Crucial Steps for Achieving Your Fitness Goals for Spartan Racing

Here we are at the end of February.  How have your New Year’s Resolutions panned out?  Have you been able to keep your fitness goals or have they fallen by the wayside? Only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions which means 92% fail.  If you are made a resolution to yourself that 2018 will be the year for you, then let’s set see what we can do to set you up for success.  Often times we set some pretty lofty goals with little idea how we are actually going to achieve them.  According to Tyrone Holmes in his article ‘How to set S.M.A.R.T. Goals’, “If you want long-term success, be clear about what you want to accomplish.”   It may be an intimidating idea of losing weight, running a marathon, or participating in your first Spartan Race.  You want to because it is an amazing accomplishment and you would be so proud of yourself yet you’re nervous at the challenge, and are afraid to fail.  We have to set realistic, achievable goals and we need to think through what is involved.

Do you have a plan for achieving your fitness goals?  Only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions which means 92% fail.  If you are made a resolution to yourself that 2018 will be the year for you, then let’s set see what we can do to set you up for success.  Often times we set some pretty lofty goals with little idea how we are actually going to achieve them.  We have to set realistic, achievable goals and we need to think through what is involved.

For me, I want to build upper body strength so I can perform better on my rope climbs, make it across those monkey bars, and just perform better overall on those obstacles which require more upper body strength.  I really want to cut down on those burpees.  What are your fitness goals for Spartan Racing?  For some it will be to run your very first Spartan Race. For others it will be to be able to do the rope climb  or be able to hoist yourself over one of the walls.  There is no magic pill or potion. Every goal takes effort, time and patience.  The power to achieve those goals is within you and you alone.

One of the most important steps to help ensure you keep this promise to yourself is to develop a plan with set goals. Without this plan and a set of goals it’s like jumping into your car going on a cross-country road trip without a map or GPS. If you do not know how to get where you are going, you will likely never get there. You did not want to be looking back and saying ‘What happened?’ Leaving it to chance is not a recipe for success.

Goal setting is the process of identifying something you want to achieve and establishing measurable actions with timeframes to help you achieve them. A big goal may seem out of reach.  Yet by creating your plan, you break it down into tasks; you outline a process and series of steps to follow. Having this plan and knowing your tasks, describes the path to success. It becomes the roadmap you will follow.

This process is useful for any goal you wish to achieve such as buying a house or planning a vacation.  Here are some key steps to ensure you find the set of objectives that will increase your odds of reaching your fitness goals.

Summarize Your Main Fitness Goal

Summarize your main long-term goal in a few words.  You want to run a Spartan Race whether its in your backyard nearby, across country or in another country. Write it down on several pieces of paper or sticky notes. Place these notes in areas you frequent such as your bathroom, your car, on the refrigerator, and your computer monitor. These notes will be a constant reminder of your goal. Also, tell your friends and family your goal.

Define SMART Fitness Goals

While your main goal is on sticky notes or pieces of paper, it needs to be SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. All these components are necessary to keep you on a path to success.

Specific – Goals need to detail the 5-Ws – Who, What, Where, When, Why

Measurable – Ask yourself how you will know you have achieved your goal?

Attainable – Your goals should be attainable. Do not be afraid to ‘shoot for the stars’ yet do not get too extreme. They should push you out of your comfort zone but it they are too easy, they are not very motivating. You want to feel like you have accomplished something.

Relevant – Goals should be where you are at in your life at this moment. They need to be your goals, not someone else’s and you should care about them. If not, this is another way motivation wanes and you lose interest.

Time-bound – The goal needs a target date so you have a deadline. This allows you to set markers and check your progress throughout.

Follow a Detailed Plan to achieve your Fitness Goals

Let’s use running your first Spartan Race. Start by listing all the required skills for the race and what it will take to get there. Be specific with what you have or can do today. The things you need or cannot do today will become your goals to work toward. Each one of these may stand alone or have a series of steps to do in order to achieve them. Remember, we said the larger goal may need down into smaller goals.

