Adventure Race Training: the Journey Begins

Spartan Race Blogger

So, I’ve signed up for my first Spartan. The magic day will be May 9. That’s about ten weeks from now. For those of you who don’t know what the Spartan is, in this case, it is a three-mile race at CitiField in New York City. During the race, there are 15 challenging obstacles that one must complete. Failure to complete an obstacle leads to penalty burpees. Based on fitness level, it could end up as the “The Day of the Endless Burpees.”

What’s my motivation? Well, primarily, because it’s there. In a classic “why did the chicken cross the road” turn of logic, I felt it was time. I’ve been hearing about Spartans for years, from those who have ventured onto the field and from those who swear they would never do anything that crazy. I never swear like that. I love a good challenge. I’ve run a few marathons because my doctor told me I should never run more than five miles at a time. I’m 6’2” and 215 pounds, so he always said my frame was too big for long-distance running. Of course, I had to prove him wrong. I was never worried about finishing the races as I am as pig-headed and determined as they come, but I was dedicated to the idea that I would run a relatively happy race and I would feel good the next day. Sure enough, I trained smart and met my goals. 

Recently, my focus has been on boxing and Krav Maga, two sports that don’t necessarily lead directly into Spartan territory. I mix up my training with weight work once or twice a week as well as Pilates once or twice a week to make sure I remain balanced and flexible. My Spartan goals are simple for the first few weeks of training: increase my cardio vascular work, play with HIIT training days, maintain my flexibility and balance with my Pilates work, and shift my strength training to more body weight/suspension-oriented exercise with the TRX. Fortunately, I have built a great training facility in Brooklyn with roughly 5,000 square feet dedicated to an adult playground, with monkey, pull up and dip bars, a climbing wall, battle ropes and rope machines, plyo boxes—everything that I will need to get myself up to speed for the race in ten weeks. 

Ideally, I think I would like to race at 200 pounds so that I feel a little lighter on some of the climbing obstacles—bulk isn’t as important for climbing a knotted rope as it is for grappling in a Krav class. But my goal will not be to drop pounds. I have found in the past that if I dedicate myself to training intelligently for the event, my body will shift to the appropriate size. My diet is pretty solid all year round. I will make sure to stay hydrated, as increasing my cardio vascular load will put greater demands on my system and dehydration will cause a breakdown and injury—not an appealing prospect.

Finally, I will be putting a team together so that I have people to train with, if not in person, at least through check-ins on a regular basis. There is no greater joy than sharing the pain of prepping for an event such as this. And maybe we will try to raise some money for charity while we are at it. That is always a great motivator on the days when you really just don’t want to do it.

Michael Feigin is proprietor of The Fitness Guru gym in Brooklyn. Follow him @TheFitnessGuru.