If you want to run with the bulls, you’re going to have to whip yourself into shape first. And no, I’m not being metaphorical. The Running of the Bulls is a time-honored tradition throughout Spain and the Spanish-speaking world. The hub of this celebration is in Pamplona, Spain, home of the San Fermin Festival, which runs from June sixth to 14th every year.
The jist of it is simple: the bulls, which are to combat bullfighters in the evening, get wrangled from the corrals where they’re kept early in the morning. They’re herded through the streets of the city to the rings where they’ll come up against their human opponents. The San Fermin Festival is nine days long. On its second day, the bulls run. Excited onlookers run ahead as the beasts are corralled through the streets. If you’re fortunate enough to be in central Europe around the middle of June, you need to experience this festival. You need to really experience this festival, the way any bold, health-conscious, risk taking adult should: by running with the bulls. But before you don your red tauromachia cape, there are a few things you need to be aware of and prepare for.
First and foremost… It’s no cakewalk.
Maybe you’re thinking, running away from a few horned cows? Sounds like a breeze. I run three miles a day on the treadmill, this all be a joke! Bulls are formidable opponents, and these ones are raised to fight. Not to mention the speed at which they run—a swift 15 miles per hour. There are police safeguards in place if something should go wrong, but the goal is to avoid a situation where intervention is needed. There have been a handful of injuries reported throughout the history of the Running of the Bulls, and even a few fatalities.
And while there are some statistics you might strive to be a part of, I’m sure neither of those are on your list.
I’m not trying to put a damper on things, but the reality is that in order to run with the bulls, you’re going to need:
– a rock-solid core
– resilient lungs
– quick and tough legs
– one heck of a thick skin
You’ll also need to start weeks, and possibly even months in advance to get yourself into safe shape. My suggestion? Get in shape early and work out often. Before doing so, however, it is strongly recommended you get checked out by your physician. The peace of mind you can develop by knowing you’re physically fit can play a large role on how you’ll train up to that special date.
On that note, it’s very important that you… Train for speed, not distance. The Running of the Bulls is a mere 900 yard dash; however, as I mentioned above, these beasts keep a pace of around 15 miles per hour. On top of getting your body toned and cut down to a good weight, oil up your sprinting legs. Long distance running is an awesome way to shed pounds and tighten up, but running ten miles at eight miles an hour is a completely different physical skill than running half a mile at almost twice the speed. It’s easy to hurt yourself when launching from zero to 60, so get used to starting in second gear by practicing sprints at least twice a week for six weeks before you hit the streets of Pamplona. My best tip? Incorporate short, half-mile sprints into a long-distance jog.
Train with a friend. In fact… Buddy up.
Chances are you’re not planning to travel Spain alone. Having a friend who’s as excited about and physically fit for the run will motivate you to fight through the fear and just ride the high of adrenaline. The night before the run, I also suggest that you and your bull running buddy… Map your course. Any decent marathon runner will tell you that knowing the course they’re about to embark upon is crucial to pushing their way safely and successfully from start to finish. While the running of the bulls pales in comparison to a marathon in terms of distance, knowing where you’re headed is just as—if not more—important. Jog the cobblestone course the evening before the run (which commences at eight in the morning).
Since you’re in for an early morning, I also definitely suggest you… Get your party on… after. With the music, food and wine available to you, I don’t blame you for wanting to let loose a bit while you’re in Spain. Your diet won’t be mad at that, either… as long as you dive into the indulgence after you run. If you’ve trained hard—which you should have– to shed the pounds and gain the endurance you’ll need to run with the bulls, don’t throw it away by having one too many glasses of sangria the evening before you take to the cobblestones. You’ve earned some kickback time, but if you’re serious about running ahead of a small herd of thousand-pound animals, it’s definitely in your best interest to hold off on the unwinding until the bulls are safely in their bullrings at the end of the run.
The thrill of the run will be much more exciting if your brain is 100 percent in tune for the event. Don’t let an overload of food, booze or relaxation fog your performance. Which reminds me, I almost forgot! The most important part of running with the bulls? Oh yeah— Have fun!
How many people do you know who can say they’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona? Checking this off your bucket list is a huge and rare accomplishment. Throughout the training, preparation and planning, never forget that your final goal is an experience unparalleled by any other.
About Dr. Mike Tremba:
Once severely overweight and depressed, Dr Mike has found long-term solutions for being healthy and fit. Through his website he has helped others lose weight and live the abundant lives they were meant to live. His commentary on the beyond diet program review, as well as Trainer Mike Geary reviews have been useful tools for many. In his free time, Dr. Mike reads, spends time on the beach with his wonderful wife Shari, and tries new adventures that many label as ‘crazy’.