Train Like Spartan Champ Rea Kolbl for a Week

Train Like Spartan Champ Rea Kolbl for a Week
Presented by Spartan Training®

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. 

The One-Week Train Like Rea Kolbl Plan

We tapped Kolbl for an inside look at what a week-long "Rea Kolbl training plan" looks like, so you can follow along and learn to train like a champ yourself. 


Related: Train Like a Champion: Q&A with Champ Rea Kolbl

While Kolbl works out hard, and works out a lot, she doesn’t consider her programming to be very structured. She makes sure to get a few “key workouts” in each week, but for the most part, it ebbs and flows based on her current racing schedule and how her body feels. 

Kolbl’s training mix is a combination of trail running, climbing, and strength work, and is conscious to incorporate varying levels of distances and intensities. She averages between 70-90 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing per week. 

Note: Begin all workouts with a warm-up—and end all with a cool-down.

Related: Dynamic Warmup to Start Every Workout

Everyday — Essential Exercises

After morning run:

10 pull ups 30 second hang in locked off position 10 knees to chest 10 minutes of core (routines vary)

After an afternoon workout:

20 minutes foam rolling and stretching 10 minutes feet stretching and strengthening exercises (eccentric calf raises, picking up a towel with my toes, toe stretches, etc.) 15 minutes sauna

Monday — Recovery

Typically a recovery day — either after a race weekend or a big weekend adventure

Morning: Run

1.5-2 hour trail run, easy pace. I usually still pick a fairly hilly route (1500’-2000’ of gain), but allow myself to stop to take pictures, chat with other trail users, and enjoy the morning.

Afternoon: Varies

Depending on how my body feels, I’d either do an easy bike ride, hike, or just do a longer foam rolling and stretching session in the gym with core exercises and strength bands. 



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I think it's pretty well known by now how much I run and work out. But at the end of the day, my body deals with my hyperactive brain only because I do also take time to take care of it. There's obvious things like sleeping enough and eating a lot of healthy food, along with daily recovery sessions of cryotheraphy and foam rolling. And while all of that helps my muscles recover, there's also the damage done to my body from continous running on uneven trails, hanging on one arm, and lifting heavy things with not always the perfect form. Every time I hit a rock, roll an ankle, or jump over a boulder, I knock my spine and hips out of alignment. It's only a little, but over time it compounds, and if not corrected for can lead to injury in places that are not obviously traced back to the spine. I learned over the last year just how important it is to correct for these small misalignments before it's too late, and have been going to Dr. Josh at Chiro Now in Boulder at least a couple of times a month. I'm grateful to have access to his services and looking forward to working together in the future. Last adjustments this week before heading over to Big Bear Lake for a weekend of fun ⛰️🏃‍♀️ #takecareofyourbody #trainhardrecoverharder #chiropracticadjustment #chironow #readytorace

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Tuesday — Hills

Morning: Hill repeats

I’d warm up for 30-40 minutes by running easy on the trails, then do intervals up a hill. The duration ranges from 30 seconds to 10 minutes with the rest coming down the hill. Cool down to get to 1:45-2:00 hours of running Example workout: 5x5 min hard uphill with a jog back down

Afternoon: Strength in the gym with weights Example workout:

Warm-up with a 2k row and strength band exercises

10 reps warm-up with just a bar/bodyweight, then sets of 5x5, adding weight each time: Squats, lunges, deadlifts, step-ups, pull-ups


Wednesday — Run & Bike

Morning: Run

1.5-2.5 hour easy trail run, similar to Monday 0.5 mile bucket carry right after the run

Afternoon: Bike

2-4 hour mountain bike ride



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The reason I run all of the uphills is because when I was first lacing up my shoes hitting the trails alone there was no one to tell me I could hike them instead. In a similar fashion, I asked for zero trail advice for my first ride roughly a month ago and somehow ended up on a super technical, rocky, definitely not beginner friendly trail. But I didn’t know that at the time - I chalked up dozens of falls, bruises, and scratches to simply being bad at it. That I knew how to fix; I worked on my skills, asked for riding advice, and kept coming back to ride the same trail again, just a little faster and crashed just a little less. ⁣ ⁣ When @tttrever joined me on the trail today, he pointed out that the ride is definitely not where I should’ve started to learn. But by now I already knew how to ride it at a passable speed with only a few ground-meets-Rea encounters. I learned so much more this past month than if I had known rocky, steep, and narrow trails aren’t the best places to learn.⁣ ⁣ Ignorance is bliss and stubbornly falling over and getting up is a good way to learn to stay upright. Just make sure to wear your crash pads a good helmet 🚵‍♀️⁣ ⁣ #heilvalleyranch #ignoranceisbliss #mountainbiking #trailriding #learningnewskills #outdooradventure #domorethansimplylive #crosstraining #athletelife #spartanpro #teamnevertaper

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Thursday — Intervals & Upper Body/Grip Strength

Morning:  BRICK

1 hour of intervals on the stationary bike. 20 minute warm up followed by approximately 30 minutes of intervals, with work/rest varying similar to hill repeats I do on Tuesday. Cool down to get to an hour of riding.

