I’ve been wanting to do this blog post for a while. Let me preface this post with this – by no means am I an expert on the subject matter. I’ve struggled my way through my first trifecta. I don’t claim to have all the answers or have foolproof methods that will work for everyone. What I do have is an amazing group of Spartan friends in the Spartans of the Northeast Facebook group and the Spartan Parents Facebook group that were gracious enough to contribute some tips and tricks that helped them along the way. Maybe these tips will work for you, maybe they won’t. There isn’t really a tried and true method to completing your first Spartan race. You can train your rear off and still not finish for any number of reasons (although training your rear off is an excellent idea). Some of these tips and tricks might be a good starting point to hone your game for your best chance of that Spartan medal. Each bullet point is a helpful hint from a fellow Spartan.
- Gel packs and mustard packs – mustard contains acetic acid which helps the body produce acetylcholine. A lack of acetylcholine is what causes cramps. You will often see racers with mustard packets to help with cramping.
- Hydrate extra and take immunity supplements the weeks before the race – this could lessen the risk of cramping
- Be silly! Sing songs! – have fun! Distract yourself when things get rough!
- Make deals with yourself – sometimes giving yourself something to look forward to and reward yourself with if…no….WHEN you finish can be beneficial.
- Try out everything before race day! – you don’t want to wait til race day to find out your shoes give you blisters or you don’t like the way the seam of your shorts chaff you. You don’t want to find out your pre-race meal doesn’t taste well the second time around. You want to be confident on race day that you are prepared and bringing your best!
- Never underestimate the race – just because you have completed _______ doesn’t mean you’ll automatically do well. Each race can be different and unique and more importantly, YOU could feel different on that day. Be humble, be confident, but be prepared.
- Treadmill and track running is not the same as hill running on mountainous terrain – work trail running into your routine. Your ankles, quads, and calves will thank you and so will your confidence when running on varying elevations and jagged rocks. Stability is a good thing.
- Train in wet clothes and shoes – clothes that are comfortable dry may not be comfortable wet, same goes for shoes. Your shoes might not drain as you hoped they would.
- Train the same muscle groups til exhaustion, then train them some more – make yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable. You’ll add a lot of muscular endurance this way.
- Learn the J-hook or S-hook method of rope climbing – Learning these methods can save you upper body strength by using your legs to drive up the rope. There are a ton of YouTube videos on this.
- Don’t be afraid to look “stupid”, try every obstacle and give it your all – there are people of all shapes and sizes doing these races, there will always be someone to encourage you, support you, or help you where needed. The only way you’ll know if you can complete an obstacle is if you try. You might surprise yourself.
If there is anything I’ve learned personally from running marathons and Spartan races is that your mind will give up LONG before your body does. Don’t underestimate what you are capable of. Also, incorporate some type of weight training into your routine. Running will be great for overall endurance but won’t help a whole lot halfway across a set of monkey bars or hoisting a heavy sandbag straight off the ground. Preparedness is key and run with your heart.
A big thank you to all the Spartans that contributed to this post. A huge AROO goes out to you! Keep in mind that the Spartan Race website at http://www.spartan.com has a ton of videos and articles in their training section, some of which are obstacle specific. Check those out! They are very helpful!
My hope is that at least one of these tips might help someone cross that finish line or complete something they never thought they could. I know my fellow Spartans that contributed feel the same way. AROO!