Doing a Spartan Race for the first time? Then let me, a person who has done 3 of them ranging from the Sprint to the Beast give you my 10 tips to finish them.
I have personally completed a Beast, a Super and partially a Sprint (About me).
The reason I say partially is because due to crazy rain/storms, the race was cancelled mid way but considering the Super and Beast are significantly harder, I think my 10 tips will suffice either way!
Pick a version of this event that corresponds to your physical level. You have a 5k, an 8 mile, a 12 mile and a 26 mile event to choose from here.
Don’t overrate your abilities, you have to understand that this is NOT a normal sporting event, it is dirty, gritty and unpredictable, especially for first timers. And if you have any injuries involving the back and/or joints, do not do this event. It’s just not worth that risk, believe me.
And if you’re new to mud runs and have never done an OCR, look at these other mud runs and consider an easier level. For me, I did 2 mud runs before I even got involved with a Spartan Race, it was a MudmanX and a Survival Race, both of which were easy, but when I the Sprint for the first time, it was SIGNIFICANTLY harder.
Anyone who is new to mud running should begin with the 5k, nothing further. Even if you’re active, even if you jog, do trail runs, and consider yourself in good shape, you really are going to be taken by surprise when you do a Spartan Race, so do a 5k to gauge how it’s going to look and if you don’t do well on, then be thankful you didn’t do the more harder events, but if you do well on it, move into the 8 mile event, and if you completely own the 5k, try the Beast!
Go with at least one or more people who are physically fit and positive.
Trust me, having good, strong, positive people carry and inspire you throughout the event will help you get further in it. There’s a lot of mental fortification required to do the Spartan Race and having a positive surrounding goes a long way!
- For the Sprint, I went with 5 other people.
- For the Super, I went with 3 others.
- For the Beast, I also went with 5 others.
Practice walking up and down stairs or any elevated ground (hills, streets, ect…) with some sort of weight that ranges from 10-30 pounds. You WILL be tasked with carrying logs, rocks, gravel inside a bucket (that’s the worst…), and sandbags on ANY Spartan event you do. Their weight ranges from 10-30 pounds (except the rock which is about 70 pounds…).
There is also an obstacle where you’ll have to pull up a sandbag that weights 70 pounds via a rope. Get used to the sensation of moving around with a heavy item, it could even be a backpack.
Let me tell you, prior to doing the beast, my workout routine absolutely saved me for it, because I was so used to carrying heavy things that by the time race day came along, it was no problem to handle.
Become good at doing calisthenic exercises, aka exercises that involve using your body weight. We’re talking push ups, pull ups, squats, burpees (huge deal here), monkey bar scaling and more.
You have to be absolutely proficient with these sorts of exercises to be prepared for a bulk of the obstacles in this race that require that you use your body weight. Having good calisthenic conditioning will go a very long way in helping you conquer the challenges as well as giving you good reliance to continue along the way.
Practice walking and running uphill. Now tip 4 sounds exactly the same, but that’s with weights and the obstacles in which you’ll have to carry them around will involve uphill walking, but it’s typically short.
However, for the MAJORITY of the event, you will be scaling mountains without them and that is in essence what makes the Spartan Race so difficult. You need to work up the resilience of walking up and down long distances.
As I mentioned in my workout routine for the Beast, I would almost always use the stairs to get to my apartment, no matter how tired I was. I cannot tell you how much this helped and can’t stress how important it is you do this…
Do NOT try and beat the clock or race others unless you’re a super athlete.
This whole event is basically a mini to full marathon and it requires that you PACE yourself. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out by trying to run up a mountain or go none stop for as long as you can.
Believe me, you won’t complete the event if you do this…
Even the super athletes intelligently pace themselves throughout the course.
- They walk up the hills.
- They run down the hills.
- They take their time on the obstacles.
Do what they do, just at a slower pace if you’re not in their shape.
Take breaks, frequent breaks. This is especially true if you’re doing one of these races in the Spring/Summer seasons. Believe me, the heat can and will take you down if you’re not careful.
And if it’s cold, you’re just going to dehydrate just as fast if not faster. So pacing yourself, but at the same time taking that break every so often will help you recharge and move forward.
Stretch and do it each time you take a break. This is absolutely imperative for longevity and since these races are marathon length events, your muscles will get sore, they will be under stress so resting and stretching them will keep your body going.
I’ve seen too many people break because they didn’t stretch throughout these events. Don’t make their mistake.
Bring proper gear and supplies and put the supplies in a backpack. Here’s some essentials:
- A good backpack like this will be great for carrying the small things and you really don’t need a lot. Plus if you’re going with a group of people, have them carry their own backpack to increase the supplies you can carry, but at the same time, it won’t weigh you down.
- Protective and safe clothing.
- Energy gels.
- Granola bars.
- Drinks with electrolytes and water (although water stations are present there).
- Comfortable shoes like these that are perfect for this.
- A GoPro (with extra batteries) or any other action camera, and this is considering you want to document your event.
- A hat/cap if it’s hot outside.
Overall, do/keep these 10 things in mind and do your research beforehand!
I’ve got several articles on specific obstacles that are in this event you should look at, but in addition to that, look up YouTube videos of people doing these races so you can see how they look/feel and what to expect.
One of the most unexpected moments I ever had doing these races was the Super. Prior, I had done at least 3 other mud runs and though they were easy, so I assumed that this one would also be simple.
So naturally I didn’t prepare as much and by the time I realized my mistake, it was too late to turn back and I really had to push myself farther than in any other mud run I’ve ever done to finish it. I was extremely sore and injured for the next few days.
Do not underestimate this mud run people, it’s extremely difficult, don’t make it more difficult by not being prepared for it. Yes you will have fun, but torturing yourself via underestimating it is not something you need to do to your body and mind…
*Finally, do note that NO ONE has the right to force you to complete any of the challenges on these events, nor do you have a responsibility to push yourself beyond your limits to satisfy your ego or prove something.
Yes there are burpee “punishments” if you don’t complete an obstacle, but honestly, don’t do them if you’re not up for it. No one has ever called me out on it and if they do, just move forward, you paid a huge amount of money to participate, they can’t force you to do them :). So skip what you have to and don’t ever feel compelled to complete anything on these races that will endanger your health.
If you have your own personal tips you’d like to share for the Spartan Race, I’d love to know what you recommend, below 🙂