5 Essential Tips For Your Next Spartan Race

Ready for Your Spartan Race? Tough Mudder?


Listen to the podcast here.


Congratulations, you are embarking on a truly epic adventure. Whether it is a Spartan race, Tough Mudder or any of the other OCR events, you will finish a changed person. But that doesn’t mean you have to make rookie mistakes. Let me help you out with a couple tips that will make your first Spartan race more enjoyable.

Enjoyable? Yes, enjoyable. Just because you are going to be uncomfortable for an extended length of time doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

Confused? You won’t be after you cross the finish line.

Tip #1: Hydration

I ran the Fort Carson Super and Sprint races last week. Let me set this up for you. The weather was in the low 70’s, sunny with a little wind. The Super is the longer of the two and is for more experienced runners. I didn’t see near the amount of cramping, puking and dizziness on the course Saturday as I did for the easier, shorter Sprint on Sunday.


Because the Super is long enough for people to pay attention to hydration and carry supplies. The Sprint is very deceptive in that it is billed as a 3-5 mile course. Most people wouldn’t carry water for a 3 mile run, so why bother with it race day?

Big Mistake for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1. If all you drink is purified water, you will never fully hydrate.

Water without electrolytes cannot hydrate. It tends to pass through the body. When your urine is clear, it doesn’t mean you are hydrated. It means the water is passing through the body and not getting absorbed into the cells. To achieve hydration you need electrolytes. Electrolytes are Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium Phosphate and Chloride. Without them, you will cramp up and feel like you are dying.

So the amount of water you drink isn’t as important as what you drink.

If you drink filtered water on the way to the race, drink the filtered water at the water stations, you are rolling the dice, especially if it is a hot day.

There just isn’t any reason to take a chance on this. If you are a bigger guy, like me, or if you sweat a lot take a camelback. You can always run around any water obstacles, drop it, come back and do the obstacle. It won’t do anything but help you.

Electrolyte heaven for Spartan race

Here are some great examples of getting some electrolytes in your system.

Tip #2 Length of the course

Fort Carson Spartan race 2017

Can I break some bad news to you? A Spartan Sprint is 3-5 miles long. This is very different than putting on your running shoes and going for a 3-5 mile run. Vastly different. The course is designed to break you and make you uncomfortable. It takes most people around 2 hours to finish a Sprint, sometimes 3 hours. That is not a casual jog for a couple hours, that is grueling effort. So please don’t take the course lightly.

A Sprint can take you around 4 hours and a Beast can be 6 plus hours.

In my opinion, unless you are a fast, elite runner, consider taking the following with you.

  • Hydration that includes electrolytes. See tip #1.
  • Food such as energy bars, protein bars, nuts etc…
  • Caffeine such as energy gels, energy shots etc…

Additional but still very important tip

If you are carrying food in your pockets, they will have a tendency to be pulled out of your pockets as you jump in the water. I know, it happened to me. Try and get pants with a button or zipper. If you are using a camelback, just shove everything in there and throw it in the grass while you get muddy. Also, it is never a bad idea to put everything in a watertight baggy. Just in case…

Tip #3 Food

When you get hungry you get miserable. It is amazing how a little food can lift your spirits. Under the last tip I mentioned energy bars, protein bars and nuts. You can also bring a sandwich, burrito, donuts and even candy bars. No I am not kidding. Don’t go hungry. It will erode your willpower and zap your energy. Even something as simple as a stick of gum or a peppermint can lift your spirits.

Now given you aren’t going to see Hunter McIntyre eating a pizza during the World Championships, I am assuming you are at a slightly lower level and just want to finish the race. So take time and eat.

Tip #4 Energy Cost

If you are in great shape and know how to get through all the obstacles, managing your energy is relatively simple. For the rest of us, there is the hidden danger of doing countless burpees. Burpees will zap your energy and your will to live within minutes. So please try and plan for them best you can.

Keep the following in mind.

