There are so many things that I wish I had known before I got to the start line of my first Spartan Race back in August 2014.  I wish I had had someone who I could ask questions and who would share with me their honest experience.  I scoured the internet reading blog post after blog post and finding a few answers about what to wear (although some of it was definitely not good advice…see below) and what to bring.  But I never did find exactly what I wanted.  That’s why I started this blog and my FaceBook group Ladies who Obstacle Course Race – I wanted to share everything I had learned while also encouraging and supporting others in a safe community space.

Check out those shoes :0

I love to talk about obstacle course racing, especially with newbies, they are so full of wonder and excitement, it’s contagious.  I will never get tired of the look on someone’s face when they do something that they didn’t think they could do – it’s a giant smile full of pride.

I thought I would create a list of the top 5 things that I wish I had known before I hit that start line:

  1. Not to wear old running shoes:  Worst advice found online about OCR ever. I wore old runners…that I planned to throw away after like the blog post suggested.  And they would have been fine if there was no mud or hills.  But two staples at a Spartan race are typically mud and hills!  I slid down even the smallest hills and had to grab the arms of strangers and multiple rose bushes to keep from sliding backwards.  Lesson learned: Don’t wear old shoes…instead invest in a good pair of Trail or OCR shoes and clean them well after each race. 
  2. To combine my running and strength training: -Running 5k is much different than running 5k on a dirt path and hitting an 8 foot wall that you have to get up and over.  And lifting weights in sets of 3 with 2 min of rest and recover between sets is very different than carrying a heavy bucket full of rocks up and down a steep incline (after running to said incline).  Lesson learned:  Put the two together and fatigue the body in a way that mimics race conditions. 
  3. This ties into #2: Run outside because you don’t race on a treadmill or track.  That first Spartan Race was on a BMX track after it had been raining all week.  There were huge ruts and puddles and places to twist your ankle (which I did multiple times).  The uneven ground made running so much more difficult.  Lesson learned: Run outside on uneven trails as much as I can. 
  4. To practice Burpees in the middle of a workout, not just on their own.  I did 30 Burpees (the penalty for not completing an obstacle at Spartan) the night before the race and thought “I’m good”.  Then I got to the race, couldn’t get across the monkey bars (which were at the top of a steep hill) and had to do 30 Burpees in the dirt on the uneven ground (not the comfort of my climate controlled living room).  It was hard.  Way harder than just doing 30 Burpees on their own.  Lesson learned: Add Burpees into workouts regularly and to my runs. 
  5. That I would fall in love with the sport and community of OCR.  Ok, no one could have told me that ahead of time but it’s true.  This is an amazing community of all different kinds of people where everyone fits in and has a place.  That first race ignited a spark of passion that I thought had died – it made me want to pursue my own goals and dreams again and I realized that I really can do anything I put my mind to.  Lesson learned: I am stronger than I think. 

If you are like me and are looking to get all the information and tips you can on training, nutrition, what to wear, what to do when you get there and how to actually finish the race then join me on January 28th for this FREE 5 day pop up FaceBook group – Get Race Ready in 5 Days.  You can join us over here -> Get Race Ready in 5 Days 

Do you have any tips that you want to share that you learned the hard way?  I’d love to hear them!

Happy Racing,

Jaclyn

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