Tips For Surviving Your First Spartan Race

spartan race

Remember I wrote a post, Get Spartan Fit, about training for a Spartan Race? I posted that after having a look around online for the obstacles, and after finding only a few (Spartan are cagey about which obstacles they have at each race) I did a bit of extra upper body stuff at the gym and headed towards my first Spartan Race with confidence.

Oh, how wrong I was. As I walked towards the race village last weekend and spotted some of the obstacles, I realised how under-prepared I was. Now I know the only thing that prepares you for doing a Spartan Race is to do a Spartan Race, because most of the obstacles are pretty unique. Of course, now I have completed a Spartan Super I feel much more wizened to Spartan’s suffering, so read on for my tips on surviving your first Spartan.
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The Color Run, Manchester

color run manchester

Running around a stadium on a hot, sweaty day with thousands of other people may not be everybody’s idea of fun. Add in loud music, lashings of paint and oodles of silliness and it suddenly becomes a lot more appealing!

If you’ve never done a Color Run before, that’s exactly what you’re missing out on. As you run through coloured stations volunteers throw powder at you so that when you finish you’re coated top-to-toe in intense, vibrant colour. It’s open to all and as an untimed run it’s many runners first experience of completing a full 5K. My pal Tomika and I ran Manchester’s Color Run this past Sunday and managed to get around without getting a speck of paint on us… Or did we?

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Race For Life Delamere

race for life delamere

You’ve signed up for a race, got your kit ready and prepared yourself for race day. But what is a Race For Life really like? On a grey day a few weeks ago I hit Delamere Forest, ready to run my Race For Life 10K. Delamere Forest was the smallest Race For Life I’ve attended, though the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Before the event I’d lost my race number, so I was very anxious to get there early to sort it out – turns out it took mere minutes and the marshal made the process simple. My worries that I’d get told off or worse, told I couldn’t run were completely unfounded!

For any Race For Life event I thoroughly recommend doing it as part of a team or group, or even roping a friend in to keep you company. There’s a mass warm-up at the start with lots of dancing, stretching, waving of arms and singing. Being on my own, I felt a little self-conscious at the start line though I do remember last year during the Pretty Muddy warm-up I loved it, since I had a big bunch of friends around me! Soon we were across the line, and running into the picturesque forest. View Post


RUN: Ready to Race For Life

It’s now been a year since I ran my first 10K race, and tomorrow I’m running my next – Race For Life in Delamere Forest. Whilst it’s unlikely I’ll be achieving that elusive sub-45 minute tomorrow, it’s given me a chance to reflect on the races I’ve done over the past year, especially that very first one where I didn’t know what to expect.

Laura from Fat2Fit has written a great post on how to prepare for a race, so elaborating on this I thought I’d add a couple of anecdotes I’ve experienced myself on race day. I am Queen of not listening to advice, thinking I know better, so I have certainly made a few mistakes to learn from..!

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I Am A Marathoner! | Manchester Marathon 2016

i am a marathoner

It’s not even sunk in yet that yesterday I ran 26.2 miles. Even as I was running, I found I had to keep reminding myself that this was it, you’re running a marathon, this is what you’ve been training for over the past few months! Clearly I thought my life would change dramatically after completing a marathon, but it’s sort of like when somebody asks how you feel being another year older on your birthday: you feel exactly the same, you just know that something should be different. For my first crack I’m really pleased, and the majority of the time I really enjoyed it, feeling pretty much alright at the end. Of course, I’ve already been reflecting and thinking about what I did well, and what needs some work for next time…

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RUN: Fuelled By Jelly Babies

Things may have been a little quiet around here, but it’s not because I have nothing to say – marathon training, work and university have been keeping me very busy, though honestly I feel happier than ever and I am really loving my running right now.

So far marathon training is going to plan (touch wood!). I’ve reached 30km in my training runs and I feel confident about tackling a couple of 20 milers, although on my recent long run I did have a bit of a wobble at around 20km where I had to nip in a Tesco for a bottle of Lucozade and a cereal bar. I’m almost glad it happened though as I hadn’t been paying much attention to mid-run nutrition so I’m working out a strategy for that. Jelly Babies are old school but seem to be the best option for me as I can’t swallow things like gels as I run!