  • The course is designed to break you. Any easy stretches are a prelude to something nasty.
  • You will have hills and descents all day.
  • You will be carrying heavy stuff and climbing all day.
  • You will be doing burpees. You may even be as unfortunate as me, as I did 4 penalty burpees stations in a row.

I am not trying to scare you, just leave a little energy in your back pocket for the final push. After a few races you will start to get a feel of the rhythm of the course but, in my humble opinion, it is never a bad idea to hold back a little at the start.

Tip#5 Don’t Wear Cotton!

Don’t wear cotton on the course. Cotton sucks!

  • It gets wet and heavy.
  • It gets muddy and clunky.
  • It will chafe you and make your life miserable.

This also goes for wearing cotton underwear, a mistake I made last year. Ouch!

Compression shorts make for great underwear. Get some running shorts and a tech shirt and you are good to go. Also, pay attention to your socks. No cotton here either. Get some good trail socks that will dry out. While you are thinking about that, a good pair of trail shoes are also invaluable.

This may sound a little weird to you but I love 5 toe socks. I have a couple pairs of Injinji’s and I love them like I have never loved a sock before. They keep the toes from getting blisters and tend to keep rocks and other unwanted junk out.

Best socks for Spartan Race

So there you have it. 5 Tips You need to know Before your Next Spartan Race.

Remember, this is not really a race but an adventure. You won’t know what is going to happen but if you follow the above steps, you will have a better chance of being less miserable.

More Ranting and the Worst Nutrition Advice for Runners Revealed

I was so flustered with last weeks examination of the inane milk vs running infographic, I just had to address it again. This guy, who I am not revealing his name because I don’t want to start a war or get sued, is equating a glass of milk with running a mile. Pretty cryptic. What does it mean? That is what we go into, so if you haven’t listened to the “Us and Them” episode, please do. It will get you up to speed. Then check this one out.





Big man Runs.Com: The Arvada Prairie Dog Half-Marathon

Here is the latest about my latest half-marathon, the Arvada Spring Prairie Dog. How did I do, what shoes did I wear, what did I eat and how many times did I go to the bathroom. it is all here.





Half-marathons terrify me and the best ultra-running documentary.

In this episode I confide my darkest fears to you about running half-marathons. I also talk about the Bigfoot 200 documentary by Kerry Ward. best ultra running documentary of all time? You decide. https://youtu.be/MRZF3ZIftMA .

Check it out.




Big Man Runs.Com Episode 3: To Hell with Technology, Go Run!

My “racing” season is about to hit full force and I am freaking out. Half-marathons, Spartan races etc… In the process I am going out for runs like I am packing for a 2 week vacation. This week it all came to a crashing halt and i began to realize the true spirit of running. Have a listen, see what you think.




Personal Trainers Say the Darndest Things Part 2

Here is the second installment of me taking questions from trainers who are asking basic questions on Facebook. Credit to them that they care enough to reach out for help. Too bad they got bad answers to the questions. So I am stepping in to make things right. As time permits I will put the answers in writing.




Workout of the Week: An Advanced Full Body Circuit WOW#1


WOW#1 Workout Of The Week

Advanced Circuit training

I was in a mood to get down to business with my clients this week, so here is what I cooked up.


Advanced Circuit Workout



























What you will need:

A HIIT Timer.

Don’t have one?

Don’t know what one is?

No worries, they are free. Here is a video about the one I use and how to set it up.


What to Watch Out For:

You may notice that some of the exercises are for 45 secs while others are for 22 seconds.

  • For the 45 second exercises you do that movement for the whole time. Ex: Side Squats.
  • For the 22 second exercises, watch the timer and switch hands/.feet at the halfway point. Ex: Front raises

This allows you to use more weight and keep your form intact.


  • Set your interval timer to 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest.
  • Don’t let your form get sloppy. I would rather you take short breaks within the set when you form starts to break down.
  • Do 3 rounds.

This is one of the workouts my online members get delivered to their phone every week along with preset programs targeting different parts of the body.

The member workouts have videos for all exercises and detailed descriptions.

If you would more info on becoming a member, click here.

