How to Prepare for the Malibu Spartan Spirit

Malibu Spartan Race

Mud runs: Yes, they might be trendy, yes, they might be silly and yes, you will get muddy.

This will be my third year participating in the Malibu Spartan Sprint. Every year we create a team in order to raise funds and awareness for the local non-profit organization, the Simonton Cancer Center. In fact, last year our team of 12 people managed to raise over $16,000, and we were the highest fundraising team for the Spartan races in 2013.

Now, let’s talk about how to get your ready for this year’s race.

Run for the hills – Anyone about to attempt this race should train by running steep hills. It might only be three miles of terrain, but it is steep! There are some flat areas, but there are also crazy downhills, the terrain is uneven and true to its name: very muddy. In 2012 and 2013 it was pouring rain on race day, so the mud was thick and stuck to your shoes like cement, which makes running in the sand very beneficial as well. Honestly though, my hat is off to you if you can run this whole race, most teams will be walking the steepest terrain.

BURPEES – There are 15 obstacles all throughout the course, most of which you will breeze through, but in case you don’t, there is the potential for 450 burpees. Every missed obstacle is 30 burpees (with a push up in the mud). So be prepared and practice 30 burpees in one sitting 2-3 times a week at the end your normal workout. Don’t know what a burpee is? Click here to find out.

Pull your weight –  There are plenty of upper body obstacles in the race, including monkey bars, overhanging walls, a rock wall traverse and a rope climb. Now, all of these require immense upper body and core strength, and some might just not be possible for you to acquire in such a short amount of time, but the more you practice the better prepared you will be. Pull-ups are essential and even if you can’t do a pull-up, do as many assisted pull-ups as possible. Try to add less and less assistance each training session. For rope-climbing technique, click on this Rope Climb Video. The bottom line is don’t train to look pretty, train to be strong. Forget skull-crushers and isolation curls, forget doing tons of arm extensions with itty-bitty weights. It’s time to train like your life depended on it, so push-ups, pull-ups and incline sit ups are where it’s at!

What to wear – Spoiler alert: there is a pond you must swim through in this race and you need to be prepared to get wet even if there are sunny skies on race day. Taking that into consideration, you don’t want baggy clothes or thick cotton clothes that will soak up a ton of water. Tight fitting clothing will come in handy during the barbed wire crawl as well, you don’t want to get hung up on any wires. Capris or leggings are good for women to protect their legs during the scrambles and crawls, and shorts with perhaps compression shorts underneath are good for the men. I wear a tank top on top even when it’s freezing at the starting line. Knee pads can come in handy (I have very thin ones you can’t even tell are knee pads) because crawling around can tear your knees up, but they are not necessary. 

Have fun! – This is by far the most important part of the race. You must always remember that this is all about laughing at yourself and having a good time. After all, you are crazy enough to pay good money to put yourself through this torture, you might as well crack a smile and take the race at your own pace. Spartan doesn’t give you anything for winning your heat, so you might as well enjoy the ride.