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What’s it Really Like to Run a Spartan Race? And can CrossFit Help Me?

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By Christine Ardigo MSRD

Think you have what it takes?

I’m fortunate enough to have a group of friends that hate sitting around. And they’re lucky enough to have someone like me that’s always up for a challenge. Just ask, and I’m in. When they asked me to run a Spartan race, I was a little leery, but then, hey why the hell not.

Instantly I went into full Spartan mode. I ran up and down the stairs multiple times a day in the hospital I work in, jumped on the StairMaster at the gym, and did High Intensity Interval Training on the treadmill. I was ready!

Then I watched a video of what it actually entailed. Eek! Running was the least of my problems.

Obstacle courses anyone?            

We chose a Spartan Race in New York at Citi Field Stadium. There were 25 obstacles along the course of this 5k run. I skimmed through the list.

  • Monkey bars – No problem
  • Rock climbing – Got this one!
  • Running up the stadium stairs – Bring it on

But wait.

Rope climbing? Box Jumps? Spear throwing? Um, how the hell was I going to practice these?

Could I find the proper training?

After several disappointing attempts to find a rope at the local schools, I lucked out when they pointed me in the direction of CrossFit Limitless in Huntington, New York. They had a rope! Yay! But what happened next blew my mind. What I thought would be a quick Saturday morning drop in to see if I could climb the rope, turned into a morning I’d never forget. I signed up for free trial class and they spent the next hour assessing my endurance, strength, speed, agility and stamina.

Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, oh no!

After a grueling evaluation of our abilities, we were put to the final test. We had to perform as many pull-ups, push-ups and squats as we could in a ten minute time period without stopping. Sweat dripped down my shirt and face. My mouth, so parched, I never searched for a water bottle so hard in my life. But when I was done, I was a changed woman.

The workout was tough. Exhausting. But, it pushed me to do things I would never have done on my own.  I felt empowered. I could do this. Do it well. And what else could I possibly do in the coming weeks? I never got to climb a rope that day, but I did sign up for even more abuse!

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Before long I was doing box jumps, flipping 185 pound tires, clean and jerks, squat thrusts, burpees, burpees and more burpees. And of course climbing that rope with ease. My strength increased quickly, and my breathing improved.

The funny thing though, I drove to every class in a state of fear. Good fear, or more like excitement and anticipation. One of the regulars said that feeling never goes away but she keeps coming back too. And each time, I left energized and inspired to come again. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends what I did this week. It’s truly amazing what we are capable of. CrossFit Limitless helped me bring it out.

Spartan or not?

So the race day arrived. The six of us showed up with our warrior faces on, ready to endure whatever came our way. The countdown began, my heartbeat increased and we were off!

I have to say, with each corner turned, with every obstacle that lay before me, I took a second to reflect on what I learned, what skills I practiced and then dove in. The training I did on my own as well as that from CrossFit, helped me tackle the obstacles effortlessly.

Whatever apprehension I had, faded and half way through the course I relaxed and knew I could do this.

  • Jumping rope with a thick 20lb. jump rope – No problem
  • Rowing 500 meters – Got this
  • 50 Pushups as fast as you can – Piece of cake
  • Running up and down stadium stairs with a 30lb. sack on my back – No sweat

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And my favorite: the rope climb. The obstacle I worried about the most. When I swung around the stadiums corner, I saw all the heavy ropes hanging from the beams. The women ran to the left with the knotted ropes and the men to the right. I got this, I thought. I took a flying leap up a rope without the knots and grabbed as high as I could, straddling my feet the way they taught me and up I went like a monkey. Up, down and onto my next obstacle:

Rock climbing (Got that one too!)

So the point of this post, is to let all of you know that anyone can conquer anything they want. Whether it be Emotional: finding a new job. Mental: sticking to a diet plan. Physical: running a Spartan Race. If you believe it, if you do what needs to be done, it really is a piece of cake. Keep your head in the game and let positive thoughts follow you around. Anything is possible and you will surprise yourself with each new accomplishment. It’s great having supportive friends and especially ones that will PUSH you to do things.

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By the way…If you’re interested in trying a FREE trial workout at CrossFit Limitless, check it out HERE.

They have programs for teenagers (13-17 yrs) & kids (7-12) as well. Check out the website for videos on each class.

Good luck and let me know if you take advantage of the classes, how you felt afterward and if you’ve ever competed in any challenges or races before. More importantly, let me know if you win the contest!

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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9 Thoughts on “What’s it Really Like to Run a Spartan Race? And can CrossFit Help Me?

  1. I went to the World Championship in Killington, VT a couple of weeks ago and watched The Beast Spartan Race. Absolutely amazing and inspiring. I had a friend from Colorado participating. He has ran 30 or so Spartan Races and he stated this one was the most grueling. Watching how people pushed themselves beyond limits they had ever dealt with before gave me motivation to actually start pushing myself more. I dislike exercise but realized it’s amazing what your body can do when you let it.

    • Christine on October 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm said:

      It really is a great feeling when you complete it. Why do you hate exercise so much? All of it?
      I have to admit i dont really like cardio. I ran some 5K races but the training was not fun. I think that is why i love weight lifting: you can physically SEE results. I love trying new things though, and losing weight, getting stronger and pushing myself makes me want to try more things. You will get there. And when you do, nothing will get in your way! Plan to do one crazy, exciting thing this year. Even if you fail at it, it is better than sitting in front of the TV right?

  2. You are inspiring- so cool! Trying CrossFit is on my to do list… like you, I have a feeling that once I go I might get hooked and I haven’t carved out the time to make that happen yet, but I love the variety of strength exercises and as you described, how powerful that can make you feel!

    • Christine on December 22, 2013 at 8:01 am said:

      Thank you! You made my day. I love to try anything new, even if its just once. There is so much to do out here……where to begin! If you join, let me know how it went! 🙂

  3. Crossfit and a Spartan race are 2 things that have been on my fitness want-to-do-list since last year! So cool!

  4. Pingback: Is It Possible to Be Truly Happy? | Christine Ardigo

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