Spartan Racing for Business Professionals
Context: I am a 40 year old business executive that works anywhere from 60-70 hours a week and balances a family life with my wife and 3 daughters. In an effort to live a longer healthier lifestyle I took up Spartan Racing about 4 years ago. The results have been terrific, 15 races later, I have taken off 25 pounds of weight, dropped my cholesterol by 80 points and feel much better as I can now keep up with my kids. The racing described below is not for Elite runners that are racing for time but for Competitive and Open class runners that are running to complete the race.
Spartan Racing is more than just a race, in order to complete the race it requires you to change your lifestyle – from what you eat and drink to how you build training into your already very business life. It is also very much about the team that you race with – for me I am lucky to have a consistent group of 4 guys and have other friends join us depending upon each race. The team aspect is very important as you push each other and help each other complete the obstacles and drive to the finish line – even when it feels like that finish line is nowhere in sight.
Whenever a friend is interested in joining our team for a Spartan Race, I am always asked about preparation from how do I train, to what do I wear to what should I expect. So I am writing this blog for friends that would like to race with us as well as anybody else that is considering doing a Spartan Race
Starting with race preparation: the cornerstone to any Spartan race is endurance, for me I like to run outdoors and in the couple of months leading up to a race to be doing a run once every 3-4 days. I will increase my distance from 3-4 miles to 6-7 miles and will top off between 10-12 miles a couple of weeks prior to the race (depending upon the length of the race). I also try to run on grass surfaces, run up and down as many hills as I can find on Long Island and I usually run bleachers at a local stadium.
In regards to strength training, every other day I do push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. I also increase my reps as I go until I top out at around 100 each and as many pull-ups as possible.
Spartan (Stadium) Sprint = 3miles, 20 obstacles (complete in about an hour)
Spartan Sprint = 4-5 miles, roughly 20 obstacles (takes about two hours to complete)
Spartan Super = 8-9 miles, around 25 obstacles (takes about three hours to complete)
Spartan Beast = 13-16 miles, more than 30 obstacles (takes anywhere from six to eight hours based upon location and length)
When thinking about where to start it really depends upon your level of fitness – I usually recommend starting with a Stadium Sprint at first so you can get a feel for the obstacles without getting muddy or wet. The Stadium Sprint will have you doing more stairs then you ever have done in your life, will include sand bag carries, wall climbs and more. Then graduate to a Sprint on a ski mountain so you can get a feel for running up and down mountains to go along with obstacles and will have small water and mud obstacles. The Super is a total race that will include mountain running, water swimming and the rest of the 25 Spartan obstacles. After you complete these races then the desire will build to complete the Trifecta and tackle the Spartan Beast – this is a massive race that will test your mental ability to go along with your physical ability to finish.
So what do I wear and bring to these races – each one does vary so I will list out my recommendations below;
Compression shirt – these will keep your shirt from catching on obstacles and will make it easier when getting in and out of water. I use a long sleeve shirt to cover up my arms that helps with barb wire crawls. Here is an example of one that I use – https://shop.spartan.com/collections/mens-performance-gear/products/reebok-spartan-race-performance-compression-top-mens
Compression, Mud or Board Shorts – these all work well, the mud and board shorts give you a little bit more breathing room and usually include one small pocket that you can use for energy packs. When you move up to a Beast then compression is best with a food belt and/or water pack. Here is an example of a mud short that I use –https://shop.spartan.com/collections/mens-performance-gear/products/reebok-spartan-race-performance-race-day-board-short-mens
Running Shoes – you want a shoe that is light, has some type of cleat for grip on the mountains and ultimately can recover quickly after being in the water. Reebok has done a great job with this latest version – https://shop.spartan.com/collections/mens-footwear/products/reebok-spartan-race-all-terrain-3-0-mens – The current shoe that I am using is Inov-8 X-Talon series, the water doesn’t drain as well as Reebok but they are much better at keeping out debris – https://www.inov-8.com/us/men/shoes/trail-running
Socks and Underwear – golden rule is nothing with cotton included – I use high knee socks to avoid small rocks and dirt getting under my socks. Here is another Reebok example at https://shop.spartan.com/collections/mens-socks/products/reebok-spartan-race-knee-sock-mens Here is a Under Armor underwear example https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0088IB7CQ/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Compression kneepads – I can use all the knee support that I can get – between coming down mountains and going under barb wire, I found these are the best knee pads for me http://www.amazon.com/McDavid-Pair-Sleeves-Small-MGrid/dp/B00JMLKHE2/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1436723301&sr=8-17-spons&keywords=compression+kneepads
Gloves – I do wear gloves at times during the race – for example, rope pulls and bucket carries. I have gone through many pairs and have yet to find the perfect glove. You do want something that is thin, light weight, water can easily go through them while maintaining a good grip. I use the following running glove and take them off for water based obstacles – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HS1NPOW/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Additional items, when tackling a Beast you will want a food supply – I found the flip belt to be the best accessory that you can easily carry around food bars, gel packs, etc. without interference when rolling under barb wire or climbing over walls – http://www.amazon.com/Level-Terrain-FlipBelt-Waist-X-Small/dp/B00JF9E5QC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436722076&sr=8-1&keywords=flipbelt+black
When doing a Beast you will also see a lot of people with water supplies – I have stopped using these as I don’t like to listen to the sound of water and it interferes a lot with obstacles – Camelback is the best to purchase for wearing a water supply, I will use the following small water bottle – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SE5T5E/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 – there will be plenty of water stops along the trail that you will be able to fill up.
That is everything that you could use in a Spartan race – on race day, you will also want to bring a small backpack/duffel bag with a change of clothes, shoes and a plastic bag for your wet clothes and shoes. Spartan team always has good storage on site for your bag and they also provide you with bananas and nutrition drinks and bars for after you complete the race.
That should be enough to get you started – get ready to get that strong rush of adrenaline when you begin the race and that amazing feeling of accomplishment when you are completed. You will build great bonds with your team mates as well as feel connected to the rest of the Spartan runners.