The Spartan Race is a true test of agility, strength and endurance. It incorporates every kind of human movement including crawling, climbing, carrying, dragging, lifting. Your agility is tested with balancing, throwing and swinging, as well as overall tests of strength, endurance and mental fortitude.
This years Spartan Race in Mallorca was tough, very tough! It was even called the hardest Spartan Race in the history of Spanish OCR (obstacle course racing), rivaling the difficulty of the steep climbs of the ski slopes of Andorra.
Why Spartan Race?
I have always liked the idea of running but always hated the practice. Simply running for runnings sake has never appealed to me. Spartan is different. You run for bit, then you have some kind of physical challenge before you carry on running to the next obstacle. This appeals to me a lot more than running a marathon, so I made the Spartan Race a goal to motivate my training. Having an event which you know you have to train for is a very strong motivating force. These types of goals will take you a lot further than more abstract goals like “I want to get fit for summer” or even specific weight loss goals like “losing 10kgs”.
As humans we are built for long distances. Our hunter gatherer ancestors were persistence hunters. Even though we are not very fast compared to other animals, we have certain attributes that make us specially adapted to endurance. Our ability to sweat is one that allows us to move for very long periods of time without overheating. Its this attribute that allowed us to track and run down animals into exhaustion and then be able to catch them for food. Modern day humans have lost these abilities. Many of us have a hard time running any distance at all, me included! This was one of my main reasons for doing the Spartan. It was a goal of mine to train in an area of strength and conditioning that I was lacking.
What Did I learn?
The Spartan Race was tough! I wasn’t expecting so many steep hills and a very technical running terrain. My quads were on fire and at about 10km my left quad started to cramp. Earlier in the race while carrying a 22kg sandbag on my back and trying to balance on muddy round logs, I slipped off. The penalty for failing an obstacle is “30 burpees”. While doing the burpees I made a crucial mistake. I was walking up from the ground using my left leg over and over again and this took its toll, which is why I started to cramp later on in the race. Trying to run while your leg is cramping is no fun but I persevered and after a while it got better. Strong quads are a must. More lunges and step ups for me from now on in my training!
It’s a runners game
Even though it is an obstacle course, there is a lot of running and power hiking. The obstacles I found fairly easy. I have a rock climbing background so the walls, monkey bars and other climbing obstacles weren’t much or a problem. I would blast past people on the obstacles and then they would overtake me again on the running. Add running trails to my list of improvements to make!
The Spartan Race is the perfect test of all round fitness. It will really show you where you are lacking strength, endurance or mental fortitude. If you are not agile and have poor upper body strength you will suffer on the obstacles, which will then drain your energy for the running. And if you are not good at the running you will be drained for the obstacles.
Was it Fun?
I’m not sure that I would describe the race as fun. It was definitely a challenge. Probably the hardest endurance I have ever done. There is some suffering, discomfort and lots of pushing you out of your comfort zone. It was fun to run the course with other people. The whole experience felt very “primal”. I felt like I was on some kind of mission and even though there is a competitive side to it, the atmosphere between competitors is very friendly and supportive.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely!! I have already signed up for my next race in Madrid in May. Knowing that I have the race coming up really motivates me to keep pushing my training and looking at improving the areas in which I felt weak in the last race. I am enjoying training more than ever thanks to having a focused goal and looking forward to this next challenge.
Many of us from the Nourish Community took part in the Spartan Race. Do you want to find out why? Follow this link to read the individual stories and experiences of some that took part: Spartan Special
Written by Luke Wills
About the author
Luke Wills has over 7 years experience in the Fitness Industry and is a pioneer in Spain in disciplines such as Kettlebell Training, the Wim Hof Method and The Oxygen Advantage.
The Optimal Health Method is the combination of environmental conditioning, breathing techniques, optimal nutrition coaching and personalized exercise routines, forming a truly unique and effective method that gives real results, because health is so much more than just exercise.
Luke lives in a self built, off grid house in the country side of Mallorca with his wife, baby, dogs and chickens.