Strength, Endurance & Grit: How to Train Like a Spartan
Want to train like a Spartan? Meet Zach B., In-Shape’s Senior Director of Pricing. Just three years ago, Zach ran his first-ever Spartan Race and came in 512th. This August he traveled to West Virginia to compete in the regional championships, beat his personal best by 26 minutes and qualified to race at the Tahoe World Championship in September! Zach shared with us how he made it to this milestone and what’s next—plus his go-to Spartan Workout.
What is the Spartan Race?
Spartan is a world-renowned obstacle course race designed to push you beyond your limits. The most popular Spartan races are The Sprint (3 miles, 20 obstacles), The Super (8 miles, 25 obstacles) and The Beast (13 miles, 30 obstacles). Each course contains challenging obstacles like crawling under barbed wire, jumping over hurdles and flipping a tractor tire. If a participant can’t complete one of the obstacles, the penalty is 30 Burpees. Yikes!
Zach’s Spartan journey began just after he started his role at In-Shape. A group of his coworkers committed to running together in an upcoming Spartan race, and Zach decided to join in—both to see what was possible and set an example for his kids.
In high school, Zach was told he wasn’t strong enough to play college sports, and he never pushed hard enough to find out if they were right. Training for race day not only meant pushing hard but pushing harder with every workout. “I always tell my kids that they can do anything they want in life if they put in hard work and stay focused on their goals,” Zach explained.
Competitive Spartan racing requires year-round commitment both physically and mentally. With two kids and a full-time job, Zach says crawling out of bed for early runs even when it’s cold and raining is the toughest challenge for him, but he’s remained dedicated. The payoff is seeing all his hard work make a difference on race day.
“There are times in every race when I feel like quitting…but thinking back to all the early mornings, or my kids watching, keeps me going through the finish.”
It seems like his kids have been bitten by the Spartan bug, too. They participate in Spartan Kids Races and even wake up early with Zach on strength training days so they can work out with him!
Zach also leans on his friends and In-Shape team for encouragement. Jeremiah, Director of Leadership and Development at In-Shape, became an important part of Zach’s support system. They’ve completed a number of races together and help coach each other through when things get tough. Zach was shocked to find Jeremiah at the open house of this year’s regional championships—his coach traveled all that way to motivate him through the race! Zach said Jeremiah ran about 13 miles between obstacles to cheer him on.
Though the training and races are intense, Zach says the experience has been empowering. “It gives me more confidence in my ability to overcome everyday challenges.”
So what’s next for Zach? He’s not slowing down any time soon. “My goal is to win a race for my age bracket, so I will continue to work hard toward that goal.”
Zach’s Spartan Workout
Zach completes an 8-mile trail run as a simulated race once a week. He chooses a route with as much up and down running as possible and stops every half mile to complete 10 burpees, 10 jump squats or 10 pushups as simulated obstacles. If he’s feeling ambitious, he soaks his shoes before he starts to prepare him for the mud and water on the course!
You can scale this workout down to 2-3 miles if you’re training for a Sprint or increase to 12-14 miles if training for a Beast. Time yourself and try to beat it next time. When in doubt, remember Zach’s advice: “Walking is okay, just keep moving.”