Preparing for a Spartan Race by Michael Meredith
It's one of the most difficult components when it comes to health and fitness. Finding motivation generally comes first and then setting some goals is the fun part. Figuring out where to actually start can be one of the biggest barriers. So for the sake of this article we will be using the Spartan Race 7km Sprint as our goal and figuring out where to start from there.
If you read my previous article we discussed some of the challenges you would face in a Spartan Race and breaking it down into separate components so we could structure our training. So when figuring out where to start we need to know what we are facing and what we need to work on.
A couple of questions to consider would be, what distance is the event? what obstacles are in a Spartan Race? What are my strengths? And what are my weaknesses? Once you’ve established some of these areas you can then ensure your training is balanced giving respect and progress to where you are strong whilst working on where you are weak.
So lets break it down into a few key areas of training, to give our program some structure and purpose.
Running or Cardio Vascular Conditioning
Now for all the beginners out there that may have very little cardio vascular conditioning your biggest priority is just to start moving. Running can be a pretty daunting task especially if you are training on your own. I’ve lost count of how many individuals I’ve spoken to that tell me they hate running. A slight issue when you’ve got 7kms of bush terrain lying ahead of you. Ultimately you just need to start moving and ideally out on the trails. Two key sessions to work on leading up to a Spartan Race, would be hill work and a steady 5-7km run. The ultimate goal is to build time on your feet then focus on getting quicker. If you cannot run, then start walking. A perfect way to get this done each week is checking out your local Park Run. Park Run if you’ve never heard of it is a FREE initiative set up in Australia back in 2011 from what was an original creation in the UK. With 100s of locations across Australia, Park run operates every Saturday morning (check your local area) from anywhere between 7am-8am. They are always 5kms in distance and vary in terrain. You can run, jog or even walk. So all you need to do is find out where your local Park Run operates. Head to parkrun and register an account and show up every Saturday morning with your barcode.
For your hill work, find a really big steep hill, and start doing repeats. Each week focus on adding a repetition and potentially moving faster especially on your recovery effort. Do not underestimate how effective this will be. Always remember to spend at least 10-15mins warming up and cooling down before and after each session.
Depending on what type of facilities you have access to, will depend on how you can structure your strength training. So we will keep it simple. First, start by splitting your strength sessions into 2 key areas. UPPER and LOWER BODY. Ideally with your strength training you would like to have access to some equipment to prepare you better for some of the obstacles.
- Back Squats
- Walking Lunges
- Step ups Dips
- Front Squats
- Farmers carries
- Push ups
- Pull ups
- Shoulder Press’s
Some effective ways to train your strength is to set up a 6-7 station circuit. Work each exercise 40secs (ideally 8-12reps each set) – 20sec to rest/ transition.
Work yourself through 3 rounds with a 2 minute rest between rounds. Always focus on technique and adjust your weights according to your ability. You can do this 2x per week both upper and lower body.
High Intensity Interval Training
These are the sessions that will really increase your conditioning. There are various ways of how this method of training can be used. The sessions are based around the protocols of short periods of high intensity followed by short periods of rest. They will improve your ability to do more work, increase your ability to recover and work harder for longer periods of time.
Some examples include:
- 100m Sprints – at the end of each Sprint complete 5 Burpees 30sec rest
Repeat 8 Rounds
- Same structure as your Strength training only instead of isolated resistance use: Burpees / Sled pushes/ battle ropes and the rowing machine.
Work on increasing the heart rate in each short interval.
Try and keep your HIIT workouts short and sweet. 2x 10min HIIT circuits back to back can work perfect. The focus is quality not quantity. 10mins is more than enough time if you are giving 100%. If it feels easy, you aren’t working hard enough.
So as you can see once we establish what we need to work on, then we can put a plan in place to give us a starting point. The most important element to training is a method of continual progression. Simple methods of change in time, intensity, volume or resistance can help your body avoid adaption and ensure there is always a level of progress. Small progress is still progress. Trust the process and be consistent. If you struggle to train alone, find a friend or join a run club or bootcamp. Original Bootcamp offers locations across Australia with a great training protocol tailored to obstacle racing and trail runners.
Now that your fitness is on track. Next up we will talk all things obstacles.
The good, the bad and even the ugly.