Ever wondered how the top Spartan athletes apply their training secrets to get ready for a big race? This season, there’s been one stand-out champion crushing courses and bagging big titles. Lindsay Webster not only raced in at 1st place at the Reebok Spartan World Championship at the end of September, but two weeks later she found herself atop the podium again as the winner of the OCR World Championship.
Catching up with her as she prepared for the last few competitive events of the year, this Canadian super athlete was generous enough to offer some inside intel on what it takes to be the best.
1. Race your own race
Some of the best advice Webster ever received, she says, was from her sister, two-time Olympian cross-country skier, Brittany Webster. “She told me ‘to race my own race.’ And that’s been so valuable to me. It’s easy to start looking at your competitors and getting caught up in what they can do instead of what you can do.”
Now, she says, when she gets out on a course her main aim is to focus on the race that she’s running, not anyone else’s.
2. Work your strengths
“I’m a good technical runner,” says Webster. “I know that. For example, if there’s a lot of technical downhill running, with lots of rocks and roots, I know I can do it really well.
“You can’t be great at everything in a race. But knowing what your strengths are and building on them in training can give you confidence once you’re out there in a race.”
3. Train regularly
That said, because OCR challenges your whole body, you have to train your whole body. For Webster that means a balance between speed work and strength training every week.
“I’ll do four days a week speed training, working on tempo runs (faster-paced runs) in the morning with maybe an easy run or cycle at night, just to flush my legs.”
Four days a week the Spartan champion also does strength training. This involves a full-body work out including four sets each of the below:
3 core exercises (including planks)
3 leg exercises (including squats)
3 arm and back exercises (including push-ups and weight curls).
“And I always have one rest day per week,” she adds.
4. Get OCR-specific in your exercises
“Chin-ups and dead hangs are very important in maintaining grip strength,” Webster says, “so I do a lot of those, along with the monkey bars and carries like the farmer’s carry.
“I don’t really like training in a gym, though, so I also do a lot of bouldering and rock climbing. Rocking climbing really helps in pushing past your threshold, because you are so tired when you finally get to see the top of the mountain, and yet you have to find that extra something to push on to the end. You need a similar push in a race like the Spartan World Championship!”
5. Race the races that excite you
Without a doubt, racing – and the travelling that accompanies it – can be exhausting. Add that to a grueling training session and it’s easy to find yourself flagging mid-season. That’s why, according to Webster, it’s best to choose the races you love to run and only race them.
“I usually only sign up for races that I can look forward to, the ones that excite me; that keeps me going. There are so many OCR races available now that you can end up doing too much and really not enjoying them.
“The Spartan World Championship and the OCR Worlds are the two events that most of the racers spend all year working towards,” so it’s important, she adds, to use the other races as a build-up towards them.
6. Find the balance
Finding the right balance between a busy racing season and a time for rest and recharging is important for all professional athletes. For Webster that generally means taking a full month’s break once medals have been won and titles attained.
“I rest up, and then when I’m ready, I start training again but lightly,” she says. “For example, I won’t add in speed training until a month or so after I begin training again.
“I also try and take care of myself during the season so that I’m not completely exhausted by the finish. Ensuring I’ve got enough vitamins and minerals is important. Vitamin B12, for instance, is great as it helps with mental exhaustion, so I take that if I feel myself getting really tired.”
7. Enjoy it
Finally, there are few top Spartan racers out there that don’t feel passionate about what they’re doing and Webster is no different. Loving what you do and having fun are her top priorities. “For the Spartan Worlds I just came in so excited to be there and to run that course.”
“In fact,” she laughs, “On the first descent I was having a lot of fun and I actually thought, ‘maybe I’m not racing hard enough!’ I was really enjoying myself!”
“I love the course, I love the challenge, and the girls I compete against are great. In the end, it’s what it’s all about.”
Getting ready to tackle a Spartan race? Download The Spartan 2018 Training Plan as your blueprint.