This article is sponsored by our partner, MitoQ.
To crush the obstacles of a Spartan course, you’ve got to put in the work leading up to race day. When it comes to ramping up your speed, endurance, and strength—sorry, no shortcuts. But time in the weight room and speed sessions on the track aren’t all it takes to achieve a P.R. when you toe the start line.
We talked with Rose Wetzel—a personal trainer, mom, and pro Spartan athlete (she’s been ranked in the top five in the world)—about sleep, supplements, and all the little extras in her routine that get her in podium shape. Read on for the secrets she swears by.
To make the most of her daily workouts, Wetzel logs as much sleep as possible every night. “I’ve always prioritized sleep as an athlete and a human,” she says. “After being woken three or four times a night by a baby, I can verify that if you don’t get enough sleep, you end up going through the day like a zombie. And packing on cups of coffee is not the same as having a body that’s well-rested and chock-full of high-quality food and supplements.”
That’s especially true when you’re trying to train at your peak. In fact, sleep deprivation, even after only one night, can negatively affect athletic performance by restricting recovery between workouts and depleting glycogen stores (which could hurt you during an endurance event), according to a 2017 research review published in the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports. Wetzel aims for eight to nine hours of z’s a night to wake up feeling recharged.
Start with the right supplement
In addition to a well-rounded diet, Wetzel ensures she has enough in the tank by popping a supplement every morning. “My mom was really healthy and supplemented us well with things from fatty fish oil to calcium, so I saw the value.” Wetzel keeps her energy revved with MitoQ. It’s a CoQ10 supplement that supports your mitochondria (the powerhouse that generates energy for cells) and has been shown to penetrate mitochondria hundreds of times more effectively than regular CoQ10. Increasingly MitoQ is being used by athletes to help them intensify their training while shortening their recovery periods – a combination that can result in performance gains and make all the difference on race day.
Wetzel keeps her MitoQ by her bedside with a glass of water so she never forgets to take it when she wakes up. “I wake up, take my MitoQ, and go,” she says. “I want to know that I’ve done all I can to start the day with the strongest possible foundation.”
Get protein in the p.m.
Yes, eating protein throughout the day is a must for building strong muscles. But snacking on some specifically after the sun goes down is one of Wetzel’s favorite go-tos for complementing her workouts. Eating some protein just before bedtime—usually a bowl of energy granola with almond milk or a protein shake—helps her in a couple of ways, she says. One, a full belly helps her rest well and recharge. But two, it helps her body bounce back after a tough workout on a cellular level.
“Protein helps your muscles rebuild while you’re resting,” she explains. “At night, your body is chilling out, so that’s when the protein can go to work and rebuild your muscles.” Studies have shown that eating protein pre-bedtime can boost recovery significantly by improving muscle synthesis, according to a review published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. Specifically, consuming 40 grams of casein protein increased muscle protein synthesis overnight by 22 percent.
Make time for massage
To ease tight muscles, Wetzel turns to massage. She likes trigger point therapy on her calves to keep them loose and supple—and does it by putting a lacrosse ball on a yoga block and rolling her calves across it slowly. Along with self-massage, Wetzel carves out time every couple weeks for an active release therapy session with a chiropractor. It’s similar to trigger point therapy, she says, but the chiropractor “can dig into all the hard to reach spots and break up adhesions.”
Wetzel says this practice is becoming all the more crucial as she gets older (she’s 37): “As people get older, they can get stiffer, and that can lead to injury. When I make a point to stay mobile, I can move better. As a Spartan racer, I have to pop up from a barbed wire crawl and run at a high pace, then jump up to a rope and climb it aggressively.”
Wetzel also credits her daily MitoQ as helping her move efficiently as she ages. Every year, from the age of 30, our energy-producing mitochondria can produce less of the enzyme CoQ10 and as a result, less energy. “At some point, the body starts to break down more. I need to be smart and make sure everything going into my body has a purpose and supports me on a cellular level.”
Power down in the afternoon
Wetzel’s day starts with early morning personal training sessions with her clients, followed by a workout of her own, and then… more sleep. To drift off into naptime quickly, she turns to a meditation app (Relax Now and Simply Being are her favorites). “They’re so beneficial for shutting my brain off,” she says. “Squeezing in extra sleep when I can in the afternoon allows me to jump-start the recovery process. Rest is an investment in my recovery and performance as an athlete.”