For every thousand competitors signing up for a Spartan Race, there’s a thousand more convincing themselves that next week they’ll commit.
As with any major life shift, the first step is the hardest. But once taken, the next moves become more manageable.
So if you’re standing by the sidelines wondering if you’ll ever have the guts to get out there and race, here’s some guidance on how to make today your very first day as a Spartan.
1. Sign up and feel special
If you want to enter a Spartan Race, don’t overthink it. Just do it, says JP Siou, owner and head trainer at BTG Fitness in Abbotsford, British Columbia. When members at his gym agree to the challenge, Siou goes online straight away and walks them through the sign up process.
“Then once they’re in we make them feel special, because they are.” he says. “Stepping up to enter a Spartan Race shows that next-level commitment to improving yourself every day, and so we do what we can to support that.”
Remind yourself of that fact too and be proud of the pledge you’re making.
2. Make it a goal
Once you’ve signed up to race, figure out your training. SGX coach and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist Jermie Laraque-Two Elk suggests creating goals to guide your focus. Establish your race as the long-term goal and then tick off a series of smaller targets on your way to achieving it. These targets could include, “losing a certain amount of weight, or being able to jog a specific distance,” says Laraque-Two Elk, who runs his own gym in Denver, Colorado.
3. Get supported
Don’t go it alone either, says Laraque-Two Elk. Signing up is the first hurdle. Staying motivated is the next. So enlist a partner to join you on your journey. “It could be a spouse, family member, friend, or co-worker. Getting another person to train and race with you can help keep you accountable and make things more enjoyable,” he notes.
4. Double-down on that support
Siou agrees, but also suggests training with an SGX coach. “Having that safety-net of knowing an experienced racer will be running with you can really help to get you over the mental hurdle of signing up for your first race.”
As a practice in his own gym, Siou says, “We always have a team to support our first-time racers. Whether that team is just me as their SGX coach, and that person running together, or like in our last event, the Spartan Race Sun Peaks Sprint, a group of eight of us running. We never have anyone running by themselves their first time, or in fact, any time.”
In addition, Siou says, a good SGX coach will help with extra mindset and lifestyle lessons, such as proper nutrition, which helps first-timers to prepare for the race ahead, as well as be “more Spartan” in their daily lives.
5. Do Spartan exercises
Working out with a Spartan coach means getting up close and personal with common OCR obstacles, says Siou. Expect loaded carries, dead hangs, squats and sprints to be in your future.
If you can’t find a real live coach, don’t worry. You can dig into online drills courtesy of the WOD on this Spartan Life site. The point is to do the work that’ll make you work when out on a Spartan Race course.
6. Learn from other Spartans
Start reading up about the race you’re going to run. Not just the practical elements, but other people’s experiences. Join the Spartan Facebook Group. Seek out Spartan runners in your area and pump them for pro tips.
Siou believes that having athletes share their skills and struggles helps rookie racers in overcoming their own fears and hesitation. “They hear how much fun the races really are, even while they’re also physically demanding, and that helps them believe that they can do it” he says.
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