Spartan Ultra Beast: Preparation, equipment and little advice

If you have ambitions about Run a Spartan Ultra Beast Soon you must prepare: it is a format very different from the shorter races (Sprint, Super & Beast), and a focus on preparation is important – not to go with your hands in your pockets. In short, the percentage of DNF (not completed, voluntary or medical termination and cut-off time) is quite high – and not communicated by Spartan, and if you plan to complete it, restore the medal and awards (because yes, it's longer than a marathon, and you earn the right to brag for life), you have to do it in advance. Let's all see the most important thing in a preparation for a Spartan Ultra Beast.

note: I worked on a detailed preparation for Iskandar Puteri Spartan Ultra on November 16, 2019 (in Malaysia), which I ran with the best teammate. We're done with that 8:17:05 (and 1st / 2nd in our age group, 2 and 3 women in total) – The conclusions I drew from the adventure are here!

The following advice comes from this preparation, but also from my training as a Spartan SGX trainer, where I graduated in the summer of 2019.

First, what is Spartan Ultra Beast?

Spartan Ultra Beast is a very special format of Spartan Race – 50 km and 60 obstacles, 2 laps of a Spartan Beast + an 8 mile obstacle-free loop.
It is a transition zone where it is possible (and highly recommended) to leave a box containing something to leave on the food side, moisture and first aid, between the two loops.
This is the only Spartan format with truly limiting intersections: it is a time loop for the 1st loop (after which they close the transition zone), the 40th kilometer and the finish line.

It is also a great physical and mental challenge – but we can see it below!

Who can run a Spartan Ultra Beast?

For having run fifteen other Spartans (as well as several hurricane heaters) before tackling this, I would recommend starting the experiment if:

  • You have already run (at least) a Spartan Race : It is important to know most of the obstacles in order to prepare for the best: you need to know how your weaknesses are to compensate for them before the Ultra, since every failure of an obstacle is punished by 30 burpees, which after 5 or 8 hours of effort provide a very strong boost in morale and physical strength.
  • You are an amateur or certified runner: you can run without much worry 10 km (regardless of speed, we are talking about endurance) – to stay under the kicks, you must be able to run part of the race (and the more you are able to run "fast") without suffering (ie with a low heart rate, in zone 3 max), the shorter the effort and the less the body is attacked, in short.
  • You have time to devote yourself to the preparation – By taking it 2 to 3 months in advance, you must use 2 to 3 running (long or split) + 3 to 5 muscle building sessions (with body weight for the technique and weight for strength and pure muscular endurance).
  • You really want it – It is not really decided for a whim, since it will take a lot of effort, purchase and relinquishment to be ready on D-day. Take time to think about it before you buy your bib, and once you are convinced, go for it!

How do you prepare for a Spartan Ultra Beast?

There are three important points to consider in an Ultra preparation: physical (both in cardiac and muscle endurance, but also in technique), mental (whether you like it or not, your head will take over at some point during the race, and the stronger your thoughts, the easier it will be to break down the latches and keep moving forward), and equipment.

1 Physically prepare for a Spartan Ultra Beast

For physical preparation it is therefore recommended to do this at least 12 weeks in advance. Of course, if you can improve your stamina and exercise your upper body before that, you do, but the real preparation begins 3 months before the test and you need to keep a stricter exercise program than usual.

Work on cardiovascular endurance:

Yes, you have to alternate between running (pretty slow, not burning the cartridges) and fast walking for almost ten hours – so your heart has to endure.
To prepare for that, we alternate intervals and long runs, or we monitor the heartbeat: we try to stabilize around 150-160 rpm, even if it means slowing down every time we exceed this threshold.
Doing trail running (not on the road, therefore) also helps a lot to get used to the effort – if you are not a certified runner, try to go climbing, to maintain maximum energy.

Work with muscular endurance:

Since we are talking about a very long effort, we will need lasting muscle, which can withstand the effort for several hours. This is mainly the case for the lower body (quadriceps, calves and glutes will suffer), but also for the back and grip muscles, which will be tested.

First identify your weaknesses (for example, during long runs, or by carrying heavy objects at arm's length), and … work!

More information to build your workouts to work with muscular endurance here (number of repetitions, sets, weight to use, etc.)

