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Race Readiness Lesson #1: Everyday Fueling & Race Training

Two main points in this lesson: everyday nutrition as it relates to OCR and training as it relates to OCR/Spartan Racing.

Spartan Race’s Four Main Nutrition Recommendations

1. For a truly balanced approach to eating, food should come from a variety of food sources. Different types of plants, proteins, etc. Another thing you can learn by increasing variety is also learning what DOESN’T work for you, and if that’s the case, cutting it out. Create your own individualized nutrition plan.

2. Eat more than the RDA for vegetables and fruits. Veggies and fruits are a good, healthy source of carbohydrates (which fuel muscles), a good source of fiber and chock full of vitamins and minerals. Veggies and fruits also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce inflammation. If you could go over 5 cups a day of fruits and veggies, you’ll be golden.

3. Eat nutrient dense foods- as in not processed foods. For example, let’s take two choices here, both 100 calorie foods. One is a cookie. The other is an apple. Same calories, but the apple is also packed with nutrients. The obvious choice here would be to choose the apple.

Generally, this is smart nutrition for life, but especially when training for a race, try to avoid processed foods - as in anything that comes in a can, package, or box - whenever possible. The easiest way to do that is to shop the perimeters of the grocery store and avoid all these aisles in between. In the perimeters, that’s where you’ll find the produce, the meat, eggs, dairy, etc. You can also hit up local farmer’s markets for local and all-natural options.

(In the video - I said the above was the fourth thing. That was an oopsie. Obviously, the processed foods part ties in with the nutrient density part. The real fourth recommendation is below, and also talked about in the video...)

4. Stay in energy balance in the weeks leading up to the race. Even if your primary goal is weight loss - if you’re getting close to a race, give your body the fuel it needs to train and make the necessary strength gains to help you on race day.

Macronutrient Recommendations

Carbohydrates - are the fuel for our body. When broken down, carbohydrates give our muscles to do the energy they need to work, whether that’s in a workout, a race or in daily life. If you find yourself hitting a wall in a workout or running out of gas during a race, it’s likely because you haven’t eaten enough carbs before or haven’t replenished enough during. It is generally recommended that active people get anywhere from 5 grams to 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight (weight in pounds divided by 2.2). 10 grams would be on the super super high end if you were participating in two a days or super intense activity as well as an active job.

Protein - helps build our muscles and make us stronger. It is generally recommended that physically active people get 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (weight in pounds divided by 2.2).

Fat - is a necessary component of good health. Another source of energy, and it makes up components of our bodies and our organs. It is generally recommended that 20-35% of our food intake comes from fat sources, and primarily unsaturated, healthy fats.

Easy way to help you through this stuff:

Training Prep for Race Day

General race training considerations:

Running - hit the trails! You can run on a treadmill or on the street as much as you want, but nothing will prepare you for the terrain in a Spartan Race quite like trail running and hiking. The terrain is uneven, constantly changing, with uphills and downhills of different grades. For some races, elevation is a consideration and if you are going to run a race at high elevation like Tahoe o Big Bear, it may help to drive somewhere to train at elevation, which is fairly easy to do in LA. (talk about training at Big Bear for Tahoe).

Strength Endurance: in a Spartan Race, you are often required to carry something heavy over a sometimes considerable distance. So practice doing that. Run or hike with weights or a sandbag or sandbell. Go to Home Depot and get a bucket, fill it with anything heavy and carry it around. Do Farmer’s Carries with heavy dumbbells. Carry big bags of kitty litter up and down your stairs if you have to (especially helpful if you have a cat).

Grip strength - this is HUGE. Practice hanging from things. Pull up bars, rings, monkey bars, anything you can hold on to and hang from. Practice engaging your shoulders as you hang, and work on increasing the time you hang. Once you get more comfortable, introduce single arm hangs, and work on switching from hand to hand. If you are able, wrap a towels over a pull up bar and practice holding on to the towels and hanging. This practice can do wonders for you on the monkey bars and rigs on the Spartan Race course.

Strength and power training: pick up heavy things and put them down. Really push to increase the amount of weight you can lift, squat, lunge, and press overhead. Include plyometric training like squat jumps and box jumps.

Training through fatigue: as you get stronger, practice doing these things even when you’re tired. After finishing a tough workout, add some dead hangs or pull ups or rope climbs. The Spartan Race designers LOVE making you do work when you’re tired, so train yourself to do work when you’re tired, too. Finish a hard workout and then go for a hilly run. You’ll thank yourself for it on race day.

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