It is known that Clara and I love a challenge and enjoyed climbing Snowdon for Raising for Grayson last year. This year I was meant to be completing a challenge called Challenge 10, but had to bail out due to an ovarian cyst and awaiting an operation. Now that my op date has been set, we have started to look towards a challenge for next year and we have settled on a Spartan race.
A Spartan race is an obstacle course race designed to put your whole body through it’s paces. Being totally new to the world of Spartan, I took to Twitter to ask if there were any Spartans willing to share their experience for us newbies. The official UK spartan account reached out and introduced us to Tracy, who was happy to share her story below.
My Spartan Training.
6 years. That’s how long it has taken me to become a Spartan. No… no don’t lose heart it doesn’t take that long. 6 years ago I first found out about Spartan race and I’ve been trying to get there ever since. On my horrible journey I’ve come close so many times, knee surgery has stopped it TWICE, a torn Achilles has stopped it, pregnancy (enjoyed that one) stopped it. Finally following the ultimate heartbreak of losing our baby I have made it. I tried so hard every time, but this time I tried like a Spartan.
I’m a mum of 3 beautiful boys, training for this race has had to fit in around them. Any training mum will understand how difficult that can be. The constant juggling of school runs, classes, football games, and the never ending laundry pile was a mission in itself. Then add in the most intense training I could ever imagine I felt like every day was a mountain.
My training for my race started 12 weeks before race day, I must be crazy right? My days went from starting at 7am to starting at 5am. I needed to get the training done before my household woke up as once that happened the whole day just went so fast it was a blur and I’d get to 9pm then think “Oh man I still gotta train”
Running I’d become so unfit after my Achilles tear and the massive depression I spiralled into that my first ‘Obstacle’ was running. It hurt and not just a little bit, I was in agony, my feet hurt, my legs hurt my back felt like I’d been run over by a truck. One running session would leave me having to find other cardio building exercises for the next day so I could recover. (I’m never going to be ready) Rowing was really good as it worked everything without any impact and helping with the much needed upper body strength. Ok so I have my back up cardio sorted.
My run to begin with was so slow a snail could probably have passed me easily, but my moto became ‘Little Mountains’ each extra minute run was a Little Mountain, each 0.1kmph faster was a Little Mountain, a 1kmph faster was my Snowdon. I was scared of running outside because I didn’t have a speedometer to tell me how fast I was going or how far. How the heck did I think I was going to run a freaking Spartan Race on a treadmill? So I eventually left the gym and started running outdoors, that hurt. Hills and bumps and stops and starts it wasn’t like the gym at all, but I was getting better. Not very fast but better still.
I signed up for the Spartan WOD I needed to know how to train to become a Spartan. I read the first one and felt sick. Burpees blooming everywhere. ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH. I had to rest after the first WOD I couldn’t walk, parts of my body I didn’t know existed were hurting. I need to get fitter before I try that again. I kept going, doing the ones I could do and adjusting the ones I couldn’t and adding bits in that would really help with the upper body obstacles.
The day of my first race came and I was a bag of nerves, finally I was going to do a Spartan Race and I was being filmed for it as Spartan’s Inspirational Story series. Now I couldn’t afford to suck at this I had to work harder than I’d ever imagined. I spent an hour with the film crew going over my story and preparing for the race. As my time came to run the Spartan starter made a special announcement and I stood bright red as he called out my name and everyone looked at me. I could have shrivelled up. I was so nervous I almost cried.
The race itself passed by in what feels now like a blur, up and down the mountainside, up and under obstacles, sunshine, rain, noise, silence. The race had everything and I made a friend along the way, she kept me going and helped me through obstacles, even made sure I didn’t fail the monkey bars she was amazing. I’d been worried about running it alone but I really shouldn’t have as there is always someone else who is there alone and in need of a companion. In the Super in Manchester I met a fellow Welshman and we done the race together. He even thanked me because if we hadn’t have done it together he would have just walked it, but he felt he wanted to run when I ran. It really is amazing to see how helpful people are around the course. Beware you are going to get hands on your backside, they aren’t trying to cop a feel they are just pushing you up a mudslide or over a wall.
I’ve completed 2 races now and I’m still not 100% fit but each finish line is the biggest goal in the world for me and my biggest achievement. Crossing each one is climbing the Spartan mountain and I’ve set myself to reach the top.
A lot of people think I am crazy for doing these races, and I dare say a lot probably thought I wouldn’t make it there were times I would have agreed with them. If I’d listened to them though I wouldn’t have 2 medals on my wall and an experience in my heart that has made me a better person. Since people heard my story I’ve had the words, Hero, Inspiration, Legend, amazing, brave, strong and proud associated with me, it’s the strangest feeling in the world for the first time in my life (apart from becoming a mum) I feel like I’ve achieved something. Although I feel embarrassed when people say these things to me.
It’s been one long haul journey but I would do it all over again in an instant. I would also tell anyone who is even thinking about it to do it, it’s the best experience in the world. Train hard, eat right, and train some more always ask for help I bombarded Spartan race twitter page with questions day after day and they always helped me out. Join forums, Facebook pages, follow Spartans on Twitter and learn what you can from everyone you can.
I started my journey to become Spartan as a way of finding myself, then I pledged my races to the memory of my unborn child that we will never meet. I am honoured that the guys at Spartan Race have given me chance to tell my story.
Go out there and make yours.
Tracy King (Spartan)
If you’d like to sponsor Tracy on her amazing journey, you can do so on her Just Giving page.