Hey everybody! Today I’d like to talk about one of the biggest obstacle course races out there, the Vermont Spartan Beast. Now I know a lot of you have completed this race already, and probably have Trifectas, or double Trifectas or triple Trifectas. Maybe you have a skull or two lying around. Although I encourage you seasoned Spartans to keep reading, I wrote this blog for a different audience. I wrote this blog for someone who’s never ran the Vermont Beast. Maybe that’ll be their 1st Beast, hopefully culminating in their 1st Trifecta. I can speak from experience because it was mine.
Beast IS the perfect term to describe this race. In this blog I’m going to talk about things I’d change differently in my training and preparation for the race. Not knowing what I was getting myself into I used my prior OCR experiences. Trust me, that wasn’t enough. I was going in almost blind; even with a number of OCR’s under my belt. Again, this race is like no other and lets face it, everyone wants a green medal from Vermont. Why? Because green medals and Vermont Trifectas are cool, that’s why.
Here’s my list of what I would change…
1. Less running, more power hiking. Most of my time spent training for longer OCR’s before the Beast was spent running distance to get my legs ready for the race. I would take a ½ marathon training program and incorporate it with my boot camp workouts. Knowing what I know now about Vermont, I’d concentrate less on running and more on hiking steep hills with a weight vest or ruck on. The majority of this Beast was steep uphill slopes, and trust me, I didn’t see anyone running it. Don’t have hills where you live, then…
2. Use a stair climber. Yes, as much as I’d hate it because I’d rather be running trails I’d try to incorporate a stair climber into my workout schedule. Can’t get to the gym but work in a high rise? You get the picture. For the same reasons listed above of course.
3. Lunges, lunges, and more lunges! Why? Quad strength. Sensing a theme here? Yup, Killington is a big mountain, and all race long you’ll go up and down and up and down before that green medal is yours.
4. Animal movements (especially on steep grades). Again, the terrain I faced at Killington was like no other. Some of the grades were so steep I had to bear crawl up them, or crab walk down them. Learning how to move my body faster and more efficiently in a bear crawl or crab walk would have helped immensely.
5. Memorization! Yep! I won’t give too much away, but practice memorizing a word followed by 7 numbers during your workouts. Or just practice more burpees. Your choice 😉
6. Study YouTube videos on techniques for completing obstacles. The two that stand out in my mind the best are the spear throw and anything involving a rope. Or else you guessed it… MORE BURPEES!!!
7. Exposure to cold water while training. Hey, anyone can train in ideal conditions right? Throw some cold temps and cold water in the mix and it can change even an elite athletes game. Lets face it; we’re talking about Vermont in the fall. Expect the cold.
8. Train in the dark with headlamps/glowsticks. I ran Vermont last year with 2 other guys. We had a late start time. We were all confident we’d be done in less than 5 hours. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Be prepared. The end of our race was pitch black, in the thick of the woods, following a trail of people with glow sticks back up to the summit of the mountain.
9. MORE BURPEES!!! (After failure with your regular workout of course)
10. Pack for varying types of weather. When we started the race at noon I was in a UA Heat Gear t-shirt. At the end of the race, on top of Killington, in the dark, I could swear it was snowing. It was at that point I wished I had packed some UA Cold Gear in my CamelBak.
As for hydration and some sort of nutrition, you’ll need that too. Since I can spend a whole blog talking about that one I’ll end this one here. Just plan on training with what you’ll use in the race to get accustomed to it.
I hope these 10 tips help anyone looking to head to Vermont this year. Knowing what I know now I realize the Vermont Beast is unlike any other OCR I’ve been in, and the training that goes into it differs as well. I hope this helps and good luck to everyone going for that green medal this year!