It takes a lot to become an athlete, let alone a triathlete, an Ironman and a Spartan racer all at once. But Andrea Cloarec makes it seem effortless on his part.

The Spartan Race, in particular, is the world’s premier obstacle course (OCR) and is a subject of much intrigue — for both athletes and normal folk. It was founded in 2007 by Joe  De Sena, who wanted to cater to people looking to test their physical and mental limits and endurance. 

If that sounds like a lot of work, it certainly is, because OCRs typically require athletes to have complete cardiovascular fitness, mobility and strength levels. And if it’s Spartan Race obstacles you’re dealing with, let’s just say it’s no child’s play.

Even seasoned athletes will say that a Spartan Race is difficult. And to mere mortals, the idea of participating in one is enough to make their knees tremble. 

After all, a Spartan Race doesn’t only involve running as you’ll also need to overcome some pretty tough obstacles, designed to push you out of your comfort zone. But as most Spartan athletes say, the race is only easier if you’re comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Cloarec breaks the obstacle course down for us and tells us what his personal Spartan training is like in this article.

 

Andrea Cloarec holding a Spartan gold medal.

Photo by Andrea Cloarec

How did you get involved in sports, and what made you decide to stick to it? 

I have been into sports since I was a very young boy. I started playing football at 5 years old, and I started to get good results at endurance sports with cross country races when I was around 12.

I have always enjoyed the effort and pushing my body. Now that I’m older, I really like to see the progress and the improvement that comes with dedicated training. 

 

What is it about Spartan races that draw you to them? 

A Spartan Race is simply a trail race with some obstacles. The main focus is still running, with a little bit of strength training and endurance required so that the racers can easily pass the obstacles. This usually involves doing pull-ups and carrying heavy weights. 

As I have done a lot of weight training and am a good runner, Spartan Race is the ideal sport for me.

 

How does it differ from other sports?

You cannot calculate during a Spartan Race. For example, it is very easy to control your efforts and pace yourself during triathlons and regular racing events, but it is way harder to pace yourself correctly during a Spartan Race. This is what sets it apart from the other sports.

 

What was your first Spartan Race like?

I took part in my first one 4 years ago in the mountains in France. It was a winter Spartan Race in the snow and it was crazy cold! I finished way behind, maybe around the 200th place! But since then I decided to train and become better.

The fast guys were very impressive! I knew I wanted to train so that I can compete with them. It was so inspiring. But now, I am able to compete with those fast guys and I hope others can be inspired to improve themselves as well.

 

Andrea Cloarec during a Spartan Race obstacle.

Photo by Andrea Cloarec

What sort of mistakes made you a better athlete? 

I tried to do too much at the beginning. I overtrained and did not progress at all. Now I know when to rest and how important it is to keep track of progress. 

 

Why do Spartans burpee?

Burpees are often given as a form of “punishment” during a Spartan Race, usually when you fail an obstacle or make a mistake. They usually make you do 30!

Burpees are a very good cardio workout, as they require bodily effort – just like the Spartan Race itself! 

 

What kind of obstacles do Spartan Races typically have? 

Here are some examples of Spartan Race obstacles. The classic ones include:

  • Spear Throw, which requires a strong and steady arm.
  • Barbed Wire Crawl, where athletes have to get on their hands and knees to crawl under the wire, fast!
  • Tyrolean Traverse, which really tests your core stability and upper body strength because an athlete has to travel between two points on a single rope without touching the ground.

Then, you have the Climb obstacles which consists of:

  • Twister, a test of your upper body, core and grip strength. 
  • Monkey Bars, which is a classic obstacle that will test even the strongest athlete.
  • Rope Climb, which causes a lot of burpee punishments as athletes tend to slip and fall.
  • Wall Climb, which is what you’ll typically see on race day. 
  • Olympus is a type of challenge that requires athletes to climb using different handholds, so core strength and peak grip are needed here.
  • Inverted Wall requires a lot of mobility and agility; climbing a normal wall is hard enough, so imagine an inverted wall!
  • A-Frame Cargo, where an athlete has to climb up and down a cargo net as fast as they can, effectively testing their agility and speed.
  • Multi-rig, which is similar to monkey bars, as you’ll need to swing yourself from one end to another to ring the bell. This one truly tests your concentration and momentum.
  • Ape Hanger, considered one of the most difficult tests for Spartans, requires climbing a rope and crossing a suspended ladder using only your hands. 

