Spartan Race Pro Team | Singapore | Joelle Lim

Spartan Race Pro Team | Singapore | Joelle Lim

[0:05] Justin: Hey guys, Coach Justin here and welcome to another episode of the OCR podcast. So in this episode, we will be interviewing Joelle Lim, she is a part of Singapore Spartan Race Pro Team.

We will be talking to her about her training methods, how she got started and her journey so far as an athlete.

Joelle Lim – @spartanwannabe

Before we begin, I would really appreciate if you can share this podcast with your friends and fellow obstacle course racer to help me grow this channel.

If you enjoy listening to our podcast interview! Do check out the rest of our podcast!

So without further ado, let’s dive straight into today’s podcast. 

Introduction – Joelle Lim

[0:36] Justin: Thanks for coming to today’s podcast. Hi Justin. Let’s start off by introducing yourself to the audience.

[0:43] Joelle: Hi everyone. My name is Joelle Lim. I’m Chinese I say that because I get quite a bit of “Is Joelle Lim Chinese?” so I get that clear the air that I’m a Chinese and I have two children. My boy is 10 years old and my daughter is six years old. I’m a working mom.

Spartan Race Pro Team

[1:00] Justin: How long have you been in the Spartan Pro Team?

[1:02] Joelle: I got the invitation from the Spartan Pro Team for this year. So they kind of started for Asia for the very first time. In the past, you’d only get the Spartan Pro Team in the US and maybe Europe.

From about 50 over Pro teams that they have extended to the Asia Pacific region, we now have about 125 Pro teams all over the world. If you do a rough estimate, they added 50 over Pro Teams from Asia Pacific region.

Spartan Race Joelle Lim


[1:36] Justin: Can you share a little background about yourself before you first stepped into obstacle course racing (OCR)?

[1:45] Joelle: I have never been athletic my whole life. The only thing I dabbled into was rollerblading when I was in my teens and in my 20s. I tried to do some stunts, didn’t do very well.

Fitness Journey

[2:10] Justin: So when did you start getting active?

[2:12] Joelle: I started at the age of 38 when my daughter turned 2 years old.

That was when I thought I needed to do something because I was approaching 40.

It was a little bit of a midlife crisis that pushed me to want to do something.

[2:37] Justin: That’s really amazing. In 4 years time look where are you, you’re part of the Spartan Pro Team. So when you first start your fitness journey and how? 

[2:44] Joelle: I joined a gym in 2015. After about six months in the gym, I wanted to experience something beyond the gym and test my fitness.

I joined my very first 10km run with Standard Chartered in December 2015, and my very first Spartan Race was in May 2016 at Tampines, which I signed up for the Sprint.

It took me a lot of courage to sign up, as I was always intrigued by OCR because it’s not just plain running.

Spartan Race Journey

[3:48] Justin: So what made you fall in love with OCR? 

[3:50] Joelle: I love the fact that it’s really just not pure running. I guess when I told you I started 10km with Standard Chartered then I move on to 21km. Eventually, I went on to Newton challenge and I realised that running is just running and aerobic fitness but OCR is so fun.

I remember when I first went to the pop up in 2016 at Marina Square.

I couldn’t even do a rope climb then, there was so much technique involved to get up to the rope, that I spent about 1.5h there.

After that, I went on to the multi-rig. I will always remember very clearly the marshal or the volunteer that told me “If you have no upper body strength, there’s no way you can get through the multi-rig.

Initial Workout Regime

[4:47] Justin: Prior to your obstacle training, you mentioned that you started your fitness journey in the gym. Were you doing a lot of body strength? Or were you doing a lot of cardio?

[4:54] Joelle: I started with body pump classes. I didn’t know what to do with myself other than going for fitness classes and doing my running.

[5:07] Justin: So share with us a little bit about your running programme back then.

Spartan Race Joelle Lim

[5:21] Joelle: I have always struggled with my training programme, even until now.

I never really know what to do and I’m always working out when I feel I need to be stronger in that area.

Even now I don’t think I truly understand what I’m doing. Over time, with experience, I know a little bit more but I guess it’d be really good to have a structured programme to see how much more I could actually go.

Community Support

[5:52] Justin: Yeah, but I think you also joined plenty of community workout programmes as well. 

[6:01] Joelle: It’s good to go for programmes or other events ran by Superfit or even Sadali.

They provide really good obstacle course training, at least we get to learn the techniques. 

Otherwise, we don’t even get to learn the technique except during the race, and it’s not the time for you to start learning anyway.

Spartan Race Training

One of my secrets to winning Spartan races is actually learning how to do my burpees after running. One of my regular training Programmes is that every week I will do my work of 10 sets of 400m followed by 30 burpees after each set without any rest.

[7:02] Justin: Were you going pretty hard on a 400m interval?

[7:06] Joelle: I tried. I think in terms of timing, obviously you will be affected.

When I first start it would be 1min 45s and then the 10 sets will be maybe down to 2 min-2 min 15s.

I knew that that is essential training because I couldn’t get past some obstacles still and that’s the only way to make sure that I can soldier on.

Obstacles Faced In The Beginning

[7:33] Justin: What are the obstacles that you face initially? 

[7:45] Joelle: The rope climb, monkey bars the multi-rig even the Hercules Hoist.

The walls weren’t too bad because there’s always the ledge for ladies.