How to Start an Exercise Program For Beginners Part 2: Walking

How to Start an Exercise Program For Beginners

Part 2: Walking

Welcome back! You wouldn’t believe that walking would be controversial, would you?

Perceived Rate of ExertionThe issue isn’t walking itself, it has more to do with why you are doing it. And I think walking is a great topic for you to get a handle on so you don’t waste a lot of time and effort.

Depending on the condition of your health, most people can walk. When I am talking about walking, we first need to look at what is called the Perceived rate of Exertion. This is a handy numbering system from 1 to 10 that allows you to gauge how hard you are working.

So don’t worry about how fast you are going, gauge the effectiveness of the walk by your RPE.

An RPE of 2-3

Pros: You will burn some calories.

Cons: You will not have a major effect on changing your cardio or your muscle strength.

An RPE of 4-6

Pros: Great for building up your cardio and burning fat.

Cons: Very little resistance for strength or body-shaping. It also takes a long time.

An RPE of 7-8

Pros: Excellent way to maximize time. Great for building your wind and putting some beneficial stress on the muscles.

Cons: Mentally it is hard to maintain this pace.

So in the end, I am not against walking if it is used as part of an exercise program. In fact it is a great addition to do everyday to clear your head or as a lower intensity workout to do on days where you aren’t lifting.

People who just want to walk will be sadly disappointed because the benefit to time spent ratio just isn’t good.

And let’s be brutally honest, some people use walking as an excuse so they can say “Well at least I am doing something”. Well, if you are not challenging yourself, you are really just fooling yourself.



Here are some more resources on Walking

How to Get the Most Out Of Walking

What to do if you start to get Foot Pain

How to Pick the Right Shoes For Walking

I hope this helps. if you want to check out part 1 of this series, click here.


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Questions, Concerns or Interested in Training with Me?

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Episode 104: How to Prevent Over-Eating on Weekends

How To Prevent Over-Eating on Weekends


Weekends seem to be the diet-killer for most people. 

Stuff Not in the Podcast

Americans are a weird bunch of people.

Weird in that we attach guilt and stigma to so many of the most common things in life.

  • Sex
  • Rock and Roll
  • Food
  • Booze

All the fun stuff.

Why do we do this? Guilt? Shame? Nothing else to do?

Don’t ask me. As a general rule I question a lot of these things. I am especially dubious of how we are taught to look at food.

Most people in the world see food as food. They eat food. They don’t divide food into “Good” and “Bad”.

But in other countries they also don’t eat as much processed food as we do.

So in the interest of teaching people what to eat, we have developed this way of thinking.

The problem being that fried foods and a lot of processed foods taste really, really good.

So at this point I realize I have lost a number of you. As a personal trainer I am supposed to take a hard stance against anything that isn’t natural. I am supposed to be a food monk, eating only the purest of fruits, vegetables and grass fed beef.

But I don’t. And I won’t because this way of dealing with food is messing up your head.

This isn’t a physiological discussion, this is a psychological discussion.

I am not going out on a limb here. If you are eating clean 5 days a week, what is wrong with a little indulgence on the weekend? Especially if you are working out hard?

If anything, we are talking about taking a “Cheat” or “Free” day, a valid way to eat, and doubling it.


Say you are lifting weights three days a week and running three days a week. You are getting in shape, losing 1-2 pounds per week.

Is it better to have the idea that if you ate well during the week you can eat what you want?

Or is it better to suppress the urge to eat “Bad” food because it will destroy all the progress you made all week?

I am going to argue that suppressing your urge to have the occasional “bad” food is going to backfire on you. It is just like trying to push a beach ball under water. If you try really hard, you can keep it down for a while. But when you lose control, it is going to resurface with a vengeance.

And isn’t that what happens to most people? If you have freedom to make a choice, you will generally choose to eat less than if you are suppressing an urge all week.

This is simple human emotion. The the person that overeats feels guilt and shame. Then the guilt and shame get ties to unworthiness.

This leads to statements like:

  • I don’t have the willpower.
  • I will never be able to do this. It is too hard.
  • I am not worthy.
  • I don’t deserve to be in shape.

