Well it’s getting close to the Spartan race again for here in Victoria so suit up, grab your gear and head out to the bush! It’s time to run and get dirty!
For those few fitness enthusiasts who are wondering what a Spartan race is and why you should do it? Well its simple. It’s there to be conquered and for this old man, a mental, strength and conditioning litmus test to go by. That’s all really, oh and you get a t-shirt (can’t miss the ever important event t-shirt can we?) a rather cool looking medal that you receive as a participant and in true Aussie fashion, a Beer. Please don’t confuse this medal with a winner’s medal. It is simply a verification of an event you participated in and survived unscathed. Still it’s a rather cool piece to collect and shows off the accomplishment in completing this rather challenging event. For others, it’s an important keepsake to remind then how awesome they were, or something to talk up.
Spartan is a race over several challenging obstacles through muddy water, shrubs, hills, in tackling obstacles where you are required to lift heavy awkward items, lift them onto shoulders, run up and down a hill, swim across a small dam, drag a 5kg+ cement block attached to a rope, and finally climb a rope to ring the bell at the top. Phew! (and don’t forget to pose for the photo) You might even see a Kettlebell here and there!
If that’s not enough you are made to perform 30 burpees if you fail or decline the invitation to negotiate any obstacles. And believe me the burpee debt will be paid.
The training for an obstacle course is quite simple yet effective if done well. Not to be confused with easy. First of all find out what type of movements, lifts and challenges are required and get started. The first one clearly is Running. Make no mistake, this is first and foremost a running event and you need to run. The obstacles are just there to give you a rest in between your sprint bursts (a poor attempt of humor by me) until you reach your next one. So if you are too busy bench pressing instead of running, stop now and run. One element of conditioning to possess is the constant ability to carry your own bodyweight over the many obstacles, the humble chin up /pull up and its variations comes to mind. Never underestimate the ability to pull yourself up! You will need it on this day my friend. You also need to perform in lifting heavy items from the ground and with one memorable obstacle load them onto your shoulders (you are no longer at the Gym so, no one will pass them to you) and carry it for distance up and back down a rather steep looking hill. The exercises here that replicate some of these movements would be Deadlifting for the 55kg dead ball that you will find or the wimpy smaller one if you chose, Heavy shouldering with the sandbag for the carry and for us at Claudefit, a familiar dose of Kettlebell Military presses for overhead strength and shoulder stability. be aware the shoulders cop a regular beating during the day.
Another likely obstacle you will need to take on is the ever challenging rope climb, in preparation get a thick rope (Now) and find out the best way you feel getting up and back down without injury (its only required once) find a person who knows the technique and drill it often, Just a reminder that you will most likely encounter the rope climb exhausted along with wet, cold and slippery hands, be prepared. Don’t say I didn’t warn you – drop and give me 30 burpees if you fail.
Is it like tough mudder? NO. The difference is that with Spartan you are actually racing for time as the top end guys who do this seriously compete for placing that qualifies them onto more challenging races against other like minded Spartans, to ultimately find out who the best one is. Incidentally this event is growing in popularity and its getting serious within its own community. AROO is the catch-cry! With tough mudder is it’s a different event in that the promoting of teamwork is highly regarded and you are not racing the clock, you are simply negotiating the obstacles as a solo entrant or within a team structure with the view of completing the course and opting out of certain obstacles is an option. With Spartan you don’t get such benefits.
A major difference, between TM and Spartan is the pace. With TM and given the possibility that you have trained for it you could comfortably be able to set your running tempo over a 20klm course in negotiating the 20 or so obstacles. Unfortunately with the Spartan race running flat chat through the Australian bush for say 7, 14 or 21klms depending on the race type is expected. Due to the undulating terrain that you have to race through in reaching the obstacles, I’m certain your heart rate will be up, along with other competitors attempting to share the space on improving their own time.
Being prepared allows you to be focused. Being focused prevents injuries. So you either tackle the challenge, give up and do 30 burpee’s, or simply get out of the way, the young folk are coming through. Previously we older ones paced ourselves well and managed not to get run over by the younger fitter and stronger young guns running past. We are smart and have nothing to prove……yeah right.
For us at Claudefit who are tacking the Spartan race we simply factor in what’s required for the event and incorporate it into our clients particular goals. We all run when time permits, lift weights and practice the rope on a regular basis. So getting focuses on just the Spartan race is not our main objective, It’s just something we do to test us in a challenging environment and trial our overall conditioning as a consequence of the training we simply do.
General physical preparation for whatever life throws at us. In this case the Spartan race.
As they say Aroo. Now drop and give me 30.