That’s why we’re so impressed by the fact that actress Minka Kelly (you know her from Friday Night Lights and The Path) will be competing in the Chicago Super Spartan Race in Richmond, Illinois, on Saturday. If you’ve never heard of a Spartan Race, let us be the first to inform you that these eight to 10 mile obstacle courses are totally insane.
“I’ve never done anything like this, but I’ve always wanted to,” Minka says. So when Marriott Rewards offered her the chance to train for the race alongside her former Friday Night Lights co-stars, Taylor Kitsch (a.k.a. Tim Riggins…swoon), Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen), and Aimee Teegarden (Julie Taylor), she jumped on it.
Throughout the course, Minka will encounter up to 29 obstacles requiring her to swim through freezing water, traverse monkey bars, and possibly even jump over fire. Here’s how she’s been training:
Training Like a Spartan
While Minka says she considers herself to be “sort of athletic,” it’s safe to say Spartan training has taken her workouts to a whole new level of badass. “I’ve gotten together with two Spartan veterans who have really helped me amp up my training,” she says. “Yesterday, I was doing pushups on my fingertips.” (Damn.) They’re supposed to strengthen her wrists for the monkey bars and rope climbs—the two parts of the course she’s most nervous about. “I also learned how to throw a spear and climb up a rope,” she says.
Minka’s Workout Routine
When she’s not going HAM with a Spartan regimen, Minka still brings it during thrice-weekly sessions with Jason Walsh, a strength and fitness coach at Rise Nation in Los Angeles. “Sometimes we’ll go to UCLA and run around the track and do different drills, we’re always changing it up,” Minka says. “I box, I play tennis, I’m always doing something.”
Fueling Like a Champ
One thing that won’t be part of Minka’s pre-race routine: carbo-loading with a giant bowl of pasta. “I was talking to my trainer and I said, ‘Do I have a big bowl of spaghetti the night before?’ and the answer was no,” she says. Since doesn’t normally chow down on pasta, her trainer said there’s no reason to start now. Instead, she’ll fuel up with the foods that have been powering her through her training sessions—lean protein (think: salmon or chicken), veggies, and protein shakes.
Her go-to shake recipe: “It’s almond milk with a handful of blueberries and half a frozen banana, a handful of almonds, and I used a vegetable-based protein powder and almond butter,” she says. Another favorite snack: avocado toast.
Minka says her amped up sweat sessions have been paying off. “The other day I was doing the rower and lifting and realized how much faster I was getting through my workouts,” she says. “My trainer and I looked at each other like, ‘Wow!’”
Those results are what keep her going back to the gym day after day. “It’s amazing feeling when your body changes and you’re pushing yourself,” she says. “The results are addicting…You notice it the next time you workout, how you can go harder and go further.”
So how does she plan to celebrate with her former Friday Night Lights castmates once the race is done? “I think we’ll all be looking forward to a nice, cold beer afterwards,” Minka says.