“Victory is paid for in sweat, courage, and preparation.”
As the running season really kicks into full-swing, lots of people are signing up for road races; 10k’s, half-marathons, relays and marathons but for those of you who have signed up for an obstacle race (like Spartan Race) here are some recommendations:
Sneakers you don’t care about ruining.
You should only run in the sneaks you train in, so if you’re wearing your favourite sneakers be prepared to completely destroy them. Ok. It may not be that bad, but after a Spartan race (mud + water + unknown crap) they will never be the same again.
Socks that are not cotton.
In most obstacle races like Spartan, it seems like they want you to be as uncomfortable as possible for the maximum amount of time. For example, at my last race we hit the mud within the first few hundred metres, so expect to have saturated feet. I would recommend acrylic running socks (pretty much every big sports brand sells them, I’ve got a pair of Asics.)
Tank top/shirt that wicks moisture.
I usually wear a tight tank top under another tank top because I’m a prude like that. But UA sells a really cool tank top that wicks moisture away so that when you get soaked you’re not hauling around extra pounds (which is amazing during a race when you’re tired!)
I see people wearing shorts, but having had flesh eating disease I would never risk exposing more of my lower limbs than necessary because the reality is that you’re going to get scratched, bruised and you’ll probably get some dirt in there. I just like wearing capris because they’re also comfortable too. Whatever you wear, you’re going to want them to be tight. Shorts that are loose will be a pain-in-the-ass.
If you’re female (or male…) and you need support when you’re not soaked, consider doubling up for the Spartan Race. I wear two bras (I don’t like ANY jiggle…) I also don’t want to risk having any ‘fall outs’ during the obstacles. Awkward.
The Spartan headbands are kind of cheesy, but they do help keep hair out of your face. I usually run with a hat, but again, when you’re getting soaked and muddy you may just want to stick to something simple.
For obvious reasons. But don’t wear your most expensive sunglasses – they could get broken, scratched, misplaced or heaven-forbid, stolen.
Depending on the length of race (or in my case, if you’re pregnant or not) you may want to consider wearing a CamelBak. I LOVE mine and I don’t leave without it, whether there are water stops or not, especially now that I am pregnant. If you’ve never run a Spartan Race or obstacle course before, you may not realize how much water you will lose sweating – much more than if it were just a straight-forward road race. To make sure you’re hydrated, especially during the hot summer months, it’s definitely something to consider.*
Again, if you’re fussy about your garmin, don’t wear it because chances are it won’t ever be the same afterward. I stopped at Walmart the night before the race and picked up a cheap little digital watch and it did the trick. Basically all I wanted to know was the time and how long I had been on the course for my own sanity.
Bring a towel & extra clothes/shoes.
You will definitely want a towel, extra clothes, shoes and some garbage bags because you will likely be saturated if you completed the course in its entirety. I would also make sure to invest in some good laundry detergent because you’re going to need it if you want to salvage your race clothes!
Things not to carry:
Your cell phone.
You will likely be submerged. Definitely not a good idea to carry electronics.
Running in cotton is asking for trouble for a few reasons. (1) it doesn’t allow you to cool down like a proper running shirt, (2) realistically you will get soaked and cool down, but then you’re stuck hauling around a heavy shirt, (3) they’re uncomfortable. I know running clothes can look ridiculous and not everyone has a ‘runners body’ (point in case) but it really makes a difference.
With everything I’ve said, the biggest thing to remember is that you should have fun. This is not the Olympics. Not even close. But if you’re like most people, you want to finish it. Take it all in. It’s a huge challenge – in my opinion, completing an obstacle course can be more rewarding and satisfying than running a half-marathon. But enjoy it. Race for yourself. Enjoy it, it may not feel like it but it’ll be done before you know it. Seriously!
But that’s it for my recommendations! If you’ve got suggestions, fire them to me in the comments section.
*I wore my CamelBak this year and it was stolen from the race site. I made a suggestion to the organizers that they have two volunteers at the particular obstacle (crawl through barbed wire/mud) so people could drop their stuff and not worry about an asshole stealing it but was shot down with: “I recommend not wearing a camel back at your next event.”
So be aware that an already expensive race can turn into a SUPER expensive race if you lose gear or have it stolen. Just a reminder that there are assholes everywhere!