How to Get Through Your First Spartan Race: a Memo to Women
June 6, 2014 3 Comments
When I got to the Spartan race in Tuxedo Ridge, NY and saw little kids completing the warm- up obstacles like it was everyday playground activities, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. So I tried my hand at the warm-ups and failed. Miserably. Then, I knew, I was in for it.
I’m an average woman. Not in the best of shape, but not in the worst either. I’d go on an occasional jog when the weather is nice. Or take a few dance classes for cardio. But I’ve never done anything as serious as an obstacle race. So I put it on my “to-do list for 2014.” Thankfully I found a friend (who also doubled as my trainer) crazy enough to participate with me.
I’m not going to lie. It was the most extreme and difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I came out of it a lot stronger than I thought I was. So for all you first time women like me, who want to do the Spartan Race, here’s a few tips to get you through the day.
Dress however you like, but dress comfortably. Wear workout gear; preferably form-fitting but breathable material. And there’s also no need for makeup or any other cosmetic additions. I had to put away my big curls and rock some cornrows, because the idea of my hair getting stuck in barbwire was not appealing. Your hair is going to get dirty. You’re going to get dirty and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re prissy, it’s not for you. Also be prepared to throw away or give away your sneakers. (They have a booth where you can donate your sneaks after the race). So do not come dressed to the nines.
Bring a change of clothing. After you’ve crossed the finish line, it’s a bitter- sweet feeling. You either want to pass out or kiss the volunteer handing out bananas and muscle milk. You’re going to be wet and dirty. Trust me! That mud will take a few scrubs to fully come off. If you care about getting cleaned up or the cleanliness of your car after the race, bring a bag with a towel and a change of clothing (and kicks or flip –flops). Sure enough you can buy all these things at their store, but why spend more money when you have these things at home? Also, There are no fancy changing rooms. Just an open shower area and outdoor porta pottys.
Don’t feel intimidated about running this race. Everyone is on different levels and you can run or walk at your own pace. I learned it’s a race of camaraderie. Along the way, when I would stop to catch my breath, I had folks checking on me to see if I was okay. I was offered so many motivational words of encouragement that lit a fire in me to continue when I wanted to give up. Those people you have by your side will get you through the obstacles as well. You can run the race individually or as a team. Either way, you won’t be running it alone.
You must train, and train consistently. Two weeks to 3 months before the race is not going to cut it. You’ll be running up and down steep hills, jumping over unnecessarily high walls, carrying heavy items, and climbing high places. Give yourself time to get ready for the madness.
I was way too weak to hold my own weight. I couldn’t jump over a wall or climb the rope by myself and it’s all because I lacked the upper body strength.
The two most important things to work on : upper body strength and legs.
I cheated during my workout and never completely mastered push ups and burpees. Sad to say, you’re going to need to do these as easily as you can tie your shoelaces. Burpees will be the bane of your existence and you’ll have to do these whether or not you complete an obstacle. NO way around it! Get used to doing about 30 of these without giving up!
This is not a complete list, but your workout should include:
Lat pull downs
Cardio: 3 mile run daily or 12 min cycling pre weight training (your choice)
I wasn’t ready!!!!
And you’ll never be ready.
no amount of physical training will prepare you for the race. Yes it helps to get your body accustomed to the wear and tear it’s going to withstand, but the folks responsible for this race developed it specifically to push you farther than you’ve ever gone before. It’s an uphill battle, literally. There are times you’ll curse the mountains, and wish you never signed up for this race. You’ll want to stop more times than you’ll want to keep going. What really gets you through is your mental preparation. You have to stay in it, and know with every obstacle you complete, there is one less obstacle to get you to the finish line. Power through it knowing there’s a nice shiny medal, and some bragging rights waiting at the end of this experience.
[Note] Regardless of what you do to train, you will be sore the next day. So make sure to clear your schedule and rest up, Spartan. You’ve earned that right!
It won’t be easy. But you can get through it. You just need to build on your endurance and the will to succeed and you’ll be screaming “I am a Spartan!” in no time. Aroo!!!
Share your thoughts. If I left something out, feel free to comment and give suggestions.