Thomas made an amazing transformation a few years ago when he decided to sign up for his first Spartan Race. Since then, he has lost over 90 pounds, completely changed his lifestyle, and has 6 Spartan races under his belt to date, and few more to come over the next few months. This week we caught up with Thomas to share how Spartan Races have transformed his life and his training.
EF: What inspired you to sign up for your first Spartan Race?
Thomas: It was really just by chance, a few of my friends thought it looked like a fun challenge so we signed up. At that point I wasn’t exercising at all and my jeans were getting tight. I was the heaviest I had ever been so I figured I had better do something about it. My first race was the Sprint in Montana in May 2014. It ended up going a lot better than I had expected, which led to a snowball effect, and I have been training and racing since.
In The Spotlight: Interview with Coach Thomas
EF: What keeps you coming back for more?
Thomas: Definitely the challenge. I love pushing myself and seeing how far I can take myself. It is my goal to win a race, and although I have a lot of work to do, the only way to get there is to keep training and keep racing.
EF: What advice would you give someone who is considering signing up for a race?
Thomas: Believe in yourself. If you go into the race thinking you can’t do certain things, it is all over. Look at each obstacle as an individual goal to conquer and take it one step at a time (Coach Alex really helped me overcome the mental barriers. Racing is more than just physical skill, it takes mental toughness as well).
EF: What courses have you run and what did you like about each course?
I have competed in Montana, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Las Vegas. Each course brought about it’s own challenges in terms of weather, elevation, and the courses themselves.
I have raced both the sprint and the beast in Montana. The sprint is a shorter race and is a great place to start. This was my first race in 2014. The following year I ran a sprint and a beast, it was tough in terms of recovery as the races were back to back days, but the experience itself was great. It was my first race over 20 kilometers, which felt amazing. There was a short swim in the race which was a nice break from running with elevation, but we also had to memorize numbers throughout the race which was a tough mental challenge. Needless to say, I did some burpees on that one.
Every race brings its own adventures and experiences. I love the sprints because they are really fun to do as a group. The team work and atmosphere is so fun and amazing.
In Ottawa, I ran the Super as a solo racer, which led to a great friendship with another racer. We kept pace with each other which pushed us through the race, and we still talk to this day. That year I got a trifecta, which is 3 races in the same year.
Winnipeg was a fun course as the conditions were more similar to what I am used to training in. It was a shorter course but full of technical obstacles like balance beams, a wall scale, and tire flips. This race was great because I went into it without specifically preparing for it and had a great finish.
Just a few weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas to run my first Elite race. It was a great experience; it was a new course and my first time running in the desert. I had taken my training to the next level leading up to this race. My goal was to make it through the multi-rig without falling (which involves monkey bars, rings, a rope, and a bar in one obstacle). Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but I enjoyed the race nonetheless.
EF: What is your favourite aspect of Spartan Races?
Thomas: The sense of accomplishment! When racing solo, I like knowing that I worked for it, and the feeling of knowing that I couldn’t have done any more. When racing as a team I like the group dynamics and seeing the pride and joy in my friends faces when they finish the race. And the free t-shirt, can’t forget that!
EF: What advice would you give for training for a Spartan?
Thomas: Functional fitness is key! HIIT training is important, running up and over hills, and up and over hills… and more hills. Also, a good mindset! I can't have negative thoughts in my head. I recommend keeping it as diverse as possible; include your friends, and just have fun with it.
EF: What advice would you give someone who is considering a Spartan?
Thomas: Set goals and go for it! Start small and remember that there will be some hard times, and hard training days. Keep consistent with your training and continue to grind away at it, and make sure that you are having fun. Reach out to others who have raced before, everyone will have their own experience and different tips that will be helpful for you.
Thanks Thomas! We wish you luck as you head to Montana this month to take on the Beast in the elite category, and the sprint with a group of Encompass Members and others from around the area.