So you want to run a Spartan Race, do you?
Here is my team for the Indiana Spartan Race. I’m in the back row, second from the right.
If you are like me, then these may be some of the feelings and concerns that come to mind:
- Scared to bite the bullet and pay the $100 Spartan Race entry fee?
- What type of training do Spartans endure to prepare for the race?
- How far in advance should I prepare for a Spartan Race?
- What should I wear/bring to the Spartan Race?
- What are the obstacles and how many are there?
- I don’t run long distances, can I survive?
- Am I going to look stupid if I can’t finish an obstacle?
- Could I really die like the website says?
Well what if I told you that I survived the Spartan Race without any training other than normal trips to the gym? Weight lifting and a maximum of 25-30 minute cardio sessions are all I did. I even missed a bunch of cardio sessions the month prior to the race…
Throughout this blog post I will provide you with my thoughts and opinion on the Spartan Race Sprint. I will include all the information that I wish I had found or known prior to running the sprint.
My brother-in-law is pretty big into trail running, marathons, and endurance training. (I’ll put it this way, he made it 75 miles into a 100 mile run a week before doing the Spartan Race, only to injure his leg…)
He asked me, my other brother-in-law and some of his friends early in the year if we wanted to run the Spartan Race with him. I agreed to do it early, but procrastinated actually signing up and paying for entry until about two weeks prior to the race. (Part of me kept thinking, “I don’t usually do this stuff, maybe I should just back out…”)
I go to the gym 3-4 times a week, lift weights and do short cardio sessions, but despise running long distances. I usually do HIIT Cardio if I want to burn some calories, but if I am being honest, the 6 weeks prior to the Spartan Race, I rarely did cardio (maybe once a week) and was focusing more on weight training.
With that said, I would say that my cardiovascular endurance was fairly weak going into this race…
I had tons of questions and as the race got closer, I got a bit more nervous about running it without any training.
What Kind of People Can Finish a Spartan Race?
ANYONE! Seriously… The best part about the Spartan Race is that it really is a team race. As long as you have a good, supportive team, I have no doubt you could finish it.
There were men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes… Anyone from extremely fit people, your average joe, and even much heavier set people.
In the end, I would say that 90% of people probably finished the race. If you can walk a few miles to the grocery store and back, wearing a 35lb back pack, I think you can complete this race.
Just don’t think you will finish it fast… Those hills will take a toll on your body. It took our team 2 hours and 35 minutes to finish. The individual winner of the “Elite” race finished just under 50 minutes. (Let me just say, that time is CRAZY FAST!)
The Goal is to Just Finish the Race!
What to Wear/Bring:
- Moisture wicking shorts. Dri Fit material is great for both warm and cold. (Do not wear cotton, it will get too heavy)
- I would even go as far as saying shorts without pockets… Like these Nike DriFit Shorts!
- Getting mud filled up in your pockets sucks!
- I would also make sure that there is a good draw string on whatever you wear! You will be in and out of water A LOT!
- Moisture Wicking Shirt (Do not wear cotton)It was about 60 degrees and overcast when we ran the Spartan Race, so I wore a long sleeve, black, Nike Dri Fit shirt. If I did it over again, I would have went short sleeve.
- Spandex Underwear/Compression Shorts. Again, anything but cotton…
- Shoes you plan to donate after the race.
- They will get trashed, so make sure it is shoes that you don’t mind getting extremely dirty. I would go with something that has decent grip on the sole.
- Alternatively, I wore the Reebok Men’s All Terrain Sprint Running Shoe to my last Spartan Race and they worked awesome!
- I wore some cheap Wal Mart garden gloves with grip on the palm. They worked fine up until the barbed wire, mud hill, climb where I ended up taking them off and leaving them in the mud.
- Doing it all over, I would have worn some sort of gloves with good wet grip and straps around the wrist.
- Something like these: Mechanix Wear Original Glove
- Casio G-Shock Mudman Watch(For time tracking)
- I put my G-Shock’s claim that it was “Mud Resistant” to the test!
- Garbage Bag (for the muddy stuff)
- Complete Change of Clothes (plus shoes)
- Most Importantly, Have a Supportive Team!
- I was on a fantastic team! We all got a long great and everyone encouraged each other to do our best, finish obstacles, and lent a helping hand any time one of our team mates needed the extra help.
What Training Would I Recommend?
I did not do any formal training in order to prepare, but doing it all over again, I definitely would have done some preparation!
- Get good at burpees… If you cannot perform an obstacle, you must do 30 burpees.
- Pull Ups!
- You will have to pull yourself up ropes, climb and jump walls, so pull up strength will be beneficial.
- Run Hills!
- Run Hills!
- Yes, I meant to put running hills on here twice. I was completely caught off guard by the amount of hills we had to run throughout the course, not only the amount, but the grade of the hills were incredibly steep.
- The hills were by far the toughest part of this race, no doubt…
- Push Ups!
- Any good burpee requires a push up, so might as well…
- Kettlebell Swings!