Without much break, easy 1:30-2:00h run. If my legs feel tired, this would be my flat run for the week.

Afternoon: Upper body/grip strength in the gym

I do Yancy Camp-inspired workouts, but without the cardio portions to work on upper body strength exclusively. I’d warm up with core and plank exercises, strength bands, shoulder and leg mobility, and anything else that doesn’t get my heart rate up. My favorite workout is a circuit with descending reps on each repetition:

Wall balls, starting at 20 and ending at 10 reps Pull-ups, starting at 10 down to 5 Dead hang, starting at 100s down to 50s TRX push ups, starting at 10 down to 5 TRX pike pops, starting at 10 down to 5 Knee to elbow in a plank, starting at 10 down 5 TRX inverted rows, starting at 10 down to 5



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It’s time to go UP!!! Although let’s be honest, it’s what I’ve been doing all year long, so I’m pretty excited it’s finally time for races that reflect that 😊 Given how much I love running long distance I can’t believe it took me 3 years to finally try a @spartan Ultra event, but after seeing the New Jersey course elevation profile I think I chose the right race to start ⛰ It almost feels like the first race of the season all over again, as I’m both excited and slightly intimated by the unknown. Can’t wait to see everyone in New Jersey as we climb 10,000+ feet and cover 30 miles of ski slope terrain!!! 💪⛰🏃‍♀️⁣ ⁣ #spartanrace #spartanpro #spartanultra #newjerseyultra #runsteepgethigh #enduranceathlete @spartanrace @ascent_protein @dryrobe @spring_energy @ultimatedirectionusa @mudgear

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Related: What a Week of Spartan Pro Nicole Mericle's Workouts Looks Like

Friday — Tempo Run

Morning: Tempo run

20-30 minute warm up, then 30min to 1 hour hard effort up a continuous hill. Easy back down and recovery pace until about 2 hours.

Afternoon: Varies; flexible 

This day is typically filling in whatever I didn’t get to do in the week. If I feel good I would do another Yancy Camp upper body and grip strength workout, do a hike, or spend extra time working on recovery in the gym. Sometimes Friday afternoons are also travel days to weekend training adventures.



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“I like to say that the only people who are not enthusiastic about training are those who haven’t trained correctly. The only people who hate lunges are those who’ve never done enough of them to experience what strong legs feel like on the trail. The only ones who hate long, slow aerobic capacity-building runs and skis are those who have never known what it feels like to sail up the mountain, nose to the wind, with ease. Relaxed, moving fast and flying.”⁣⁣ — Steve House, Training for the Uphill Ahlete ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣📸:@tttrever⁣ #trailtuesday #trailrunning #uphillathlete #adirondacks #ampersandmountain #spartanpro #enduranceathlete #trainhappy #trailrunner #lovetheprocess #summitviews

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Saturday — Distance Run

Long run

Anywhere between 3-8 hours, preferably in the mountains with as much elevation gain as I can get. In the summer, these would be in the high country at altitudes above 12,000’. Slow pace, lots of stops for pictures, and enjoying adventures outdoors.



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Not all of my runs are flying high, invincible kind of runs. There are days like today when despite all of the beauty around me my legs refuse to cooperate and entertain my adventure seeking brain. On those days I stop a million times... to check the map to see if I’m any closer to the car than what I was a minute ago (shockingly, I’ve traveled 0.1 miles). To take pictures (of trees). To remove that imaginary rock from my shoe (I swear there was something there). To sit down and try to win the staring contest with the trail (I never win). ⁣ ⁣ It’s okay to have those days, because they make me pause and reassess my training, determine if I’m pushing myself too hard, not sleeping enough, not eating enough. I can usually pinpoint the cause pretty easily; maybe running up 8 fourteeners in just over a week was a bit much. Listening to my body is still one of my weaknesses, but I do try to learn from past mistakes and take it easy after struggle days, rest more, sleep more, and move through my life more like a sloth. ⁣ ⁣ But I also appreciate these days because they help me train the mental side of running long distance. There’s probably going to come a time in an ultra when my legs lose the stoke; days like these teach my brain how to ignore them until we reach the finish line (or my adventure mobile stocked with snacks, those really unhealthy sugar free sodas, and recovery flip flops).⁣ ⁣ #brainardlake #stugglefest #enduranceathlete #trailrunning #endurancetraining #uphillathlete #stopamilliontimes #onefootinfrontoftheother #struggleruns

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Sunday — Cross Training

Morning: Long day cross-training adventure

In the summer, Sunday is for long mountain bike rides (4-6 hours). In the winter, I’d do skimo (uphill skiing,  4-8 hours)

Afternoon: If I feel good, I’d do an easy run to shake off Saturday legs. Flat dirt or trails, 1-2 hours.