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Spartan Race: Why The Unknown Obstacles Are becoming Addictive.

by Jenny Lee July 30, 2014

 Spartan Race obstacles

photo from Wikipedia

 

Spartan Races and their crazy obstacles are getting quite a lot of publicity lately, and NBC Sports has even committed to airing the races and competitions on their network (source: http://www.nbcsports.com/show/spartan-race). Yet this race series, while around since 2010, is still confusing and mysterious to many.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Spartan Races:

  1. What are Spartan Races?

“Spartan Races” is a race series that features and focuses on obstacles. While races themselves vary in length from 1 mile to a full marathon length, it isn’t the beginning, end or distance that matters but the in between. You can choose between the Sprint, Super and The Beast, while signing up. The Sprint is for those looking for the shortened version of the race. It's equivalent to a 5K with 15+ obstacles. The Super has 20+ obstacles and is more like a 10k, as far as total miles and The Beast, great name, has over 25+ adventurous obstacles. The grueling 12 mile course will separate the men from the boys and the women from the negative Nellys'.  

Athletes sign up for the unknown. The race course is not shared with participants until the day of the race and obstacles can include jumping over fire (pretty common to Spartan Races), carrying heavy objects, hoisting a cement block using a pulley system, climbing walls, crawling in mud underneath fences of barbed wire…and more.

While Spartan Races are each a true test to the athlete in their own right, the founders introduced the Death Race. The Death Race is a version of the Spartan Race that challenges endurance, emotion, and strength over a 48 hour period.

  1. Why do Spartan Races?

It sounds crazy! In fact, with a 10% completion rate on longer Spartan Races, participants ending muddied and some bloodied, you might wonder “why.”

From the Peak.com website:

Nothing else on earth will challenge you like The Death Race, both mentally and physically.

Every Death Race is it’s own uniquely brutal challenge, no two races are alike. The race, created by Ultra athletes Joe Desena and Andy Weinberg, was developed as a way for athletes to test themselves both mentally and physically.”

Source:  http://www.peak.com/death-races/

In general, athletes gravitate to Spartan Races for the unknown, the unprecedented challenge, and the sense of accomplishment. It is unlike anything else they have or could experience.

A Spartan Race blogger wrote about his experience:

I crossed the finish line and again reflected on being a fighter in a battle and pushing myself beyond my limits. Third place didn’t feel like a victory, it felt more like being on the ropes and not punching back when the time was necessary. However, once again I walk away from my early career as a Spartan Racer yearning for the next battle and planning how I will be delivering the blows and beating the beasts that this sport has given me.

Source: http://blog.spartanrace.com/tag/spartan-fenway-park/

  1. How do I train for a Spartan Race?

If you enter a Spartan Race plan to train hard; and to train for the wildly challenging!

First, train your cardio. Run, sprint, jog, and regardless of the distance of Spartan Race you have signed up for, push your stamina.

Second, log on to Spartan Race’s blog every day for the WOD (“Workout of the Day”) and do it! WODs are posted by the founders of the race with the specific intent to keep Spartans trained and in peak performance condition. (source: http://www.spartan.com/workout-of-the-day/)

Practice burpees. If you fail at something, fall, or entirely miss an obstacle the retribution, and the only way to move forward, is to do burpees. So embrace them, and get good at them!

Get a partner and get a routine. As with all intense training and successful commitment to a tough fitness regimen, having someone to work with makes it easier. Join a training group or find a friend and make sure that person holds you accountable, pushes you, and makes it fun, too.

Need more structure? Breaking Muscle has a printable 6-week training schedule you can download. (source: http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/6-week-training-plan-for-your-obstacle-course-tough-mudder-spartan-race)

  1. What do I wear to a Spartan Race?

No, you aren’t dressing to look good but you do need to make sure you are in high performance gear that can weather the elements, mud, intensity, and strain. You do not want clothing to impede your race performance so it pays to invest in the right clothing.

Start with good trail running shoes and, from there, wear the bare minimum spandex or some other tight-clinging quick-dry fabric. You don’t want fabric snagging or getting in the way of any of your obstacles.

Do not plan to run with any items on you at all (no phone, camera, or keys).

  1. What do I bring with me to a Spartan Race?

You’ve decided to train, sign up, get in your spandex, and show up! Congratulations! Make sure to bring with you: nutritious snacks, towels and shammies, water (a lot!), a full change of clothes, a sweatshirt or other warm gear, post-race shoes, and plastic bags to bring your dirty clothes home in.

If you are running a longer Spartan Race, you might want to have performance gel packs available to you mid-race, but that is up to you.

Whatever you do, Spartan, remember to have fun! These races are unlike anything you have ever seen or done. Plan to stick around afterwards to bask in the euphoria and enjoy the camaraderie as you dissect the experience and the unique obstacles with your fellow race mates.

 




Jenny Lee
Jenny Lee

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