tips for running your first spartan race.

let me start by saying while my body aches and my skin is cut and bruised, i am very much alive…though, i feel like i’m slowly dying.

secondly: i am sparta!

that’s right, this girl faced her overwhelming fear of running the spartan race, my first ever obstacle course race.


a full recap to come once i get photos from the course, but i wanted to pass along some tips for anyone considering a spartan race/ocr for the first time and is feeling terrified of the fact, because that’s where i was.

as i mentioned, this year accidentally became one of facing fears and conquering things that have terrified me. out of all of the things I’ve done so far in 2015, the spartan race was by far the scariest in my mind. i’m not in peak physical condition, i’ve never climbed over a wall – i had a play-it-safe childhood – and was (read: am) intimidated by those who are everything i’m not. for those reasons, spartan was the breeding ground of insecurity.


here’s what i wish i knew, or things i learned along the 5km+, 15-obstacle spartan sprint course:

  • if you have the choice, don’t run it in the pouring rain, or the day after a lot of people have run it in the pouring ran. sadly, Calgary didn’t have that choice. the hills of slick mud added further challenges and often stole shoes of competitors that did not tie their laces tight enough.
  • if you have them, or can afford to buy them, wear trail shoes or shoes that have a cleat/spike to them. they will get you up and down the hills much easier and let you tear through the mud.
  • compression everything. if you’re wearing something loose or cotton it is only going to get weighed down in the muddy water pits, and likely to catch in an obstacle.
  • ladies, learn how to do one of those fancy braid crowns. i had my hair piled on top of my head in an obnoxious pineapple, and got it caught on the barbed wire a few times.
  • if you are running the race alone, you’ll never actually be on your own. the support and community at the spartan was unlike anything i’ve experienced. it began even before i crossed the start line. while waiting for the race to begin, the woman beside me asked if i was running alone, when i said yes and that it was my first ocr, she offered to stick with me. and she meant it. every obstacle, every mud hill, there was Tara right by my side. i’m pretty confident that she is the reason i finished with as much sanity as i did. but even if you don’t have Tara, you’ll still have the kindest stranger offering to boost you up and over a wall, or support your butt while taking on the traverse wall. (my goodness was there butt touching! team no-personal-space.) or you’ll have the hottest, fittest, shirtless men offering high-fives and words of encouragement as they fly past you on the course.


  • practice your burpees! and add in any cardio and endurance exercise that you can think of, then google some more. i had to travel unexpectedly before the race and was concerned about training, thankfully i could use my GoodLife Fitness membership in toronto, too.
  • know what you can’t do. for me, the rope climb was out of the question. i knew i wasn’t going to be able to get anywhere close to the top, so i didn’t bother wasting energy on an attempt knowing i was going to have to do 30 burpees anyway. conserve your energy.
  • that being said, if there is a chance you can conquer it: do it! no one likes burpees and they take up time. it will also allow you to surprise yourself. your body can do some great and challenging things.
  • take it seriously. the course can be challenging, and people will get hurt. there was a gentleman in front of me on the parallel bars that fell and injured his elbow/arm and withdrew from the race. there are opportunities across the entire course to injure yourself; that’s why you signed the death waiver.
  • bring a change of clothes, shoes and a towel. changing into your warm, dry clothes may be the happiest feeling you’ve ever experienced.


run a spartan race? what would you add to my list?

this post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness blogger ambassador program; all opinions expressed are my own.