Sometimes all you need to tackle a good workout is the motivation of a friend or partner. Research shows that tackling sweaty challenge with a partner, especially in a team format, can make you workout for longer and even better overall performance. Something Spartan athletes Lindsay Webster, 30, and her husband Ryan Atkins, 32, can certainly attest to. Webster — three-time winner of the Spartan U.S. Championships and two-time winner of both the Spartan World and North American championships, and Atkins — a two-time winner of the Spartan North American Championships as well as two-time winner of the Spartan Ultra world Championships, love to train together. Out of the 12 to 14 training sessions they both do every week, roughly five of them happen together, says Atkins.
“If I have a tempo run planned, I can do it with Ryan while he runs easy,” she tells Spartan. “Or if we both have a recovery day planned, we’ll just go on a long slow adventure together.”
We recently caught up with the Quebec-based dynamic duo to hear about how they met, how they train, and how it all intertwines together.
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So proud of @ryanatkinsdiet for finishing the @spartan Ultra World Championships!... and for winning it!... and for running up more than Mount Everest in a day🤯 Can we reflect for a second on what this guy has accomplished this year in #ultrarunning? Setting the record on the #ADK46er (3 consecutive days of mountain running sans sleep), two weeks of racing Eco Challenge #AdventureRace, and now this. Incredible. Time for some well-deserved rest and cookies, I think 😋 I’ll be honest, crewing is hard and exhausting, and sometimes I whine about it a little 🤫😣 But after experience how hard NOT being there for his race was, I’ll never whine again! 😂 Flying to the North of Sweden is expensive and loooong, and since we had friends already overseas who offered to crew for Ryan, we decided I should stay home and prepare our house for our impending move to Quebec. Thanks for taking such good care of him @ispiremc, @rjwoodsy and Kadie! It helped knowing he was in such good hands. But next year I will not miss this! 📷 (the first one, the good one 😉) by @ericbatty #spartanultrawc2019 #SpartanPro @suunto #suuntosquad @humanpowerofn #TheInfinateCapabilitiesOfRyanAtkins
Ryan Atkins & Lindsay Webster Q&A on Love and Training
SPARTAN RACE: How did you two meet?
LINDSAY WEBSTER: We met at a mountain bike race! Ryan was living with one of my good friends from high school at the time. When I went to say hi to my friend, he introduced Ryan and me. Our friend ended up being best man at our wedding.
SR: Lindsay, what do you love about Ryan?
LW: So many things! His endless joy for life and excitement for each day rub off on me and remind me daily how we should live our lives. There is a lot of singing and dancing in our house because of him. When it comes to racing, I admire how Ryan always finds new sports to try and incorporate into his training to keep it fresh and exciting. He never gets caught up in being too strategic with his training regimen, or other things that make athletes burnt out. I’ve learned so much through his ability to analyze a race course and play to his strengths, which in turn has also made me a better racer.
SR: And Ryan? What’s it about Lindsay that you adore?
RYAN ATKINS: I love Lindsay’s ability to put up with me and my antics. I love her big heart and how she has so much love for her friends, family and fans. They’re truly the most important things in life to her. Experiences are awesome, but to Lindsay, they’re made that way because of the people you experience them with. I love that she opens my heart to more people, more experiences, and it makes me a better person every day.
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I’m extremely proud of @lindsaydawnwebster for the grit and determination she showed at #spartanwc2019 . Most people don’t know that she had a stress fracture in her foot for the 4 weeks leading up to the race. Her run volume was literally zero. Despite this, she did everything under her power to put together the best performance possible on race day. She didn’t complain about the cold, or the broken foot or when she sprained her other foot halfway through the race. For this, she has my vote for “best performance of the weekend”!!! What makes a true champion is how you deal with crappy situations. When everything seems to be going wrong, you find a new source of strength and resilience. Thanks to @spartan for creating a sport to that allows these moments to occur. Oh... and she still finished second! @beetelite @humanpowerofn @spartanrace #spartanrace #spartanpro @vjshoesusa
SR: What do you two like to do together, aside from activity?
RA: We love traveling together, experiencing new cultures and hunting down the best local coffee and craft beer. We really enjoy cooking meals together and trying new healthy recipes. We love our life together on our little “farm” at home, where lots of wood chopping happens, taking care of the chickens or tapping trees for maple syrup. We both love “creating,” whether that’s woodworking, sewing projects or making beeswax wraps to force our friends and family into minimizing plastic waste.
SR: Do you train together?
LW: Yes, but not every day. Out of 12-14 training sessions in a week, we maybe do 5 of them together. For example, if we’re doing hill intervals that day, we’ll be in the same spot but doing them at different speeds. If Lindsay has a tempo run planned, she can do it with Ryan while he runs easy. Or if we both have a recovery day planned, we’ll just go on a long slow adventure together.
SR: Are you competitive against each other?
LW: I think in some aspects of life we are, but not really in racing. I am probably a better skier than Ryan, but he’s on a mission to catch up to me, and teases me each time we ski that he thinks he’s eclipsed me now. However, when it comes to obstacle racing, we’re just a support system and sounding board for each other.
SR: What are you goals for the upcoming year?
RA: We’re always aiming (along with all our competitors) to win the U.S. Championship series, and the World Championships. This year, Spartan has added a Canadian Championship Series into the mix, which of course as Canadian’s we’d love to win as well. Since the race season is so long this year, I think a goal for both of us is to be smart with how we structure our season so we’re not burnt out for World Championships in December.
Related: Why Spartans Make Better Lovers
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2nd place, 60 burpees (spear and slippery, muddy “Beater” aka spinning money bars) and I think exactly where I want to be at this point in the race season 😊 Although I won’t lie, I’m a little worried about how far ahead @nickeldm was today with her 6.5min lead 😆😲 Very happy with how my legs felt and my overall performance! In other news, the secret is out! @ryanatkinsdiet and I have joined the @Spartanrace Pro Team 😎 I had basically decided not to sign with a pro team this year, but David Watson (the new pro team recruiter) does his job exceptionally well, and I’m finding myself pretty ecstatic to be officially part of the Spartan family. It’s been a long time coming! #MyBestDay #SpartanRace #ocr @beetelite @vjsportusa
The Ryan Atkins and Lindsay Webster Couples Workout
Want to train like this Spartan-favorite couple? Try an interval workout that they do on the regular. For the set-up, you’ll need something a little unconventional: A harness. “One person runs, one person is on the bike,” says Webster. “The person who’s running wears a harness, and is attached to the person on the bike with a bungee cord or rope. The runner pulls the person on the bike, while the person on the bike holds the brakes halfway to create resistance.”
- Run two minutes at max effort
- Rest one minute
- Repeat 8 to 10 times
“If you’re up for a real challenge, we’ve even done as much as five minutes at max effort at one time, with two minutes rest, for six sets,” says Webster. “You can structure the intervals however you want, but it’s always a great workout! Then we swap, and the biker then does the running intervals.”