Photos provided fitmom40.com - Copyright 2015
April Sherman defines what it is to be fit over 40. There are many people out there that will spew advice, peddle products and give second hand advice. Then there are others that live what they preach. The owner of fitmom40.com, an avid adventure racer, mom, wife, and all around fire breather, was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about what to expect for my first Spartan Race coming up in June.
I am a firm believer in getting advice from a reputable source. If you live it, eat it and breath it, I’ll listen. In fact I will actively seek out those that are successful in their niche.
My reasoning is simple; you can’t know everything and instead of going through your own trial and error, use what other experts have learned from their own personal experiences, to help you excel in your endeavors.
When it comes to adventure racing, April is that source. If you have read any of my posts on G+, or bilderz.com you will know that I am making an effort to change focus in my yearly goal setting and have broadened my horizons to include at least one or two adventure races this next year.
Even though I’ve run numerous races in the past, the Spartan and the eight plus mile distance is new to me. I hate being un-prepared, so these are the questions I had, so thought I’d share. If you are new to adventure racing or want to move up your game a bit, read on.
Hobbies: CrossFit, running, photography, hiking, Spartan Racing, gardening
Relationship Status: Married with three girls
1. What got you started in adventure racing? I was encouraged by a friend to run my first Spartan Race in Jan 2014. I was scared and nervous, but am always up for a challenge. I had completed many 1/2 marathons and one full marathon in the years before, but never an obstacle race of this magnitude. I remember seeing the course for the first time and wondering, “what on earth did I sign up for”. I was such a mess; I must have run to the bathroom three times before the race had even started. But once the race started, I was in the zone and feeling great.
2. Do you do other events outside of Spartan? My first adventure race was the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in 2011 and I’ve competed in one CrossFit competition. I also do many local 5K’s.
3. What are your long term goals with Adventure racing or other fitness events? Last year I completed my trifecta in Spartan Racing and would like to get a double trifecta this year. That would mean completing two sprints (3+miles), two supers (8+miles), and two beasts (12+miles) in the same year. I would also like to compete in more CrossFit competitions and get back to running 1/2 marathons again.
4. What is your typical day of training like to prepare for a race? To prepare for my first Spartan Sprint, I worked out at a local CrossFit box about 4 times a week and ran 3-4 miles two or three times a week. Preparing for the beast (12+) was the most difficult. I did two WODs at least four times a week with short runs (3-4miles) and then long runs were on Sunday. When my body was tired, I rested by stretching and using the foam roller. I knew the beast would take me close to 4 hours to complete because the race location had a lot of hills to climb.
5. How many races do you have under your belt, and how did you finish in those races? I’ve completed three Spartan races (sprint, super, beast) and am running my fourth next weekend. I’ve finished the Sprint 8th in my age division, Super 13th in my age division, and 15th at the beast in my age division. The beast was the most difficult to complete because it was mid September in Temecula, CA with 100*+ weather. Approximately 5,000 people started the race and only 800 finished.
6. Have your goals changed when you compete now compared to when you first started? My goals for Spartan Racing have definitely changed from when I first started. At first it was about finishing, but now it’s about completing the spear throw and beating my previous times. I went from thinking I would never do another Spartan Race to being totally obsessed about Spartan Racing. After my first race, I told my husband we needed a climbing rope, spear throw, bucket pulley, and tractor pull. Now we have many Spartan-like obstacles on our property. I’d say I’m addicted!
7. How does competition help keep you healthy and in top form? Competition keeps me motivated to train so I can be a stronger version of myself. I really think if I didn’t have a race or some competition to train for; I would not be motivated to exercise. Competition drives me, it always has. At the age of five I started competing in after school sports. I was a competitive gymnast for seven years (ages 12 to 18), ran track in high school, and was on a national winning cheer team.
8. You started a blog that talks about fitness over 40. With so many blogs out there what makes fitmom40.com different? I’m not familiar with a lot of “women over 40 fitness blogs”, but I want to reach out to women who have put their health on the back burner because they’ve been too busy all these years taking care of the kids, home, husband, and job. Now that the kids are older and more independent, we can think about getting back on track with our health. I want them to know it’s never too late to find your fitness niche. I found mine at 40…..CrossFit! And then again at the age of 42, I found Spartan Racing. I hope to inspire, as other mom’s have inspired me.
9. If you could accomplish one fitness goal in lets say then next two years, what would it be? Fitness goal in the next two years…….maybe run a Spartan Hurricane Heat (not really sure what this is exactly because no one will really say. I think it’s a 12 hour team race)
10. What advice would you give someone who wants to get started in adventure racing?
Run , run, run!!! Get your mileage in and cross train. Don’t just focus on one thing because you will need endurance and strength to do well. And yoga….sometimes being flexible and having balance will get you through a tough obstacle.
11. What are some of the "tricks of the trade" you have learned when running a Spartan race? Don’t wear lifting gloves. I actually haven’t done this, but have seen many people wear them. They will get soaked and that makes it harder to do the monkey bars and rope climb. Familiarize yourself with the obstacles. The first time I saw some of the obstacles, I started doubting myself. I was however able to do them all but that darn spear throw. I can’t throw or catch to save my life. Do lots of pull-ups during training.
Being able to pull your own body weight is very beneficial for rope and wall climbs and monkey bars. When at the pulley obstacle, I have to anchor myself down with my foot hooked onto the metal fence in front of me. Otherwise, the sandbag and I are playing teeter tooter. At the barbed wire, I’m lucky to be small enough to just roll the whole length of the obstacle (I can makeup for lost time here).
12. Is there any special equipment you recommend to bring during a race? I wear old running shoes b/c most likely at the end of the race I will want to toss my shoes. I check what the weather will be like during race day so I can plan out what to wear. I like to wear form fitting wicking clothes. Way more comfortable when they get wet as opposed to cotton clothing. i like chewing gum when I’m doing any endurance race. Keeps my mouth from drying out. If you are doing a super or beast you may want to carry your own water. Practice running with a camel pack, so you can get the feel of carrying weight on your back. I find energy gel is very helpful during the longer races like the super or beast. After the race BYO: towel, change of clothes, more water, flip-flops or another pair of shoes. I sometimes even bring a sandwich baggie with shampoo (from the hotel) and Q-tips for a quick wash if I plan to stay at the race for a while.
13. If you could only have one piece of extra gear for a race, what would it be? I would really like to be able to strap a Go Pro on me during the race to get some great footage, but I don’t want it to get in my way. I like to run with as little as possible.
14. Who is the driving force behind helping you achieve your goals? I am the driving force that helps me achieve my fitness goals. No one is going to make me train. No one is going to hold my hand. I control the outcome of every race by how well I train. However, it sure is nice to hear my three daughters cheering me on during a race. Nothing sweeter than to hear “go momma” from my six year old. In fact, she’s running her first Spartan Kids race this month. She says “I wanna be a Spartan like you, Momma”.
One of the best ways to get and stay in shape is to pick something; anything to sink your teach into. For some it is a local 5k, or a fitness competition. For others it is adventure racing. The idea here is to get involved with something that forces you to achieve your fitness goals.
I’d like to personally thank April of fitmom40.com for giving up her time to answer my questions. If you need inspiration, you are new to racing or just want to thank her for the tips, please visit her blog. In fact, do more than that, please visit and comment.
*Nothing says you appreciate a blogger more than leaving a comment on her site, (hint, hint ).
Oh, and please leave one below, don’t be stingy.
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See you on the beach, or even at my first Spartan in June
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