It seems like only yesterday I was slogging up the mountains of Killington at the 2014 Spartan Beast in Vermont. It was an enormous gut check on that mountain. Physically I was prepared. Earning my trifecta the previous year via the Carolina Beast, it was time to tackle the Super Bowl of Spartan Races, the Vermont Beast.
Race day approached and the morning was crisp with a chilly wind coursing through the air. The scene at the bottom of the mountain was electric, anxiety was flooding my body. No doubt, this would be a long day.
I finished the course in 9 hours, not to shabby. There were however, many lessons learned that day about Vermont Beast that I pass on to the people I train for Spartan, and will share some here with you.
There will be at least two sand bag carries, up a mountain, close to a mile hike for each one. Prepare your legs by carrying heavy stuff up and down a hill repeatedly. Lunges and squats are your friend for training.
Trail running is another huge part of this race. At least 3 miles running through a dense forest. The trails will be wet, muddy and slick, some points will barely be able to handle one person at a time. Prepare by running in the woods, off the beaten path.
Burdens. There will be several burden carries. Rock buckets, logs, atlas ball and sandbags. Prepare by carrying awkward stuff for mile walks. If it’s horrible, heavy and uncomfortable, use it to train.
It seems never ending. The ultimate mind fuck comes when you seem like you’ve been on the course forever, you ask the course Marshall how much further, they say “Two more miles” which is always bullshit. It will always be two more miles five miles ago, people will say all kinds of shit, “My fitbit says we’ve already gone 16 miles” blah, blah, blah. Don’t let the desire to get the mileage in your head. Just go. You will be up and down the mountain several times. Just when you think it’s got to be over, it’s not. Stay out of your head
Your ankles and knees will take an epic beating. So will your toes, especially the tips of your toes and toe nails. Keep your toe nails trimmed for race day. Wear proper compression gear for your joints if necessary.
Pull ups. A lot of your upper body will be used in this race. Pull ups are your ultimate muscle builder. You will be pulling yourself up over a lot of obstacles. You will also encounter the rig which will absolutely test your upper body strength. You will pull stuff on ropes, pulling is essential in your training. Become a pull up master.
Snacks and hydration. I found eating small amounts of gel packs to be a decent way to stay energized on the course. I had plenty of water, it’s the fuel that needs to be consumed on the course that is important. Find what works for you. I can’t eat protein bars or bites of any sort. They make me sick. Some people eat mustard packs, I saw people eating pizza and hoagies on the course. Find what fuels you and bring it.
*Don’t be afraid to bring some Advil or Tylenol or whatever. If your knees or back or ankle or whatever is hurting half way into the race, a few pain pills may help ease the pain for the duration of the course.
Cold swimming. Vermont water is freezing cold. Take your breath away cold, and it sucks. Get out of the water and keep moving. Not walking, but running, do burpees, but keep moving the moment you get out of the water.
There will be two barbed wire crawls, two spear throws and a rope climb with no knots. If you have access to a rope for climbing practice, use it.
So there you have it, some of what to expect at Vermonts Spartan Beast. Good luck to all of you participating in this years event. If you have any questions about training please don’t hesitate to contact me, and also join our newsletter!
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