- There is no doubt that CrossFitters would be very good at the Spartan Race. The race really reminded me of many CrossFit workouts I have seen.
- The mix of HIIT Cardio and the explosiveness of kettlebell swings would be a fantastic exercise in preparation.
- Sandbag Carries!
- We had to carry a sand bag during the race, about 100 yards down a steep hill, and then turn around and carry it back up the hill.
- High Intensity Interval Training Cardio
- There will be periods of high exertion, followed by down hill periods.
- 12 Weeks to Your Next Spartan Race Weight Training
- You can find out more about my 12 week, three phase, foundation of strength fitness plan HERE
- This 12 week plan is guaranteed to help you build the muscle/strength needed to get through every obstacle and lose that extra body fat which will hold you back!
- You can find out more about my 12 week, three phase, foundation of strength fitness plan HERE
So How Far and How Many Obstacles?
I was initially told that it was approximately going to be 3 miles or so… Well, as we were lined up to start, the announcer says, “we know this is typically a 3+ mile race, and the map says it is 4.7, but the officials just told me it is actually measuring around 5.3 miles today.”
Keep in mind, I am not a long distance runner, so the whole 5.3 mile thing was not what I wanted to hear… Oh well, time to man up…
I may end up missing some of the obstacles, but here are the ones that stood out:
- The race started with a jump into the Moats. Basically mud pits filled with water…
- We then had to jump a couple 6 foot walls, crawl under walls, and go through holes in walls…
- Then came the monkey bars…
- Possibly one of the most difficult obstacles was the 100 feet we had to crawl up an extremely muddy hill, under barbed wire the whole way! It was so muddy that you could not get good traction and the mud really held you back…
- There were numerous areas where we were trekking through the creek, falling into deep areas of water, climbing muddy mounds and then dropping into more water…
- There was an area where we had to jump two 6 foot walls, followed by a 7 foot wall, and then try to spiderman our way across a plywood wall with 2×4’s screwed to it…
- Then came the cargo net cross, climbing 30 feet up a cargo net, across a suspended cargo net, and back down the other side.
- Then came the slippery, muddy, rope climb.
- Followed by Spearman… Where we had to throw a spear into a bail of hay and make it stick.
- Then came the most difficult of trails, with extremely steep hills.
- There was a point where we had to drag a 35 pound block on a chain through a little loop course.
- We then had to use a rope and pulley to pull a weight 20 feet in the air and back down.
- Then came a grueling sand bag carry about 100 yards down a hill and then back up again…
- Tried our balance at the stump walk… No dice…
- More f**king hills… Followed by a dip back into some cold, muddy water… Which then led to a “victory run” around a lake.
- At this point I and two other guys on my team started getting cramps in our calves. It was almost the same exact time… The only thing I could think was the cold water, followed by the run started to make my calves cramp up…
- We then got around the lake and had to jump into 5 foot deep water, cross, and climb up a barbed slip wall.
- That then led to the famous “fire jump” and finished with a clash of the Gladiators who smack you with one of those giant q-tips from the American Gladiator show
After plowing your way through the Gladiators, at the finish line they place your medal around your neck, refuel your body at the banana table, and grab some water.
Now, take that free beer ticket that they gave you upon registration AND GO DRINK A BEER! You have earned it…
They do have “showers” which is just a row of garden hoses and some VO5 shampoo…
Here are some pictures of the obstacles we encountered along the way…
Looks like fun, doesn’t it??
So What Did I Think?
Once the nerves settled, I looked at the crowd and realized I wasn’t out of place, I began to feel more comfortable… Once the race started, I forgot about everything and just went with the flow. Could we have finished at a faster time if we really pushed it? Yes… But we weren’t going for time. Our goal was to finish the race and have fun! We did just that…
I had a blast! It was honestly the most fun I have had all year. I will most likely be doing more of these types of races.
Final Thoughts and Feelings?
Two members of the team Dirt Devils, Jake on the left and Myself on the right…
- You will be sore the next day!
- My calves are really sore… By far the most sore out of everything! Probably from all the hills…
- Quads are a little sore…
- Knees and elbows are plenty scraped up!
- Shoulders, Traps, and Back are somewhat sore, not too bad though…
- Have fun!
- The goal my first time was just to finish… I really didn’t care about how long it took. The next time I do the Spartan Race, I will try to beat my current time.
- Get out of the way of others!
- Some people are trying to beat a personal record. If you are holding people up, move to the side and let them by. Some people aren’t just doing this for fun…
- Eat some bananas or supplement some Taurine to help with cramps/pumps…
- Those calf cramps at the end were killer!
- It is definitely worth the ~$100! (What are you waiting for? Get $10 off a Reebok Spartan Race! Use Code: SPEAR10, Sign Up Today!
- Forget About Everything Else and Just Finish!
- The whole point of the Spartan Race is to get up when you’re knocked down and finish what you start!
- Click Here to Sign up for a Reebok Spartan Race Today!
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