Spartan Training

Darrin doing the rope climb at a Spartan event

UPDATE:  Other articles in this series on this site are:

  1. The Vermont Spartan Beast – Summary and Lessons Learned
  2. Spartan Training Plan – Draft
  3. Vermont Spartan Beast – Photos and Details
  4. More forthcoming, including Tough Mudder training

Some of you may have seen some recent discussion over at the forum on The Spartan:

This is one of those intense “races with obstacles”.  Cameron is doing one this month in SC and I’m doing one in August in VT.  The obstacles might be any variation of:

  • fire pits
  • 8 foot walls
  • mud pits
  • log carries
  • ponds
  • gladiators
  • barbed wire crawl-unders
  • etc.

I’ve got a team of 5 of us for the VT and each person is in different shape.  For example, one guy is strong as an ox but little running endurance whereas another guy has no problem with distance running but needs to work on upper body strength.

Our VT race is 12+ miles.  So clearly endurance and strength are both needed.

So the question arises:  how to train for this?

I’m going to be posting our training plans, in draft form and then in refined form, because I think WorldFitnessNetwork readers can learn from this even if you have no desire to do a Spartan race.  While these races gear a little more towards endurance, the strength and power components are there too.

My biggest concern is that I am nearing completion of a fat-burn phase I had planned, and was about to enter into a hypertrophy phase.  But training for this will change that a bit.  But I need to make sure I do not lose any muscle while training.

I’ll post the training plans in a couple days but in the mean time, any questions?

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33 Responses to “Spartan, Anyone?”

  1. I’ll post mine when I get the chance too….

  2. Our VT team is TRI Federation (I’ll explain the name farther down the line). If anyone wants to do it in VT, I’ve got $10 off coupons.

  3. How come I didnt get any coupons… T__T

  4. Love you Cameron, but my coupons are only for the VT event (“The Beast”).

  5. O.o I have another secret admirer…. yay!!! :D Looks like I won’t be alone forever anymore.

  6. ha!

  7. The Spartan Sprint held in Georgia was a blast. I had been running and felt pretty good about my training up to the event. You are correct. It will test your strength as well. I saw many suffer on the bucket carry. A bucket full of dirt is a good deal to some.

  8. Anyone looking to compete, not just complete a Spartan or obstacle course race should check out

    This program was created specifically for obstacle athletes looking to DOMINATE their next event.

  9. i recently found about the spartan race and i want to train so that i may be able to expreience it hands on. You must understand that i am a beginner that is motivated and is willing to dedicate herself to get to that point where i can make it to the spartan race i need help training can you please let me know how to get started. i have so many people that are negative and not supportive. But i will prove them wrong!

  10. Fantastic Brenda! Are you doing a spartan Sprint? or Super? or Beast? And what has your training been like in the past year and the past month? When is your race? What is your approximate height and weight? With that info, I can give you a few pointers.

  11. I’m competing in my first Spartan Race 3/25/12. I’m doing this just for me not for the competition. I can see myself getting into the competitive end down the road but I just have something to prove to myself.

    I just heard about it 3-4 days ago. The more I read about it the more it seems like it’s solely about the competition. Am I wrong on this or am I going to feel like a schmuck for signing up?

    Good luck to everyone!

  12. @Kip – no, there are many people at different levels. My first Spartan I did without trying to compete and it was a lot of fun and a lot people did likewise. Recently, I did one in Feb in Arizona and there were a wide range of results. But in this one I tried to compete (I was pleased to place #14 for my age group and the top 12% overall.) I’ve been meaning to write that up but work has kept me too busy.

  13. Kip,
    I assume you mean the one in Charlotte that weekend? If so, we have a team doing that race. Our heat is 11am on Sunday (The Sat. race is officially sold out). I look forward to the possibility of meeting you. If you would like our team information let me know, i’ll get it for you if you want to register on our team.

    On the “schmuck” issue. Little secret, I have REALLY slacked off the past several months in cardio. The super spartan last year DESTROYED my cardio motivation. (Not the race… my other issues in it; read the article if you haven’t) I’m using this one, since it’s shorter, and closer as a test to try and reignite my flame as it may seem…
    Either way, I look forward to seeing you at the races!!!!

  14. anyone doing the Spartan Sprint in Texas next Saturday? May 19th

  15. Me and a buddy are doing the Spartan Sprint in Texas next Saturday. I feel good about my traing, but I’m coming from Minnesota and have been training in 60 degree weather. Any tips (other than hydrating) or am I worrying about the 90 degree weather forecasted? It seems like we’ll be wet for most of the race, which should help.

  16. Also, any advice about race week. Just did an hour long kettle bell class (Monday am). Thinking I should go light the rest of the week.

  17. @rbrown – yeah, I’ve now done several of these and I follow the same pattern and am always happy: work intensely up to the week before. Almost to the point of overtraining. Then my last workout is a leg workout 7 days before. I take 2 days off, then do a light run (like 3 mi, which for me is light) on day 3 [4 days before the event] and maybe a light upper body circuit that day too. Lots of good stretching. I then take a day off [3 days before] but start really reducing carbs. 2 days before, I’m still very low carb, and go for a nice fast walk (30 minutes or so) and lots of good stretching. The day before I start have a lot of good carbs (oatmeal, some pasta, etc.). The morning of I eat a high protein and high carb breakfast (e.g. waffles, tons of egg whites) about 4 hrs before the event. Then a protein bar (carbs and protein) 1 hr before. The hardest thing is managing bathroom time (smile).

