As you may be able to tell by this picture, I wasn’t very thrilled about my performance in possibly the hardest obstacle course race on the East Coast.
The Wintergreen Spartan Super near Charlottesville in Virginia was a 9.2 mile, 29 obstacle, race with a few death marches thrown in. Hiking up and down black diamond mountains that most skiers won’t even scoot down. Not to mention carrying buckets of gravel, crawling through 1/4 mile of mud, and jumping over walls reaching 9 feet.
When I look at things like that, I get thrilled. I was thrilled. Until I finished and felt defeated. I hate feeling defeated. I know deep down that being defeated makes you stronger . . . but man . . . at the time being all I wanted to do was yell “F-you!” and not “Aroo!”
Come to find out, we actually did pretty well considering half of the people who signed up didn’t even finish and we finished near the 50th percentile of the people who did finish. After that stat I felt less grumpy.
It wasn’t the course itself that upset me. It’s how my body reacted. My quads and calves started cramping around mile 7. I separated my shoulder on the monkey bars around mile 6. Little did I know that 6 of the last ten obstacles I couldn’t do.
As I was lying there in the mud underneath barbed wire, crawling through filth, smooching with the worms, quads-a-cramping; I just couldn’t crawl anymore. This was my worst moment. I was pulled out, asked to do 30 burpees and move on.
The next obstacle . . . the wet wall. Couldn’t do it (shoulder).
The next obstacle . . . the rig including rings, ropes with knots, and every other American Ninja Warrior apparatus known to man. Couldn’t do it (shoulder).
The last obstacle . . . the rope climb. Couldn’t do it (shoulder).
I was left doing 120 burpees with only 1/2 mile left in the race. See how I could have felt defeated?
I swore up and down that I would never do it again. Thank God for my buddy and lifting partner, Pitt Daddy, for being there.
A year passed, and Wintergreen is in two weeks. Needless to say, I can’t wait to tackle this ass of a mountain once again. Barring any shoulder injuries, I am prepared. I would like to share my preparation with you on events like these.
Maybe not just Wintergreen Super Spartans. It could be a kickball tournament. Or a marathon. Or a long hike in the mountains. Either way, follow these tips on how to prepare for a body-beating event you may have in the near future.
Exercise: Training is the fun part! Granted, each event is different on how you train. What matters is what you do leading up to this.
Lay low. It’s hard not to feel like you need to kick your ass with workouts on the days leading up to event. However, you want your muscles at it’s most rested. 3 to 4 days before your event, I recommend active recovery, basic bodyweight movements, and lots of mobility and stretching. This will take the load off of your central nervous system.
You’re not going to get out of shape in 4 days time. In fact, some people would get more in shape if they gave their body some rest more often.
(Jungle Gym and ROC Spartans – Try and hold back on your elevated ‘cardios’ and trail runs 5 days prior to the event. Especially for a doozie like Wintergreen. Try doing a slow stairclimber or smooth rows to keep your body moving. Long, early morning walks can be magical as well.’)
Hydration: Leading up to the race, you want to make sure that your muscles are full of water. You can’t just chug two gallons of water the day before the race and expect this to happen. It’s kinda like watering plants. They don’t just grow overnight.
Drink at least 100 ounces in water every single day leading up to the event or race (more if you’re a big boy like me). Here’s a little trick however.
Creatine load. Creatine is an acid that helps supply energy in muscle cells. Start taking creatine 5-7 days before your big event to avoid your muscle giving out on your mid-stride.
(Jungle Gym and ROC Spartans – Take 3-7 grams of creatine everyday in water leading up to race with dinner.)
Diet: This is simple. Eat your normal diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole foods, lean protein, and essential oils. However, we need to load our muscles with proper fuel leading up to the race. Don’t change WHAT you eat. Change HOW MUCH you eat. Load up with lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and fats. A perfect meal would be breakfast the night before the race. Scrambled eggs loaded with avocado with a side of pancakes and hash browns. Toss a little bit of pure maple syrup on it for some simple sugars. Make enough for the morning of as well. Just make sure you eat 2 to 3 hours prior to the start time. You don’t want blood flow in your stomach trying to digest food while you need blood flow in your extremities while you’re dodging obstacles.
Pre-Race: You’re loaded with water, creatine, and proper nutrients. Now how should you warm-up?
Did you pack your foam roller? Give your muscles a soft tissue rub. You can even do these with your hands if need be. Stretch your tightest muscles prior to start time. Your biggest thing is movement though. I recommend a heavy dosage of your favorite yoga set. Lots of down-dogs, spider-man lunges, vinyasas. Throw in some burpees, jump squats, and basic arm circles. Let you’re body know it’s about to go through some destruction so it can be prepared. Not too much though. Save your energy for showtime.
During Race: Be confident.
However, confidence doesn’t tell your muscles not to give up on you. Last year, this was my biggest downfall. This year I am going to do a cycle of three things.
1. Quick sugar – gel packs, concentrated candy, etc. This will keep quick burning fuel for my muscle with little digestion.
2. BCAAs – mixed in my first batch of water. Have a second batch available for midway through the race or event.
3. Mustard – quick sodium fix to retain the water you are trying to store.
I do not recommend mixing the three.
Post Race: More BCAA’s. High Fives. Beer. Whatever you want to eat. Hot Tub. Cold Swim.
Jungle Gym is proudly the part owner of a new OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) Company called ROC Training. We are sweeping through Newport News and currently have 30 clients participating in our training program. If you have more questions, please feel free to email me. I’d love to help.