Work on technique (for obstacles) and explosiveness:

While some obstacles use only pure force, many others are technical and must be learned.
Find a place to learn how to climb ropes using your feet, practice heavy lifting (bucket carry, atlas) with weights of similar shape, learn to pass a row of rings or monkeys. If you are strong enough, you may be able to do without training, but it is always strongly recommended to try the obstacles before, or even train them regularly.

2. Prepare mentally for a Spartan Ultra Beast

Mental preparation is a key point, but it depends a lot on everyone. Some will be motivated by competition, others by going beyond themselves. Some techniques that you can test and practice if they suit you:

  • Find one mantra (positive) to repeat during exercise
  • display you succeed (obstacles, running, crossing the finish line)
  • Practice on obstacles if possible or similar structures (repeat movement gives crazy self-confidence!)

Whatever you choose, remember: Never speak negatively during a race, force yourself to keep a smile, a positive spirit and above all else HAVE FUN.

3. Get well equipped for a Spartan Ultra Beast

Unlike other race formats (or technically you can compete without equipment, although that is a definite disadvantage), you MUST definitely prepare your equipment in advance for an Ultra Beast. Why? because'There are guaranteed odds and ends of 50 km. That's it, and the only thing you can do, is to prepare as much as possible and prepare for any eventuality, to limit the risk and mitigate the consequences of these dangers (which may range from a shoe that you lose the sole to open blisters on your hands due to obstacles, via hypothermia)

An important point: TEST YOUR ENTIRE EQUIPMENT BEFORE D-DAY Run with your bag, with your socks, try to reproduce conditions similar to the race. You are not left with new equipment, or equipment you are not used to, for 50 kilometers.

Spartan Ultra Beast Equipment Checklist:

(note: this is the list I used with my Ultra teammate we drove in Malaysia – it is suitable for hot and humid climates. If your race takes place in winter, or in cooler places, remember to bring warmer clothes and diapers!)

On itself (race day) check
Comfortable running leggings or shorts (avoid cotton)
a comfortable T-shirt / tank top / bra
Slightly high socks if leggings or high socks (or leggings) if shorts
Trail running shoes (hiking boots are prohibited)
A running bag (with place for water, contents below)
A pair of construction gloves
A headlamp
A bandana (something to protect the skull) if the weather is nice
Sunglasses (same reason)
In the sack check
1L water in a camel bag with electrolytes if possible
6 rations, 150-200kcal per serving
4 bags of rehydration salts
2 bags with cramps
an emergency whistle
a light signal
survival blanket
optional: a cold spray
In the transition zone box check
Gels and energy bars (6 to 10 rations)
Comfort food (sweets, cakes you like)
1 liter of water (already in a camelbag to save time)
anticonvulsants, salt tablets, caffeine tablets

A first aid kit (painkillers, normal dressings and blisters, band aid, scissors, sterile pads, disinfectants)

1 hot spray (to warm the muscles)
1 whole reserve (top, leggings, shoes and socks)
sunscreen if the weather is fine
a raincoat (in case of rain or hypothermia)

Finally some tips for the road:

  • Before the race Cut all the nails (feet and hands) at the top. It is fun advice, I know, but avoiding losing it because of friction (I know it because after all, I lost 3 during the preparation + race).
  • Ctaken away from nutrition, I invite you to read this article about nutrition / moisture for endurance running, which will help you plan your intake before, during and after the race.
  • During the race: Keep moving. Sometimes it will be difficult and the legs and the rest will be against the idea. However, extended stops start the recovery process and you will not be able to leave if you are stopped too long. Do not stay longer than 10 minutes in the transition zone – we change the contents of the backpack and go directly.
  • Don't think about the end of the race, stay in the moment. It is depressing to count how many miles it is, and the road itself is worth it, so have fun first.
  • If you can monitor your heartbeat, Try to stay around 180- (your age) bpm. A Zone 3 in short, comfortable (you can hold a discussion by breathing a little hard). It activates a slower but more efficient energy system over time.
  • If you're not done, if for some reason you do not cross the finish line : remember that it doesn't matter. That's not what matters. This is all you have learned during the preparation, which will serve you in the next race. These are all the moments of doubt you have encountered, the work you have given. The people you met. The medal is just a charm, the adventure itself is worth it.

I hope these tips can be helpful to you, don't hesitate if you have any questions you can ask in the comments, and all the best for shopping!

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