It’s been while since we ran our last Spartan race and from what I recollect it was the Spartan sprint covering approximately 7 klm’s along paddocks, , bush, shallow creeks , hilly terrain and swimming across dams all while busy running against other like minded individuals in getting to the next obstacle first in the hope of surviving it till the end. I did say the 7 klm was a sprint didn’t I? Yeah that’s what the folk over at Spartan call it.
This time around we are back wiser, ready to go and I guess since I promote myself as a fitness trainer are more prepared than our previous race. However the test this time in training for this event is a mere 14klms, twice the fun I reckon. Ask me at the end and I will most likely tell you it was twice the torture. Depends on your point of reference I guess.
Here is a quick summary of the training (suitable for the recreational participant) and an overall approach we have taken in preparation for this challenging and very much and enjoyable event. Let’s tackle the individual components that you need to cover in order to make it through safe, injury free and able to enjoy the post event celebration knowing you met the challenge and got though unscathed. AROO!
The Running part
First and foremost this event like most obstacle events is predominantly running. That’s right, Running and lots of it. Given any Spartan race it easily takes up 80% of the effort required in getting across the line for that coveted event t-shirt , participant medal or for some it’s the hard earned beer waiting for you after crossing the finish line.
This is the single component that usually gets to most of the participants. Not the Burpees because people cheat on them. You need to be able to run and run well as you can’t cheat 14klms.
The undulating nature of the course requires you to adapt to the terrain and if you are not familiar with trail running you will suffer as I speak from personal experience. In last year’s 7klm spring Spartan I already had a solid road running base of 40-50klm average a week in addition to my weight based workouts. Unfortunately my over excitement and lack of understanding of the course basically blew my running motor within the first klm and took me another 2 klms before I recovered, ran with composure and settled into pace all while having to tackle the obstacles as they presented themselves. although I managed respectable time, I knew that I could have prepared better. Rookie mistake.
Our solution: We have now been running trails on a regular basis and have become familiar with this type of running and will now tackle the longer event with a bit more experience and focus on keeping a solid pace and negotiating the obstacles with minimum energy expenditure. (Yeah, we did the work) A solid 8klm + run would be ideal as a minimum base to finish the course ,( expect to walk) however if you are keen and well planned a Road base of 10 klm plus with a few trial runs thrown in would just get you by.
If you are fortunate enough to be close to a trail, I suggest you tackle it often.
Weight training & Conditioning
This time around we have focused out attention to preparing the body for the assault as opposed to preparing for the obstacles on an individual basis. Why? It’s better to focus on preparing your own body in getting stronger, fitter and resilient to be able to withstand the challenge than simply focusing on one or two obstacles that will come up such as the dreaded rope climb and surprisingly difficult dead ball deadlift.
Spartan has a way of throwing in obstacles that challenge the strongest and fastest regardless of the specific training you do. Better to prepare the body. Get stronger, build you grip strength, core and be able to both carry heavy and lift heavy objects and you should be fine. Spartan doesn’t release the course until the last few days of the event. It part of the appeal.
I must add that there are several standard obstacles that will be there waiting for the regular Spartan hopefuls. Look up the Spartan website for more information. www.spartan.com.au the interesting ones are the new ones that pop up. So be ready.
The focus on the major lifts was what we all (clients) trained with. We ate up lifts such as Barbell Standing military press, Bench press, Squats, Deadlifts & Bent over rows. What more can you say when you have program that involves these old school and very effective exercises. They will get you strong and prepare your strength base for life and everything else. That’s another story.
The other tools used were Kettlebells for conditioning because they work, exercises like the swing , cleans and renegade rows were a staple along with basic bodyweight movements involving the always reliable chin up/ pull up ( do both . they both work!) crawling and handstand play. For variation we chucked in Rope climbs and sandbag drills. The ability to “chuck a leg over the fence” will also be required as I find that most who don’t have flexibility with this movement find out the hard way and looks painful! You have been warned.
The bottom line is that we have been consistent and trained smart. As with most things related to fitness and OCR events the primary objective of the training should be to prepare the body to successfully complete the event. Everything else is a bonus.
Planning and application
You need to have a plan that you actually implement and you need to take the right mental application. I’ve mentioned this as I unfortunately see several individuals not complete the course due to their inability to have the will finish what they started. Experience should tell you the better you prepare for this or any other event the better it is on the day. If you turn up underdone you will make it harder than it needs to be and will most likely give up or worse , suffer an avoidable injury.
The common factor here is that sometimes people simply just turn up on the day and think because they’ll can run 5 klm around the block at home ,do a spin class, body pump and bench press on Monday they think that they will be right on the day. Spartan Races are advertised as a race and it doesn’t forgive lack of preparation.
IMO the positive’s here is that if you sign up for an event you have committed to do it. And do you should be able to do it well. Like most of my client’s requirements if they approach their goals with the proper mental application, goals like weight loss, muscle gain, strength gains and improvement in their overall fitness will happen. Funny that.
If you plan well and commit to your training, eat well and get enough rest, there is no reason for you to turn up unprepared, out of shape and put yourself through this event not quite 100%. It’s hard enough as it is being prepared so why disadvantage yourself before you get there.
As I say often to my client ( on my soapbox) whether you do a trial run, fun run, Spartan, TM or any other event. A lack of preparation will show up on the day. So plan well, implement you plan and give yourself the best opportunity to not only conquer the Spartan Course but know that you can do anything.
See you on the course. Aroo!!!
Claudefit is a personal fitness trainer based in Mill Park.