10 Things to do the Day Before a Spartan Race (or BattleFrog Series, Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash, etc.)

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10 things to do the day before a spartan battlefrog tough mudder rugged maniac warrior dash race


The day before an obstacle race can be nerve-wracking. All the preparation, the anxiety, how does one cope?

No worries! There are a few standard practices which go a long way in making your next gritty event smooth and joyful, and also some individual and unorthodox methods to prepare for event day. Below are a few of my pre-race day methods that may help you prepare for the madness.

1) Paperwork/Fees

The least sexy aspect of, well, anything.

There are some forms that accompany virtually any OCR event, including a liability waiver, which releases the venue of responsibility for injury (or even death) except in the case of negligence on the part of the venue. Other documents may include parking passes, media waivers (in case the event is being filmed), etc. A document checklist should be provided on your venue’s website. Also be sure to bring appropriate funds for associated fees on race day.

2) Establish a Ritual

Humans are creatures of habit, because habits bring stability, comfort, and reliability to many situations. Obstacle racing is no different.

A pre-race ritual is the segue, the portal, the plain between the mundane world of your everyday existence and the adventure of the race. This is the quiet before the storm which settles our minds and prepares us for battle. A pre-race ritual is a sacred space that should be honored by everyone in your life, because you are about to enter into the fray, and this ritual, this method, this repose and respite is the preparation, the space within the cocoon before you emerge race day transformed and ready for battle. Go there, and be still, and make sure your spouse and friends don’t interrupt your beast mode transition at the starting line.

3) Gear Check/Pack

Warriors check their pack before marching toward the battlefield, and you are no different. Make a pre-race list of required gear for your event and carefully fulfill your pack. Compression shorts? Proper shoes? Gloves? Hydration and race fuel? Post-race change of clothes? Camera, watch, paperwork, lucky armband, whatever you need to enter the race and come out victorious must be packed. A comprehensive gear check performed the day before–not morning of, ensures success and prevents stress.

4) Goof Off

Don’t forget to relax.

I get very anxious before races because I’m highly competitive with both my comrades and my personal expectations, so having a little fun takes the edge off my self-styled blade of anxiety. Play video games, visit a local attraction with your family or friends (whether at home or in the host town/city of the event), just find a way to blow off steam.

5) Dress for Battle

The warrior traditions of the world share many things in common, one of them being their appearance before battle. Scottish Woad Raiders would paint themselves in blue patterns. Spartans would often oil and tend their beards, and Samurai would apply incense to their hair so as to release a pleasant aroma should they be decapitated in battle.

By transforming our appearance before a race, we create an indelible link between the mark (or a piece of clothing) and the forthcoming event. Just as a wedding dress is only worn for the wedding day, or certain colors worn on game day while watching our favorite teams, we enter into a unique and special place as we don the garb of OCR, ready for battle.

6) Pre-race Fueling

There are many theories and techniques on pre-race fueling, so the best approach is to study your body and performance during training periods to determine the optimal nutrition requisite for race day. Easily digested carbs such as breads and oatmeal, and even the sugars found in bananas and pastries like Pop-Tarts are common food tools race morning, while starches like potatoes and rice with light protein are popular staples the night before. Find what works for you!

7) Recon

Some venues will post course maps of their races with information including race distance, water stations, and obstacles. Another technique is joining social media groups or making friends with folks who may have course access. These individuals (often volunteers armed with phone cameras) serve as a recon force who snap candid photos during course builds and other volunteer events which give them special access to the battlefield.

Study the maps and photos and make ready for war!

8) Sleep

Harder than it sounds. Pre-race jitters and adrenaline keep me up at night, however the importance of pre-race sleep cannot be stressed enough. Obstacle races are a savage test of your wit, strength, and endurance, so you’ll need proper fuel and rest to meet the challenge.

Sleep aids from medication and even some herbal teas and essential oils (like lavender) are great tools to help you get those z’s. Find what works to wind things down.

9) Make a Play List

Armies often marched to the beat of drums and cadence songs before battle. A race playlist is no different!

The hours leading to an event usher me into a space where my imagination and focus completely change. It’s how I go from mild-mannered stay-at-home-dad to rancorous hulk beast hell-bent on destroying the course. Having a favorite pre-race playlist is a great addition to any ritual which sets the mood and ushers you into race mode. What’s the tune playing during your war march?

10) Review your Goals and Motivation

Some obstacle racers brave the course for charity, others for a special person in their lives. Many others march on as support groups or teams, while others are in it for the podium. For some still, each race is another battle in their new-found commitment toward health and fitness. Whatever the reason, a strategic review of your goals and motivation can make all the difference in your performance during a race. Consider dedicating your race to a person or cause, because few things inspire us to greatness more than a cause which transcends ourselves.

I hope this list helps you prepare for your next race, but it is by no means comprehensive. What are some of your pre-race methods? Please share them in the comment section below and help others prepare for the battle ahead.

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