TRAINING FOR AN OBSTACLE COURSE RACE
There is a Bible verse (in John 9) that seems a bit contradictory until you gain a better vision. “He put mud on my eyes…and I could see.”
These words came alive for me last year. After one of the bootcamps I do in my local community, a client came to me and said, “I found something right up your alley.” He was talking about the Spartan Race – an obstacle course race with mud, walls, barbed wire, fire, and did I say mud? Getting mud in my eyes (literally), helped me to see a completely new way to train and enjoy fitness.
The Spartan Race tag line is “You’ll Know at the Finish Line.” This is so true. Sometimes you have to experience something to really understand it. Just talking about it or trying to explain it to a friend would leave you walking away shaking your head because of your lack of adjectives. For this month’s Training Department article, this topic deserves more than just words on a page. I took on my second Spartan Race (4th mud run/obstacle course race overall) last weekend and brought along a video camera to bring the experience to you. http://youtu.be/oGHZkBOUezM
THE QUALITIES OF A SPARTAN
After an obvious question of “What did you think of the race?”, I asked participants to share how this type of event carried over and affected their spiritual, professional, and social lives. The answers were stunning. These interviews define what the Spartan Race is all about, but they go a little deeper. If we are on a fitness and faith journey, it is inevitable that there will be difficulties. Success will require each of these following attributes:
A Spartan is Disciplined
A Spartan Busts Through Limits
A Spartan is Committed
A Spartan Inspires Everyone Around Them to Be Better
A Spartan Adapts and Attacks
A Spartan’s Training and Preparation is an Anchor in Their Life
Here’s a great recap of the event from the Spartan Race video team
HOW TO TRAIN FOR THE SPARTAN RACE AND OTHER MUD RUNS
The best training approach for a Spartan Race is to show up to your local park and go! Be willing to explore on whatever is available. I scoped out a local park for our Team John 9 to practice that had water, trails, playground equipment and other obstacles to simulate what the Spartan Race might throw at us. Here is one of our most memorable training sessions:
- Run .1 mile to picnic tables – alternate crawling over and under (8 tables).
- Run .2 miles to playground area – go across monkey bars, climb small wall, slide down the slide, back to monkey bars for 10 leg raises while in partial pull-up and 25 push-ups. Climb on the outside of the equipment back to the slide.
- Run .2 miles to small lake- walk knee deep around the edge for about 30 yards, go under a log.
- Flutter kicks and dollies (ab challenge) – 25 reps
- Run 1.5 miles on the mountain bike trails – stopping every quarter mile to do a balance walk on a tree that is down, perform walking lunges on the trail, or push-ups.
- Pop off the trail onto a soccer field. Partner up and carry each other to mid-field and switch. Run to the bleachers and climb up the chain-link back and over to the front. Dips on the front bleacher – 25 reps
- Run .1 to the rock ditch. Dig out two rocks of similar size and “pinch grip” carry them (hand on top of rock pinching it) to the end of the ditch and back.
- Run .1 back to my truck and get out the sled and kettlebells – carry them up to the soccer fields and alternate doing hand-over-hand sled rows and kettlebell swings. Everybody has one giant set of each and we return them to my truck
- Run .1 to a small playground and bearcrawl over the monkey bars and do Bulgarian Split Squats on the park benches.
- Run .1 to our cars, pray, high-five, and go home!
I am not a distance runner, so I knew I needed to improve my endurance. However, I found that when I just went for 4 to 6 mile runs, there was no carry-over to the practice runs like I described above. This makes perfect sense because of the SAID principle of training. SAID – Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand. Spartan Races are not straight runs. They force you to run, stop, be strong, balance, coordinate, go fast, go slow, etc. For that reason, I highly recommend a protocol like above as opposed to running one day and doing obstacles another day. That strategy is fine for general fitness, but is not optimal for preparing for an obstacle course race. Our “Team John 9” is tackling the Spartan Beast (10+ miles) in October, so perhaps there will be a part 2 later in the year!