Losing Your Sparkle, Or What To Expect From Your First Spartan Race
As I write this blog post, I Google “losing your sparkle” and squint at the results. It is like the unicorn frappuccino all over again. Rainbows and unicorns. Or, more accurately, glitter tank tops and saccharine quotes. Pink, pink, PINK.
“Never let anyone dull your sparkle”.
“Unleash your inner sparkle”.
“Life won’t sparkle unless you do”.
“Keep calm and sparkle”.
And, of course:
“Don’t ever lose your sparkle!”.
Except the latter expression – “losing your sparkle” – came to mean something really specific in the (female) obstacle racing circles.
It’s “pop your cherry” meets Spartan Race. In other words, you lose your sparkle when you run your first Spartan Race. So, if all goes well, it IS actually a good thing. Just because it’s your first time, doesn’t mean it has to hurt.
Ok, it may hurt a little…
Some things you can expect:
See that hill?
Once you are at the race venue, look around. If there is a hill nearby, chances are, you will be headed up the hill first. Spartan races are often held at local ski resorts, ensuring there is at least one hill to send racers up and down.
Uphill serves as a great way to spread out the field, so most race organizers will take advantage in order to minimize the bottlenecks at the first few obstacles. In other words… find the hill, look at the hill, make peace with the hill.
If there are multiple distances taking place over the course of a weekend, Spartan Super is often a longer loop of the same race course with only few additional obstacles thrown in.
If you are the runner type, go for Super. You will cover more distance, climb up and down the same hill at least once or twice more. If you are the Crossfit/eat barbell for breakfast type, go for Sprint – less distance, more obstacle per kilometre.
It will take longer than you think it will.
Spartan Sprints are advertised as 5k races. You may have an idea of how long it takes you to cover a 5k, especially if you have done a couple of road races before, like Color Run, Foam Fest, Warrior Dash or similar.
Depending on how comfy you are with slogging up the hill, possibly with weight, a Spartan Sprint will probably take you anywhere from one and a half to two and a half hours. Settle in. And for goodness sake, do not sprint out of the gate.
The obstacles will knock the wind out of you.
Running is one thing. Completing obstacles is another thing. Running, then completing obstacles, then running is a different thing entirely.
The burpees will knock even more wind out of you than obstacles.
Running after completing thirty burpees sucks. Read that sentence again. If you still have few weeks before your event, I suggest throwing few sets of thirty burpees into a training run or two, just to assess the potential damage. Otherwise, you will be unpleasantly surprised during the race.
Do the (penalty) burpees.
If you fail an obstacle, there are only two options:
1 – You feel pissed/disappointed that you have failed an obstacle, and doing penalty burpees just seems to add insult to the injury. You decide you are too tired, too hungry, too sore, too beat up, too dehydrated, too [insert anything else that comes to mind here], and move on to the next obstacle. Characteristic signs include sloped shoulders, defeated posture, and averted gaze (or just-try-and-dare-me-i-will-cut-you gaze).
2 – You do the burpees.
Every single debate on burpee form, burpee ethics, and human worth has already taken place. Fuck that noise.
Do the burpees. Don’t do them for me. Do them for you. At the end of the day… your food will taste better.
You will be on your knees at some point, and on your stomach at some point. Possibly, crawling across sharp rocks. Therefore, if you choose to wear booty shorts, you are either my hero, or an idiot.
I am just jealous. Because the one and only time I wore booty shorts to a Spartan Race, I ended up looking for the bushes about forty minutes in, so I could unpeel sticky wet layers and slather every inch of my inner thighs with BodyGlide. Chafing is real, yo. But, if that’s NOT your struggle, strut away. Thigh-gapped queens out there – you do you. 😉
You’ll hang, you’ll carry.
You will have to support your body weight – whether that’s swinging across monkey bars, the Platinum rig, or climbing a rope. If you cannot support your own bodyweight, wearing gloves will not make it magically possible. Just being straight with you, sister.
You’ll carry and drag various objects across various terrain. Some menu items may include bucket with gravel, cinder block on a chain, sand bag. Yes, it reads a little bit like a tool selection from a torture chamber.
Some questions you may have:
Is that real fire at the finish line?
Did I really pay money for this?
Should you bring water?
Should you bring food?
Probably. Recommended – energy gels (if you know you can stomach them), Twizzlers, jelly beans, dried mango, dates. Not recommended – nuts, chocolate, salad, steak.
Should you wear the oldest shoes you have, so you can throw them out after?
No. Just wear the shoes you’d go running in. The oldest pair is worn out, and not supportive. It’s just mud. It will come off. #powerwasher
Should you bring anything else?
Yes. Sunscreen and a sense of humour.
Your first Spartan Race, your first obstacle race, your first race. There is a certain big dealness to it, isn’t there?
“It’s just a race”, people will say. “It’s just a 5k“, they will say.
Don’t listen to those people. In fact, don’t listen whenever anyone uses the word “just” to describe anything you do.
“Oh, I’m JUST doing it for fun”.
“I am just participating – I am not going to race it or anything”.