The last two Spartan Races I’ve ran, some people have watched me walk in with a giant bag filled with compartments, trays, drink holders, and enough food to feed a small army lunch. My 6-Pack-Bag has helped me through numerous occasions when it calls for more than the average lunch box. Normally I’m prepping food Sunday night for the next couple days, burning through precisely measured meals in no time. On a normal day I’m on schedule from the second I wake up, to the second I go to sleep. Race days are no exception for me. If anything, it’s more important to come prepared.
Diet this, and diet that. Nutrition is a key to success when it comes down to it, especially during race and bodybuilding season. When you’re diet is on the right track you see and feel the results. Each athlete has a way to obtain certain results. I know from personal experience that staying on the right track can give huge strength gains, increase endurance, and help stay cut. My weeks take a lot of focus. Just for maintaining what I have calls for at least 170g of protein alone. When training season comes along to build calls for double that. There are plenty of tricks to make sure you don’t cause damage through out the day. If you’re someone who is looking to gain muscle, striving for 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight is a good place to start. Going catabolic is our biggest enemy. There are certain points in our day when we hit this point. The second you wake up is one of them. Immediately put some protein in your system and put a stop to the process. Over training is another problem that will cause you to go into this stage. Having meals every 3 hours will not only keep your metabolism going, but also keep you from entering catabolism.
I’ve come to realize that my routine never changes. All the hard work I put in to bodybuilding pays off during my obstacle course races. You only get better over time. Lucky for you, I have two people in my life that do both just like myself. Both of these women have helped me to put this naughty baby to bed, and show you it is possible for people like us to compete in both realms. You just have to be willing to put in the extra work.
Tabitha Sierra is a WBFF Pro, a certified personal trainer, and health coach. I know from her coaching me, that this woman knows her stuff. She’s nothing but dedicated to what she does. Recently Tabitha entered in to the Men’s Health Urbanathlon, where she placed 23rd out of 44 in her age group. I asked her about the changes she goes through from competition prep to race prep and no shock to me; her response was exactly what I hoped for. “I really don’t change much. I enjoy racing but I only do it during off-season. I make sure not to over train and to eat enough not to jeopardize my muscle…” Now with every race we run sadly there does come a risk at jeopardizing muscle size. The longer the run the more catabolic we’ll get. She later goes on to stress the importance of taking BCAAs. For those of you who don’t know, these BCAAs, or Branch Chain Amino Acids, help preserve lean muscle while preventing catabolism. It’s a tool that is essential and should be a part of everyone’s arsenal. With each challenge comes certain levels of difficulty, so Tabitha shared her feelings on the level of difficulty for people to do both body build and race.
She said, “it’s not difficult if the timing is right. I think that you can do both but to excel at one, you have to ultimately decide which you want to pursue. Racing is great fun and a good way to stay healthy in the off season, but physique competitions are my focus”
Now, Erin Holly, a woman I’ve met through my first bodybuilding competition, was kind enough to give me her input also. From the second I had the pleasure of meeting her, we had 2 things in common – Spartan Racing & Bodybuilding. Erin has done 20 plus races in the past couple of years and recently broke into the Obstacle Course Runs like the rest of us. We had the pleasure of running together at the most recent Tri-State Super Spartan, now not to brag or anything, she killed it. She took 15th female out of 970+ and 155th out of 3,500+ that competed that day. When it comes to Bodybuilding, in her last three NPC shows she took 6th, 6th, and 3rd! When Erin is getting ready to hit the Figure stage, it’s all about dropping body fat and building up muscle. “…From dropping fat and putting on muscle, it has actually helped my racing.” She said. The most difficult thing when it comes down to dropping body fat is the diet. Erin’s coach helps to make sure that her nutrition is dialed in and on point while she’s preparing for competition and taking on these races.
Erin gave me one last bit of information that I couldn’t agree more with. “Anyone who wants to run obstacle races, I strongly suggest weight training. When I do these races, everyone’s pushing crossfit and telling me why conventional weight lifting isn’t practical. Then I beat all these people…don’t be afraid to lift people! You’ll only get stronger.”
Both of these women had a lot to say. Their nutrition is key to doing both running and bodybuilding. Doing it right gives them the ability to do both and do it well. They’ve both given me an understanding of why we do what we do. They’re proud. They’re strong. Most of all they’re passionate about what they do. It’s possible to succeed in both no questions about it, but really making an impact on one takes some focus.
“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” – Gail Devers
WOD: Strength Training
I know we all love to run, but Strength will come in handy when we’re pushing through obstacles we encounter so get started on building some up!
Warm up: 20 Wide Grip Chin ups, 20 Wide Push Ups, 20 Single Leg Squats.
3 Sets of 6-12 repetitions.
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
Seated Shoulder Press
Dumbbell or Hammer Strength Chest Press
Lying Tricep Extension
Standing barbell Curl
30 minute Step Mill