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Conquering an Adventure Race: The Start

Follow my 10-week journey as I prepare to take on the Citi Field race on May 9.
Wall Climb

I was never a runner, cyclist or swimmer growing up. I played high school football and I was on a Division III football team for two years before I quit because it just wasn’t for me. Since college, I’ve been a recreational weightlifter who’s dabbled in some short-distance running. Am I in good shape? You be the judge with my statistics below.

Age: 23
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 193 pounds
Body Fat: 16%
40-Yard Dash: 5.16 seconds
Vertical Jump: 23.5
Max Bench: 285 pounds
Max Deadlift: 419 pounds (two reps)

Last spring, I completed UFC Fit, and during that program I ran my first obstacle course race, the Citi Field Reebok Spartan Race. It’s a Spartan “Sprint,” meaning it’s between three and four miles with 15 obstacles. Spartan Races range from this distance to the Ultra Beast, which is some 26 miles of obstacles and running. 

Shortly after Citi Field, I interviewed Reebok-sponsored Spartan racer Hunter McIntyre, asking for his best training plan for a three-mile obstacle course race, and he gave me the Ultimate Mud Run Training Plan. This year, I’m going to use his workout plan, in addition to some training of my own, to beat my time at the 2015 Citi Field Spartan Race. Here are my 2014 results:

2014 Citi Field Spartan Race Results
Overall: 847/6924
In Gender: 712
In Age Group: 92
Time: 52:59
Obstacles Failed: Spear Throw, Traverse Wall, Rope Climb

In order to improve my time, I’ll not only need to follow McIntyre’s workout routine, but I’ll also have to practice my previously failed obstacles to ensure that I don’t get stuck doing 90 burpees again. There’s also room for improvement in the obstacles I did pass, especially in the monkey bars and heavy jump rope. Not to mention that face that I basically became immobile during bear crawls. Above all, I need to improve my speed endurance. While you have the option of walking during Spartan Race, and I did take this option in 2014, my goal is to stay jogging at a moderate pace the entire time. 

For the next 10 weeks, I’ll be posting blogs about my training progress, as I hope to become the best athlete I can possibly be. As for nutrition, I won’t be following a specific diet, but I do have a personal goal of losing some body fat and weight by May. 

What I enjoy about the Spartan Race is that it’s indeed a race. When the horn sounds, it’s you versus everyone else, but the best way to approach the burgeoning sport is that it’s you versus you. I participate in the “Open” category, different from the “Elite,” which is where McIntyre and other obstacle course race (OCR) competitors race for cash prizes and sponsorships. Even in the Open heat, I didn’t run into any lines or “congestion” that would significantly impact my time. If you’re conditioned enough, you’ll find a way to get around people.

Tune in next week when I begin the Ultimate Mud Run Training Plan in my quest to be the most ripped, fast, and agile I’ve ever been. 

Mark Barroso is a contributing editor for Men’s Fitness, an assistant editor at Muscle & Fitness and an associate editor of FLEX. Follow him @Mark_Barroso.


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