a great feeling as most likely you will take a long time to run through the course. By then you will be damp from getting in water, extremely muddy from the terrain, bruised with cuts from rocks, etc. It’s all part of the game though.
How to prepare for the Spartan Race
From a personal training perspective, I didn’t venture too far off my current routine which is normal lifting, however, I did increase the cardio training for months prior to the event. Truth be told the Spartan Race has almost zero need for serious strength to complete the course. What would have helped tremendously would of been more of interval training or high intensity training where you alternate running and walking every few minutes. Remember that it’s nearly impossible to run nonstop because of the environment but more so because you’d have to stop anyway for the obstacles.
For those that are serious about training and health need not read this section as they know the importance of diet. For over three straight months I was on a very strict diet of lean chicken, water, veggies, rice, etc multiple times a day. After the event I treated myself to fried chicken which was an awesome meal to say the least. But use common sense and try to eat healthy, especially in the weeks leading up to your Spartan Race. Drink lots of water obviously and get good sleep since it’ll be a long day.
Tips and tricks
Go with a friend if you can or even a group of people. I went by myself but quickly learned the importance of having a friend to help motivate each other but also there’s parts where a helping hand through an obstacle would of gone a long way.
Wear good clothing. I wore what you saw pictured above but the mistake I made was wearing old shoes that were not only worn out on the bottom for no grip but also was literally falling apart. Those Vibram Five Finger shoes may have worked better walking through deep mud as my shoes kept coming off from being sucked in. Since you will be getting wet consider wearing Under Armor to stay warm and possibly protect yourself. You will get cut up so any kind of elbow/arm and shin/knee guard is extremely recommended. Trust me on that one.
Attend an earlier session. This way you can get on with your day or hang out for festivities afterwards. Some people even go through the course twice actually. The big thing is that if you go later then you may be going through the course when it is night time which is extremely limited in visibility and very dangerous.
Practice doing burpees because you’ll probably fail at a few stations which forces you to do 30 burpees. It’s not hard per say but it does get tiring after the 10th or so.
Save money by registering early or use a coupon code. The longer you wait, the more expensive you will have to pay. Either way you can save money by using a coupon code. Click here to save 10% Off any 2013 Spartan Race with coupon code “FINISH10″.
Have fun. Bottom line is you should have a blast. It’s one of those things in life where it’s the best thing you never want to do again. Hope this helped a little and see you on the other side as a Spartan Survivor.