To be a Spartan, you must be able to accept any obstacle that is thrown your way. Spartan fitness spans all planes of motion, which means the training regimen needs to include body weight exercises, lots of running, and lateral movement.
The fitness gurus at Spartan Race share some personal tips on how to avoid some of the most common racer-downfalls of the event.
THE SPARTAN RACERS GUIDE -Avoiding Injury
AVOID INJURIES The three main injuries at Spartan Race are ankle rolls, elbow tendonitis, and shoulder injuries.
Ankle Rolls To add some stability to your ankles practice pro-dorsiflexion stretches and single leg training. Stand on your left leg and reach your right finger tips to your left toes. Return to the full, upright starting position and repeat 3-6 times on each side. Later, advance to touching the heel around the outside of the ankle. Follow this exercise with side to side hops for stabilization. Stand on your left leg, leap sideways as far as possible landing on your right leg. Stick the landing for 3-4 seconds, and hop back. Perform 6 perfect repetitions on each side.
Elbow Tendonitis The Spartan Race challenges racers with 2” ropes, solid planks of lumber, buckets, sandbags, and traverse walls, which can quickly wear out any ill-prepared wrist flexors. Focus on extra pull-ups in training to avoid this injury at your next race.
Shoulder Injuries The easiest way to avoid rotator cuff tears is to optimize your posture so as not to put too much stress on your muscles while training. To improve upper body posture, lie flat on your stomach and stretch your arms out like Superman, palms facing down. With straight arms, lift your hands and stretch them outwards, tracing a large circle, until they’re at your sides. Your palms should now be facing out with your thumbs up. At the end of the range lift your chest using your low and mid back muscles. This is called a Prone Cobra – perform 6-10 repetitions.
AVOID CRAMPS People cramp as a result of three main causes: Electrolyte status, flexibility, and fitness.
Don’t Limit Salt During the first hour of a Spartan Race, a person could sweat 2-3 days worth of the recommended amount of sodium intake. Add a few pinches of the highest quality sea salt into your water and stay out of cramping trouble.
Flexibility If your day job requires you to sit at a desk, chances are you could benefit from some extra stretching. For your calves, stand with your feet together and slide a 1” board under the balls of your feet, keeping your heels on the ground. Slowly attempt to squat as low as possible and repeat 10 times. To stretch your hips, simply lie on the ground with hands at your sides, knees bent at 90 degrees, and feet flat on the floor. Lift your butt as high as possible, hold for 10 seconds and repeat 15 times.
Fitness Practice makes perfect. For instance, not having enough downhill training is simply going to cause more muscle fatigue than you are accustomed to. Ensure your workouts aren’t a mere attempt at maxing out the “sweaty and sore scale,” but are in fact programmed in a way that ensures every exercise and workout can answer the question “WHY?”
PREPAREDNESS Wearing the proper clothing and feeding your body the right nutrition can make all the difference.
What To Wear Wear a trail runner or hiking shoe that is light-weight, drains well, and has good traction. For clothes, wear something lightweight and wicking (no cotton). Also consider some compressive socks which may help with lower leg cramping and will protect your legs from rope burn and scrapes.
How To Fuel Be sure to have a fairly substantial, quality breakfast that contains plenty of easily digestible carbohydrates, a bit of healthy fat from nut butters or coconut, and a small amount of protein 2-4 hours before you race. During your training, take note of how much water you are consuming to get an idea of how much water you will need for your event.