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How To Train For A Spartan Beast

Spartan Beast races are (supposedly) half marathon obstacle course races. Typically, Spartan puts their Beasts on very hilly, or extremely mountainous terrain. If it were flat ground and 30 obstacles, it would be a totally different ball game, but we're looking at races that have thousands of feet of elevation gain. Think of the Beasts at NJ, UT, CA, WV, VT, CO, MT, and so on! Sure, there are some on flatter terrain, but if you train for a hilly Beast, you'll cruise through a flat Beast.

So how do we train for a half marathon of obstacles on difficult terrain?

Cardio Training:

Because the Beast is a 13.1+ mile event, you have to have a cardiovascular system that will handle 13.1+ miles of work. You can improve your cardio doing so many different exercises, but the best possible way for a Spartan Beast is to run. Let me give you three running variations that will be most beneficial to your training.

1: Mountain/hilly trail running

2: Walk on an incline treadmill

3: Hilly road run

The length of time spent performing the cardio above needs to eventually reach close to, or beyond, the length of time you'll spend on the course on race day. That means that you need to eventually work up to runs/incline walks that last multiple hours. I'm not saying get out and do that today if you aren't at that fitness level. I'm saying that you should work up to that level. For Elite level athletes, the duration should be at least 2 hours. For Age Group athletes it should be closer to 2.5 hours. For Open Heat athletes, train to be out on the course for more than 3 hours. It's just the nature of the beast (pardon my pun). As you spend more time training, your fitness level will improve, and your time on course will diminish.

Strength Training:

OCR takes running sports and adds strength to them (that's a simple way of putting it). In order to avoid penalty burpees at every obstacle, you need to be able to carry your body weight through a host of different, somewhat-complex apparatuses. You need enough grip strength to stay on bars and ropes and walls long enough to complete each respective obstacle. You also need to carry heavy, awkward items across varying terrain. Here are three awesome ways you can train for these obstacles.

1: Bouldering/rock climbing

2: Pullups/chinups

3: Sandbag carries

It really is that simple. If you performed these three different training modalities regularly, I promise you that you would have adequate (more than adequate) strength to complete each obstacle at a Spartan Beast. The rock climbing/bouldering improve your grip strength, core strength, and your ability to manipulate your body position off the ground. The pullups and chinups develop your grip strength, forearm strength, bicep strength, and overall back strength (pullups and chinups incorporate most muscle groups in your back). The sandbag carries (assuming a proper, challenging weight) will build your body up for carrying an awkward, heavy object so you don't die on a quarter mile bucket carry.

Eat Right:

If you're putting in the time and energy for the training listed above, the best possible way to ruin all that time and effort is to have a terrible diet. Your body needs good nutrition, especially when it's being put under lots of training stress. Proper fuel will lead to improved physical capabilities when paired with proper training. Instead of listing the top 3 things to eat for this category, I'll tell you the top 3 things to cut out, since there are so many healthy options to eat.

1: Soda/alcohol

2: Fast food (all of it)

3: Desserts

Within those 3 categories of food is an inconceivable amount of junk. If you are able to remove them, you will be left with much healthier options and a very appreciative body. You will feel better overall, and you will certainly perform better as an athlete.

It's oh so simple in theory, and oh so difficult to commit to the training day in and day out, but you can absolutely do it! Completing a Spartan Beast is 100% doable, and it's also very possible to accomplish quickly and without too much misery.


If you don't know how to take your training from step one all the way up to "I'm going to crush this Beast", check out our OCR Training Programs! Our programs are customized to fit your specific race goals, current fitness level, and equipment/time availability!

Featured Program:

5 Training Days Per Week

The Champion is for the OCR participant who wants to be standing on the podium. This fully customized program is designed to get you in the best OCR shape for winning the race.

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