Race Build Up: Preparing to Battle the Beast

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A few years back I was making a bucket list of adventures including things like take my family to New Zealand, coaching both of my boys at sports, being married to my wife for more than 25 years, and having recently discovered Spartan Racing I wanted to complete a lifetime trifecta. Well then I entered a couple of Spartan Sprints last year which I enjoyed immensely and in my training I realized that realistically I’m never going to be in a whole lot better shape physically then I am now, not only that but recovering from the events would take longer the older I got. So in October I started to plan that 2016 would be my year for the trifecta. My plan was to do easier Sprint in Calgary in August, build up to the Red Deer Super in September, and cap it off with the daunting Sun Peaks Beast in October. So in early in November I began lightly training again for the season when I realized with my busy schedule and limited free time that increasing the distance I was running in each race in only a month would be incredibly difficult for me being that build wise and previous athletic life wise I’m not a naturally talented at distance running. As part of my mental training I started focusing on what had made me successful in my previous athletic endeavors specifically when I was competing/coaching skiing. It reminded me of how I would build up events in my mind to the point of regardless of prepared I was, or clear favorite talent wise I could’ve been I would put so much pressure on myself that I wouldn’t perform anywhere near what I was capable of. The big events at the end of the season would always build up to this titanic challenge ahead that I would either burn out miserably or quit just prior. So I thought about how could I change something I had done for so long and so many time before. Football and rodeo would be my answer. When I played football there was no guarantee of a championship game, hell my status on the team meant there was no assurance of playing time from game to game unless I practiced harder than everyone else. While I was in rodeo my best events were the one’s my dad decided to take me to only with the promise of that one event never plans beyond that for more. How could I take these lessons and translate them to Obstacle Course Racing?

 

The answer would be to change my frame of reference, tackle the Beast first. Prove to myself that with proper training and mental focus that this challenge was in solely in my mind. That I would not only finish but finish knowing I could’ve run more miles and still done more difficult obstacles, and I could not be stopped. I started looking for Beasts that would start before my sprint, unfortunately Western Canada has only one (the Sun Peaks race) and Eastern Canada doesn’t fit my family first budget. So I had to start looking in the northwestern US and remembered I had met on the bus at the Red Deer Sprint who raved about the Montana Races. Perfectly it was well before my August race falling on Mother’s Day weekend in May. With the weak Canadian Dollar, I had to get my wife to agree that my registration would be my Christmas gift, then BOOM it was done. May 6th would be my D-Day.

 

Now the challenge was to create a plan to get ready. I started doing the Spartan Elemental Training program on top of a 30-45 minute HIIT style workout. I would also throw in a long run once on the weekend that would exceed the longest run of the Elemental training program, as that prepares you for a Sprint in 3 months but I had 4 for a beast. So each weekend I would try to either add 2 kilometers of distance, increase the difficultly of the terrain or increase my split pace. Sometimes I do all three to really test myself. I also focused on cleaning up my diet cutting down on my carbs which working in an Italian restaurant which offers its staff a cheap pasta dinner is hard when on a budget. I also worked on cutting out my kryptonite, Pop. The end of December and January went well; I was killing my runs despite sometimes incredibly frigid days. My distance was up, speed way up and strength had increased as well all while maintaining a better diet and most importantly not losing any quality with the family. February training was fun as long run days always seemed to fall on the few cold days El Nino hadn’t erased, leading to some great frozen beard selfies. All my personal bests were up as was my belief about taking on the Beast.

 

March however was a different story as I hit my training wall. I started drinking pop again after being off of it for weeks. I was binge eating crap, loading up sugars and sweets. I skipped training days needless always saying I’d get after it the next day but frequently wouldn’t. This lasted a week or ten days. I caught myself at that point.

 

So after getting my “7 weeks out crash” things really turned around after catching myself and taking responsibly for it. My short runs were faster, while my long runs had gotten up to race distance with no walking, granted the terrain wasn’t as hard as I’ve been the Montana Beast course was, but by no means was I flat land road running either. My diet was getting more in line with where I want it to be, I still allow myself cheats once in a while as I’m not an elite level Spartan, my focus is just finishing in a reasonable time. I was lifting new PR’s in my sessions, I really felt ready which of course meant for me I would have one more bottom out phase. With 3 weeks to go real life made training hard to the point I only got 3 sessions in that week, which was frustrating after the week before being my best week in the buildup. So why could I have a week where I hit all my metrics on my Fitbit and the next week feel slow and unmotivated. It was the best reason I could have and that’s that family comes first and if it means playing video games with my 5-year-old then so be it I’ll just have to work a little harder at the race. The start of my penultimate week gave my motivation back watching my 2-year-old trying to pistol squats with me while his older brother kept asking me: “how good are you going to do at the Beast?” My mojo was back I crushed my workouts and runs. Now all that was left was race week.

 

I tapered down during the week but had my nutrition on point. The night before heading down I had all my camping/racing stuff loaded up in the car and my boys were excited to hear all the stories from my race. The drive down was beautiful especially once I got into Montana (I highly recommend the drive) but I my GPS try to take me down a closed highway which meant I didn’t eat very well the day before the race, in fact I barely ate at all. After a power dinner and tons of water I hit the bed early. For in the morning I would face my biggest and most exciting challenge yet.

view on the drive to the Montana beast
The view on the way down
Scotty Voodoo
Is a proud father & husband. A former semi-pro skier, turned rugby 7’s player, I’ve now worked to become an OCR racer.
A level 2 NCCP certified coach, I also hold coaching certifications in 3 sports.
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