Training and nutrition tips for the Spartan World Championship

From footwear hacks and exercise regimes to the importance of rest days, here are some ways to be fighting fit for the gruelling obstacle race

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The Spartan World Championship 2022 endurance race will take place in Abu Dhabi next month.

Competitors from around the world will flock to the UAE capital for the second successive year to take part in the event, but this time they face a new, more difficult course in Al Wathba, which will mix desert scenery with tough, sand dune trails.

Registration is open for the championship that takes place over three adrenaline-fuelled days. Whether it’s the 1km-3km kids race, the 5km Sprint featuring 20 obstacles, the 10km Super with 25 obstacles, or the full 21km Beast featuring 30 obstacles, training is key.

To get would-be Spartans ready for action, we have asked two participants from last year’s event to share fitness and nutrition advice.

Marcus Sutton, general manager at Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens, remembers the challenges Spartan events present, both mentally and physically.

Marcus Sutton says a mix of endurance, strength and agility are key to training for the race. Photo: Spartan

“The relief, satisfaction and emotional high you get when crossing the finish line are addictive and the chance to recapture these emotions is a great motivator,” he says.

“I train early in the mornings to ensure I have no excuses or distractions that otherwise occur during the day, as well as to escape the heat. Sleep and recovery are also as important as training.”

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Eating a clean, well-balanced diet is key to maximising performance
Marcus Sutton, GM, Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens

Sutton explains his regimen comprises regular cardio and strength training. “Spartan requires a unique skill set of endurance, strength and agility, and training regularly for all these three elements is key. It keeps things fun and interesting.”

With the prospect of facing a new course, Sutton reveals he has devised special techniques to enhance his performance in Al Wathba. “I will be incorporating sand running training into my routine and testing equipment such as running gaiters to ensure I keep as much sand out of my shoes as possible.”

The Australian’s focus is to complete his first Beast, and he is leaving nothing to chance. “For me eating a clean, well-balanced diet is also key to maximising performance.”

As for race-day advice, Sutton says: “Arriving prepared and being mentally and physically ready will not only ensure successful completion of the race, but also allow you to get the most out of the experience and, hopefully, have some fun along the way.”

Lebanese racer Simon Khayat, the general manager of TAG Catering & Support Services in Kuwait, prepares by setting a training plan tailored to each race he signs up for.

Simon Khayat pays special attention to grip and upper body strength. Photo: Spartan

“I plan the details of conditioning and racing specifics, such as techniques and endurance,” Khayat says. “Being mentally ready for the race is important; how you feel at the starting line depends greatly on how focused and determined you are in the days leading up to the event.

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Start with 15-minute runs on soft sand in the same trail shoes you'll wear on race day
Simon Khayat, GM, TAG Catering & Support Services

“Register as soon as you can and then set your goal on why you are running this race. Think about the advantages that come with this international event and how cool it will be to become a World Championship finisher. Invite your friends too, so you can train and prepare for the race together.”

Khayat also stresses the importance of using the same shoes during training and on race day, as well as advising fellow racers to “do maximum burpees every morning; include leg training twice a week with an emphasis on calves and quadriceps; do a lot of box jumps; and incorporate high-energy lunge jumps”.

To increase his grip strength and upper body size, Khayat has incorporated weekly strength and obstacle training schedules. He also runs long distances off-road twice a week, attends weekly conditioning classes and does yoga on his days off.

“Last year, I saw many people struggle in the middle of the Liwa desert because they did not prepare right. If you are currently jogging on flat roads, tracks or on a treadmill, get out of this routine and run two to three times a week on soft sand. Start with 15-minute runs in the same trail shoes you'll wear on race day.”

Khayat also encourages everyone who signs up for the race this year to “just stay focused and train”.

“Enhance your good carb intake and start cutting down on sugars going forward. Concentrate on your sleep pattern such that you set up a strong schedule yet give your body one day of complete rest each week.”

The Spartan World Championship takes place from December 2-4. Registrations are open. Log onto https://race.spartan.com/en/race/championships/world for more details.

Updated: November 03, 2022, 5:09 AM
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