Training for the Spartan World Championships

Training for the Spartan World Championships

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With less than a month to go before athletes from across the globe hit the ground running at the Spartan Race World Championships in Squaw Valley, we caught up with Dave Jack and his team at Performance Training Center for tips on training in high altitude, race dieting, and everything in between.

Dave Jack is a Tahoe-based trainer with seven years of expertise and certifications in everything from corrective exercise to performance enhancement, functional movement and nutrition. He is also a metabolic specialist. Dave has competed in six Tough Mudders, in which he has placed within the top ten. This is his first Spartan Race, so we asked him what he’s doing to prepare, and recommendations for other competitors to train.

Adapt your Body to Elevation

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Competitors are going to be battling mud and fire, but with an elevation upwards of 8,000 ft, many say altitude is the real challenge. At high elevations, like those in Tahoe, the big problem for many athletes is the lack of oxygen needed to fuel muscles and stamina. The best way to train for high altitude is by doing cardio intervals during workouts you’re tackling throughout the week.

Ideally, you should be spending the majority of time below your anaerobic threshold – the heart-rate at which your body is maximizing oxygen intake. To find out your anaerobic threshold, try exercising on a piece of equipment, like a treadmill. Keep elevation the same, but every two minutes increase your pace. With every increase, ask yourself how you’re feeling on a scale of ten, ten being that continuing the workout is literally impossible. The anaerobic threshold is usually around a seven out of ten – you’re sweating, but you can keep your pace for a few minutes. Keep an eye on your heart rate. That’s going to be your target to measure when you’re doing activities outside of the gym to train, like running.

Get in a Routine

I recommend splitting strength and cardio; plan to workout five days a week, with two days of rest. With circuit training, you’re going to be getting in that high-intensity strength training. Interval training is going to build up stamina so you have experience going from obstacle to obstacle.

Here’s the regime I recommend following to hit your Spartan Race goals:

  • Monday – circuit training
  • Tuesday – interval training
  • Wednesday – circuit training
  • Thursday – interval training
  • Friday – circuit training
  • Saturday – rest
  • Sunday – rest

Start by focusing on balance and stability. As you begin training, you’re going to want to lift with high reps and low weight. As you get more comfortable with each move, start lowering the reps and increasing the weight. Squats, lunges, dead lifts, push ups, rows and running are the essential movements you’re going to want to base each training movement off of.

Fuel up with a Spartan-worthy Diet

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In the weeks leading up to the Spartan Race, you want to keep your diet as clean as possible. That means reaching for nutrient-dense sources. Stay away from processed foods; as a rule of thumb, if it was alive at one point, it’s probably good for you. Think: a ton of vegetables, as many as you can eat. Same goes with fruit – try to eat as much of it as you can, so you’re getting the nutrients you need from the most dense sources you can. That way you’re not filling up on empty calories that provide no recovery for your body.

  • Starchy carbs – quinoa, sweet potatoes and brown rice
  • Lean meat proteins – turkey, chicken and pork
  • A colorful variety of fruits and vegetables

There will be stations along the race with bananas and other nutrient-rich foods, but I recommend packing a few high carbs, easy-to-digest goos, gels or energy chews, so you have them when necessary. You should be consuming calories about every 45 minutes along the race.

Stay hydrated, it’s essential at high altitudes. When you’re exercising for that long of a period, you’ve got to be sipping on water every 10-15 minutes, but not gulping it down. If you drink too fast or too much, you’ll get a slushy feeling in your gut, which is extremely uncomfortable.

Practice to Train Safe

The more you practice in the gym, the more your body is going to revert back to what it learned. To stay injury-free during training, go back to primary movements. The key is to keep each joint stable in each movement. You want to teach the body how to move by creating torque through each joint to teach the body how to prevent injury. Repetitive practice is going to keep you safe by doing each movement right.

Rest is equally important. Your body recovery happens when you’re at rest or during sleep. The key is to listen to your body. When something starts to hurt, that’s a signal to stop, rest and recover.

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Source: North Lake Tahoe Chamber – http://www.gotahoenorth.com