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RUN: Blue Vest, Orange Vest

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My Masters dissertation is looming in the near distance, so I’m starting to have a think about what I’d like to cover in my research. As my pilot study I quizzed my boyfriend about a memorable experience he’d had whilst running, intending to go on questioning about retail experiences and how running retailers can make the experience more authentic. What I got was something different, something very special, that I thought you all might want to have a read as it’s something I feel all runners can relate to…

I suppose the er.. the last kilometre of the York 10K was memorable as it was basically just agony. The first three, four kilometres I ran too fast really, and I realised that at the first drinks break at 3K and thought yeah, I’ve definitely gone too quick here, so I did that then the next two or three were OK athough I noticed I’d slowed up by this point as people were starting to pass me, but I didn’t have a timer on me so I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I’d said to everybody previously that I wanted to get around the 40 minutes mark, and I.. um, I had no idea how I was doing. So, yeah, I really had to rely on.. I don’t know, instincts I guess, to determine how quickly I thought I was going. So anyway yeah, I got to the last 9.. 900m or so I guess, the problem I had was.. ha. I ran to the edge of the street and thought that’s it, I’m done. But I then suddenly realised I had to turn around and go all the way back down and around the corner again. And I already had.. Not cramp exactly, but I didn’t really want to run anymore, my heart was like really, really heavily beating in my chest, I was extremely sweaty, erm.. My legs hurt a little bit, not a great deal, but I generally had the feeling that somebody was punching me.

So yeah, I got to the last corner and I got round the corner.. I think I read this previously, and I thought, I can beat this guy in front of me. He’s been in front of me the entire race, and he’s in a blue vest. We’ve been like kinda racing each other, he was in front of me at the cathedral, then I beat him at the cathedral, uhh.. Then we were in sort of the bit near the Shambles, and he was ahead of me then, then I got ahead of him at the river, and so on and so forth, I thought if I could just get past this guy it’ll all be OK, I can just stop and forget about it, except he had the same idea as well as HE started going faster as well..

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Oh, I was just like, shit I can’t believe this, what am I gonna do? And I thought, all I’ve got on Monday morning is work, in fact it wasn’t even work, it was a TRAINING session, it was a training session on the legal history of car insurance, and I thought I think I can do that, sitting down, I can get lots of fluids, and you know, what’s the worst that could happen? So I started running, and this.. this guy, I wasn’t gaining any ground on him, and I don’t know! Something suddenly changed and I had to beat him, I HAD to beat him, although I didn’t know what was going on the rest of the race, I just carried on as normal, and then.. I just became hellbent, this fixation on getting this guy and beating him, but he was going pretty quick, then this kid on the right hand side who was just like cheering people on like everybody else, it was quite well-attended and there was people clapping and shouting and stuff, this kid said to me – everyone else was wearing running gear and I was in this red, sort of orange neon vest, er… and it had this, like this number pinned to it, and I looked like the least professional runner you’d ever seen, like this guy who’d left his house one morning and gone for a run.. So I did that, I was flapping around this course, covered in sweat, heart like a jackhammer, and this guy who’s in running gear by the way, FULL running gear, Mister Nike – er, Mister Nike-y – had wraparound sunglasses, I was like how do I take this guy down? I’ve got 400m to do this. And I didn’t even look like a runner. What was I going to do? This kid goes hey you in the orange vest! You go! Or something like that, words to that effect. You go, orange vest! And I thought yeah, yeah actually, you know, I’m running here with everyone else, I can do this, I can beat this guy. I beat him.

And there’s a picture of me.. The next day I got an email that says you know, check out how you did! Well done, you finished it in this time.. and that’s when I figured out I’d gone an average four and a half minutes per kilometre, and.. er, that was pretty fast, that’s good, I’m pretty pleased with that. Uh.. um. And yeah, the… I saw this picture of me, just before getting to this guy in the blue vest, Mister Nike, and.. and the look on my face is like physical violence, like I want to punch somebody, uh.. And yeah, and like my bicep is enormous, seems disproportionally big compared to the rest of my arm, and I seem to be like having a fight with gravity, and you should see this picture (see above!), it’s like I’ve achieved lift-off, the whole of my body is like come on we can do this, uh.. and yeah, and that’s me, that’s me about ten metres before I beat this guy at the end of the race. So yeah, that’s my memorable experience, just on the basis that after you’ve done nine and a half kilometres, pretty much anything can happen to you, you don’t have that sense of resilience.. you’ll start doing things like what I did, you’ll start imagining the whole world, or maybe just this racecourse and this particular guy is against you, and you have to beat them even though you’re just wearing a vest, a regular vest. Is that the sort of thing you’re looking for?

Funnily enough, it wasn’t really what I was looking for. But it’s made me rethink the direction of my research; I could turn this into an ethnographic account of running, really getting into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of running and racing, rather than shoehorning an attempt to relate directly to marketing in. Sometimes you don’t always get what you want, but you dofind what you need.