So, you signed up for a Spartan Race (or any other Obstacle Course Race (OCR) and you have no idea what to expect. Believe me; I was in that position, too. I mean, how could you know what to expect? Most of us don’t have 80lb.+ tires to practice flipping or a stack of hay to throw a spear into.
An OCR is really a test of endurance more than it is strength. Sure, you’ll have to carry a sandbag for a stretch of time or climb a rope, but being able to continue your run after accomplishing an obstacle is exactly where the test and challenge comes into play.
Below is a list of the six most important things you need to know before completely obliterating, maybe even shitting on an OCR.
- Run, run some more and run even more. As mentioned, an OCR is a test of endurance. If you sign up for a Super Spartan (9-miles), be comfortable running at least 7 miles in one go. I say I like to open a training schedule up of about a 4-month window. That way, I have ample time to incrementally work my way up to tackle 7 miles. For the last month or so, I’ll run 7ish miles at least twice a week to get my body comfortable with that kind of endurance.
- BUY TRAIL RUNNING SHOES. This one might be the most important one that I can tell you. I can’t even begin to imagine what running one of these races is like without trail running shoes, and I don’t want you to have to imagine either. In rocky, muddy terrain with minimal traction, your feet will hate you if you don’t have the proper grip. Also, that’s simply something you don’t want to have to deal with while you’re already tackling a 3-mile, 9-mile or even 12-mile race.
- You don’t have to run the entire race length beforehand. It might seem counterintuitive, but I come from the train of thought that running an entire race length beforehand is not necessary. When I did a 9-mile race, the most I would consistently run in one go was about 6-miles. I believe that if you’re comfortable with 70% of the race length, your adrenalin will carry you through the rest of the race.
- Race as early as possible. One of the biggest mistakes I see newbies make is the time that they choose to race. I’ve always done races on the early side (usually 8AM). I’ve done a few races in Las Vegas, NV and have always wondered how insane some of the people are who do the races at even 11AM and beyond. The heat is brutal and it’s not worth expensing energy on the weather. You’re already running a ton and working through x-amount of obstacles, so why add another level of inconvenience to your race?
- Stretching is your best friend. Make sure that you get to the race site at least an hour to an hour and a half before your start time; you don’t want to be rushed. It’s way nicer being able to get there with ease and allow yourself to mentally prepare. Take about 30-minutes to stretch your legs. I even like to (as crazy as this sounds) lightly job before the race. It gets your legs warmed up and ready to go once the light turns green.
- Be patient. It’s important to do every obstacle with patience. A few times, I’ve tried to rush myself through an obstacle and have completely botched it, which, we all know, results in burpees. It’s a lot easier to take a minute and patiently work through an obstacle than it is to do 30 burpees 7-miles through your race.
OCRs are an amazing accomplishment, and you should feel great about even challenging yourself to do this.