The Spartan Beast is a grueling Obstacle Course Race (OCR) involving 13+ miles and 30+ obstacles. As the Spartan’s website states, it “will challenge everything you’re made of!” So how do you train for such a race? As an amateur racer striving for the “Age Group” podium, I put together the following training program and associated exercises.
As shown by the training program, Mondays are for strength training. Tuesdays are for pure trail running. Wednesdays and Fridays are rest or easy-ish cross-training days. If you want to push yourself even more, do interval training on Wednesdays, but see my note about “Playing Defense”. Thursdays are for mock short-form races in the gym (during a short period of time, you are trying to work all your race-day muscles). Saturdays are for long, race simulation workouts. Finally, Sundays are for rest and recovery.
If you are as old as I am, injury prevention is paramount. If you are fighting an injury, you can’t train properly or you might not be able to do the race at all. In addition, you might have to rack-up expensive doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, and in some cases, surgery. All that sounds exactly opposite to what Spartan racing is all about — get off the couch, and live a healthier lifestyle!
To prevent injuries, make sure that you are getting plenty of rest and that you are warming up before training and stretching afterward. After your long workouts, take an ice bath. For specific problem areas, use a foam roller and an ice wrap. Here’s an excellent video on How to Use a Foam Roller for Recovery.
In addition, if you have kids, the Cover Your Cough (and sneezes) motto is an important household lesson. It might seem germaphobic, but my wife and I have had to cancel several races because the kids had gotten us sick.
- Tight, Non-cotton Shirt — Most pros seem to go shirtless, but to me, that just seems like more scrapes and pain. I’ve thought about switching to a tri top, but I’ve just been wearing athletic shirts.
- Mid-length running shorts with a zipper pocket — Most pros seem to go with spandex shorts, pants or capris, but I’m not a spandex kind of guy. Others wear short running shorts, but those don’t provide enough scrape coverage. I wear mid-length running shorts with a zipper pocket to carry mid-race carbs and electrolytes (see Nutrition).
- Compression Socks or Sleeves — These come in handy on the Tyrolean Traverse.
- Wrist Sweatband — I cover my timing chip with a wrist sweatband to minimize the risk of the timing chip getting torn off.
- Non-cotton Socks
- Hydration Pack — I don’t carry one on race day. I just drink at the aid stations.
Spasm & Cramp Prevention
As you can tell by the following lengthy list, I struggle with muscle spasms and cramps, especially in my calves. Based on my research, spasms and cramps can be caused by the following.
- Lack of electrolytes, particularly sodium, magnesium and potassium
- Neuromuscular chaos
- Muscular imbalance — weak muscles will cramp
- Lack of carbs
Before and/or during races and long workouts, I use the following supplements to prevent muscle spasms and cramps:
The following list shows strength training exercises and which obstacles they aim to make easier.