Do you have summer racing coming up? Here’s a checklist of things you should be doing to prepare.
Follow this checklist to keep yourself motivated, clean up your diet, and get the most out of your training. This is how you prepare like a Spartan.
1. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for the race now
It’s easy to put off training for a race you’re going to run “some day.” Having a deadline forces you to focus and motivates you to get serious about your training.
2. Stay standing throughout the day
Work while standing up. Stay standing for as long as you can, then sit down for a half hour before standing again. By standing throughout the day, you can easily burn a couple hundred extra calories a day – but more importantly, you’ll build endurance in your legs and lower back.
3. Keep your kitchen clean at all times
When your kitchen is clean, you’ll cook more often. The more you cook at home rather than eating out, the healthier your diet will be.
4. Sleep in complete darkness
Even a little bit of light can impair sleep quality. When you sleep in total darkness, you’ll get deeper, more restorative sleep.
5. Train the way you’ll race
Your body’s adaptation to exercise is highly specific. Your workouts should mix endurance running with circuit-style weight training in order to mimic the conditions of an actual race.
6. Occasionally do something brutally difficult
Once a month, do a three-hour long workout, or fast for 2-3 days straight, to re-calibrate your sense of difficulty. When the time comes, your Spartan obstacle race won’t be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
7. Tell yourself that you want to work hard, not that you need to
People who think in terms of want rather than need are more successful at reaching their fitness goals. Make a habit of framing fitness as a choice, not a reluctant obligation.
8. Don’t keep junk food in your home
You can fight temptation once a week at the grocery store, or many times a day at home.
9. If you don’t love to cook, start prepping food in bulk
Cook four to six servings of healthy, low-calorie food at a time (assuming you’re only cooking for yourself) once or twice a week. Save the leftovers in the fridge so that any time you’re hungry, your most convenient food option is a healthy one.
10. View willpower as an infinite resource
Willpower tends to work however we think it works- it’s only limited if you believe it is.
11. Train at the same time of day that your race will be held
Over time, your biorhythm will become entrained to your usual workout time, and you’ll start to have more energy around that time of day.
12. Start darkening your environment 2-3 hours before bed
Your brain uses light and darkness as signals about how high your energy level should be. Darkening your environment will signal it to start winding down and producing sleep hormones like melatonin.
13. Follow the “crowding out” principle
Beyond not keeping junk food in your home, you don’t need to put too much effort into not eating junk food. Instead, by adding in more healthy foods, you keep yourself full and displace the junk foods from your diet.
14. Keep your workout gear ready
If you work out at home, keep it sitting out in the open in the room where you work out. If you go to a gym, keep your workout gear packed and have the bag either in your car, or sitting next to the front door.
Meditating for five to ten minutes a day will lower stress and anxiety. Aside from making it easier to sleep at night and generally feeling good, meditation also lowers cortisol, helping your body to recover more effectively from workouts and strengthen itself for your upcoming race.
16. Kick your caffeine addiction
The last thing you want while running a long race is to start craving caffeine when none is available. Ditching caffeine addiction has many of the same benefits as meditation- less stress, lower cortisol, better sleep, and faster recovery- but it will also raise your baseline energy level, without the jitters caffeine causes.
17. Practice embracing the suck
Embracing the suck is a concept from military training. It means, quite simply, to learn to embrace difficulty, appreciate challenging situations and the growth opportunity they present. Spartan races are hard; a challenge-seeking mentality is practically a requirement to complete one.
18. Eat only when you’re hungry for healthy food
It can be hard to differentiate between true hunger, in which your body needs nutrients, and psychological hunger, which is simply a craving for your favorite foods. The surest sign that your body genuinely needs food is that you feel hungry enough to eat healthy food, and not just hungry enough to eat your favorite foods.
19. No matter how busy you get, do as much as you can
Sometimes life gets in the way- you get busy with work, or you get sick, or family obligations pop up. You don’t need to prevent that from happening, but you need to know how to deal with it.
20. Get involved in the Spartan community
Few things are more motivating than being surrounded by people who are working hard towards the same goals you are. In addition to reading our articles here on the Spartan blog, follow Spartan on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Look for a regional Spartan Facebook group for racers in your area, and most importantly- start meeting and befriending other racers.
4 weeks to fitness. Download the Get Fit Fast Training Plan