  18. I also recently found out about the Spartan Race. There is a Spartan Sprint in November in Boston that I am going to sign up for. I had a baby and have not done much since, but before having him I was in great shape; trail running, training for a marathon (got up to 17 miles of jogging before I got pregnant),and weight training. When I was pregnant I pushed too hard and ended up on bed-rest for a few months. Then after my son was born I was still unable to do anything still because of pregnancy complications for another few months. Needless to say I wouldn’t classify myself as in shape what so ever right now. I am assuming that giving myself until November from May will give me more than enough time to get back into shape and be ready for the 3 mile race, right? I would like to complete the Trifecta as well, starting with the Sprint in November. Seriously, any tips on training, good sites to visit for work out ideas, or pretty much anything you can advise would be greatly appreciated.

  19. @Lindsay – it sounds like you have enough background fitness experience to get in great shape by November. But I think the Boston spartan sprint is different from other spartans – that one is just 1 mile. That’s the shortest “sprint” ever. I’ve only done 8 and 13 mile spartans (I’m going for the trifecta though, and will do a 3-miler in August in Amesbury MA). A lot of spartans and obstacle racers love crossfit – but if you sign up for their WOD (workout of the day, per their website) you’ll get a sense of the types of workouts. I’m not sure how I’d train for a one-miler because it’s over in 10 minutes. But for the longer races an important question is if you are training to compete or training to complete.

  20. Lindsay, I am contemlatig the Spartan Sprint at Fenway but am nervous about how to train for it. I basically lift weights and run on the treadmill with an occasional 5k in there. I just signed up for the Diva Dash in Marshfield to push me to start training now! Where do you live?? Thanks!

  21. @Kristy, I’m in Townsend MA. Basically on the border of NH. Email me maybe we can train together if you aren’t super far away? :)

  22. I have just signed up for me first Spartan race Dec.1 in Malibu. I am excited about the race, but am having a little trouble with the training. I use to body build and know have to put on muscel, but this is way different. I am 46 now and a little over weight. I have no problem lifting, but the endurance running is confusing to me. My roommate just finished his third Spartan and keeping up with him is not an option at this point.I have 6 months to get ready wich is plenty of time and I have already started running and lifting, but need to start dialing in my workouts so any help would be helpful. Being ex-military I have 2 favorite sayings that help motivate me when I start to feel the pain and exhaustion of a work out, or just need to get started. 1:The jounney of a thousand miles begins with the first step and 2: Pain is only weakness leaving the body. These work for me it helps me to focus on something other than the pain and exhaustion on a hard workout.

  23. @Monty – what about the endurance running is confusing?

  24. When I look at the race I see a lot of different terrains as will as obsticals I am going to have to over come. Where and how do I begain. Running is running, but this is not just running it is completely different. I am up to about 2 miles a day and I am starting to do this after I lift in the gym which is all light weight high reps and about 30 seconds of rest between sets, as well as my swimming a couple of days a week. I am stuck this is where my knowledge ends. Should I do sprints or hill climbs or a combination may be a weighted vest or add in some body weight only exercises during my run or swim. I know I have to change things every 4 to 6 weeks so I don’t plato. It is frustrating to me when I do have some knowledge, but the wrong kind of knowledge. I just don’t went to finish the race but finish well.

  25. @Monty – maybe others will chime in too, but these Obstacle Races are a new breed and the ideal training plan is still in flux. I’ve run Spartans on mountains and also on flats. The Mountains are obviously harder, but what I’ve started doing – just in the weeks leading up to the event – is driving over to my local skiway and run up that. I say “run” but truth is, it is nearly impossible for anyway to run up that the whole time. So you take it in intervals.

    My last mountain event – a Tough Mudder at a ski resort – I ran all the flats and all the downhills but on the uphills I just hiked really fast. I was very pleased with my time.

    Endurance is part of this things too, so I’d definitely make sure you have run – even if just flat runs – for the same distance as the race. If your race is an 8-miler, then be sure to work up to doing at least a couple 8-milers in the weeks before.

    I’d also be an advocate of moving up to some heavier weights. Sure, upper body endurance is important – maybe even more important than maximum strength for these events – but with increased maximal strength you will do the obstacles faster.

    Others have advice?

  26. Thank you for your advice I will put it to good use, and we will see how I do come Dec.

  27. Hello!
    So my friends and I just discovered this amazing race and are planning to take on one next year. Next year because none of us are actually fit, haha. Personally I’m weak, slow with low stamina ect. ect. Any advice for a beginner into fitness training? I mean serious beginner that maxes at 15 push-ups (at least real kind, none of those on your knees BS for ladies ;) ) and can’t run more than a few minutes.
    Any and all advice is super appreciated! Good luck your event!

  28. Hi Lindsey – which one are you doing? Ideal training varies depending on the event itself…

  29. Holy crap that was fast. Darrin cheated. I barely had time to read the comment much less reply to it.

  30. Ha! I’m totally loving these events, did several this year including one with my wife and my middle daughter (14 yrs old). I’ll post a few pics to the forum… I’m really starting to think about most of my training, and my wife’s, in the framework of how it will improve my obstacle racing so this is on my mind already.

  31. Hi!
    I’m not sure yet which one we’re doing. Mostly it depends on whatever is available that we can get to. I would love to be able to take on the Beast.

  32. @Lindsey – if you can do 15 real pushups, then I’d work on two things right off the bat: pulling strength (like pull ups) and running endurance. For running, you don’t need to run the whole thing but I’d say that you should ideally have worked up to being able to run the distance of the race in question.


  1. Spartan Training Plan Draft | Training For Endurance and Strength | Spartan Race Training

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