It's that lovely time back at home in our cozy beds, when we look back and reflect on the hell we just put ourselves through. After the mud, dust, blood, and tears have settled, you start to ask, "Where could I have done better?"
After speaking with 50 of our athletes and a ton of other Spartan Finishers about their experience this weekend in Chino, we found out there were probably six major mistakes that people made in their preparation for this last weekend's race. Let's work through these together. So, we can learn and progress this year.
#1. YOU RAN ROAD BUT NOT TRAIL! I heard this a lot on Saturday. "I should've done more trail running."
Spartan's terrain is typically their best obstacle. Running trails works the feet, ankles, connective tissues, and legs in a whole different light than running on a flat predictable surface, (specifically, if you will be running on trails on race day). Take your running out to the wild side.
#2. YOU DIDN'T PRACTICE THE OBSTACLES ENOUGH. It happens every race, but somebody comes in the night before their first race wanting to learn every obstacle. Learning any skill takes time. You may be strong, and in good enough shape, but learning the techniques, and hacks of the obstacles will save you a lot of time and energy on the course. Put some dedicated time aside to learn these skills and grow in your weaknesses. Look it up-It's science! There's a process known as Myelination, which is a fancy way to describe that the brain gets sharper and sharper each practice session.
#3. DIDN'T EVEN CONSIDER CRAMPING. If you are new to cramping during a race, I'm willing to bet at least half of you reading this got familiar with cramping at Chino, especially at the hurdles or bender! Explaining cramping could be another post for another day...maybe there are some ways to prepare for it...but if all else fails keep a pack of mustard from the deli, pickle juice, or salt tabs on you. Next time you race, place one of those in your mouth swish around and swallow it down to get your legs working again...basically, it's magic...it works....do it.
#4. DIDN'T HYDRATE PROPERLY. Being outside for 3-6 hours in exposed sunlight will definitely take its toll on the human body. Everybody knows that the human body is mostly comprised of water. EVERYTHING IN THE HUMAN BODY WORKS BECAUSE OF WATER. You aren't yourself when you are dehydrated. Competitive Ultra Runners sometimes calculate their sweat loss rate during a race, so they can replenish and rehydrate the amount of water they lose while running.
Chino was a fair course with a lot of water stations, not all Spartan Races are that friendly... consider yourself warned!
#5 DIDN'T FUEL UP. Spartan Races are fun, until about 45 minutes in. This about the time where your body is going to burn up most of the fuel that you put in today and start borrowing fuel for your adipose tissue. This feels like a super energy suck known to some as 'bonking' or 'hitting the wall.' When this extreme fatigue sets in, your grip strength will fleet, your legs become heavy, and obstacles become tougher than they should be.
Luckily, snacking and fueling on the course can save you! Clif Bloks, Gummy Bears, a Sandwhich, Gatorade, etc. could go a long way to save you from shutting down entirely. Something a little higher on the glycemic index will spike your energy up almost immediately. Some strategies suggest refueling every 15 minutes after the first refuel.
#6 YOU JUST DIDN'T TRAIN PROPERLY FOR THIS RACE.
Maybe you run a lot, but don't strength train much. Or maybe you are a monster in the weight room, but haven't ran more than a 5k...ever. Or maybe you are a powerful anaerobic CrossFit Machine.
Obstacle Racing is rare sport that requires a bit of all 3 of our energy systems and the ability to transfer between the use of them. You need strength for a carry, you need power to get up a wall, and you need endurance for all the miles.
A simple circuit that is a bit of example on how to do this is:
We have a lot of OCR Circuits we use at FOF. We also just launched Fitness On Fire On Demand. Now, you can access our training anywhere in the world, and have our coaches help you prepare for your next race.
So there you have it, Six (6) places where a few of us could improve for our next race. Some of these are easy fixes, and some of these may take some work. You know we are here to serve your Obstacle Course Race Training needs.
If you would like for us to help prepare you for your next race then give us a call, shoot us an email, or check out Fitness On Fire On Demand.