SGPT interviews Spartan Racer Michael Makar

SGPT: Tell us about yourself?

MM: I’m Michael Makar. 43 years old. I’ve been married for 11 years and we have 9 year old boy/girl twins. About 10 months ago I had my right hip replaced due to a condition called avascular necrosis. 3 months after the replacement I was able to walk again without pain or a limp. I’m now back in the gym doing HIIT workouts a few days a week, and I’ve rucked a few hundred miles this year as well.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

MM: I did have an athletic background growing up. I wrestled from 7th grade until my senior year of high school. At the age of 20 I started training in the martial arts. I studied a handful of styles in the 15 years I trained including Kyokushin, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Western Boxing, Aikido, and Hapkido.

SGPT: How did you train for the Spartan Race event?

MM: I didn’t exactly set out to train for a Spartan Race per say. What had happened was that my wife and I had twins. In the first three years that we had them I stopped working out and started eating like crap. I was at a low point in my life, weighing my heaviest. One day I bent over to tie my shoe and I was out of breath trying to tie it.

I had always been an athlete and in great shape but now I struggled to tie my shoes. That was my turning point. I made a pact with myself that I’d get back into shape. I joined a gym and they assigned me a personal trainer. We started doing functional fitness exercises, ½ hour sessions, two days a week.

My trainer and I found out about obstacle course races and we made it our goal to complete one. Along with a couple of days in the gym I started running a couple of days a week. By the time I was completing Spartan Races I was trail running about 20 miles a week and spending three to four hours in the gym working on functional strength exercises.

My trainer had left the gym after my 1st year of training so I was on my own with the knowledge he passed onto me. I had also ran a handful of OCRs at that point so I would take what I learned in the races and incorporate them into my workouts. Anything I could find that would make me better at racing. Carrying stuff, pushing things, climbing things, jumping over things.
Basically practicing all of the elements it takes to complete an OCR like the Spartan Race.

SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?

MM: I believe my 1st Spartan Race was the Sprint at Palmerton, PA. This was back in 2013. I’m pretty sure that was the 1st Spartan Race I ran. It was at Blue Mountain Ski Resort. There were lots of hills to run up and down with a dozen or so obstacles in between.

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

MM: At that event I felt the sandbag carry was the hardest obstacle to complete. Blue Mountain Ski Resort has the highest vertical drop in all of Pennsylvania. What Norm Koch (the designer of that Spartan Race) did was strategically place the 40# sandbag carry at the bottom of the double diamond ski slope. This was the steepest hill on the course. Most people probably wouldn’t want to hike up that degree of an incline, never mind carry a 40# sandbag up it. I don’t believe I’ve climbed something as steep before, or since, for that matter.

SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for Spartan Race?

MM: More burpees! lol

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do the Spartan?

MM: Absolutely! Run as many technical trails as possible. Work on getting your footwork solid on rough ground while running. Run lots of hills and do lunges to get your legs built up for running hills. Most Spartan Races are held at ski resorts so just picture running up and down ski slopes for the majority of the race.

Also, focus on being able to move your body fluidly between exercises so you can transition from running, to overcoming an obstacle, back to running again. Work on strength exercises that will help you climb things, go under things, push and pull (heavy) things along with keeping your heart rate up to simulate the conditions experienced at a race.

Oh, and do more burpees.

SGPT: What kind of trail running shoes did you use for the event?

MM: For that race I believe I used Inov8 TrailRoc 245’s. I’ve also used Salomon Speedcross 3’s as well as Salomon Fellraisers in Spartan Races that I’ve completed.

SGPT: Did you use compression socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?

The truth is I don’t wear socks when I train or race. Over the years I just got used to running races and training without them. Wearing socks just feels funny to me now. Blisters are almost never an issue.

SGPT: Did you use electrolytes or salt tablets for training and the event?

MM: No salt tablets or electrolytes were used when I was training, but I did carry a couple of Gu pouches along with a 2L bladder filled with water that had NUNN hydration tablets in it for the race. From what I remember it was hot out so I’m sure it helped. I don’t remember cramping at all.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

MM: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview

MM: Thank you SGPT!