Taking Spartan WODs up a Notch

by Andi Hardy

You have raced a Spartan Race or two, or like me, many more. You love to train, you love to shout those AROOS, you love to gobble up the courses, and you love to finish with a decent time. But you want more, you want to finish with a trip to the podium, or win your age division, or just shave several minutes off of your PR. So what can you do to up your game?

You need to first set a realistic goal. Know exactly what it is you want. What IS it that you want? Write it down. Tell others. Put it on Facebook.  Whatever your preferred way, put it in writing and make your goal public.  You are more apt to follow through when there is some kind of accountability. When you know what you want out of training and racing, you can then map a way to get there. Although I’m a firm believer that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, I also believe you need to know yourself and what goal is realistic and what may just not be. For example, I can say that my goal is to be a podium winner in the next Spartan event. Realistic? Yeah, for me it is.  However if I say my goal is beat Spartan’s number one ranked male this season I am not being realistic and am only setting myself up for failure and huge disappointment.

My first goals in Spartan racing were

1) Finish the race without injury

2) Not finish last in my heat

3) Finish first in my age division.

All three goals were realistic. I felt if I reached these goals, I’d be content with my racing performance. I knew I would have to really work, though. First in my age division was no small feat, many women in my age category were die-hard athletes. My first Spartan Race was in March 2012. I arrived at the venue nervous and ready to run. However, once surveying the competition, I felt at a huge disadvantage, I didn’t know what to expect. The competitors in that elite heat were FIT, they were in shape, they knew what they were doing. I considered changing the last of my three goals. Oh well, just give it your all I told myself, to not try to reach your goal is much worse than not reaching it while giving it your all.  So I left that starting line with those three goals resonating in my head. I not only reached my three goals on that cold March morning. I surpassed any expectation I could have had. Why I not only won my age division, I won 2nd place female overall. Needless to say I wasn’t last, nor did I sustain any injuries.

Now, onto new races with new goals. Indiana seemed to be next on my list. I wanted to place first overall female, I wanted a better overall placement, too. This time I wanted the helmet, the prize that comes along with first place.  But I knew to be number one overall female; I had to step up my game, I couldn’t assume because I had done well at one that I would be a shoe-in for other races. I knew I was already training hard, what more could I do?

1)  I added light weight training to my WODs

2)  I added more stretching before and after running

3)  I cracked down on my already clean eating habits.

4)  I practiced some of the obstacles such as a sand bag carry, throwing a spear, running with a tire around my neck, climbing a rope, sit ups with rocks.

5)  I modified the Spartan WODs (see below for an example of modifying to step it up)


Warm up: 1 mile jog and/or jump rope.

Main Set:

2-5 mile tempo run.  (What is a tempo run?  It’s not a jog, that’s for sure.  10k race pace is a good place to start.)

2-5  100 meter sprints a 3-4 minutes recovery

25-100 crunches

10-50 burpees

Cool down:  stretch


How did I modify this WOD to step it up?

Warm up: 1 mile easy run and/or 10 minute jump rope.

Main Set:

5-8 mile tempo run

5-8  100 meter sprints with a 3-4 minutes recovery

100 crunches with a rock/medicine ball

100 burpees with push ups

Cool down:  1 mile easy run and stretch

Followed by Yoga


So what do you need to do?

You’ve got it! Set those goals, know where you are headed. That is your map. Now follow your map, listen to the signs of your body and train hard. You won’t get a thing out of something you put nothing into.  Mediocre training transpires into mediocre race results.

Since winning 1st place in Indiana and in two New York Spartan Sprints following, I have set new goals and therefore have been figuring out just how exactly to step up my game to yet another level.

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