What do I need and what should I wear for a SPARTAN race???
In this article we will cover Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…. And everything else in-between (don't act like you weren't wondering....)!
If, somehow, you found yourself here but are still unsure, check out this Link that talks about what Spartan racing is all about!
For starters, congratulations! The fact that you are looking at an article like this means that you are already on your way to becoming a SPARTAN!
What do I need to do/think about before I go?
1. Surround yourself with a pack of people to support you, whether in training or on the course itself
2. Bring confidence that you have trained and prepared and are excited - perform a quick "Spring cleaning" of your running form (especially for Beast distance).
3. Make sure you've looked at some of the obstacles. Remember that, while SPARTAN has several "core" obstacles that appear at almost all races, they love to throw in new and exciting challenges all the time. The add new obstacles, tweak old ones, change the weight/height/distance/position, etc. Even on race day, when you have arrived, you still wont know what all obstacles you'll face - and that's a big part of the fun!
What do I need to bring with me?
1. Registration and waiver (already printed and signed)
2. Photo ID (that you'll have to take with you to the registration tent).
3. Bag (to throw said ID in) with towel and change of clothes - and a trash bag to put the clothes and shoes you just raced in inside for the ride home.
4. Bring cash for the secure bag check (usually $5).
5. For Sprint distance, most people will not need food, water, or packs of any kind. For the Super distance you may want a hydration pack and protein bar
6. For the Beast you will want to carry your own fluid, bring protein bars/chews/etc. and consider S-Caps
What should I wear?
1. Pay attention to the weather!!!
Check for temperature and check for rain/sleet/snow. Plan accordingly! Remember, whatever you're wearing (if you're racing in cold weather) you should be COLD when you're standing waiting to race. If you are comfortable (temperature wise) before you start you will be sweating and miserable very soon!
2. Just say "NO!" to cotton
Nothing on your body, anywhere, anywhere should be cotton!
Nothing on your body, anywhere, anywhere should be cotton!
Spartan will provide a race headband with your race number on in. In the heat this is a nice sweat band and in the cold it can be pulled over your ears.
4. Ladies: Sports bra.
We all know there are lots of different types of sports bras.... there are instagram photoshoot sports bras, there are slow-no-impact-don't-I-look-Cute sports bras, there are sports bras with underwire, there are sports bras with zippers. Find a good, NO-COTTON, truoee compression fit, highly supportive (high impact), full coverage sports bra with no bells and whistles (no pockets, no zippers, no underwire).
5. Shirt or no shirt?
This is a question you will have to answer yourself, there will be always be men and women in both camps, regardless of temperature. That said, here are a few things to consider: a. be COMPLETELY comfortable. If you are in anyway self conscious about not wearing a shirt (even though you shouldn't be), then wear a shirt! You will be uncomfortable enough... lol. If it's cold, going shirtless Can be better because you don't have anything that is wet and cold stuck to your body. On the shirt side, remember that you will be crawling on the ground in dirt, gravel, sand, hay, and for many people (myself included) having a layer between your bare skin and all those irritants is very beneficial. Be sure to remember, should you wear a shirt, refer back to rule number 2! Think compression.
My suggestion here is compression tights, for men or women. 3/4 length is fine, but full length is better (same reason as given for wearing a shirt in number 5). Shorts are great as well, but make sure there is no cotton. If you don't have to carry anything, try to find shorts with no pockets. If you do not need to carry something (like an emergency inhaler in my case) try to find something with a zipper pocket. I say this because you don't want pockets filling up with mud and dirt, making them uncomfortable and Heavy.
Men: wear compression shorts as underwear if you are wearing shorts - or just wear the compression shorts As your shorts (with nothing underneath them And nothing on top of them). If you are wearing compression tights, just wear compression tights, no underwear underneath.
Ladies: no cotton, No Cotton, NO COTTON. If you are wearing compression tights, just wear compression tights (the good thick ones... not the see through "yoga" ones) with nothing underneath. If you are wearing compression shorts (probably best), just wear the compression shorts with nothing underneath. If you want to wear regular running shorts, wear compression shorts underneath, as underwear, and then your running shorts over top. If you are one who just absolutely can't stand the idea of not having underwear on (even though that's what compression shorts are supposed to be) then wear a basic, non-lacy, non-frilly, completely non-cotton thong.
8. Calf sleeves?
If you are wearing shorts (and not compression tights) then calf sleeves are an option. Will they help? Maybe. They wont make you super human, they wont make you faster, they may help with cramping up during the race, they may help with DOMS, they will provide some level of skin protection (if you're not wearing tights) just among briers and such on the race course.
Sock choice is actually Very important. Just ask anyone who didn't think about their sock choice until after the started the race! What's rule number one in choosing socks? See rule number 2 above! Above that, you want socks that come up high enough to protect your achilles from rubbing (blisters) and I would strongly suggest toe socks . Reason being, your feet will get wet and stay wet most of the race, regardless which race you run. So, separating your toes helps tremendously with keeping your toes from rubbing (blisters).
Shoe choice is also important. You want shoes that will survive, first off, and you want shoes that you probably aren't going to cry about if they don't...
You want shoes with a relatively flat bottom (maximum surface area), shoes without cotton all over them (padding, etc.), you don't want waterproof shoes (as your feet will be completely submerged and when a waterproof shoe gets submerged it becomes a bucket), you want shoes with aggressive tread (lots and lots and lots of mud), you want shoes that are zero drop (or as close as you can get - nothing above 6mm, strong preference given to 0-4mm), you want shoes that fit well, and shoes that Will remain tied! For me, there is NO shoe that even comes close to Altras - not even close.
* For All clothing, thinkcompression: tight and form fitting. Reason being, you don't want clothing catching on any obstacle, it will make everything harder, from going over walls to especially going underneath Barbwire.
* Knee/ankle/etc Braces:
Obviously, one would prefer to not have to wear braces at all. They aren't comfortable at long distance, cheap ones ride up and/or down, budget ones can soak up water, etc. That said, sometimes you need to. Most of the time I do (1/2 dozen knee surgeries over the years), this one I'm running next week I have to (blew out my knee, knocked my kneecap out of place, and tore my meniscus and haven't had it repaired yet). For knee braces, the ONLY one I have found that I could genuinely run with at any race for any distance is the CEP RXOrtho+
-Also, if you are going to wear a brace of any kind, I would strongly suggest that you put it on first and then wear full length compression tights OVER the brace to help with all of the above issues (specifically: holding it in place comfortably).