Race Report: Spartan Beast Honor Race Záhorie


Before this race I had been training regularly for months, but more for health – light runs up to 60min + weight training.

I wanted to test the concept I hold that if you train regularly, you can get in shape relatively quickly.

Two months before this race I started to increase my running workouts. I gradually ramped them up (well, okay, not gradually, I just jumped from week to week from 50km to about 70km, but then gradually after that). At the same time, I included fartleks and tempo runs.

A month before the race, I started cutting back on strength training because I couldn’t keep up with the recovery from the increasing intensity of the runs.

I also included one combined workout per week where I alternated strength elements with running.

I also did a 33km run the week before the race, which had nothing to do with training so much as it was for confidence that I could handle being on my feet longer (since my long runs had been around 90 minutes). Luckily I managed just fine and didn’t restrict myself too much in training the week before the race. I just swapped the intense Wednesday/Thursday run for an easy run.

The day before the race:

Although this Spartan Beast was unusually flat, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I was mainly concerned about the running part, but also some of the obstacles and the 3m wall, where I lost a few minutes last time.

Even the day before the race, I was still debating whether to go for it. Was it worth it for me? I had been going to races before this with confidence because I knew I had trained. Now I lacked that belief because I was running quite a bit less compared to previous years.

I rehearsed spear throw, did an easy run with a few 100m sprints to tighten my muscles. In the gym I tried a few more deadlifts, which has always worked well for me before races so far.

Then I packed up. I made breakfast for the road (oats, banana, protein. Mostly carbs and protein, leaving out the nuts I normally use), loaded my running backpack with gels, 2-3 per hour, and made myself lunch because I don’t like to rely on what I (can’t) buy at the festival area.

On race day:

Morning alarm at 4, and roads empty. I sipped water and coffee on the road (I always bring coffee from home 🙂 ) and ate breakfast on the way.

I arrived on time so I could soak up the atmosphere. Unlike other races, we had a warm-up in the form of a 2 mile walk from the parking lot to the start – and that it was a beautiful setting of pine forests. The atmosphere was complemented by the different languages of the people moving to the start – I love being amongst people without interacting with them, like when you sit in a coffee shop, listening to them talk but not engaging.

Before the start, I did some running drills and a dynamic warm-up, and said hello to my friends.

The Race:

I started in the first wave with the elite racers, which was new for me and also allowed me to compare myself.

By approx. 5km I had the lead runner in sight, which was surprising. I was also pleased that my legs were working better somehow – probably adrenaline.

But by 7th km, my shoes were starting to dig into my heels and I knew it was going to be bad.

I didn’t really notice the blisters on that run though, worse was that my toes were also hitting the toebox. It was as if my feet were a size bigger (or the shoes smaller) …

By the halfway point, the section was considerably runny. There were only a few easy obstacles, low walls and the first multi ring came. It wasn’t slippery at all, so I confidently went over 2 handholds.. and suddenly I was on my back on the ground and a running a penalty loop.

I could just see 4-5 runners overtaking me.

I didn’t give it to them for free though, I was running better. I followed the nutrition plan with the gels so there was plenty of energy and I caught up to them again.

The 3m wall I was concerned about came, so I just said to myself “go for it”… And I did it! On the first try, and kept running. I was very encouraged and switched to race mode in my mind.

More hurdles came where I erased my time lead with a mistake on the balance beam. Again chasing and catching up to the racers 😀 I managed to catch up to them again and make a few seconds lead, but it wasn’t enough because the final 2 kilometers were full of obstacles that gave me a hard time and slowed me down much more than others.

When I casually crossed the finish line, I didn’t expect to finish 2nd in the age group at all, 16th overall.

The overall placing was quite pleasing and also inspiring, because if I had trained like I have in the past, I might have placed in the top 10.

Anyway, I enjoyed the race, the undulating terrain covered in sand made it feel like I was on holiday. And now I’m still recovering because my ribs hurt somewhere which I only felt later in the evening.

At the finish line I had a nice lunch from home. No waiting in queues, with the certainty that I would enjoy myself, and at a fraction of the price 🙂 Someone ended up with just a banana at the finish until late evening. (Hummus, veggies, kaiser, soy falafel, ketchup)

So was 2 months enough time to prepare?

I think so. It wasn’t for top form, but I can imagine setting up those workouts better would definitely help.

As long as you train regularly, it’s relatively easy to tune your form.

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