We all want to know: What makes the best-of-the-best Spartan athletes out there tick? How do they keep their edge? In our Train Like A Champ series, we dig into the details of the training, nutrition, mindset, and more that keeps our most epic athletes on top.
Spartan champion Lindsay Webster (@lindsaydawnwebster) recently took off for some R&R with a trip to Italy, but she’s back at it and most likely putting in the work at her training spot in the Adirondacks.
Her race in Utah this July is top of mind, but the World Championships on September 28th and 29th will be here in no time.
Webster recently sat down with Spartan.com to share some of the staples of her training, how she stays injury-free, and ahead of the competition.
Check out what a FULL week of Spartan Lindsay Webster's Workouts Looks Like
A Q&A With Spartan Lindsay Webster
SPARTAN RACE: When did you get hooked on racing?
SPARTAN LINDSAY WEBSTER: I think it was 2013 or 2014 in Killington, Vermont. My husband Ryan talked me into signing up, and I had done Spartan races with my work crew but thought it was just fun weekend warrior stuff. So, I went into the race with pretty low expectations of how hard it was going to be. But the girls were flying, I mean, all the champs.
I was out there for like five hours or something. I was cramping and so trashed. I remember thinking to myself while I was racing: "I'm never going to do one of these again." For a week, I could barely move because I was so stiff and sore. But then, I don't know, time passed and I kept thinking about how I've never pushed myself that hard in a race before. From there it escalated.
SR: How would you say you’re different than other athletes?
LW: I grew up doing competitive sports, like a lot of us, but I was lucky to have really amazing coaches along the way. My sister was an Olympic athlete in the sport of cross country skiing, so I had her growing up to show me how hard you have to work as a full-time athlete to do what it takes. And then, I had Ryan, my husband, who grew up doing the same thing in the world of cycling so I’ve got this great combined knowledge base.
SR: What do you consider when you're designing your programming?
LW: Oh gosh, so much. There needs to be intensity throughout the week. It’s mostly running, but if I'm feeling an injury coming on or something, then maybe I'll do it on the bike. Within those intensity sessions, I'll try and vary it up. I have some longer threshold components and then some really short VO2 Max-based intervals. And, depending on what race is coming up, I'll either be either working on hill repeats or flat stuff. For example, Utah's first half of the course is really hilly and steep and then the second half of the course is quite flat. So I'll be trying to incorporate in like both types of into this training.
SR: Any specific priorities?
LW: I wouldn't be able to put one thing over another. I think I have more of a runner’s build, so if I don't do the strength portions, then I literally can't do the obstacles. I like to spend a lot of time doing the stuff that I hate the most. I really hate doing strength workouts and hate doing sandbag carries, but I practice all that stuff because I know that's where my weaknesses are.
SR: How do you know when it’s time to pull back instead of push harder?
LW: I've gotten pretty good at listening to my body. A lot of other athletes will push through tiredness and end up getting injured or over-trained, but I’m really adamant about working on physiotherapy things that will keep me from getting injured. I build out my training plan two weeks at a time and will know how my body will react so I can move things around if I need to.
SR: What does your recovery protocol look like?
LW: I try and sleep at least eight hours every night. If I have a really hard day with a lot of intensity, then I’ll try and take a nap. I'm a really bad napper, but I know a lot of athletes do it. I also foam roll three nights a week while watching Netflix. After each round, I’ll do a little stretching. Some days it’s as short as five minutes and other it’s much longer. On Wednesday’s, I go to a local yoga meet. Every time I go I learn something new.
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Did anyone else find this the hardest obstacle of Saturday’s race?! It’s not regularly I talk to my obstacles, but there were some words of rough encouragement for my sled drag while trying to pull back uphill and not to cramp 😂🤷♀️ Despite basically wobbling the final mile to the finish line, managed to grab 🥇 place. Everything after mile 9 was a real battle to keep moving fast! I won’t say this was an easy win - maybe harder than Tahoe, what do you guys think? One of my goals was to still admire the views even while my legs and lungs were screaming at me. I fought for this every step of the way, but had some really happy moments along the top part of that course! Thanks @trailmasterhammond and @spartanrace for the beautiful and memorable race! 📷 by @shotsbyyep @spartan #SpartanPro Extra oxygen at altitude provided by @beetelite Nitric Oxide 👌😊
On Diet & Nutrition
SR: How would you describe your approach to nutrition?
