As a Spartan, you want to race. All of the time. And when you’re not racing, you're training. Right? But each of us has tasks and responsibilities that take time and energy. So, how do you go all in on obstacle course racing and still manage to have a life?
There are no easy solutions, but there are some simple guidelines that Spartan Pros and regular racers swear by. Here’s how some of the most consistent competitors suggest balancing life with a commitment to racing.
How to Race and Train While Still Having a Life
1. Get Your Priorities Right
According to Spartan Pro Miranda Kielpinski, prioritizing your training is key, but don’t schedule workouts at unsuitable times that clash with other chores and responsibilities. To Kielpinksi, prioritizing in this sense means making your training as important — not necessarily more important — than other routine activities.
“For me, I feel like life itself is quite a balancing act, to begin with, balancing family, relationships, work, and responsibilities at home,” she says. “But I was raised to prioritize hobbies just as much as all of these categories, and racing is a big hobby of mine.”
2. Remember That You’re in Charge
Another factor in putting your workouts front and center is remembering that you’re in charge of how you schedule your life.
“You just have to find the time,” Kielpinski says, “Whether it be at sunrise or at sunset — whatever time suits you best — just make sure to give yourself that hour a day to train and do what you love.”
And even if life throws a curveball and you feel like you really want to skip your training session, don’t (unless you're injured or feel like you're overtrained). Keep it as part of your regular routine.
“You never come out of a training session feeling worse," she says. "In that sense, it will make your life more whole!”
3. Keep It in the Family
“It can certainly be very tricky juggling the competing demands of racing and other life responsibilities,” Spartan SGX Coach Justin Jones says.
Jones, who has his own PT business, Active Choice UK, admits that he himself has decided to reorganize his racing goals this year. After completing a triple Trifecta and an Ultra — among many other races — his aim in 2022 is to do more single races and local events, “to avoid staying away for whole weekends.”
For coupled-up people who are already penciling in foreign dates and weekends away, Jones has one critical piece of advice.
“Talk with your partner and kids to ensure that you have their support and don’t just assume that they’re fine with it,” he says. “Be prepared to give support and time in return and acknowledge the sacrifices they’ve made for you to pursue your dream and goals.”
4. Accept the Sacrifice
Making sacrifices for your racing is something that you might just have to make peace with, too, Dulce Riquelme Valdes, a Spartan Ambassador from Santiago, Chile, says. Riquelme Valdes works during the day and studies at night.
“That’s why my time to train has to be early in the morning before I go to work,” she says.
While this curbs her chance to do other activities, Riquelme Valdes is okay with that.
“If you really want something, you will find the time," she says. "But accept that that nearly always means sacrificing one thing for another.”
5. Find the Training That Works for YOU
Rhode Island-based Ron Schmitz, an active member of the Northeast Spartans group, claims that “the biggest trick is finding the kind of training and exercise that works specifically for you as an individual."
Schmitz, who ran his first Spartan race in 2014, trains six days a week but tries to mix up his workouts by including daily bodyweight sessions, training on his own home OCR course, and getting in 38 miles of running per week by running to and from work.
“This is not only an effective way to train, but it fits my lifestyle,” he says. “What works for one person may not work for the next, so whatever method of training you use, most importantly, you need to enjoy it.”
If you don’t LIKE your actual training — especially when it’s tough as shit — chances are you’ll quit at the first chance you get.
“There have been plenty of points in my life where I dreaded needing to exercise, and then out came the ‘I’m tired, not today, I worked out yesterday’ excuses that eventually stopped me from exercising altogether,” Schmitz admits.
Finding that training sweet spot changed all of that, however, and he’s hoping to pass that lesson on to his 16-year-old son, who is gearing up for his first Trifecta this year.
“My goal is to teach him how to incorporate training and racing into his daily schedule and whole life so that it becomes more than just a thing he needs to do, but something he does because it’s part of his life," Schmitz says. "If a person can accept that, it all becomes much easier, and frankly, a whole lot of fun.”