Spartan Race Training – Are You Up For The Challenge?

Posted by Beth Hartman

The Summer Olympics are in their last week of grueling summer sporting events. The USATeam is doing us proud and we are ecstatic with all of our athlete's performances!   These men and women train with a focus that has taken them to this world stage. Another venue that athletes around our country participate in is called  the Spartan Races. They are held throughout the country and they have been gaining in popularity for the past several years.  You may not be able to get yourself to the Olympics but you can work towards these kinds of endurance events that pit body against the rigors of a competitive sport where you match your stamina against your opponents. 

There has also been a weekly TV. Show about people competing against each other with a made for TV. Spartan race events. It’s pretty realistic but unless you’ve done the real thing, TV just does not cut it, but it does offer a glimpse into what these athletes go through to test themselves against the course, and don't forget the other competitors!.

Obstacle course races are a fun, but are also a demanding way to challenge your mental and physical limits, competing with others and getting a little dirty. If you look on the internet, you can probably find one of these types of events close to your own location or another race type that is similar is called the “Tough Mudder” races.

Regardless of the type of event, you choose to take part in, you can expect mud, barbed wire, pushing your body to its limits. And although there are some signature obstacles at every race, there’s a lot of variety between courses so you can never anticipate exactly what you’re going to have to face.

If you’ve never done a Spartan Course Event before, you might wonder how you would train for one. The race is about 3-4 miles with 15+ obstacles. Because the Spartan Coordinators don’t release the course map to competitors beforehand, there’s no way of knowing exactly what you need to prepare for. You have to be ready for anything. Regardless of what the obstacles are, your endurance, speed, and upper and lower body strength are tested. If you want to be competitive, you’re going to have to include all these components of fitness into your training routine.

One good way to focus on your training and gauge how much you can push yourself is by getting an Activity Watch with a Heart Rate Monitor. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS Running Multisport Watch  is packed with everything you need to push yourself to your limits and act on the data it gives you so that you can be there at the end of that Spartan Race

Another important factor to keep in mind about any race of this type is that if you skip or fail any obstacle, you’re charged with a burpee (A Penalty) before you can move on. Whatever you do to train, make sure you include burpees ( ) to help you prepare for a Spartan Sprint, we’ve compiled some training tips and a sample workout routine you can follow to see if you can make the cut.

Spartan Race Training Components
1) Endurance Training
Although the race is only 3-4 miles, don’t think you’re getting off easy. Even if you can finish a normal 5K in less than 30 min, the Spartan Race will take anywhere from 45 minutes (if you’re fast and it great shape) to as long as 2+ hours to complete. To get ready for the distance, We recommend at least one long run per week. You should progressively train to be comfortable running 6+ miles before Event-Day. If you can handle longer distances, you’ll be more prepared to handle the short, intense terrain of the Spartan Sprint.

2) Sprints and Hills Training
The only thing to expect is the unexpected. This is why your training needs to be multifaceted.
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. The Spartan Sprint is going to challenge you. The more you can adapt to training at slightly uncomfortable intensities, to more competitive you’ll be on race day. People that are familiar with HITT training will already be familiar with the intensity of what you will be asked to do.

Expect to face some nasty hills. While hill training is hard, make sure you include one hill workout per week to prepare your body to race up some steep inclines between obstacles.

You also want to include a sprint or interval workout per week to increase your anaerobic threshold. Working on sprints will help you recover faster between obstacles and between hills. Play around with the duration and speed of your intervals. For longer intervals, decrease your speed. For shorter intervals, increase your speed. Start with shorter intervals and increase the intensity/duration over time.

3) Total Body Strength Circuits
To prepare for the obstacles in the Spartan Sprint, it’s important to work on your upper and lower body strength. You might have to climb over a wall, carry a sandbag uphill, and complete a set of box jumps, climb across monkey bars, do a Herculean hoists, crawl under barbed wire, and more.

Easily being able to do push-ups, and at least a few pull-ups, squats and lunges, is essential. Having experience climbing walls or monkey bars is a huge asset. And including plyometric exercises will help get you ready for any jumping exercises they might throw at you.

4) And Finally…Rest!
Make sure you give yourself at least 1-2 full rest days per week to allow your body to make necessary adaptations and repairs. Rest is crucial to improving your fitness, maximizing your results, and preventing injuries.

Sample Spartan Race Workout Routine
Here’s a sample routine you can use to get yourself ready for a Spartan Sprint. Be sure to warm-up with some dynamic stretching before this workout. Complete 3 sets of each strength circuit with minimal rest between exercises. Rest 30s – 1min between sets. Use weights that are challenging to you. Burpees between sets are optional  but strongly encouraged.

Workout Instructions: Complete all exercises in each circuit with little rest between exercises (30 seconds, or less) and complete 2-3 rounds of each circuit. Complete one circuit before going to the next. Consider adding 15 burpees between each circuit for added difficulty.

Strength Circuit #1

1A. 10+ push-ups
1B. Max rep pull-ups (weighted if pull-ups are easy for you. Inverted rows if pull-ups aren’t available to you yet)
1C. 15 box jumps

Strength Circuit #2
2A. 10 DB/Barbell/KB clean-and-press
2B. 8 Step-up to balance, each leg
2C. 30s plank crawl (move forward/backward and side-to-side)

Strength Circuit #3
3A. 10 hanging knee/leg raises or toes-to-bar
3B. 10 cable chops, each side
3C. 15 KB swings
(Optional: 15 burpees)

4. Stretch
Sample Spartan Race Workout Schedule:
Monday – Strength Circuits
Tuesday – Hill Workout
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Sprints/Intervals
Friday – Strength Circuits
Saturday – Endurance Run
Sunday – Rest

Remember, if you’re up for the challenge, you need to prepare for it, just like anything else you want bad enough. Training for an event like the Spartan races is a lot easier if you have a like-minded buddy to train with you. Find that other dedicated person and work towards the goal of finishing the race and you’ll be happy to walk away from the winners circle with that special medal of 3 parts that once you have finished the other two competitions the medal and YOU will be complete.

Unlike the Olympics, you won't have to wait for another 4 years to compete. Check out Spartans schedule and you can see when an event will be scheduled close to your area. So get your self ready and see if you can perform like a Spartan!

Train smart. Eat right. Rest enough. Race hard !

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