Long time no see! I wish I had some fantastic excuses for my negligence – a round-the-world trip, self-imposed reclusion from the modern world, a stint in space… But I don’t. It’s down to plain old laziness.
So I hope this tale of blood, sweat and tears will stop you from thinking that I am a lazy sod who has decided to hole themselves up with the TV from the time of my last post.
It seemed like a good idea at the time…
Like most of my more intrepid adventures, I signed up to the Super Spartan Race a long way in advance of race day. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. My friend (and future team mate) had done the race once already on her own, and I felt that this time I couldn’t let her run it solo. So I paid the entrance fee and let the feel-good afterglow of altruism course through my veins.
But then I realised what I’d done.
For the uninitiated, a Spartan Race is one of the new breed of cross-country obstacle course races that promise to test your limits. For some reason, our comfortable modern lives have us seeking out experiences that make us as uncomfortable as possible. These races involve mud, barbed wire, heights, and basically anything else that sounds horrible. A Super Spartan is a mid-range race. It’s about eight to 10 miles and has around 30 obstacles. (You can find out more about it here.)
THIS IS A BIG DEAL.
Now that I had actually committed to doing this ridiculous race, I realised that I had to get in shape. I’m never REALLY unfit, but a Spartan Race was certainly going to need a bit more muscle.
Training, training, training
The key to building muscle is, of course, weights. Joy. Body Pump became an unmissable class and every few weeks I HAD to go up in weight. But my arms have always been weak and wimpy things and progress was not good. I was also worried about tackling many of the obstacles, which would include the likes of a rope climb and flipping tyres, so in desperation I hired my Body Pump instructor as my trainer for a few months before The Big Day.
Like signing up to the race, at the time this felt like a good idea. It still was, but it was far more tiring than I was expecting. One memorable circuit session left me gasping on the floor. Don’t tell my instructor, but I was actually so exhausted that I got a taxi home afterwards…
Training continued and became more intense. I invested in strange things, such as a foam roller (otherwise known as an instrument of torture to those with sore muscles), and I experimented with protein shakes (all disgusting). But I did start to get stronger and training was fun, especially when my team mate trained with me.
If you’re training for a race like this (not that you will after you have finished reading this), then you can’t do it all from the comfort of a gym. My instructor therefore took me outside to a children’s playground. While there I had to do crazy things such as run over picnic benches, clamber up a slide, and squeeze myself down a tunnel designed for a primary school pupil. I was so bruised afterwards that I couldn’t wear a skirt for WEEKS.
I also tried out a few other obstacles. Some other friends of mine who had also signed up to Spartan went with me to Extreeme Adventure, which has an army-style assault course. It’s an excellent course and the two tracks mean that you can race side-by-side. Obstacles include a high wall, rope swing, monkey bars, and a crawl (among other things). This boosted my confidence a little, but there was still a long way to go.
As race day approached, my trainer then drove me and my team mate to a horse cross-country course. Together we clambered over massive jumps and leapt over ditches. I also caused a great deal of mirth when I squealed girlishly as I was ordered to run into a freezing cold patch of water. My instructor also had yet more reason to laugh herself into oblivion when my team mate and I got lost on the course… She was very surprised when we didn’t turn up where we agreed to meet. Oops.
As muscles began to get stronger, my fears then turned to the distance. I hadn’t run more than six miles since Christmas, so I decided to organise a long run for when I returned from holiday (another top tip folks – DON’T go on a holiday two weeks before the event…). So the weekend before D-Day was spent running 10 miles along Marriott’s Way (where we also almost got lost). Luckily the sun shone and we just about made it.
In the last few days leading up the race we did a bit more running and weight lifting. And then we stopped, to give our poor aching bodies time to rest before the race.
To find out if I made it across the finish line, stay tuned for part two…