As he took his place in the semi-final for the 400 meters at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, many eyes rested on Derek Redmond. He was at his peak and was widely anticipated to podium, if not win outright.

Many months – years, even – of training were behind him, all serving to sculpt and shape him, leading him to the path which would have Olympic gold at the end of it. He was only 400 meters from the end of this path.

Despite having a career that was riddled with injuries, he was no stranger to the podium and the clinking of medals around his neck. He was already a champion of the Commonwealth games, taking gold in the 4×400 meters, gold at the European Championships and both silver and gold in the World Championships. All that was missing was the Olympic medal.

The gun sounded and after a quick, clean start, he was cruising. He recalls;

“For once I had no injuries, despite eight operations in four years, and I’d won the first two rounds without breaking a sweat – including posting the fastest time in the first round of heats. I was confident and when the gun went off I got off to a good start. I got into my stride running round the first turn and I was feeling comfortable. Then I heard a popping sound. I kept on running for another two or three strides then I felt the pain. I thought I’d been shot, but then I recognized the agony.” 

“I’d pulled my hamstring before and the pain is excruciating: like someone shoving a hot knife into the back of your knee and twisting it. I grabbed the back of my leg, uttered a few expletives and hit the deck.”

Going down, clutching his leg and trying to collect his thoughts, he glanced up and saw that all the other competitors were out of sight. His chance of winning or even getting to the podium, were over. His Olympic dream ended after around 17 seconds.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening after all the training I’d put in. I looked around to see where the rest of the field were, and they had only 100 meters to go. I remember thinking if I got up I could still catch them and qualify. The pain was intense. I hobbled about 50 meters until I was at the 200 meters mark. Then I realized it was all over. I looked round and saw that everyone else had crossed the finishing line. But I don’t like to give up at anything – not even an argument, as my wife will tell you – and I decided I was going to finish that race if it was the last race I ever did.”

Doctors, other medics and even officials were on the track, waving at him to stop, but he simply refused to quit, despite already knowing it was over. With roughly 100 meters to go, a man ran on the track, barging past an official that tried to stop him. He ran up behind Derek and threw an arm around him, holding him up. It was his father, Jim.

“I just said, ‘Dad, I want to finish, get me back in the semi-final.’ He said, ‘OK. We started this thing together and now we’ll finish it together.’ He managed to get me to stop trying to run and just walk and he kept repeating, ‘You’re a champion, you’ve got nothing to prove.’ ”

He didn’t know it at the time, as the pain in his leg was screaming louder than the entire Olympic stadium, but everyone watching was cheering, a standing ovation to the man that had so cruelly had his chance at his dream snatched away from him.

“We hobbled over the finishing line with our arms round each other, just me and my dad, the man I’m really close to, who’s supported my athletics career since I was seven years old. I’ve since been told there was a standing ovation by the 65,000 person crowd, but nothing registered at the time. I was in tears and went off to the medical room to be looked at, then I took the bus back to the Olympic village.”

Four years earlier, an Achilles injury prevented him from running at the Olympics in Seoul. His name bore the letters ‘DNS’ – Did Not Start – next to it. In Barcelona, he was adamant that DNF would not appear next to his name.

‘When I saw my doctor he told me I’d never represent my country again. I felt like there’d been a death. I never raced again and I was angry for two years.  Then one day I just thought: there are worse things than pulling a muscle in a race, and I just decided to get on with my life.”

From there, Derek’s passion for sport meant he would try a new avenue. His love of basketball proved to be an outlet and such was his skill that after trials with various teams, he went on to play for the Great Britain basketball team. Not forgetting what his doctor told him about never representing his country again, Derek sent him a signed photo of the Great Britain team. His impish sense of humor rushing to the surface.

“Today I don’t feel anger, just frustration. The footage has since been used in adverts by Visa, Nike and the International Olympic Committee – I don’t go out of my way to watch it, but it isn’t painful anymore and I have the Visa ad on my iPad.

“If I hadn’t pulled a hamstring that day I could have been an Olympic medalist, but I love the life I have now. I might not have been a motivational speaker or competed for my country at basketball, as I went on to do. And my dad wouldn’t have been asked to carry the Olympic torch in 2012, which was a huge honor for him.”

Derek Redmond is truly an honorary Spartan in our eyes. An unflinching, unquestioning belief of never quitting, epitomized in one man.

Do you have this mentality? Prove it and we’ll see you at the finish line.

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It’s not as simple as slipping into your running shoes and bolting out of the door. In an ideal world it would be just that easy. In the real world though this just isn’t the case. At best, you have a lousy time. At worst, you hurt yourself and end up out of action for a while.

The rules to a successful run are very simple to follow:

1)      Warming up and cooling down.

No matter how strong the urge, don’t just run from a cold start. A gentle 5-10 minute warm up will loosen you up, get the heart rate up, your breathing going, and lastly send blood to the muscles where it’s needed. There’s a loose rule of thumb that says the further you’re going to run, the longer your warm-up should be. Cooling down is equally as beneficial. If you finish a 5 mile run and then just stop dead, there’s a chance blood will pool in your legs and you’ll feel faint. Better to finish those 5 miles, slow down to a walk and then come to a rest gradually. Give your body a chance to realize what’s going on, otherwise it will react poorly.

2) Slow and steady.

Most coaches will agree that by going slowly and steady in terms of adding mileage, you’ll reap better benefits. Most agree that adding 10% each week to your run is a good rule of thumb. Remember that your body has to adapt to what you are putting it through. It’s the same principle as being at the gym. You wouldn’t expect to curl 20lbs on Monday and bench press 200lb on Friday, would you? It’s the same thing. Build slowly and surely.

3) Keep some back.

When jogging, leave some in the tank. That is to say 8 out of every 10 runs you do should be run at around a minute or so slower that your goal race time. If you’re breathing heavily, you’re going too fast. Your lungs and heart will adapt a lot more quickly than your muscles, tendons and bones as you up the length of your runs. Regular running at an easy pace gives your musculoskeletal system a chance to consolidate and catch up with any cardiovascular improvements you are making.

4) Hills! Hills! Hills!

Yes, sorry, but in order to get it right it’s an unfortunate quirk of fate that hills are simply the best tool there is to build muscle memory, strength, aerobic capacity and running economy. At least once a week find the hilliest route you have at your disposal and use it to build and build. The strength and stamina you build on hills and inclines will serve to make you faster and stronger later in races.

5) Rest days.

This is the “good” part. Resting is as important as training and that’s simply a matter of fact. While it’s true that pushing yourself allows you to develop and become stronger, not resting results in injury or becoming burnt out and undoing all the good work you’ve done. Flooring the accelerator in a car is all well and good, but thrash it too much and that engine is just going to go ‘pop’. That’s when the mechanic rubs his hands together while the dollar signs appear in his eyes.

Once every few weeks, cut back your distances by 20% or so and some days just rest entirely. Your body demands it. It uses this time to rebuild those torn muscles and become stronger, in turn helping you become stronger and less prone to fatigue when it comes to longer distances or running faster/harder.

6) Cross-train.

Pounding the sidewalks, tracks and trails does precisely that; it pounds on your joints and connective tissues. Taking a break away from running. Still keeping your cardiovascular system firing is important. So occasionally try out some yoga, pilates or some strength training program. Promote some upper body strength and muscle. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing improve your aerobic fitness as well.

Swimming is an especially good tool in helping you become a better runner. When swimming you use a huge amount of all over body muscle while still keeping your cardiovascular system working hard. Best of all is the complete lack of any pounding on the joints and connective tissue.

7) Measure it all.

If you take it too easy on hard or normal runs you won’t break through that barrier and get to the next level. Go too hard on easy/rest days and you won’t build up what you need to do longer runs or speed sessions. If you have apps, use them. Failing that then talk while you are running and you’ll gauge if you are going at the right pace.

8) Increase the speed.

Even those that like to plod along at a nice, comfortable pace should consider doing some work in pace and picking up speed.

Running fast builds up cardiovascular strength by making your heart work at a higher rate to deliver oxygen to the muscles in your legs. This, in turn, makes them stronger and more efficient at extracting the oxygen in your blood. Through speed work you are raising your metabolism and increasing caloric burn, even after you have finished working out. There is also the fact that running more quickly cuts any sloppiness in your stride and in doing so you will jog or run more efficiently making it easier to run fast.

9) Race Pace.

Get used to running at race pace before you taper. When you’re at the starting line and the inevitable elbows finally finish you’ll be trotting along at a pace you realize is comfortable because it’s what you know!

10) The taper is your friend!

Around 3 weeks before your race cut your runs by 25-50%, but keep the same pace you want to run on race day. You might think this is crazy, but it’s been proven by Ball State University that those reducing the mileage but keeping the pace in their taper before race day lost no cardiovascular fitness, actually gained muscle strength, and scored improved race times!

Follow these 10 simple rules and running won’t become something that is a chore anymore.

See you at the finish line…

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Sometimes, when it’s still dark outside in the mornings and the fog or rain is literally putting a dampner on proceedings, your mind is all ready to rock and roll those sidewalks. You figure you can get an easy 5 miles in, get home, shower, eat breakfast and be changed, ready for work with maybe 20 minutes to spare. You’re all set, but your body just doesn’t want to go. The bed has somehow harnessed Velcro-like qualities and you realize your motivation has gone.

How to beat it?

There are a few things you can do. Just do, say, 10 minutes down the street. It will take you around that to turn around and get back, giving yourself a decent workout of 20 minutes. From there, you can do one of two things. See how far you’ve gone in that time and see if you can beat that distance in further 20 minute runs, or alternatively, just squeeze out another 10 minutes and you’ve probably got close to a 5K if not further. That’s 5K further than you would have been if you were still in bed.

That feeling or thought you’ll get will try to tell you that it won’t matter if you miss another 6 or 7 miles. What’s the point? It’s boring and repetitive. You may have this thought occasionally, but remember that getting into shape doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen over a week or a month. Conditioning the mind and the legs is something that needs constant training. If you want to put it into physiological terms, it’s about how efficient your body is in turning fat cells into usable energy. This is taught to the body over a long and steady process. Doing most things slowly and repetitively can be boring, but it’s not senseless. Any successful run is progress. The Grand Canyon looks beautiful doesn’t it? Remember it was carved over many years, it didn’t happen overnight!

A miserable rainy morning is not a reason to not run. It’s an opportunity to beat something!

Give yourself “Time Treats”. Say you really have no interest in doing 4 miles. Give yourself a buffer of time and “save it up”. Let’s say you have a regular running pace of a 10-minute mile. Target a pace of 11 minute miles. Get to the first mile in 10 minute 27 seconds and you can choose to “save” those extra 33 seconds, or use them to walk until you get to 11 minutes. If you’re feeling particularly good you can make it to mile 2 in 10 minutes 15 and realize you have saved 45 seconds. That’s a minute and 18 seconds you can walk, stop to stretch, whatever you like. It’s your cheat zone, or rather, your “Time Treat”. It’s entirely up to you how you use them.

Remember that pain is a perverse friend. Running or jogging is one of very few sports where your body will experience pain that we happily go through in order to get better. Each time you run 10k it’s like a slight fog of pain that surrounds the prize. Each run, each extra little bit of pain clears that fog away until a 10k becomes nothing at all. It’s just a run to the grocery store and back. They all count; they all help to build up to your goal.
All your runs are pennies you are saving in your running bank and one day, when you want to buy that marathon medal, you withdraw those running hours and cash them in. Make peace with pain. Embrace it and smother it with love. It will soon realize its weak attempts to break you are worthless.

There will also be the bad days when you stop and think, “I’m not cut out to be a runner”. This is a ridiculous notion. If you can run, you can be a runner. It’s as simple as that. If you’re one of those types that tries to use your bigger body size as an excuse as to why you can’t, you turn that into a positive. Heavier folk turn into strong, sturdier runners. Remember there’s a positive in everything. John Bingham, the celebrated marathon runner, said it best.

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for 20 years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn. You just run.”

Run for a purpose. Run because you want to please your partner. He or she will love you how you are, so why not lose that 10lbs you know you can without making yourself unhealthy? Run because John at work laughed at the suggestion of you doing that half marathon. SHOW HIM. Finish and stick that medal right in his face. Anger is quite the powerful emotion, and if harnessed correctly, it’s a very underrated fuel!

You can’t run because you forgot to charge your iPod and you can’t POSSIBLY run with Slayer adding a soundscape of brutal riffs and drums through your skull, right? Wrong. There are so many sounds out there that you can keep yourself occupied for the duration of your run. Can you tell cars apart from the engine sound as they approach from behind? The birds chattering, crickets chirping. The swish that trees make in the wind. If it’s a silent course (my favorite run is alongside the LA river/drain, no vehicles or animals at all), listen to the sound of your feet hitting the asphalt. They beat their own rhythm.

Conversely, don’t run for time or for distance, run for an album. Find a track, loop, park, or just anywhere that you know pedestrians and vehicles will be zero and run to an album. Pick an album you know every beat, line, and chord to and listen to it not worrying about how far your run will take you. Immerse yourself in the album and sing along like no one is watching.

At the end of the day, you run for you. Every step is another penny in your run bank.

Why not be a millionaire? Cha-ching.

See you at the finish line…

picture credit Chiccyclist

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Let’s face it – When it comes to running, sometimes we can’t make it to the gym. Other times it’s so cold out (Polar Vortex, anyone?) that it endangers your health. Or you just don’t want to. We get it. But that doesn’t mean that your fitness must suffer.

A personal home gym or treadmill notwithstanding, our homes don’t seem like the most hospitable spaces for a jog. However, there are multiple ways that you can still simulate a run using some creativity. And with the #Spartan30 “Run 1 Mile a Day for 30 Days” Challenge underway, we want to supply you with some ways to completing your runs from the comfort of your home.

Although Spartans are not huge fans of the Romans, they did have a few tricks worth adopting. When the Roman army would march to and from battle, they would count how times they took a step on their left foot. When soldiers reached 1,000 steps they knew they had walked a mile. Hence, 2,000 steps equal a mile walked. This can be performed from anywhere in your home. What’s more, you can throw in movements to enhance this workout such as high knees and lunges. A 190 pound man can burn over 510 calories an hour running in place, not to mention you can watch 300 all the while.

Many Spartan Race courses climb up and down mountains and it’s likely your afternoon jog will encounter elevation. Rather than bundle up, take a tumble and end up like Otzi the Iceman, stay indoors and attack your staircase. Sprint up the stairs, pumping your arms all the way to the top. Use the walk down as your rest period. Try performing 15-20 stair sprints in a set. To run a mile, you’d have to complete approximately 526 flights on conventional 15 step stairway. Time to take a deep breathe (oh yeah, don’t forget to keep breathing!).

This method requires a bit more space – the type that can be found in a basement or garage – and focuses on building your fast-twitch muscles necessary for making quick movements on the course. Clear a runway that will allow you to push your speed  beyond a jog, making sure that your floors surface is not slippery. Also, make sure to put the dog in the other room, it’ll try and join in. Starting at one end, quickly sprint until reaching the other end. Anticipate the turn and, using your hand if necessary, pivot on your back foot and change direction. Sprints are great for burning fat and will prepare you for the short bursts of energy necessary to topple gladiators at the end of a long race.

Join the #Spartan30 Mile a Day Challenge

Find a Spartan Race near you

Burpee Calculator Shows Workout Equivalent to Common Junkfood



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A Spartan Workout of the Day (WOD) is posted on FB, Twitter, and into email inboxes (subscribe here) at by 10pm each night.  WODs are to be performed the next day according where it will best fit into a racer’s schedule.  Thus a WOD presented here for Monday, is written in the context that it was delivered in a way to be performed on Tuesday.  Keep this in mind when looking at the workload flow as the week progresses.  Typical Spartan weekly WOD-flow is a build from Tuesday to Sunday with a recovery day on Monday.– Jason J


In depth WOD on our blog presented by Gaspari Nutrition

Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.

So just go out and get after it!

warm up
10 minute jog or jump rope

main set:
30 burpees
30 push ups
30 crunches
30 squats
30 lunges
30 pull ups (advanced)
1 mile run
(repeat main set as needed)

cool down
walk it out and stretch


“Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” Theodore N. Vail

This WOD is a bit intense and written out for our more advance athletes. However, don’t get psyched out if you are a beginner – it’s time to commit to being able to DO this workout! Divide everything by 10 and this workout still works. Simplicity is awesome. It’s a great way to start!

200 lunges
100-200 push ups
run 2-5 miles
200 body weight squats
100-200 push ups
run 2-5 miles
ab routine


“The simplest things are often the truest.” – Richard Bach

Burpee Ladder
10 burpees – 400m run
11 burpees – 400m run
12 burpees – 400m run
…and so on till you are done.

When are you done?  That is for you to decide.  You can take this workout till failure or you can make it a great 20 minute routine during a busy day.  It doesn’t matter – just start the WOD!  Beginning is the first step.


“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.”

~Satchel Paige

Long distance tomorrow. It’s the weekend – get out an enjoy it. The best way to break up a long run or hike is to incorporate some strength sets periodically in your long aerobic efforts. So during a 1-3 hour run put in some sets of lunges and burpees every 20 minutes!  The length of your workout can be best decided in reference to the Spartan distance you are signed up for.  Our Trifecta folk should be out there 3 hours at least!


Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be. ~ John Wooden

Power hour of burpees: 2-10 push ups every minute on the minute for one hour! Time crunch? go for 30 minutes…just do more per minute.

We are sure you can find 30 minutes on a Sunday to pound out some fitness.


This WOD we featured on our blog as the first of a series where Founder/CEO Joe Desena gives you the straight forward WODs you need in racing.  For this WOD Joe was asked about recovery workouts.  CLICK HERE for the full feature.

People always say ‘stop and smell the roses’?  But smell the roses when you are planting, watering, or trimming them.

A Recovery WOD by Joe D

Rest is for when you’re dead.

Active recovery is the only recovery.  This means walk, get in a pool, do crunches in front of the TV…do something.

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A Spartan Workout of the Day (WOD) is posted on FB, Twitter, and into email inboxes at by 10pm each night.  WODs are to be performed the next day according to a racer’s schedule.  Thus a WOD presented here for Monday, is written in the context that it was presented to be done on Tuesday.  Keep this in mind when looking at the workload flow as the week progresses. – Jason J

WOD Archive


WOD presented by Gaspari, hosted on our blog:  CLICK HERE

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

10 minute warm up run with some accelerations mixed in.
Then, 10 minute jump rope

2-6 sets of:

100 meter sprint
5-30 push ups
50-200 lunges
400 meter run
5–30 push-ups (or chin ups)
50-200 squats

light jog


Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
-T. S. Elliot

(We’ve enjoyed seeing the Concept2 obstacle stop our racers in their tracks at our races.)

250m row on Concept2 Rowing machine (or jump rope for 2 min)
10 squats
10 leg lifts
10 burpees
500m row (or jump rope for 4 min)
15 squats
15 leg lifts
15 burpees
750m row (or jump rope for 6 min)
20 squats
20 leg lifts
20 burpees
1000m row (or jump rope for 8 min)
25 squats
25 leg lifts
25 burpees


People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.
– Andrew Carnegie

We’ve done this before but we know it’s a favorite.

For one hour – do set number of push-ups each minute of that hour.

So do 3 push-ups every minute for an hour? 5? 10?

Great to do while watching a movie that motivates you!


The secret of success is constancy of purpose.
-Benjamin Disraeli

It’s been a hard week for all of us.  So stay focused and disciplined.  Time to leave your whining behind and stay focused as you train hard this weekend.

Long Run

Beginner Tip:
The ‘long run’ is a term athletes throw around all the time.  As in they spend most of their time bragging on Facebook about mileages they never actually ran.  The long run is the fish stories of endurance racing.

Tomorrow do your ‘long run’.  That might be 2 miles.  It might be 37.

In the end your standard is the only standard that matters.

For every one hour of running make sure you stretch a minimum of 15 minutes.


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

We are sure that you are exhausted if you ran long today.  Spartans need to know how to run fast on tired legs.  You are not just running, you are running through a hell of obstacles that will make you more exhausted than you are feeling right now.  So STFU and get it done.

Fartlek run based on time.

10 minutes jog warm up with some accelerations

Main set for run
2 minutes ‘on’
1 minute jog
4 minutes ‘on’
2 minutes jog
6 minutes ‘on’
3 minutes jog
4 minutes ‘on’
2 minutes jog
2 minutes ‘on’
1 minute jog

(repeat if necessary)

cool down stretch

What do we mean by ‘on’?  Getting hyper technical here is probably a waste.  Simply put, ‘on’ is NOT conversation pace.  Get after it, but be sure you can sustain ‘on’ tempo for full interval.


“The first and the best victory is to conquer self.” Plato

Monday is your day to recover from the weekend.  Best bet is to get all the things done you were supposed to be doing when you were training!  Even if you are not training you can be getting ready to train.  Interestingly, that is quality training.

While getting things done throw in a few sets of burpees during your work day.  Work them in with a super good stretch!

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Why Race?

by Jason Jaksetic

Timing mattered to me when I was an overweight, back-of-the-pack road runner at charity 5k’s.  If I was 63rd in my age group (AG) at the Turkey Trot, I damn well had better be 62nd at the St Patty’s Day Race.

Timing matter to me when I crossed the finish line at the 2006 Ironman World Championships.  I was competing for the amateur 18-24 AG win.  I wasn’t fast enough to get it.

I raced to be as fast as I could be.  And that was, and still is, good enough for me.  Because I’m still breathing.  I’m still racing.

Competition drives you.  Racing rewards you.

This is why when I transitioned out of triathlon into adventure, obstacle, and ultra-distance racing, I immediately gravitated to Spartan Race.  I couldn’t see focusing on events that wouldn’t push me by holding me accountable.  Just not my thing.

Spartan Race provides the clock, you can choose to use it or not.  Show up either way.

Racing gives you important data for improving.  Racing teaches you (if you can get over your ego) to examine why you came in last place.  That’s the only way to get better.  Isn’t it the same with losing weight.?  With changing your career?

This is why timing matters.  This is why you race and why the Spartan Points System is so beneficial for an athlete such as myself. Whether I’m competing for overall contention or my age group, or trying to win overall, I know the competition.  I always paid attention to my national rankings on USAT and USATF when raced there.

I really don’t believe in having to be the best.  I do believe in getting better.  That’s why as I’m gearing up for the Ultra Beast in September I’ll be watching the Spartan Rankings.

See you all out there.  Looking forward to racing you.


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Photo Credit: Tobyotter on Flickr

by Khaled Allen

When I was running cross country in high school, we always began each practice session by stretching to avoid injury, and after we were done, we’d stretch again. We did this presumably to prevent injury, but despite the fact that I was the most flexible person on the team, I was injured most of my senior year. Nevertheless, I continued to stretch because I felt knotted and stiff when I didn’t.

A few years later, a number of studies came out suggesting that stretching wasn’t helpful to distance runners at all. According to some researchers, distance runners actually don’t need to be flexible. Some cite studies that prove stretching doesn’t prevent injury, and may actually make it more likely. Some say stretch only if you need to get more flexible.

The points against stretching are pretty harsh. According to a study published on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute website, stretching before exercise may cause temporary strength deficits, doesn’t prevent injury, and doesn’t improve exercise performance. The study did find that passive stretching, done away from the exercise environment, may improve flexibility, but the study also claimed that increased flexibility was detrimental to runners.

Read the rest of this entry »

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[Editor's note: I came across Niki's blog over at and I wanted her to share her experience training for her first-ever Spartan race, coming up April 30 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Here's her story...If you want to share yours, send an email to]

by Niki Kenney

Niki Kenney

My friend DP has been trying to get me to sign up for races with him for months.

Considering I spent the greater part of last summer on the couch, due to a serious burn injury, I continually turned him down.  I had fallen out of shape and just couldn’t find the courage to train again, lift again, and put in the grueling effort of caloric maintance and protein slamming.