  1. Signup for your race. Do this and you are now committed. Let’s say you want to run a June 2018 Super which is between 8 – 10-miles. You will need to increase running distance from 3-miles to 10-miles.  Here are a few questions to identify areas to improve your run.
    • What kind if running do you need to incorporate?
    • Do you already run trails or do you need to find your local mountain bike trails to add in some decent trail runs? Specific on terrain and location.
    • How many days of the week you can incorporate extra runs?
    • What days can you increase your distance? For me weekends are best as I can plan more time and distance.
  1. Increase upper body strength if this is your first obstacle course race. Bucket carries, wall climbs, monkey bars, sled drags are all a part of a Spartan Race.  These obstacles require core, back and grip strength.
    • Hire a trainer or find at home workouts?
    • Do you have the personal motivation to push yourself or need guidance on proper form and technique?
    • Is your home gym equipped sufficiently or would it require a bit of investment? Spartan WODs (Workout of the Day) are a very useful source you can get to your inbox for free. In addition, they tend to focus on body weight exercises so a heaving investment in equipment is not necessary.
  2. Expect to travel to your race destination. The Midwest is limited in the race options available so typically it is necessary to travel at between 5-6 hours for a race.  If you are on the East or West Coast there are many options available within a few hours’ drive.  This will likely mean 1-2 night’s hotel and all that goes with it.  We like to get to our destination the night before and depending on where we are headed and the races, we may even stay a second night to let our muscles recover before hopping in the car for 5-6 hours home.
    • Do start saving for your travel expenses? Hotel, flight or fuel, food?
    • Some websites, like Expedia or Trip Advisor, allow reservations without paying in advance.
    • My advice here is book a hotel as soon as you know where your race will be to ensure you have a room.
  3. Gear up for race day. The gear you will need depends on fuel needs, weather and how you plan to dress to protect yourself.
    • Do you have what think you will need for race day? This may take research.  Talk to other racers about what they recommend and read articles, to identify the gear you will need.
    • Example:
      • Do you need a good pair of trail shoes with water drains and good spacing in the lugs to release the mud?
      • Do you need some sort of pack to carry fuel and other essentials you will need during the race?

By no means is this a complete list of areas you will need to work on to achieve your goal of a Spartan Super Race. You may easily be able to run 8 – 10 miles but need to build your upper body strength.  Each person is different.  This list is to give you starter ideas things to think about to get that Spartan Race under your belt.

Now you have a list of the gaps, or things to prepare you for your race, it is time to develop your SMART goals for each. Use a template like this one from ACE Fitness or one I have used for my own goals here.

Let’s walk thru an example using the SMART Goals Worksheet

At the top of your worksheet, start by defining your date for achieving your goal. You want to ensure you have enough time to get into shape so be honest with yourself. Make is realistic and achievable.   Next complete a small summary of your overall goal.

High-level Fitness Goal





Fitness Goal Benefits

Really think about what it will mean if you do achieve your goal? Below is an example what I wrote for achieving my overall goal.




Fitness Goals that are Specific

Now start defining the each area of your larger SMART goal. Focus on one area at a time and truly think about what it will take for you to achieve it. You may have a series of worksheets that will help you achieve your larger goal.   Running, for example, is not something you are going to jump off the couch and just start running 8-10 miles.  Devise a plan how you will get to 8-10 miles.   Specifically what will it take?




Fitness Goals that are Measurable

Next think about how you will see yourself making progress. What will others notice about you, in you?  What will you notice in yourself? You may notice you are able to keep up with others where you struggled before. Your muscles are less sore. You feel like you still have energy after a long run where before you felt totally wiped out. All signs you are making progress.  Good signs of progress.




Fitness Goals that are Attainable

Now think about whether or not you will be able to increase the distance of your runs to 8-10 miles during the time you have set for yourself. Do you have too many other priorities pulling at you or will the changes you need to make fit into your schedule?  What challenges will you encounter?  The more you think thru the barriers and think of a plan to handle them, the less likely you are to stop, give up and miss your goal.  Its like practicing lines of a play or a speech. The more prepared you are for these possible barriers, the more successful you will be.






Fitness Goals that are Realistic

Now that you have thought about all the above, is your goal realistic? Life has a way of throwing curve balls.  Remember, all the above considered the barriers, the schedule, the planning, this goal is pretty realistic. Think through all possible barriers you may encounter and how you will counter them so they are no longer a barrier.



A very important step is to ensure there is a deadline in which you need to complete the goal.  Based on my plan, it seems pretty easy since you know your race date.  Adding increments over time, your body can adjust slowly and with little injury.  I try to plan to achieve my distance a month to a few weeks ahead of my race so I can have a few good runs at that distance and my body and mind are used to it.  I do not always run that distance which is why I need to prepare.

Fitness Goals need to be Time-Bound




Fitness Goals – Support and Celebration

Finally, how will you celebrate and who will you enlist to support you during the major goal you are about to work toward. I tell everyone about my races.  I tell family, co-workers, neighbors, even people I am only acquainted with, I talk about my races and training.

As for celebrating, I have done all the below after one race or another.  This is a huge accomplishment. Think of reasonable rewards that will demonstrate to all you have told you succeed. Buying an entire new wardrobe may not be reasonable, at least not in one shopping spree.  So have fun and celebrate!





So now, are you ready to begin?

When you have a plan thought out how you will reach your goal, it’s very exciting!  It’s motivating! It’s fun! You can see it is achievable.  When you start seeing small improvements, it’s hard not to keep going.  Keep this plan with you. Copy it and keep several copies handy.  Refer to it often especially when life does throw you a curve ball. You pick up your plan, reabsorb why this is so important and get back at it.

Remember, You Can Do More Than You Think!

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