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The Ultimate Guide to Spartan Ultra Training

Updated: Jan 11

Are you ready to push your limits and take on the challenge of a Spartan Ultra race? The Spartan Ultra is a grueling test of endurance and mental strength, consisting of over 30 miles of running, 60+ obstacles, and elevation gains of 3000m+.


To conquer this ultimate challenge, you need to have a well-designed training plan that focuses on building your aerobic base, preparing for hills, fueling properly, and having the right gear. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key elements of a Spartan Ultra training plan, providing you with the knowledge and strategies to tackle this epic race.



Two Girls Finishing a Spartan Ultra Race


Spartan Ultra Training


1. Building Your Aerobic Base


The foundation of any successful Spartan Ultra training plan is building your aerobic base. This is achieved through long runs, which should be prioritized in your training schedule. Start with shorter runs, around an hour in duration, and gradually increase the time by 5-10 minutes each week. Aim to reach a comfortable duration of 2-3 hours for your long runs.

During these long runs, it's crucial to keep your heart rate low, preferably in zone 2.


This allows you to train your aerobic system effectively and avoid excessive fatigue. Avoid pushing too hard and staying in zone 3, as this can be counterproductive and lead to burnout. If you don't have a heart rate monitor, a good rule of thumb is to maintain a conversational pace.


Variety in terrain is essential for Spartan Ultra preparation. If possible, train in hilly areas to mimic the race conditions. However, if mountains are not accessible, you can still simulate the challenge by incorporating long runs on flat terrain and mentally preparing yourself for the demanding race ahead.


2. Increasing Training Volume


In addition to long runs, increasing your overall training volume is crucial for Spartan Ultra preparation. Aim to run a total distance equal to or greater than the race distance in one week. This can be achieved by adding a secondary long run during the week or by increasing the distance of your weekend long run.


However, it's important to avoid excessive volume that can lead to injury or fatigue. Be sure to incorporate recovery weeks into your training plan, where you reduce the time on your feet to allow for proper recovery and adaptation. By managing your volume effectively, you can optimize your training and minimize the risk of burnout.


3. Incorporating Hill Training


Spartan Ultra races are known for their challenging hills, so it's crucial to include hill training in your preparation. This will help you build strength and improve your ability to conquer the steep inclines you'll encounter during the race.


To train for hills, incorporate incline threshold workouts into your training routine. Start with 5-10 minutes of hard effort on a treadmill set at a 15% incline, followed by a recovery period at an easy pace on a 1% incline. Gradually increase the duration of these workouts up to an hour. If you have access to hills or mountains, take advantage of them by incorporating hill repeats and stair workouts into your training.


Don't forget about carrying objects during your hill training. Spartan Ultra races often require participants to carry buckets or sandbags up hills. Practice carrying objects during your training sessions to prepare your body for the added challenge.



runners running in the mud



4. Fueling for Success


Fueling properly is vital for long-distance races like the Spartan Ultra. Ultra events are essentially eating contests, and your ability to consume and digest food while running can give you a significant advantage. Experiment with different foods during your training runs to find what works best for you.


During the race, aim to consume around 70g of carbohydrates or 300 calories per hour. This can be split into smaller chunks throughout the hour or consumed in one sitting, depending on your preference. Some popular options include bananas, dried fruits, nuts, homemade flapjacks, and energy gels. It's essential to find a balance between sweet and savory foods to avoid palate fatigue.


Hydration is also crucial during the race. Sip water regularly throughout the event to prevent dehydration. Ensure you have electrolytes on hand to replenish what you lose through sweat and prevent cramping. Salty snacks like pretzels or salted nuts can help maintain electrolyte balance.


5. Gear and Preparation


Having the right gear and being prepared for different race conditions can make or break your Spartan Ultra experience. Research the weather forecast in advance and plan your clothing accordingly. If you'll be in cold or wet conditions, consider wearing neoprene or merino wool to stay warm. For hot climates, opt for lightweight and breathable clothing to prevent overheating.


Carrying a hydration pack is essential for staying hydrated throughout the race. Ensure your pack has enough storage space for your food and other essentials. Consider having spare shoes and socks available in case of any unforeseen mishaps. It's better to be over-prepared than to encounter problems during the race.


Plan for every eventuality by creating a race plan and strategy. This includes your fueling strategy, clothing change plan, and contingency plans for different scenarios. Having a well-thought-out plan will give you confidence and ensure you're ready to tackle any challenges that come your way.


6. Mental Preparation


The Spartan Ultra is not just a physical challenge; it's also a mental one. Prepare yourself mentally by visualizing success, setting goals, and developing a strong mindset. Use positive affirmations and visualization techniques to boost your confidence and motivation.


During your training, embrace the discomfort and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. This will help you build mental resilience and prepare you for the tough moments during the race. Remember that the mind often gives up before the body, so developing mental toughness is crucial for success.


7. Recovery and Rest


Training for a Spartan Ultra is demanding on your body, so prioritizing recovery and rest is essential. Incorporate rest days into your training plan to allow your body to recover and adapt to the training stimulus. Listen to your body and take additional rest days if needed to prevent burnout or injury.


Include active recovery activities such as stretching, foam rolling, and mobility exercises to aid in recovery and prevent muscle soreness. Proper nutrition and hydration also play a vital role in recovery, so make sure you're fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to repair and rebuild.



group of friends getting ready for race day


8. Accountability and Support


Training for a Spartan Ultra can be challenging, both physically and mentally. Having a support system and being accountable to someone can make a significant difference in your motivation and success. Find a training partner or join a training group to keep each other motivated and accountable.


Consider working with a coach who specializes in endurance events and can provide personalized guidance and support. A coach can help create a customized training plan, monitor your progress, and provide valuable insights and advice.


9. Preparing for Race Day


As race day approaches, it's essential to have a plan in place for the day before and the morning of the event. Make sure you have all your gear and nutrition prepared and organized. Get a good night's sleep the night before, and wake up early to have enough time to eat and mentally prepare.


On race day, stay focused, and stick to your race plan. Pace yourself and conserve your energy for the long distance ahead. Stay hydrated and fuel regularly to maintain your energy levels. Embrace the challenges and obstacles, knowing that you have prepared yourself to overcome them.


10. Embracing the Spartan Spirit


The Spartan Ultra is not just a race; it's an opportunity to test your limits, push yourself further than you ever thought possible, and embrace the indomitable Spartan spirit. Remember to enjoy the journey, embrace the camaraderie of fellow racers, and celebrate your achievements along the way.



obstacle races on the Spartan Ultra



11. Continuing the Journey


Completing a Spartan Ultra is an incredible accomplishment, but it doesn't have to be the end of your journey. Use your experience as a springboard to continue challenging yourself and setting new goals. Whether it's tackling another ultra event or exploring different endurance challenges, the sky's the limit.


Conclusion


Preparing for a Spartan Ultra requires dedication, perseverance, and a well-designed training plan. By building your aerobic base, incorporating hill training, fueling properly, and preparing your gear, you'll be ready to conquer this ultimate test of endurance.


Remember to train smart, listen to your body, and stay mentally strong throughout your journey. Embrace the challenges, celebrate your accomplishments, and continue pushing your limits. The Spartan Ultra awaits, and you're ready to take on the challenge.



 


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