Screw that! Enjoy life. Have that glass of wine with friends. Celebrate a birthday and have some cake. Don’t worry about it.

The big key to having success in getting back in shape is…..

Pretty good is good enough!

If you get 80% of this stuff right, you are far ahead of most people.

Hell, if you get 60% of this right, you are still farther along than most people.

You will not ruin everything you did during the week by indulging a little. Anyone who says you will is full of crap. And is probably one of those poor souls that is wracked by guilt over their own nutrition. So let them battle their own demons. You will find that when you give yourself freedom to make choices, you will make better choices.

So does that make you feel better?

I hope so because getting in shape,losing fat and building muscle is a positive experience. There are times where it may feel like two steps forward and one step back, but at least you are moving ahead.

Enjoy the podcast. If you like it, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

 If You like this, take two-seconds and join my other sites so you don’t want to miss a thing:

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Questions, Concerns or Interested in Training with Me?

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Episode 95: Knee Pain and How To Fix It


How to fix Knee Pain

Knee pain stinks. The big problem is that you are always using it. You can try and rest and elbow or wrist but how are you going to stay off a knee?

I am not a Doctor or an Exercise Therapist. But I am a Corrective Exercise Specialist and I run into knee pain all the time with clients. If you have chronic knee pain, it never hurts to have an MRI, just to make sure there aren’t any torn ligaments.

That being said, most of the time, the pain in the knee is being caused by some sort of muscle imbalance. This stuff is easy to fix if you know what to do.

Analogy Time

Traffic CongestionThink about a traffic report. Hey, look at this, I have one for you to look at. Think of the yellow roads as your muscles.

Roads, like your musculature  are all connected in some way. Anything going on with your foot can affect anything and everything else up and down the chain.

In this picture, the roads look pretty good. The small red dots are where traffic is slowing. The bigger red dots are where there probably is an accident and things are at a standstill.

So in terms of your muscles, those big red areas are what we call adhesions or knots. This is where the muscle, fascia and skin get smashed together, shortening the range of the muscle. An adhesion will prevent the muscle from extending to it’s natural length.

The smaller red dots can be likened to tired or tight muscles. There aren’t any adhesions but the muscle needs to be stretched.

For knee pain, the problem is seldom the knee itself. Don’t look at the joint, look at the muscles attached to the joint and start your search for knots there.

This is where foam rolling and smashing come in handy. It just so happens I have a page here devoted to that, Rehab 101.

Or you can check out my YouTube Playlist here.

If you smash and roll and don’t find any adhesions or knots, then you probably just have a tight muscle.

Here are some general tips

  • Pain in the back of the knee, stretch the hamstrings and calves.
  • Pain in the front of the knee stretch the quads
  • Pain in the inside of the knee, stretch the adductors and hips.
  • Pain in the outside of the knee stretch the abductors (inside of leg)

Here is my page on stretches.

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Yes, shoes can have an incredible impact on your knees.

  • Worn out shoes put your foot at a different angle than they should be. When the angle of the foot striking the ground changes, the shoe can’t absorb the impact properly. So each step sends shockwaves up the leg.
  • High heels tilt your hips forward putting more pressure over the knee. You are continually leaning forward.
  • Sandals that aren’t cushioned send the impact of the foot strike up the leg.

My point is you can generally fix knee pain yourself.

Take a look at 3 things.

  • Smash and roll to see if you have any knots up and down the leg that could be pulling on the knee.
  • Check your shoes to see if they are the issue.
  • Check exercise form to make sure you aren’t putting undue stress on the knee.

Here are some more videos on knee pain.

Please do me a favor. If you like the videos, give me a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel.

Fixing Knee Pain Video reviewed

How to fix pain in Back of the Knee


Why Your Shoes are Destroying Your Joints


 If You like this, take two-seconds and join my other sites so you don’t want to miss a thing:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/mfactorfitness

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Questions, Concerns or Interested in Training with Me?

Fill this out and I will be happy to get back to you.