LW: We home cook most of our meals and I'm always making sure I’m getting in enough calories to train hard. The right calories, too: sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables. I think everything in moderation, even dessert. We work pretty hard, so if I want to eat a cookie at night before bed, that's fine, but I'm not gonna eat the whole package of cookies.
SR: In all of your years as an athlete, what is the biggest thing that you've learned about your body?
LW: I was lazy teenager, but now that I'm older I've learned that I actually really like to work hard. I love the feeling when you finished a training session and your legs are totally smashed. You get your food and coffee and then you literally can't move off the couch for two hours. To me, that's my favorite day.
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I came up with the recipe for these recovery treats a few weeks ago! They’re my favourite at the end of a hard training day. I used @humanpowerofn’s Collagen + Whey protein power, plus they’re packed with healthy fats from cashews and coconut oil, with a little sea salt in there to replenish my sodium stores. I’ve tried making these both with HumanN’s vanilla Collagen + Whey protein flavour, as well as the salted caramel. Normally I’m on team vanilla, but for this recipe I actually prefer the salted caramel! You can try adding the protein last, and making half a batch of each flavour to see which you like better. I also find these treats great on especially long training days, like when I’m out backcountry skiing. They keep me full, and if I drink some electrolyte mix that has some carbs, that’s all I need. Yield: Makes 30 balls 1.5 cups Whole Cashews 1 ½ cup Protein, flavour your choice. My favourite for this recipe is the Salted Caramel. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract ¼ cup Coconut oil 1 tsp finely ground Sea salt 3 tbsp Maple Syrup 1/3 cup Cashew butter Optional - 1tsp Espresso powder, if you’re a coffee fan! If not, omit. Optional - ~1 cup Coconut flakes, for rolling 1. Roast cashews in oven at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring every ~3 minutes. You can skip this step, but roasting the nuts brings out the oils in them and makes this recipe taste extra good! 2. Grind cashews in a food processer until basically a granular flour, with some small chunky bits. If you don’t have a food processor, a magic bullet works! 3. Add all other ingredients, except coconut flakes, to food processor and blend until combined. It should either clump together in one big lump, or when you squeeze some it will hold its shape. 4. Measure out 1 tbsp of mixture, and roll in to balls using your hands. 5. Roll in toasted coconut flakes if desired. 6. Freeze in an airtight container! 92 Calories per ball. Macros: 17% carbs, 62% fat (healthy fats only!), 21% protein @spartan #spartanpro
On the Mental Game
SR: What do you do to mentally prepare for a race or intense training session?
LW: I use that Headspace app, but that’s more for daily stuff. During a race, I always try and keep a positive mindset. I think I've learned that if you let negative thoughts creep in about how hard something is or how tired you are or how you know your competitor is ahead of you, then you end up in a negative mindset and it can be hard to pull yourself out and it can be miserable. I always try and stay present and positive.
SR: Do you have a mantra?
LW: My sister taught me: “Race your own race”. A lot of racers will let their competitors dictate the pace they're running at but I try not to let anybody else dictate my pace or get to me. I think as long as you race your own race and just to the best that you can do then, no matter what, you'll always be happy with your outcome. Even if you don't win but you've pushed your hardest, then you'll be happy.
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Happy National Smile Day! Okay, so I missed it by a day... and it’s true that some days are easier to smile than other days, but maybe we should try to treat every day like it’s a special day for smiling 🤗🥳😌😁🙃🥰😃 #NationalSmileDay #BestDay #StartLineStoke @spartan #SpartanPro @humanpowerofn @goattough #NoDayWasted @vjshoesusa
On Being a Spartan Woman
SR: What inspires you?
LW: If I could pick any job in the whole world, I would pick the one that I have now, which very few people in the world can say. Even on the days that I don't want to go run out in the snowstorm, I'm like, "Oh well, if this work is going to benefit me so that I can continue doing well in races, and live this lifestyle then, yeah. I'll do whatever I have to."
And, I just want to be healthy. My ultimate goal is to still be running when I'm 80 years old. So I’ll do whatever I have to do to do that.
SR: What has Spartan racing done for you in other areas of life?
LW: I feel like it's just made me a more resilient person. I don't think that any athlete in the world could be a Spartan racer. There’s always some point during every single race where you're like, "This is really hard," and I think that just makes you a tougher. There will be so many adventures where it’s less than ideal conditions, your feet are cold and soaking wet, but you start to realize that it's temporary and once it's all over you're going to have had this amazing experience and amazing memory.