In February, Spartan Race will be coming to the Gold Coast for the first time with what promises to be another fun dose of mud, obstacles, and burpees (not too many hopefully!). Since exceeding all my expectations and winning the Spartan Ultra Beast race in Brisbane last year, I have had many requests for tips on training for these challenging events. So without further ado, here are my top five tips for success at Spartan.
There is no doubt about it, the single biggest factor separating the front and back of the pack is your running ability. The distances between the obstacles can sometimes be quite large and your running pace will largely dictate where you finish (unless of course you have a nightmare and fail too many obstacles). If you haven't already, get yourself outside and run on some trails. Looking for hills and technical terrain will prepare you best for a race like Spartan.
Many of the obstacles rely on your grip strength to get you through. Kettlebell hoist, rope climb, overhanging rock climb, kettlebell carry, monkey bars.....the list goes on. Strengthen your grip with rock climbing, pull ups, carrys, or even use some grip trainers like the Captains of Crush.
One of the lovely things about Spartan is that if you fail an obstacle you get a 30 burpee penalty. During the Ultra Beast I failed 6 obstacles (out of 70+) and therefore had to cop 180 burpees on top of the 42k of running and the obstacles themselves. On most of the obstacles you only get one chance. If you fall off a balance beam - 30 burpees. Can't get up the rope climb? 30 burpees. Unless you are really good (and lucky), it is guaranteed that you are going to be doing some burpees. Practice them and make sure you do them all the way down, chest to ground and jump at the top.
4. Spear throws
Which is the one obstacle that almost everyone fails? Yes, the cursed spear throw! As I mentioned above, during the Ultra Beast I had to do 180 burpees, but what makes this all the more distressing is that 150 of them were from failed spear throws. A few minutes spent practicing these might save you a lot of time and a lot burpees. You might even get to have a well earned rest whilst your mates (who didn't practice their throws) are busting out burpees.
5. Be prepared for anything
If one thing is guaranteed during Spartan it's that Max and team will think up a few uniquely devilish challenges and new delights. The first Spartan I did, we had to build a Lego model in under 10 minutes! Sounds easy enough, but when your hands are shaking, you're sweating and covered in mud this was a surprisingly difficult test. Be ready to have your limits tested!
So there you have it, the top 5 tips for a successful Spartan race. Above all, these races are amazing fun, a great challenge - even for the kids - and guaranteed to leave you bruised and battered and with a great sense of achievement. See you out there. AROO!