Fitness & Health

This is Sparta

Spencer VanDyk | Fulcrum Staff

Illustration by Mathias MacPhee

IF YOU’VE EVER felt the need to wade through mud, hurl yourself over walls, or crawl under barbed wire, a Spartan race is the event for you. This event is pretty much exactly what its name suggests: a five-kilometre obstacle course that will put your mind and body to the test in challenges that you’re sure to never otherwise encounter.

Personal trainer Nick Haince and Spartan race veteran Vanessa Lebrun, a U of O graduate, sat down with the Fulcrum to talk about what it means to train for one of these events and then actually go through it.

“It just sounded like fun,” said Lebrun, who competed in Ottawa’s Spartan race last summer and is training for this summer’s race in June. “It’s not just a race. I do races: I’ve done a 5k, a 10k, and I’m training for a half marathon, but this is obstacles, and you just feel like a big kid.”

According to Haince, who is part of a team attempting to tackle the race this summer, the level of training required depends on where you’re starting off physically, and what you hope to achieve with the race.

“If you’re a complete [newbie] it’ll probably take you three to six months to get into really good shape,” he said. “It depends if you’re in it for the experience or to be really competitive. Try to simulate your training as much as you can to the Spartan race itself.”

Lebrun said that although her training was not specifically geared toward the race and she was already in good physical shape, she wishes she had worked on her upper body to be able to climb ropes and walls. She also said practicing those burpies could be useful, because if there is an obstacle you can’t do, 30 burpies is your punishment.

“Take a full-body approach to training,” Haince said. “Lots of legs, but you’ll also need the upper-body strength to climb the ropes and stuff like that. Biggest thing about Spartan races is obviously endurance. It’s a five-kilometre obstacle course, so there’s obviously a huge aerobic component to that. You want to make sure you have a good aerobic base by doing just straight up five- to 10-kilometre runs.”

After Spartan race trainees have become used to running a five-kilometre distance, they should focus on strength exercises inspired by the obstacles of the race.