If you follow me on Instagram, or you read last week’s post, you’ll know that I ran the Spartan Sprint last Sunday at Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Pennsylvania. It was my first Spartan race I have ever done. So now, I am here to offer my Spartan Sprint tips to other first-timers!
Some of these tips are things I wish I would have known before running my first Spartan, and some of these are tips that I knew from running a Tough Mudder a couple of years ago.
Alright, first thing’s first. Let’s talk wardrobe…
1. What to Wear
Just google search “What to wear for a mud run” and you’ll get a million of the same answers. One of the biggest tips being, do NOT wear cotton. Instead, go for tops made out of moisture-wicking material that will dry quickly. You WILL be getting wet. VERY WET. I mean like swimming through a mucky lake wet. If you’re wearing cotton, you will be heavily weighed down. I, personally, wore just a sports bra and Nike Pro Compression Shorts. The less to weigh me down the better!
As for shoes, it’s a lot more trail running/walking/hiking than just plain old running. A trail shoe might be your best bet for a Spartan race. You will want the traction on those steep, muddy downhills. Trust me. I wore my Altra Ones, which was the best choice out of all of my shoes. It’s more of a running shoe than a trail shoe, but I loved how light weight they were, so even after they got wet, they weren’t SUPER heavy! So definitely, consider the weight of the shoe you choose too!
Wear long socks that cover your ankles and calves. I saw many other participants wearing these long socks – some were compression socks, some were just high socks. When we got to the obstacle where you’re hanging upside down from a rope and climbing to the other side, we understood why. Alex and I both had cut up the back of our ankles pretty badly from the rope. Next time, we are definitely going with compression socks!
2. Don’t think. Just do.
This rule goes for any mud run or obstacle run. You are going to come across crazy (and sometimes insanely nasty or scary) obstacles that in any other circumstance, you would never do. However, when you’re in the midst of a race, you’re in a different mindset. But you still can’t psych yourself out. And if you stand there trying to wrap your head around how you’re about to jump 12-feet down into muddy water (one of the Tough Mudder obstacles), you’re going to find a way to talk yourself out of it. So don’t overthink it. Don’t even give yourself time to think about it. Just go for it. You’ll surprise yourself at what you’re truly capable of!
3. Try things by yourself before getting help.
This is one of my new tips that I learned at the Spartan Race. I was coming up on a 7-foot-wall. I knew this obstacle was in there. Alex and I already had planned that he was basically going to have to just pop me over! I’m only 5’1″…maybe 5’2″ on a good day. As we approached the wall, I said “Okay, Alex, how are we going to do this?” The two female volunteers manning the obstacle said to me, “No! You should try it by yourself first!” After some convincing, encouragement and tips, I ran at the wall, jumped and hung onto the top, walked my feet up, swung one leg over…then the other, and jumped down the other side. GIRL POWER!
Thank you to those two female volunteers who encouraged me to try it by myself. I can’t tell you how proud I was after I climbed that wall. I couldn’t believe it! I literally shocked myself that I could do that! From that obstacle forward, I tried everything by myself once before getting help.
And to be honest, from that point forward, Alex refused to help me on anything else. Even if I tried and couldn’t do it, he wouldn’t help me, and so 30 burpees it was!
4. You DO need to train!
This is mainly for safety. If you aren’t used to working out intensely and often, you need to make a point to train for this race. Sure, you can do this race for fun – I did! I didn’t care about time. I just wanted to finish and enjoy the ride. BUT, Spartan is no joke, people. I spent the first 30 minutes walking up what felt like an 80 degree incline. I’m a workout junkie, and even I had a hard time with that. I saw guys with bulging muscles and 8 packs having a hard time with it too. I saw many people pulling over to the side and breaking down.
Later, we were jogging/walking down an extremely steep hill with loosely set rocks and tree roots. Without some sense of core strength and stability, you can seriously hurt yourself here.
This is no color run! You need to come into it prepared. Don’t let this scare you away from doing a Spartan race! But I am letting you know, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Spartan sends out daily emails with workouts inside that are meant to prepare you for Spartan races. If you don’t know where to start in preparing for a Spartan, I highly recommend signing up for their emails.
5. Have fun!
Last but not least, if you are a beginner racer, have fun! Don’t worry too much about your time if it’s your first race! I went into it thinking I’d be done around 2 or 2 1/2 hours. Nope. It took us 3 hours and 20 minutes. Don’t be too hard to yourself. Do your training. Build your endurance. Wear the right clothes. Get in the right mindset. Be confident that you’ve done all you could to prepare, and from there, just have fun with it!
Full disclosure: I was provided with one free race code in return for a post on Spartan Race. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.