How long has it been since I took part in a Spartan Race when I was in ok shape? (not great shape...just ok..) The last race I did was 8 weeks post partum (terrible idea), the one prior to that I was 25 weeks pregnant. So, for my first Spartan Sprint of 2018 at Aston Down I was pretty excited…and pretty nervous.
It’s really hard coming back to fitness after having a baby, or it was for me. A lot of people told me I would “bounce back”. Let me tell you…I did not! My stomach was distended for weeks, empty and loose. I had stitches which split and got infected (tmi? sorry….) My abs split and took longer than usual to get back to normal, and added into this I had the small matter of a newborn to look after, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and to be honest, that was my main concern, not bouncing back.
For weeks after my little one arrived I spent my days mainly sitting on the sofa, whomping down food as feeding her made me starving. I’d take short walks, and that was about it. I was in no rush to get fit. I would do it when I was ready.
And then the time came, roughly 3 months after she arrived, I decided to lace up my trainers and start thinking about shifting some of these biscuits that were now sitting around my hips.
I started off with attending a mums & babies crossfit class at the box I’d been a member of prior to pregnancy. I love crossfit. I love the atmosphere, the intensity, and having people to work with and push me. Sadly, my body just wasn’t as fit as it used to be but my mind refused to accept it, and after repeatedly pushing myself too far I took a step back and realised I had a lot of fitness to build back up first.
I decided to treat it the way I did when I first started getting fit. Have no expectations of myself, and start slow. I started with couch to 5k, which is excellent. I signed up to my local gym and attended classes. Hiit, pump, Legs, bums & tums. Whatever was on at the time I could get childcare I went to. As long as I was moving I didn’t care. I used My Fitness Pal to track my foods, and made sure I got loads of walking in.
Slowly slowly I started to see the changes, and gradually I could feel myself getting faster at running, finding the classes easier and being able to push myself harder. I stayed consistent and had small goals. Training 3 times a week, something I could manage without getting exhausted, and something that I knew I could keep up long term.
Eventually, the race weekend arrived. I was nervous because now I knew I was fitter and I wanted to do well, but my level of “well” is very different to many peoples, or what it may have been in the past.
Spartan Race directs the sprint (5km+) as an entry level race. I’ve done quite a few Spartans in recent years that have in all honesty, been really tough, so I was expecting to do a lot of burpees.
The course itself was brutal in the sense of the terrain, and the heat didn’t help. They don’t call it “Death Valley” for nothing. And did they make use of those hills. Up and down and up and down and …I lost count. Sweaty, tired, melting…legs burning we tramped up, and down. If there’s something I’m not skilled at, it’s hills.
The race felt like it was split into 3 for me: a short run, HILLS with obstacles, and then event village. Whilst I sucked at the hills and this slowed me way down, I was pleased with my performance on the obstacles. We saw the classic Spartan obstacles: Rope, Spear (which I failed at even worse than usual), hoist, drags, A-frame, walls, z-wall, sandbag carry, & rings. What I particularly enjoyed was it was all realistic. Of course it was a challenge, and in my wave most people failed the rings, or the rope, but it wasn’t ridiculous. There was no twister, there was no miles of heavy carries. It truly was an entry level race. It was appropriate. Hard enough to test people, but not so hard that people will feel like they’ve failed.
I finished the race far slower than I wanted to, partly down to my lack of fitness, partly down to my ability to stop and chat to marshals for 15 minutes- or stroke any dog I came across, and partly down to my trainers being too old and rubbing my feet to hell. It was so frustrating; the hills finished and I thought excellent, time to pick the pace up and get back to the event village, until I realised every step was agony. I hobbled the last 2km back and ended the race with purple toe nails and the biggest blisters you've ever seen. I also ended with a huge smile on my face, loving the fire jump and feeling so proud.
That was two weeks ago, I’ve just about recovered and now I’ve got just under a week until the Super at Marston Lodge… and I still don’t have new trainers…