Obstacle course racing
It was on the eve of my next Spartan race that I was feeling typically anxious about the next day’s event. You see this time we were tackling the Spartan Beast race.( http://spartanrace.com.au/ ) A well designed challenge that entails a half marathon distance of 21klm of mostly trail running along with over 25+ obstacles spread out over the field that need to be negotiated and completed. Otherwise the price of failure is to knock of 30 burpee’s as your standard penalty. All this with no map supplied or markers indication distance covered. Spartan organisers are notorious in not providing specific race detail so be prepared. It’s part of the appeal.
Age (I’m 47) should not be a barrier, so I’m not going to be constantly reminding you of your age, I’s just a matter of continuing to do the basics over the long term and stay on track. Consistency is the key. Quite simply, I’ve prepared myself on a diet of Trail running supported by an all over simple strength training program and complimented along the way with regular mobility and stretch drills. And i do mean regular! It pays to get the body resilient enough to endure the Beast run. For us older runners we need to take into account the additional recovery cost when planning for these types of events. We need more time resting, not smashing ourselves with the typical fitness industry thinking of go hard or go home. Take this approach and you will definately be staying home – broken.
It’s been a long process along the way with plenty of running and general physical conditioning in prepping for this unique event. Previously we have tackled the shorter sprint event of 7klm (yeah they call the 7klm option a sprint) and then progressed over to the super which is their 14lklm version. One thing is for sure, they are both challenging in their particular ways.
Sleep / Recovery
I’ve made this point first as this is a critical part of the plan for everyone so I cannot stress it enough when it come to the older folk. I manage to get the standard 8 hours and take a nap whenever possible (mostly weekend on the sofa while the kids are watching telly – yeah I’m also a great parent!) Sleep is one of the best forms of recovery and allows the body to repair itself from the toll it took over the day. So get some sleep, plenty of it.
Apologies to those with newborns, sleep is not an option is it?
General physical Preparation
As with most things in life preparation is the key to achieving results. You either plan to achieve or plan to fail. The previously mentioned running and supporting resistance training was kept rather basis in its approach but I was consistent in applying it to the training week. The template is as follows.
Monday – Light Kettlebell work focusing on mostly mobility.
Tuesday -10klm road – light
Wednesday – 10-15 klm Road – medium
Thursday – Pulls, press, chins, squats & core
Friday – 10klm road – medium
Saturday – Rest day (mobility)
Sunday – 20klm road/trial mix – light/medium
Spartan specific training
Over the last 3 months I’ve averaged 200klm per month of running both road and trail and kept the resistance training moderate depending on how I pulled up post runs. Unfortunately at Claudefit Personal training I’m not able replicate the 12 Ft wall climbing challenge, crawling over mud under barb wire, and climbing the new tower obstacles that Spartan rolled out on the day. My approach was simply to get the body resilient enough to cop what-ever Spartan threw at us and come out of it unscathed. It’s was just a matter of getting the body resilient, develop solid grip strength, be able to move well and turn up fit enough. Glad to report our goal was achieved. The Spartan part of the program was getting some playtime with crawling, rope climbing and bodyweight training. Basically to complete a Spartan you need to RUN, carry your bodyweight over obstacle and be flexible enough to not pull any muscles (I’m talking to you old fella) when negotiation the various tasks. The rest of any specific training is the icing on the cake. For those of you who have the time to build you own obstacle course, go for it and enjoy.
Once you arrive at the venue there are a few items that you should have packed for the event. A quick mention here as it will ensure that post event you are well organised and not suffer due to a lack of proper and adequate nutrition, dry clothing and comfort. Your race day bag/kit should have: A large towel, spare socks, jocks and shoes, warm clothing, water, muddy clothing bag, cash for food and merchandise (yeah you’ll want the beanie), hat and a proper post event meal as you will be ravenous post run. I’m been pedantic here so don’t mind me if you wish to walk around in muddy , wet and uncomfortable clothing after you have run the beast ( 21Klms) You will have enough to deal with once done – You might as well be comfortable.
My go to movement here have been a staple for several month. I’ve pinched these straight out of Kelly Starrett’s book Ready to Run. I’ve build up to 2 minutes each side with the following. Hip flexion, hip extension, and squat hold. in addition for my shoulder blades , I just hang of the chin up bar. Have also added leg swings as my only movement pre-running. This has all added up well for me as my body while still fatigued from my running no longer feels painfully stiff around the hip and legs. I simply apply the following stretches post run and on the days off I manage to increase the time under tension. It all adds up folks so make this a part of the program. It won’t feel like much when you are supple and mobile, however neglecting these will clearly show up on the day. “Don’t be that guy”
Just as important as rest. let go over nutrition.
Keep-it-simple! No fancy, expensive, special or secret eating going on here. Please keep the following in mind when preparing your meals for all you nutritional requirements. It’s just matter of balancing out the energy requirement when you exercise and not overdoing it when you are not active. In other words, only eat what you need and eat well. Post event run reward yourself with the pizza or burger if you wish. First things first. Ensure that most of your nutrition leading up to the event was wholesome, good quality and eliminated the junk.
Keep it simple plan:
Water, Protein with every meal, Monitor carbohydrates, Eliminate sugar, No alcohol, Vegetables, Some fruit and Consume good fats.
In summary you need to have a sound cardiovascular base, solid all over strength and be flexible enough to manoeuvre your body through the course. It’s just that it takes a well-planned program to achieve a good balance in getting the 3 elements to work together. As you are an older athlete I’m sure your experience will allow you to take a common sense approach and take it in well.
See you at the start line.
Claudefit is an active personal trainer who enjoys trail running and the fun of participating in obstacles races for fitness and general health. Don’t let age be a barrier and let the younger folk have all the fun. Venture out, take control and enjoy yourself all while being pain and injury free.