My first Spartan Super was an awesome experience! I finished strong with only 120 burpees under my belt (not including the three they had us do as a warm-up for the race) – not bad for a young woman who was officially initiated into the obstacle racing world only 3 months ago!
After my first Sprint in May, when I broke down mid-race struggling to keep up with the pace of some of the other racers, I knew that I would need to improve my training to perform better on the Super. The key issue for me was losing my breath completely after every set of burpees. This, along with poor pacing, led to a pretty poor race experience. However, I’m glad I was able to use it to create a better training routine for the Super and my future races.
The Super was held in Manchester, UK, on a sunny Saturday. V and I arrived the day before and stayed at a hotel right next to the racing grounds – a great move which ensured we got plenty of rest (and foamrolling) in the night before.
The course itself was very interesting. Obstacles were quite far apart and, it being the longer-distance Super, there was a lot of flat-out running. However, the trails changed frequently so the running never felt boring or monotonous, unlike with the Warrior Run earlier in the year. You’d be running in the woods one minute, then through fresh mud (it rained during the night), to straw and high grass, past a bit of asphalt and then back to the woods where you’d have to avoid branches hitting you in the face or tripping you up. Not much of hills, but it was still a challenge.
Because we paced ourselves very well (finishing at the 2-hour mark), it felt like I could keep going even after we had passed the finish line. So, I’ve gone ahead and booked myself in for the Beast in September. Eeee! I’ve already tweaked my training to start getting ready for it, but I’ll leave that for later. Today, let’s have a look at my first Spartan Super training.
How I trained for my first Super
With V’s help, I split my training into three segments.
1. STRENGTH with kettlebells
I did the following push and pull routines with a kettlebell about twice a week each:
– Front-loaded squats (10kg) 4×8
– Goblet squats (6kg) 4×8
– Weighted lunges (10kg) 4×8
– Shoulder press jerk (6kg) 3×5
– Weighted (floor) dips (10kg) 4×8
– Kettlebell swings tabata-style (10kg)
– Deadlifts (10kg) 4×8
– Front raises (10kg) 5×5
– Rows 4×8 or bent-over rows 4×8 (10kg)
– Kettlebell swings tabata-style (10kg)
2. ENDURANCE; circuits & running
In the month or so leading up to the race, V and I did various circuits with an emphasis on running. During the Spartan Sprint I did in May, I would break down after every set of penalty burpees – it would just take me too long to get my breath back and get back into a stable running pace. So I knew I had to work on recovering from burpees.
A typical circuit would look like this: 400m of running (one lap around the football fields here), 15 burpees x7 as fast as possible
Sometimes we also brought a weighted vest which we’d carry on every second lap to simulate carrying a Spartan pancake or a sandbag during the race.
The result? I didn’t break down after (or during) any of the 4 burpee penalties in the Super. I just took a few deep breaths and we were off again.
3. CARE & RECOVERY; foamrolling and yoga
For the two weeks leading up to the race I foamrolled every night and sometimes in the mornings too. For instant relief, I also borrowed V’s buffer a few times – it really does work wonders for the muscle and mobility!
The other part of my routine was stretching and yoga. Yoga has been heavily endorsed by Joe De Sena as an exercise you should be doing every day. Working on your flexibility can not only improve your race performance but also reduce the risk of injury.
Finally, an honourable mention goes to sleep! Especially in the week ahead of the race, I made sure to get enough sleep in order to boost my training and race performance. The night before the race, we also usually retire to bed early so we get more of the good stuff! I cannot recommend this ritual enough.