Natalie Dau talks about how people misunderstand the Spartan Race, and how to train better for an event like this.
There is a reason that obstacle course racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It provides a unique challenge that consists of climbing ropes, carrying buckets of rocks and flying through the air on monkey bars, all while caked in mud. But what most `people fail to realise is, that at the heart of it, it’s still a running race. Amongst all those fun obstacles you still need to cover a distance from 6kms through to 42kms, which is no easy feat.
But the excitement of training to jump over a wall or crawl under barbed wire is far more thrilling to most people than going for a 10km run in the humid hot sun, so the running takes a back seat.
Having recently competed in the Spartan World Championships in the United States, this could not have been truer. A 30km course with forty-something obstacles scattered throughout (and a zero-degree swim included), there was no way a non-runner could make it up and down two mountains and navigate narrow tracks. The best in the world in this sport are all trail runners at heart for a reason (Google Jonathan Albon who just won the OCR World Championship and the Skyrunner World Series).
So what are the top 5 things you should be doing to get your training right if you intend on doing a Spartan Race?
- Make sure you incorporate enough running into your regular training. This should consist of trails, hills, and general road running. Remembering there may be long stretches of running (sometimes it can be up to 5km between obstacles in the longer races) and then the need to run faster in shorter distances.
- Add some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to get comfortable with getting your heart rate up.
- Work on your grip strength. You can never get too good at this and you’ll thank me for this tip as you are carrying a sandbag up a hill.
- Get used to being on the ground, you’ll be down there a lot in a race.
- Practice your burpees, chances are you’ll be doing a few sets of these for failing an obstacle.
And most importantly, it’s all about community so find some friends that are as crazy as you are, and drag them out to train with you. It’s always more fun sharing the pain with someone else!