Editor's Note: Jessica, one of our awesome customer-service GearCoopers, is currently training for a Spartan Race, and is chronicling her experience for us. Follow along and get motivated with this special New Year's four-part series!
A Quick Intro to Spartan Races
Most people have heard of "mud runs," like Tough Mudder; however, when you mention a Spartan Race, you may receive a look of utter confusion and a response such as, "Do you run with shields and spears?" Which would be partially correct--there is an obstacle in every Spartan Race where you throw a spear--but it is also much more than taking aim with a lethal weapon.
There are three primary options for race distances:
- Spartan Sprint, 3+ miles with 15+ obstacles
- Spartan Super, 8+ miles with 20+ obstacles
- Spartan Beast, 12+ miles with 25+ obstacles.
Originating in Vermont and quickly growing in popularity, the founders of the Spartan Race are motivated to change how people view themselves: to show that with hard work, determination, and sweat you can accomplish the unknown!
Step One: Motivation - 12/14/2014
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend, Daniel, approached me with the idea of competing in a Spartan Race. Initially, I was a little hesitant to agree. I thought to myself, "I haven't run competitively since college" (which, thankfully, was fairly recent). However, at the time Daniel had thought the race would be a 13-mile Spartan Beast--there is no way I would be prepared for a race that long. Reluctantly, I said I would do it. A few days later, Daniel corrected his prior assumption: the race would be a Spartan Super, or only eight miles. I felt a wave of relief--I can honestly say I was (and still am!) ready to face the challenges ahead of me.
The cold morning air was sharp against my skin on my first official day of training. Getting motivated to begin your training may be the first obstacle you overcome in preparation for your personal Spartan Race, whether it's an actual Spartan Race or the local 5K. When your race is half a year away, it's easy to put off your workout for another day; however, it really is in my and other athletes' best interest to begin training as soon as possible. I've definitely had that week where I give in to my weaknesses: "I'll just binge watch another season of Gilmore Girls instead of working out." But once that relaxing period is over, it's time to get serious! And boy am I happy that I ran today--I have a lot of work ahead of me.
After I graduated from college this past May, I got lazy. When I was in school I had a routine. I exercised almost everyday. In high school I ran cross country, track, and played travel softball. I entered college as a student athlete and ran cross country and track; plus, I climbed multiple days a week recreationally. Laziness was never in my nature--forget nature, it wasn't even in my vocabulary. Now, without a state-of-the-art gym available to me, or the convenience of my best friends to keep me company during my workouts, I feel unmotivated to put myself out there and find a new routine. I constantly vent to Daniel about how I feel out of place with my body and anxious due to my pent-up energy which makes me irritable and unsatisfied. So, I decide that it's time to find a new routine. Possibly, mostly to save Daniel from encountering an "Amazing Amy." I'd rather not be that girl who goes on a violent murderous adventure; instead, I strive to be more like the woman Elle Woods described so eloquently, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't."
Boy did I feel those endorphins after my workout today…
Daniel had high expectations for our first training day, while I had a more realistic idea of what my body would be able to handle. Before beginning our training routine, we gauged our current performance levels with a mile warm-up, followed by a 400 meter sprint. As we sprinted along the path surrounding the intramural fields of my alma mater, I breathed heavy and focused on my form. (One perk of being a GearCooper is that we get lots of free socks, and I discovered that my Feetures! socks are awesome for running because they offer great support.) Suddenly, a distraction appeared 200 meters into the short sprint. My favorite college professor was walking straight towards me. With her headphones on she slowly lifted her left hand in a wave and smiled. I returned the gesture as we passed each other and lightly ran away. At that moment, even with no words exchanged, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.
Daniel and I transitioned with a walk to a bench where we did tricep dips, pushups, and shoulder-ups to gain strength for the obstacle portion of the race. Then we finished with an easy half mile jog back home. You may be shocked we didn't begin with long distances and heavy lifting, but it's essential that we don't stress our bodies by doing too much too fast. If you allow yourself enough training time, you can slowly work your way up to longer distances at faster paces, and it is crucial to train adequately for your body in order to avoid injury.
Once we arrived back at Daniel's apartment, we refueled our bodies with food, another important aspect of working out. Neither of us feel comfortable working out on a full stomach, so we drink a small amount of water pre-workout and replenish our bodies properly afterwards. I'm a person who does not eat a normal amount of animal meat; therefore, I have to use supplements to ensure I have enough protein on workout days. (Today a good portion of my protein shake ended up on the carpet. Whoops!) Once I ate, I felt my heavy body becoming rejuvenated by sustenance. As the day goes on, and the amount of caffeine in my body increases I feel energized and satisfied with myself. Somehow, it is always nice knowing that while most people are still in bed, you've already had a full workout.