Tackling A Spartan Race At Age 50: Rising to the Occasion

Written by:
Blake Dalton
June 28, 2022

It was a crisp, cold January day. My boys, Finn (6) and Liam (3), pretended to be dragons breathing smoke on our walk to school. I loaded my thermos full of espresso to go to work where I teach Pilates, Redcord and Kettlebells. (Don’t tell anyone, but I also occasionally sneak in other aspects of my movement training: martial arts and modern dance.)


Before starting the car, I opened an email from my friend Tom. He was getting together a group of brave hardy souls to do a Spartan race, a 3.5 mile obstacle race over rough terrain. He invited me to join.


BAM! Normally this was my tactic to rope people into escapades involving physical challenges. So I decided that I should rise to the occasion.


But Can I Still Do It?


I did a Spartan race in 2017. But that was five years, one surgery, and a couple of injuries ago. 


Here’s my current landscape:

  • 50 years old
  • Some ligament damage in the left knee from someone accidentally diving on the side of it during a dance theater rehearsal
  • A surgical repair one year ago on a large inguinal hernia that was let go for way too long


I train regularly with a fair amount of moderate intensity kettlebell training, and some Pilates and Redcord when time allows. I also add a bit of soft style martial arts, freestyle poling staff work, and little bites of modern dance. With my two mini vikings, I don't have so much free time anymore.


I have not done a lot of high intensity work in a long time. A Spartan race is definitely high intensity. 


So the doubts crept in. Who am I kidding? I can’t do this.


But pretty quickly, the tide changed. Maybe to support Tom and maybe something to prove to myself, I decided to go for it. I love a chance to work with good people towards a goal, especially one that involves me bettering myself, rising to a challenge and getting stronger. 


As a performance specialist at Activcore, I have a lot of great tools and people at my disposal to prepare for this. After all, I am 50. And the little vikings need me to stay strong and injury free. 


My Intention

I talked with my team of friends about this. I had to get into the right mental state. This is not a point in my life where I am going to just all out push myself to the max and the hell with the consequences. This is a time to train intelligently and safely, make it a real learning experience, and be safe first. Most of all, I wanted to have a good time supporting my friends doing it. 

I promised myself whatever level I am at on race day, I will honor that and not push myself into a risk of injury. Adopting this point of view has not necessarily been my strong suit in the past. Case in point: in my first spartan race, I ran in an old pair of crappy running shoes, overtrained the week before the race, strained muscles in my foot, and still went full out on race day and paid for it a while after.


My current assignment: be intelligent, learn, be safe, support my team, and have fun.

Stay tuned for more to come.


Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Blake Dalton

Performance Specialist
Blake Dalton is an experienced performance specialist, Pilates Instructor, and personal trainer who delights in the study of movement and how he can use his practice to improve the lives of others. He works at Activcore in Atlanta, Georgia, located just 2 miles from Emory University. His love of movement brought him to the study of martial arts and modern dance. It was here Blake discovered his second love the love of teaching and sharing.


Standing on Two Feet: Balance Training Progression Exercises

In last week’s blog post about Balance from the Ground Up, we provided a simple exercise for opening up and providing proprioceptive input to the feet. This week, I am building on that foundation with a series of deceptively simple exercises that you can do to improve your proprioception while developing foot, ankle and calf strength.


Don’t Just Look Strong. Be Strong Functionally.

The kettlebell is a physical training tool that has given rise to a great selection of very functional strength training exercises. The shape of the kettlebell is a ball with a handle, which makes it functionally similar to objects that we carry in everyday life, such as luggage and grocery bags.


Tackling A Spartan Race At Age 50: Rising to the Occasion

It was a crisp, cold January day. My boys, Finn (6) and Liam (3), pretended to be dragons breathing smoke on our walk to school. I loaded my thermos full of espresso to go work at Activcore where I teach Redcord, Pilates, and Kettlebells.


Tackling A Spartan Race At Age 50: Creating Space for Race Training

I made the verbal commitment to join my friends for a Spartan race. I did not immediately purchase my ticket or start training with my team. Instead, I started testing the waters. My work and family schedule were pretty full, making a traditional training schedule feel out of reach.


Tackling a Spartan Race at Age 50: Don’t Just Guess... Assess!

Because I’m a Performance Specialist at Activcore, I have a good sense of my own physical condition. Nonetheless, I knew that getting an outside, objective perspective from other professions would help me optimize my Spartan training plan.


Tackling a Spartan Race at Age 50: Increasing Intensity and Nutritional Support

Once I committed to the Spartan race, figured out how to make space for training in my busy schedule, and then got my body (and how it moves) tested by the experts... I decided to up the intensity of my training a few notches!


Tackling a Spartan Race at Age 50: Overcoming Some Hurdles

A key feature of Spartan races is hurdling. Not like track hurdles, but having to jump or scramble all manner of objects and obstacles in an often muddy environment. As I worked through my training plan to get myself ready to tackle the literal hurdles in the race, I encountered some figurative ones too.


Tackling a Spartan Race at Age 50: The Race is On!

The day is finally here and we are excited! The weather looks to be in our favor: slightly cloudy and not too hot, even a bit of a breeze. I am caffeinated, hydrated and ready to go. My mission is to have fun, support my team, and survive intact!


Unlock the Power of Integration: Performance + Physical Therapy

As we dive into the summer, our focus for this month is on how we work to seamlessly integrate physical therapy and fitness into our programs at Activcore. We're excited to introduce you to our incredible providers in both fields of practice, aiming to demystify the treatment process and highlight some essential elements of restoring and maintaining performance.


Integrating PT and Fitness: Dr. Kate and Lillie

If you're an Activcore client, you probably already know that we combine physical therapy and fitness into a total body experience. This integrated approach helps you get and stay out of pain, age well, and feel empowered to be fully engaged in your life. Our team members frequently trade services because we know the power and efficacy of working as a team focused on your health and well being.