Soooo, you signed up for a Spartan race — or other obstacle event like Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder — and now race day is looming near. Your date with destiny is coming up as quick as those breakfast tacos scarfed down before running to the gym in a last-minute panic. Whether you’ve put off training as a passive-aggressive act, life just got in the way, or you’re a newbie who’s now just been “filled in” by so-called friends, the down and dirty news about your procrastination isn’t so discouraging. While you might not win the race, there is still time to lock in some mental and physical training that will get you to the finish strong and having fun!
Check out The Procrastinator’s Guide to OCR & Spartan Training, for all my 11th hour advice!
Don’t Stall Another Day: The only thing keeping you from your goals is YOU! Rearrange your priorities so that OCR & Spartan training can come first in your free time. Obviously, all of us have non-negotiable obligations like family, work, school and such . . . but what we do with our leisure time is at our discretion. You could sit on the couch and WORRY and running an obstacle race . . . or you could get up and start training for one now!
Create Calm and Positive Vibes: Whether the race is one week away or one month away, the date can’t be changed. What can be changed is your attitude about how it’s all going to unfold. Don’t get all “end of the world,” looking at the race as a fatalistic experience, one filled with fear, anxiety, and pre-destined failure. Instead, frame the upcoming experience as a fun and upbeat personal challenge that you can conquer through your grit and determination. Attitude is EVERYTHING before and during a race . . . if you give in and give up, it’s over. Turn your nerves into positive energy by taking a few minutes to meditate, pray, or give yourself a pep-talk where visualize yourself a FINISHER.
Evaluate and Adjust Expectations: If you are new to the sport of obstacle course racing, you may just be looking to finish, regardless of time, and without much bodily harm. That’s a great goal and it’s attainable, keep it! Most everyone can finish a Spartan or other obstacle course race brand. However, if you’ve raced before, you may be looking to better a finish time, out run your buddy, nail a challenging obstacle, or be penalized with as few burpees as possible. These goals may or may not be realistic depending on your level of procrastination and total training time. Before you toe the start line, understand and accept that any finish, first or last, is a “win” and a gift . . . . and there is always another race to sign up for.
Prioritize and Optimize Remaining Training: Assess your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete and move your less awesome skills up to the top of your last-minute OCR & Spartan training plan. If you are a good runner, but weak in upper body strength begin adding simple push-up, pull-up and grip-strength exercises to your workouts. On the flip side, if you are mainly a weight lifter or Crossfit-er type person, maybe back off lifting super heavy so that your legs will be fresh enough to take on a little extra endurance – stay a little longer on the row machine or add a mile or two more to your run (but not more than 10% percent more over your last workout to avoid injury). Whatever your workout, throw in a minimum of 30 burpees – not only are burpees excellent full-body conditioning, they are the penalty for not being able to finish a Spartan obstacle. No shame in the burpee game – I once had to do 150 burpees in a race!
Identify 1 or 2 Goal Obstacles: A last minute OCR & Spartan training strategy leaves little time to cover training for each and every obstacle – there are 20 to 40 in any given race. The good news is that many are relatively easy like low hurdles, army crawls, over-unders, etc. However, some require much more skill and/or strength – for example, spear throw, rope climb, multi-grip rigs and monkey bars. Choose one or two of these harder obstacles and focus on it as your “goal” obstacle for the little training time you have left – you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment nailing it at the race, even if other obstacle attempts were less successful. If spear throw is your goal, check out my tutorial to make a Spartan Spear so you can practice in the backyard.
Be Nice to Your Body: Remember back in college when you tried to cram a semester worth of studying into just one night for finals? It didn’t usually work, your brain would usually shut down, sloppy mistakes would be made or you’d just oversleep and miss the whole test. The same idea applies to getting ready for an obstacle course race, squeezing months of spartan training into a short time period isn’t likely going to work to your benefit. The body can only do what it can do, long-term fitness gains follow a “stress and rest” strategy to put it simply, and that takes time. So, make sure you are following a good recovery strategy after each workout that includes rest, proper nutrition (with some protein) and stretching, rolling and trigger point release. Also, to perform optimally at your given fitness level, you will need to respect the taper leading up to a race – let your muscles fully recover and your glycogen stores fill back up for the big day. It’s not so fun (or safe) to race a Spartan with delayed onset muscle fatigue!
Reward Yourself Early: Often procrastinators need a literally or figurative slap on the back to get going, affirmation that something awesome is going on here in the pursuit of this obstacle race thing. Especially since many pleasures (like sleeping in, eating and drinking whatever, sitting around watching Netflix) have given way to some pain. That’s why I suggest rewarding yourself at the BEGINNING of last-minute OCR & Spartan training, not just at the finish line. Getting a new pair of trail shoes for training and race day, some Spartan workout gear like gloves or a sandbag, or even an appointment for a recovery massage can be the motivation needed to keep up with the training.
Peer “Pressure”: And, if it resorts to enlisting friends to run with you do it – so much more fun, especially if you are not running to compete. You can knock out some last-minute OCR & Spartan training and the comradery will be inspiring. Plus, there will be so many “war stories” to share at the office, gym or book club the Monday following the race! Also, having family and friends checking in on your daily training, cheerleading at obstacles and waiting at the finish line can keep you motivated to finish – this has helped me so many times when I’ve wanted to quit! Facebook groups, like Spartan Women or a regional OCR Facebook page can be a great source of advice and support.
Here are some of my other Spartan and OCR posts you may find useful:
- Make a Spartan Spear (in 10 minutes, seriously).
- Peak Week OCR Workout (Gym Friendly)
- Get a Grip Spartan Workout
- 30 Minute Treadmill Chipper for Spartan Training
- Spartan Burpee How-To
What race are you training for? How much time to you give yourself? What is your favorite and/or most challenging obstacle? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer