Spartan Sprint Training Plan: The Hills Are Alive


The Spartan Sprint is a 5K obstacle race, and the shortest distance of all the Spartan Races. Despite being the shortest, it is designed to test entrants to their absolute capacity (at least that’s how it felt) over each of the 5 kilometres. Most of the course is savagely uphill, and at the top of each hill, runners must tackle an obstacle designed to drain their remaining energy before the course throws them down another hill (occasionally with a 40lb sandbag), only to scramble back up the hill to be faced with yet another obstacle. The penalty for falling on an obstacle is 20 burpees.

It was my first race, and I loved it.

I got a time of 34:18 without much targeted preparation – a full 10 minutes behind the winner of the race. Despite that, I came second in my heat, so I didn’t feel too disappointed.

This year I’m training specifically and intensively for the race. I have 7 months to go until race day on the 17th of August. I’ve organized a large team of people to run with me, and I know they are training too.

Weak points

A lack of preparation in the right areas.

My upper body strength was sufficient last year, so I didn’t end up losing much time on the obstacles, but my weak point was definitely the hill running, and the feeling of having lost my endurance. When I lived in Clifton, Bristol (the charming sandstone quarter of that much loved City) I would run on Durham down, including Whiteladies road. Occasionally I’d take in St. Michael’s Hill, both of which are formidable hills. I was interval training once a week on soft grass, and casually competing against fellow joggers three times a week on my regular 10K. The scenery was interesting and varied, and the climate was ideal for running (if you don’t mind a bit of rain now and then!). It was a middle distance runner’s playground. Then I moved to Canada, and the scenery and climate changed dramatically.

Since getting here, I’ve had difficulty making running a consistent part of my fitness routine. The long icy winters and fiercely hot summers make it less than ideal to train year round outdoors. I can’t afford a fancy treadmill with inclines yet (but I’m saving for one). Also, before we moved to our condo in Beddington in the Northwest of Calgary (which is right next to a trail ridden nature reserve called Nose hill) I was basically living in new suburbia being built onto prairie land – A strange place called Skyview Ranch. It was flat, dusty and boring. The trees were as artificial as the lawns they were forced into – Deanna and I both agreed, we might as well have been living in a colony on the moon. No community, nothing to look at, no hills to challenge me. I had no desire to run there, so I worked out indoors.

Insanity and P90X Plyometrics are really not going to cut it this year; they still have their place, but to achieve a better time in the race this year, I am going to have to beat nose hill like it owes me money. I’m going to grit my teeth and get on with it. Proper mad dogs British.

My goal is to increase my aerobic capacity, develop speed, maintain upper body strength, and also maintain the power I have developed during my indoor workouts, by using plyometrics occasionally between intervals. It’s going to get progressively more difficult – and every few weeks I am going to change things completely on myself.

I might even do one week where I do nothing but weight training. Or three days of plyometrics and swimming. I might even use some yoga. The idea is to continuously change the conditions, while maintaining the emphasis on running the distance efficiently.

The Plan

I put this training plan together using my amateur knowledge of fitness, and my memory of last year’s experience. I’m not recommending this program for anyone who is reading this. Do it at your own risk. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read the disclaimer on this) Responsibility passed.

Sources: P90X2, Insanity, P90X, Spartan Race Manual eBook: “You’ll know at the finish line” (this contains the cross training workouts I’m using), Men’s Fitness 12 Week Body Challenge (UK, 2009), Fitness for Dummies 4th edition

Apps used: Runkeeper, Seconds Pro, British Millitary Fitness, Full Fitness Pro

Introduction weeks

Monday – Cross train and 3 mile run Duration: 45-50 minutes. It’s still winter so my bad weather option is to do an insanity workout.

Tuesday – Upper body resistance (P90X/X2/self guided) + AB ripper X2

Wednesday – Speed intervals. I will be progressing each week through each of my intervals listed here. Bad weather option is indoor interval training.

Thursday – Rest/Foam Rolling

Friday – Upper body resistance (P90X/X2/self guided) Ab ripper X2

Saturday – 10K run at 50% pace (sub race pace) but avoiding major hills.

Sunday – Rest/Foam Rolling

Intermediate weeks

Monday: Cross train with 5K hill run or British Military Fitness app workout (settings maxed out).

Tuesday: P.A.P. Upper body (Post Activation Potentiation) P90X2

Wednesday: Continuation of speed intervals/hill intervals followed by Ab Ripper X2

Thursday: Rest and Recovery Day.

Friday: Insanity upper body weight training.

Saturday: 10Km trail run with 4-10 cardio stops.

Sunday – Rest/Foam Rolling

Advanced weeks

Monday: 5K fastest possible with hills. Ab Ripper X2

Tuesday: P90X2 P.A.P. upper

Wednesday: 10K run including hills with weight (with a backpack, carrying a rock up some of the inclines) cross training with burpees, planks, dips, and pull ups.

Thursday: Recovery run 20 mins, foam rolling.

Friday: Insanity Upper Body resistance training + Insane Abs.

Saturday: Race conditions session. 5K of uphill sprints with resistance movements at the top of each hill or every 200 meters. 5K easy run.

Sunday: I think I’ve earned a rest day… Foam rolling.


Read: I’m not responsible if you or anyone else who uses this workout plan ends up hurt, unable to work or dead. See a physician before you undertake any new program. I am not a trainer. My advice is to get a trainer or figure out what works for you .


2 thoughts on “Spartan Sprint Training Plan: The Hills Are Alive

  1. I’ve looked over your training plan for the Sprint and I think it is a good one. In many ways it is similar to my own training foundation. It is especially good that you are taking the time to rest your body. The one thing that I will be adding to my training regimen is to do more simulated obstacle runs….meaning that I will run at a fast pace on rough terrain and stop periodically to do bodyweight exercises that stress different areas of my body. Good luck!

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