In exactly 5 days I will be running the Leadville trail marathon. I am not going to lie, I am terrified. I ran the event back in 2010 and loved every moment of it but due to some health setbacks I wasn’t able to train for the event as I had hoped this time around.
However, there is one silver lining: I know the course. Not only by memory but I took the time to really do my research this year. I calculated the average grade for all 3 long climbs. I looked at the finishing times for women the previous years and figured out what pace they were able to manage during certain sections of the course so I know what I am up against. And I have been training based off of this data.
Back in 2010 I distinctly remember my greatest weakness on the course: my power hiking skills. I had done a ton of trail running to train but very little power hiking. “Why hike when I could run?”, I wrongly assessed.
A couple of weekends ago I competed in my first obstacle race of the season and my first Spartan race in the elite category.
There have been plenty of people posting race reports recapping the event so I wanted to compose a post that details more about what worked and what didn’t in my training in the hopes there might be some takeaways that will help others properly prepare and train for such an event.
To start, let me say that you can never be perfectly prepared for any obstacle course race, let alone a Spartan race for that matter. Even if the race is at the same venue year after year, the course and the obstacles themselves can change drastically.
I am also training for some long distance trail races, culminating with an ultra marathon run of the Grand Canyon or the Rim to Rim to Rim. With 42 miles and 11,000 feet elevation gain, this is a Goliath of an event and so running will always take the priority when it comes to training.
My strategy back in 2015 was to train for speed. I was having some pretty major health issues back then so I wasn’t able to really put in the time to build a good running base. So I spent several hours a week doing crossfit classes and speed work on the track. And it paid off, compared to this year I was definitely much stronger and faster.