Obstacle racing requires a lot more planning than your typical road race. As I mentioned in my last post, you need to be physically prepared for a variety of obstacles. You also need to wear the appropriate gear and fuel yourself in a manner that suits your body’s needs. I am no expert, but I did do some research prior to my first race.
Let’s talk clothes. If the word cotton is on the label don’t wear it. You will likely encounter a significant amount of mud and/or water. Cotton will absorb water and weigh you down. The race is hard enough. You don’t want to be carrying an extra couple of pounds (that you didn’t train with) due to water retention – on your clothing. I mixed brands all over to ultimately pick out the outfit that I was most comfortable in. Another word of advice, work out hard in the outfit that you plan to wear before you race in it.
- Sports Bra – Nike Pro Classic Sports Bra ($32.99) – It’s not about looks, it’s about support. I don’t need as much of it after nursing two babies. I wear these every time I do hard exercise. Run. Plyos. You get my drift. I picked a color that would be easy to see when my husband was looking for me as I finished the race. Even with mud covering my body, you could still see the bright yellow color.
Let’s be serious. I was terrified that a piece of my clothing would get snagged on barb wire, subsequently causing a tear. I dreamt of this tear getting bigger and bigger as the race went on. I was fine, even though I did get snagged.
- Shorts – Reebok Performance Shorts – $30 – I don’t typically buy Reebok. I bought shorts that look exactly the same in Nike. I came home and put them both on. I stuck with the Reebok. The waistline band on the Reebok shorts gave me much needed support for heavy front carry obstacles (bucket carry – see below) and they definitely kept my butt covered. The Nike shorts lacked in that area. I would highly recommend these shorts for this type of event. They cut water quickly and are SUPER light weight.
- Sock – MudGear Obstacle Race Compression Socks – SOCKS MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE. Read that again. Don’t mess around. Can I list all of the reasons why I would never race again without these?
- They protected my shins. I got cut up all over my legs (except my calves). I actually ran threw a prickly bush and didn’t notice it until I finished the race and attempted to take my socks off. The socks were covered in them. I didn’t feel a thing.
- I swam and walked in mud as deep as my knees (see picture above). When I got out of the river in the first mile, my ankles felt like they had 10 pound weights attached to them. That’s how much water had absorbed in my socks and shoes. Within 200 meters of getting out of the water, it felt like it had entirely absorbed and dried.
Shoes – People try to convince you that shoes make a big difference. They might. However, since this was my first Spartan Race (and possibly my last), I didn’t want to invest in a pair of shoes that I might not wear again. I also didn’t want to compete in a shoe that didn’t offer me proper support (since the race was so long) – 8.5 miles. I chose to wear an old pair of my regular running sneakers.
That’s them. Your basic Asic Gel Kayanos. They proved to hold me from slipping on the walls, the rope and several other obstacles. There was only one instance where I wish I had other shoes. Running downhill – I needed traction for the steep decline. TIE YOUR SHOELACES TIGHT! As tight as you can. Double knot, over and over. I only double knotted once. I had to stop to tie my shoes. Your shoe could get stuck in mud so hard that it could come off your foot if you don’t tie your shoes tight enough.
Don’t even think about wearing those worn out basic training shoes (like the one I wear all the time around town). Look at the bottom of that shoe. It won’t hold on the trails and steep terrain. I actually thought about wearing these because of how light they are. I am so glad that my husband convinced me not to. I didn’t wear a lot, but that was my preference. It was hot. Check the local forecast and dress appropriately (remember, NO cotton!)
My heat launched at 7:45 AM. I typically don’t eat anything prior to a morning workout (with the exception of a banana here and there). Knowing I had at least two hours of working out ahead of me, I knew that I needed some fuel to get me through the grueling activity. To avoid having an unsettled stomach (or tasting my breakfast) as I ran, I opted to get up at 5:00 AM to eat.
- Banana – You can’t go wrong. Potassium to keep you from cramping. Carbs/sugars to provide energy to your body. The added benefit? They taste good and are filling!
- Mint Chocolate Mint Cookie Balance Bar – This is a personal favorite. It is probably just a pre-race ritual at this point. Since college, I have eaten these on days that I compete. I ate one before my one and only marathon. I need them to feel like I am going to have a good race! Only Mint Chocolate Cookie. Let’s hope they never discontinue them.
- Gu – start line only with water. Take your Gu 15 minutes prior to the gun going off, so in this case, in the chute for the start line (after you jump the wall). Drink at least 8 ounces of water. Chuck your water and your wrapper in the garbage. You will get disqualified from a Spartan Race for littering now! That includes your water cups at water stations on the course.
That’s not a lot of food prior to doing such an exhausting event. Since I can’t eat a lot on the day of the event, I rely on a sufficient dinner to carry into the morning. Roasting Company is a family tradition. I know, must people like pasta. We prefer potatoes. My go to menu item is the chicken with rice (sauce on side), green beans, corn bread and sweet potatoes. I eat it all. There is no beating around the bush. This is all personal preference.