But, DP knows what it’s like to love running.  Knowing that before my annoying injury last summer, I loved running too, he never gave up asking to join him in a race.  Somehow, one day, he convinced me.

He asked me to sign up for a Spartan Race.  It was “only a 5K” and I was “perfectly capable of handling it.”  He even threw in that I could race for free if I volunteered to help with the race.  Free t-shirt, free race, helping out afterwards and watching other runners finish.

What doesn’t sound awesome about that?

I told myself I could use training for a 5k as an excuse to get my couch-shaped rear back into running shape.

My boyfriend and I joined the local YMCA, where our good friends regularly attempted to tone their bods. We made plans and promises to support each other in this newly acquired get-fit challenge.

I was PSYCHED, energetic and hopeful.  I had a run in my future.  Alongside my closest friends, I had a gym schedule loaded with spin, running, lifting and random other classes, each prepared to rock my world back into shape.

At some point during the second week of 5 A.M. spin classes, I contacted the Spartan Race volunteer director to officially sign up for the Spartan Race and offer to help out for free entry.  I had mentioned the run to my girlfriend at some point, and being that she had never raced before, she had casually agreed it would be a fun adventure for us.

Disregarding a final approval, I accidently tossed her name into the email as a fellow runner/helper.  Following the sign up email, I googled the race while at the same time gchating with my friend quickly to inform her that she would be getting contacted re: racing and volunteering.  I went back to the googled Spartan Race video window and my jaw dropped.


I quickly cut and paste the url box into my gchat window, but totally played it cool (as if I hadn’t just witnessed a race like no other). I let her know that she was already signed up for the run, but that she should watch a video about it as soon as possible so she knew what she was up against.  Without waiting for a response, I went back to Google and began looking for a slice of sanity in this seemingly impossible endeavor I had unknowingly signed up for.

I figured, after about ten minutes of abusing “the Spartan race” in my Google window, that I was going to have to back out.  There was no way I could possibly compete in this sort of race.  Mud? Water? Barbed wire? Obstacle course? All I wanted was a 5K! NOT a death wish! (insert kicking and screaming).

Minutes of googling turned into days, and weeks.

I didn’t back out.

I watched video after video of the “not your typical 5K.”  I didn’t see a torturous race. I saw fun; I saw smiles; I saw the high of finishing such an incredible, different kind of race. I saw Spartans.

I read testimonials and of competitors and comments by supporters.  I didn’t read regret or anguish. I read positivity, happiness and excitement. I read about Spartans.

I emailed handfuls of questions to Spartan race veterans.  Their responses were not to train like I’ve never trained before and give up if I wasn’t in shape in time.  They encouraged me to prepare safely and excitedly for an invigorating, “helluva good time,” won’t ever forget it, run. I heard back from Spartans.

I became enthralled with running blogs and supporters of health, exercise and eating well.

Somewhere in there, I even convinced my boyfriend and another friend to sign up for the race and volunteer.

I’ve spent nearly every single day in the gym. I’ve blogged about the workouts, and the burn. I’ve hated life when my alarm went off at 5 A.M. and cursed at my own legs when I didn’t think they could possibly carry me any longer.  But I still keep on training to get back in shape.  I work at it every day for my journey to Spartan.

I received confirmation from the run volunteer this week that I would be running in the first heat.  Remembering that I had read at some point that the first heat was when the fierce “elite competition” usually races, I quickly shot back an email asking her if this was true.  Spoken like a true Spartan, her response: “I’m not sure. . . things have changed slightly, and I haven’t been filled in on all the details . . . Don’t worry about it though, all the volunteers are elite in my mind :) ”.  I was at ease.

I am by no means in as good of shape as the competitors highlighted on the Spartan site.  I don’t run as far as my new blogger friends. I wouldn’t consider myself completely back to being fit. But I am different than I was a month and a half ago.  I’m a new person, with a new attitude and a new outlook on fitness and physical challenges.

This is corny, and probably only the thousands of Spartan racers would really understand, but I’m Spartan strong.

And in a few short weeks here, I’ll be able to call myself a true Spartan racer.

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