Hey, guess what I’m going to talk about again? The Spartan Ultra Beast. Yes, that’s right, my training is consumed with thoughts of the UB and what on earth I’m up against, therefore it’s probably what the majority of my posts will be about between now and September 22nd. For those of you new to this blog (welcome!) and haven’t heard me ramble on and on about it already: the Ultra Beast is the Spartan Race‘s marathon length obstacle course race. So basically this:
for 26.2 miles (and knowing the minds behind the Spartan Race, it will probably be like 28 miles)
When I tell people about the Ultra Beast their first question is “why?” and my answer is “because I’m crazy”. Better to just cut to the chase. Their second question is, “well how on earth do you train for something like that?” And the answer to that is simple: do everything I can. Because I have no idea what I’m up against.
I once read an article that posed one simple question: could you save your own life? Sure you go to the gym 5 times a week and own the elliptical and/or bench press. Heck, maybe you even run marathons. But if it came down to it, could you survive a disaster? Could you run far enough, fast enough, jump high enough, lift heavy enough, if your life, or that of your family , absolutely depended on it? The answer for me was (and still is, I’m a work in progress) nope. That is unless I was out running an avalanche moving at about a 9:00/mile pace for only 15 miles or so, ha.
Training for a Spartan race of this size has made me realize that I am indeed very weak in may aspects of fitness. It has also confirmed my belief that training absolutely does NOT need to be contained to the gym. I know it’s incredibly ironic that I, a personal trainer who makes her living based on the people who lift weights and run on treadmills safely amidst the walls of a gym, would rather get OUTSIDE to work on my fitness, but it really is true that the possibilities out here are endless.
So, you want to know how to train for a Spartan race? I’m certainly not an expert in this specific race field like some, but I do have 3 varying distance mud/obstacle runs under my belt (plus like 55 road races, which really don’t help here, other than the fact that I know how to run. Sort of.) So here’s what I’ve been doing:
1) Running. Pretty obvious, you might think, for the Ultra Beast perhaps. But I can not tell you how many times I heard in shorter distance obstacle courses people complaining about “all the running”. I’m not sure if they expected obstacles lined up end to end over the course of 3.1 or more miles, but bottom line is that a 5k (or 10 miler, or half marathon…etc) is still a 5k, and you somehow still have to get yourself from the start to the finish. And a marathon is nothing to mess around with (trust me, I’ve messed around with them before.) But because this is no ordinary marathon and my finish time will likely be double that of my worst road marathon, I’m tackling the distance training for this one more like an ultra. So back to back weekend long runs it is.
2) Hiking. Because I hear we will be doing a lot of it, and I will become very friendly with Killington Mountain. It is amazing what a difference hiking can be from running, even trail running. The stress on your legs is completely different. So I’m working on my mountain goat legs. Sometimes on well groomed trails, and sometimes just finding my own way to the top. Not to sound too earthy-crunchy-crazy, but it’s great to let your body learn to become one with the trails. Ask anyone about their first experience trail running or hiking and they will tell you how incredibly awkward and unstable they felt trying to traverse every root, rock, and downed tree. The more you do it, however, the greater your bodily awareness and balance becomes. There is no way to replicate it, other than to get out there and do it.
|This picture can’t even begin to show how steep that hill was (hence the hands on the ground)|
3) Plyometrics: Burpees. Box jumps. Anything that uses power and makes my lungs scream. Anywhere I can, any chance I get. Not only do they help with your speed and strength, but again will help with your balance and your body awareness. Because no one wants to fall off of the top of a 9 foot wall during the middle of the race…
|who needs a plyo box when you have a picnic table?|
|I love burpees!|
Weight training: because I work in a gym it is easy for me to throw around some traditional dumbbells/resistance training machines. However, kettlebells and my new sandbag are my weight training of choice. In past races I’ve had to carry 40 lb sandbags, large tires up and down trails, and lift cement blocks way up in the air. Strength is key.
But other than the long runs, there is no rhyme or reason to my training. Just get faster, better, stronger. Train, train train. I think that’s what I like the most about this type of race. There is no set start and no set finish. You don’t just say “oh yeah, 26 miles, I can cover that, I’m golden.” The mystery of what I am to face, and the fact that the mystery forces me to challenge ALL aspects of my fitness is what intrigues me with this type of race.
Sound like fun? Why not sign up for a Spartan race near you. From the sprint (3 ish miles) to the Ultra Beast (26 crazy, ridiculous miles) and many options in between, there is something for everyone. Challenge YOUR fitness level. For frequently asked questions about the Spartan race, check out their site here
So, could YOU survive? Do you feel your training is well rounded, or are you stuck in one gear? Tell us about it!