 

Andrea Cloarec climbing over and obstacle during a Spartan Race.

Photo by Andrea Cloarec

Last but not least, some of the Carry challenges include:

  • Hercules Hoist, where you’ll have to carry heavy loads using a rope.
  • Atlas Carry, where athletes will have to walk while carrying a huge round stone. 
  • Plate Drag requires the athlete to pull or drag a sled containing a heavy weight as they move from one end to another. 
  • Bucket Carry is not an easy task despite its simple name, as athletes need to carry a heavy bucket while marching a loop.
  • Tire Flip is harder than it looks because not only do you have to use a lot of strength, but you also have to flip a tractor tire over!

I like the carries in particular, which involves carrying a heavy weight as fast as you can. I like it because I am good at it, I guess! 

That being said, I’m not a fan of the balance challenges, like walking on a small beam. That requires a lot of focus and agility!

 

Andrea Cloarec carrying a bucket during a Spartan Race obstacle course.

Photo by Andrea Cloarec

What are the different types of Spartan Races you’ve participated in? 

I’ve done the Sprint (5km, 20+ obstacles), the Super (10km, 25+ obstacles) and the Beast (21km, 30+ obstacles). I personally prefer the Super format, though!

 

What kind of equipment does one need for a Spartan Race?

Honestly, all you need are good shoes and you’re all set! Trail shoes with a good grip would be perfect for this.

 

How does one train and prepare for a Spartan race?

I’d say, focus on the run and have a good program that’s adapted to you. And don’t forget to include some body weight exercises. As a coach, I program my Spartan Race training with training blocks that take about 3 to 4 weeks to complete. 

Each week or block will focus on a certain goal. For example, Week 1 will focus on endurance, Week 2 on speed, Week 3 on strength and Week 4 on volume.

 

Andrea Cloarec training for a Spartan Race.

Photo by Andrea Cloarec

How do you fuel before and on race day?

Nutrition is a big and very personal topic to me. It’s different for everyone. But personally, I strongly rely on carbs. I get my glycogen stock at a good level for the race, and I keep a couple of snacks handy for fuel on race day — depending on the length of the race.

 

Do you have any tips for first-timers?

Find a goal that motivates you and a process that you enjoy. Start easy, and increase the difficulty while making sure that you still enjoy every minute of it. 

 

Andrea Cloreac massaging his arms with the Hydragun.

Photo by Andrea Cloarec

How do you draw the line between working out and overtraining?

Having had much experience with this, I can easily spot when I’m going overboard. I start to feel the changes in my mood and energy level. 

If that’s not enough, I am also able to track it through numbers and data like my heart rate, the speed I’m going and the amount of sleep I’m getting.  

 

What’s your rest and recovery routine like? 

Everyday I try to do as much of the following: massages with Hydragun, stretching, mobility exercises, and then hot or cold baths. 

I also make sure that I sleep enough. For me, that means getting at least 8 hours in. But I’d like to be able to sleep for 9 or 10 if I could! 

 

Related: How To Use Hydragun Deep Tissue Massage Gun

 

 

What’s the best part about being part of a Spartan race?

It’s all about giving your best. After all, you’ve been training for months just so you can deliver your best on race day. And once that’s over, you can really see yourself improve race after race. 

Spartan Races are actually physical and mental challenges. You will definitely be stronger after participating in them! 

 

Recovery is the most important part of any exercise or training program. Whether you’re aiming to become a Spartan or incorporating exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, be sure to make time to help your muscles recover faster.

Get Hydragun today and let us know how it helped you be the best version of yourself.

Leave A Comment