It’s a glorious feeling. Clicking “SUBMIT” on a registration for a Spartan Race or other obstacle race that doesn’t take place for another six months. Knowing you’ve gone all in, but also knowing you have months to build up your strength and endurance. Having the ability to put together a strategic and organized race plan. All that good stuff.
Or you just clicked “SUBMIT” and registered for a race that takes place within the next month. That glorious feeling I just mentioned? Yeah, how about replacing that with sheer terror. Esepcially if you’re like me and you registered for a race that takes place within the next few days. Yeah, I’ve done that.
So what if the latter is your story? First of all, congratulations! You have that teeny tiny bit of crazy in you that will help you succeed at a short notice race. That “EFF IT, WE’LL DO IT LIVE” mentality will give you the fire that can push you when you don’t have time on your side to prepare. So high fives on that!
That said, races aren’t finished on crazy and fire alone. So here are a few smart things you can do to help you succeed at a race when prep time isn’t on your side:
1. Get out and RUN!
Contrary to popular belief, obstacle races aren’t just piles of obstacles placed one after the other. There’s actually a whole bunch of running in between the obstacles. Often on hills and trails. So even if you don’t have the ability to do any actual obstacle training, you can still get out and run. Your best bet is run some trails. That way, you can train in a way that best mimics race course conditions. If you can’t get on a trail, try to find a hilly area in your neighborhood and run outside. And if you don’t have that, do some incline treadmill running.
Now let’s say that you’re not currently conditioned to run very far right now. Or maybe you aren’t able to run at all. This is all a-ok! Typically, obstacles are separated by anywhere from one to three miles of trails. So if you can run but aren’t quite able to do long distances, at least work on building up to three or four miles. If you can’t get there, don’t sweat it. Try getting to a trail and doing some hiking. Here’s a fun tip: whether you run a race or walk it – they’ll still give you a medal if you finish! So just get out and practice running/hiking/walking on some hilly terrain, and you’re off to a great start.
2. Lift some heavy stuff
With the luxury of time, I would suggest you work on all sorts of stuff like rope climb technique, pull ups and monkey bars. But if you are pressed for time, my advice is: lift heavy stuff. Lift weights, buckets and sandbags. Lift items that are made for lifting like dumbbells and barbells, and lift awkward stuff. Definitely lift heavy proportional to your own fitness, but challenge yourself. Want to succeed at the Spartan Race bucket carry? Go get yourself one of those cheap Home Depot buckets and put a bunch of stuff in it and carry it around the block. Practice how you would grip that bucket and support it as you carry it. Want to improve your grip strength? Grab some heavy (for you) dumbbells and carry THOSE around your block. In an obstacle race, you will have to walk around carrying heavy stuff. So do your best to mimic that in your training. By building your strength endurance this way, you will likely have more stamina for the other obstacles you will face on race day. And speaking of things you will have to face on race day…
3. Burpees. Do them. Do lots of them.
If you have a Spartan Race coming up and don’t have much time to prep, here’s some real talk for you: you’re going to do burpees. You will have to do thirty burpees for every failed/skipped obstacle. So now is the time to get over your unfounded hatred of the burpee and learn to embrace it. Seriously, talk to me and I’ll give you at least five other exercises that suck worse than burpees. But I digress…
Make your goal thirty burpees a day. When you start, spread those thirty out throughout your day. Do five at a time every hour. Each day, start bunching them more and more together until you eventually are able to do thirty at once. The goal here is to ensure that the burpees will be the easiest and quickest part of your race.
And even if you’re not doing a Spartan Race, some other races have similar penalty exercises. So you may as well get super good at burpees so you can be ready for whatever they throw at you if you miss an obstacle.
So there you have it – your exceedingly simple training checklist for when the spirit moves you to sign up for a last minute race. If you want to get into more specific stuff for your last minute race domination, send me a message and let’s talk.
You’ve got this – now go get that medal!