Training for a Spartan Race

This is part 3 in my Spartan Race series; my trifecta, if you will.

Read part 1 and enter to win a free Spartan Race here.
Read part 2, the preview of Spartan Up! (and a discount) here.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the opportunity to ask the founder of Spartan Race, Joe De Sena a few questions. I was interested in finding out his opinions on a few questions that are commonly discussed in obstacle racing groups on Facebook.

Me: Where do you personally find inspiration and motivation?

Joe: From all the other Spartans that are sending in pictures, videos, and letters... They are amazing!! It is so inspirational; it makes it easy to get up each day!

Me: What do you think is the biggest mistake people make in preparing for a Spartan Race?

Joe: They don't run enough… and they don't follow our daily free workouts… we have a methodology that is free. They should be following.

So, there you have it from the brains behind the Spartan Race courses.

Here is my advice based on my own experience (placed in the top 15 elite women in the Miami Super each year, placed 7th woman in the 2014 SuperHero Scramble Gamble World Championship, and top 3 female in several local OCR's) and the training plans that have been designed by my husband (certified by The Cooper Institute, USA Weightlifting, and CSCS):

1. Run. Did you read what Joe said? If anyone knows how you should be training for a Spartan, it's him. I tend to over-do it... if running is good, then more running is better. Ten miles this week, 20 miles next week. Wrong. Running experts recommend the 10% rule-- don't add more than 10% of your total mileage from week to week. Ten miles this week means 11 miles next week. Frustratingly slow, you say? Yes. But it will help you avoid injury. Find a good training plan and follow it. I run 3 or 4 times a week and follow a half marathon training plan for the Spartan Super. I'd follow a 10k plan for the 5k distance, and modify (add slightly more miles to) a half marathon plan for a Beast. Good plans will incorporate long runs, hill running and speed work each week.

2. Strength Train. For my first Spartan Race, I focused on body weight exercises. Sign up here for the free Spartan daily workout. The following helped me have success on the course:

  • Pull ups-- you won't do any on the course, but you will have to use your upper body strength for the Herculean hoist and pulling yourself up and over walls. Plus it's just really cool to be able to walk up to a bar and crank out some pull ups. Here is a good progression video.
  • Squats-- again, not on the course, but these will build leg strength for the running and jumping you will do. Be sure to use the correct form, especially before adding weight.
  • Burpees-- if you fail an obstacle, you will have to complete 30 burpees. Incorporate these in your training. Often. They have been called the single best exercise you can do.  
  • Rope climb-- There are a few different techniques. Find one that works for you and find somewhere to practice. Typically on a course, there may only be one rope climb, but mastering it will give you a giant motivational boost on the course. Where to find a rope to climb? That's the tricky part-- I suggest a Crossfit box (gym).
  • Tire flips-- often on the course, you will find a tire flip obstacle. I'm not sure if the real Spartans were flipping tires, but who cares. It's fun.
  • Push ups. These will help build your upper body strength. 
3. Yoga / Stretching. Especially practice the balance postures, such as the tree pose, to help build ankle stability and balance. 

Ideally, I would tell you to join a good CrossFit box (gym). You will get one on one coaching, programming for increasing strength and overall fitness, and motivation from other athletes-- and many form teams to race together. Not sure how to find a good box? I gave some pointers in this post

If not CrossFit, join a gym that offers classes-- bootcamp, yoga, etc. 

If you can't do that-- try P90x. The DVD series has strength, stretching and cardio sessions, plus tips on eating plans. 

Whatever you do... prepare. Spartan Races are physically and mentally challenging. 
The most challenging races I've done. 


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