The inverted wall was fine for me too.

Atlas ball was very heavy to carry, it was a struggle just to roll it up to my leg.

That’s when I really realised that strength training is so important for women.

Although in 2017 I already knew that, I didn’t really get into a real strength training programme because I do a lot of fitness classes which has some strength workouts.

[8:23] Justin: They have the smart bar right? The one that you can do some bend over rows, clean press and such?

[8:29] Joelle: Yea they do. However, I realised that it was circuit training that I needed much more because it’s more anaerobic work; To be able to push myself and go all out in 30 minutes and sometimes with some good weights.

This year, I decided that I wanted to do a bit more Ninja Warrior stuff.

[8:49] Justin: Is it because it’s more advanced, more technical, or a shorter distance?

[8:54] Joelle: More for technical stuff. In Ninja Warrior, there’s no way I can do 30 pieces and bail myself out, If you fail the 100m Ninja Warrior course, you just fail on the spot. Hence, I do much more isolated upper strength bodywork and it really works!

I commit myself to at least once a week to train using those big machines and then focus on presses, pull down, pull-ups and then also they have low rows, so a lot on the shoulders and lats.

I can now do strict pull-ups because of the strength training work.

[9:52] Justin: One of the main components of my strength training Programme is that we definitely have to work on pull up because it doesn’t matter which OCR it is, Spartan or Ninja Warrior, being really good at pull-ups will help you significantly.

Current Workout Program

[10.15] Justin: So what is your training programme? You mentioned so before coming here, you went to MacRitchie and run.

Is this something that you do on a weekly basis? How many strength-training sessions are you doing currently?

[10:22] Joelle: Not on a weekly basis, but because I’m going to do Spartan Ultra, and I need to clock up my mileage.

[11:10] Joelle: I’m in an ideal scenario. I would like to do one long run on the weekend like today, do mid-distance runs like 10km on your road and an interval work which is speed work on the track.

2 strength training work; One for the upper body and the other for the lower body like doing squats and deadlifts.

I also try to squeeze in one more circuit training if my body and time permits.

Spartan Race Joelle Lim

Balancing Workout And Other Commitment

[11:49] Justin: So you’re working out six days a week?

You previously mentioned that you have 2 kids and you’re working at the same time too.

How do you juggle everything?

[12:16] Joelle: I try to fit 2 trainings in a day, on some days only because that’s the only way you can fit in training sessions.

I usually do that on a Monday because on Saturday and Sunday night, I can ensure that I can get adequate rest.

So Monday morning is a safe bet to wake up early to go to the gym before I go to work. In the evening, I can do a workout.

Then I’ll repeat this again on Wednesday. We also do lunch workout, but they’re roughly around 30min of circuit training. 

[13:09] Justin: It is really impressive in terms of the discipline getting up in the morning then, you know, you work out between afternoon and sometime over the weekend run.

[13:20] Joelle: I try because then you asked me how I juggle with my family, right?

That’s the only way to then be able to go back home earlier the night to spend some time with the kids. I can’t be training every evening.

Last words

[18:06] Justin: So as a Spartan Pro team, do you have any advice for beginners who have not taken part in any, but they are considering taking part in their very first Spartan Race?

[18:30] Joelle: I think that it is about taking the leap of faith. Take me as an example. I have neither been in a school team nor been athletic.

I always say, my IG handle is @spartanwannabe because I truly started as a wannabe.

Even now today as a Pro Team, I do think that there’s more room for improvement and to learn. 

One big thing that I realised is that we doubt myself a lot.

Even for myself, I have friends telling me that I’m so strong and confident when it’s not true.

I doubt myself all the time, especially when I am competing with one of the strongest women.

It’s really, really not easy.

I put myself down a lot and think that I cannot do it.

So I really want to encourage those who are doing the Spartan Race for the first time or even those who want to get fitter to not doubt themselves.

Taking one small step at a time is really important. When we see the progress, it’s fascinating. You start to do some self-reflection, which I think is very important.

A lot of times we are what I call the “chiong-ster”. We chiong (rush), we keep doing, striving and pushing, but we hardly take time to really reflect and learn the lessons behind it.

We tell stories to our friends, saying what we could have done better.

Do we ever say what we learnt? Or what do we do with that lesson learnt? I write these in my journal, and I will really try to learn the lesson behind it and see how to apply to my life.

Lastly, a lot of times we do things that are convenient for us.

I think one of the biggest challenges that we face when we try to get someone to kickstart their fitness journey, many reasons, good reasons will get in the way.

Whether it’s because of their life, because of their work, because of their family; I want to challenge that mindset.

If that is truly what we want, after the self-reflection, we will change and make certain tweaks in our lifestyle to make it work. 

[21:15] Justin: For those of you who are interested in following her throughout her journey, I’ll be posting her Instagram link to on this podcast description so you can check it out. Thank you so much.

[21:28] Joelle: Thank you.

[21:30] Justin: And there we have it. That’s the end of today’s podcast.

I hope you guys find this podcast valuable and informative.

Once again. I really appreciate it again, share this podcast with your friends and fellow obstacle course faces to help me grow this channel.

And lastly, I hope you guys have a great day and I hope to see you guys out there in the race course soon.


Coach Justin

- Certified Personal Trainer | Obstacle Racing Specialist | Sports Science <3

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