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.
What I really wanted to know was how the heck do I train for something like that and how do I finish it without dying??
The truth is a lot of what we learn is learned through experience and the hard way. Lots of racers don’t like to admit that they have made mistakes and aren’t always as “hard core” as they appear to be in their social media pictures ;). Fortunately I’m not like that. If you’ve been following me for awhile you know I keep it real and share my struggles along with my successes.
I put together a list of the 5 things I wish someone had told me before I entered that first starting corral. And to help you with those burning training questions I put together an Insider’s Guide to Training for a Spartan Race – you can download it for free HERE.
Here are the top 5 things I wish someone had told me (that I will now tell you) before I hit the start line:
- 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 (see the picture above for evidence of my nasty mud covered shoes). 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.
- 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.
- 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. Plus have you ever noticed that it’s A LOT harder to catch your breath outside than it is inside?? Lesson learned: Run outside on uneven trails as much as I can.
- 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. And then I ran to the next obstacle and failed it and had to do another 30 Burpees. Lesson learned: Add Burpees into workouts regularly and to my runs.
- 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.
I took these tips even further in my Insider’s Guide to Training for a Spartan Race which you can download for FREE over HERE.
Do you have any tips that you want to share that you learned the hard way? Head over to my FaceBook community and share with us! *Ladies Only* OCR Training & Run Coaching Community.