30 Days to Spartan Beast: The First-Timer’s Training Plan to Survive

30 Days to Spartan Beast: The First-Timer’s Training Plan to Survive
Presented by Spartan Training®

Most first-time obstacle course racers start with a 5K Spartan Sprint, and then work their way up past the 10K Super before even considering a half-marathon Beast. But a select few brave racers make the jump straight to a Beast for their first obstacle course race. If you think you have what it takes, here's how to do it.

There’s something special about the 21K, 30-obstacle Spartan Beast for a first-timer with a little bit more grit and fitness than a true first-timer. It’s long, but not too long. If you can run a 5K or 10K fairly efficiently, sure, you could do a Sprint or a Super like most would. But why not take the plunge into Spartan World by trying the Beast first? I tried it myself and survived, so here’s how you can, too. 

The last time I did any sort of obstacle course was around 2013. I ran a short sample course at Reebok Headquarters in Canton, Mass. with Joe De Sena himself as a part of a campaign for the magazines that I was working for at the time. I followed Joe and carried logs, climbed walls, and failed the rings. He watched me do 30 burpees. Every single one of them. (Seriously, he counted.)

But in 2022, I took a leap and signed up for the Vernon, NJ Beast — the fifth-most difficult Spartan course in the country — ran in an Open heat with the goal of having fun on the obstacles (which I’m obsessed with) and just getting through. I finished in 4 hours and 21 minutes, but — in hindsight — I honestly think I could have broken 4 hours. It was tough, but it was fun as hell.

So here’s the deal: If you’re pretty fit (both physically and mentally), go ahead and skip the Sprint and Super and take on the Beast! 

Related: My First Spartan Race Was a Beast. Here Are 5 Things I Wish I'd Known.

How 30 Days to Beast Works

First, I needed to strengthen my weaknesses, which were primarily running endurance and adaptability to rough terrain and elevation. 

I wouldn’t consider myself an endurance athlete — never was one. I would consider myself a hybrid athlete, but with more of a background in traditional strength training and cross training. Regardless, I'm definitely not a runner, so I needed to build up to longer distances. Every Sunday was a long and slow run that progressed week over week, peaking at 14 miles. Every Wednesday was a shorter distance run that I did at a significantly faster pace. This provided a nice balance. 

Spartan Race Beast Training

I live at sea level, and while I have experience running on sand (which was helpful), my technical trail running is mediocre at best. Anywhere I run is typically dead flat, so going uphill is always hell. I knew that I needed to get at least one day in per week on a trail. In addition to my Wednesday shorter-distance runs, I threw in some hill sprints or short runs on the beach with a weight vest. On both running days, I would also perform burpees, muscle-ups, and/or toes to bar to simulate racing.

Related: How First-Time Spartan Racers Can Out-Train the 6 Hardest Obstacles

The other days of the week were either lower-body strength in the gym to keep my legs strong, or upper-body pulling to keep my back, shoulders, and forearms primed for obstacles. A day of complete rest was baked in for recovery. Fortunately for me, I’ve got a good upper-body strength and some general athleticism, so carrying heavy things, playing on monkey bars, and swinging on rings sounds like a party to me.

Is this program for highly-competitive Age Groupers? Probably not, but will it help a first-timer get through feeling healthy and strong? Absolutely.

The 30 Days to Beast Program for First-Time Spartan Racers

Sunday: Long and Slow Run + Burpees

Week 1: 8 miles + 120 burpees

Week 2: 10 miles + 90 burpees

Week 3: 12 miles + 90 burpees

Week 4: 14 miles + 60 burpees

Monday: Upper-Body Strength and Obstacle Prep

  • Bird dog (5 sets x 10 reps)
  • Pull-ups (5 sets to failure)
  • Rows superset with floor presses (5 sets x 10 reps)
  • Farmer carries (5 sets with 50 pounds for max distance)
  • Crawling (5 sets x 2 minutes each)

Tuesday: Easy Uphill Walking Slog with Weight Vest

30-60 minutes at 2.8 mph with a 15% grade

Wednesday: Shorter, Quicker Run + Sand

3-5 miles + ½ mile beach run with weight vest (or simply add the vest and run on whatever terrain you have available)

Thursday: Lower Body Strength + Additional Dead Hangs

  • Traveling lunge (2 sets x 10 reps each direction — forward and reverse)
  • Single-leg deadlift (3 sets x 10 reps)
  • Front squat (5 sets x 10 reps)
  • Split squat (3 sets x 10 reps)
  • Chops (3 sets x 10 reps each side)
  • Dead hangs (5 sets x as long as possible)

Friday: HIIT Session

4 rounds for time: 500-meter row, 800-meter run

Saturday: OFF

Rest and recovery

Commit to Your First Race

If you can easily run a 5K, commit to a Sprint.
If a 10K is a breeze, commit to a Super.
If a half-marathon is no problem, commit to a Beast.
If you can run a marathon (and/or are downright crazy), commit to an Ultra.

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