Ever thought of doing a Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Zombie Run, or any obstacle course race (If you’ve been around End of Three Fitness for awhile you already know your fitness could survive a zombie apocalypse) ?
I am a big fan of these races, for many reasons:
- They are a blast! Especially when done with friends
- They put your fitness to the test
- It shows the egotistical fitness gurus that they are wasting their time
You’ll find pretty quickly, that in these races, the guy who spends 50% of his time lifting and 50% of his time staring at his greased muscles in the mirror…does pretty terribly in these races.
And if you are not too familiar with functional fitness, these races are where you will find that a 400 lb bench press doesn’t really translate to anything…except when you are horizontal and on a bench, and, hey, I have no beef with the bench press, I’ve even written about it.
But maybe that is why the Marine Corps doesn’t even include push-ups in their physical fitness test…just a thought…but I digress.
Obstacle Course Race: Train or Pain?
The first question you need to ask yourself before training for an obstacle race is…
- Should I train, or just suffer through the pain?
This is a valid question, just check the GoRuck website and here is their suggested training for a 8-10 hour event that is normally 10+ miles:
Beer, aka the latest in advanced cellular repair technology, is the official drink of the GORUCK Challenge. Don’t take the Challenge so seriously. Go for a run or two, have fun, and just do it. It’s all mental.
And they have 94% pass rate…so it’s not bad advice.
However, I think everyone is in a different situation and events like a Tough Mudder may require a little more physical ability.
So to break it down simply:
- You don’t workout that much
- You cannot do any pull-ups
- You cannot run for 1 mile without stopping
- You cannot pull your body weight over a wall
Suffer through the pain if…
- You workout regularly
- You can do multiple pull-ups
- Completing a 5K is easy or very doable
- You can throw your body over just about anything
I have done a few of these races and I haven’t trained, specifically, for any of them. However, my daily routine and training is aimed at one thing…Making me ready for anything, at anytime. So technically I am trained for these races, but I do not train for these races…make sense?
Another note, is if you are looking to have a competitive time, or to win…then TRAIN!
Obstacle Course Race Training
Endurance: Time, not distance
- In an obstacle course race you will not be able to run at your top speed for the entire race, even if it is a 5K. The reason being is that there are…obstacles (sorry for stating the obvious) and even in the open spots it could be dangerous to run at top speed on mud or debris.
- What you need to get your body accustomed to is not the normal 7 min pace for X amount of miles, you just need to get your body conditioned for moving, and to always keep moving.
- Build up in week time intervals (2-3x a week), i.e. Week 1 = 20 minutes continuous run, Week 2 = 30 minutes continuous run, etc..
- You really don’t need to work on anything past 50 min, and even that is a lot. 30-40 min is a great range.
Strength: Set a base, and do it early
- If you plan to do one of these events and you are 8-12 weeks out from the event, your first four weeks of training needs to involve strength training.
- An obstacle race doesn’t need to involve a cycle of Wendler 5/3/1 or One Man One Barbell, but it couldn’t hurt. You could primarily do bodyweight strength training and be just fine.
Exercises to include in your training
- Low crawling
- Crawling under and over objects
- Tire flips (if you have access)
- Rope climbs (a lot of events have ropes)
- Tire dragging/pulling
- Sled dragging or pushing
- Monkey Bar Crossing
- Bear crawls
- Jump over some walls
Sample Obstacle Race Training Workout
I think this warm-up, created by CrossFit is perfect!
3 rounds of 10-15 reps of:
- Samson Stretch (do the Samson Stretch once each round for 15-30 seconds)
- Overhead Squat with broomstick
Strength or Skill:
- If you need a strength cycle do so here.
- Skill work can be some of the exercises listed above i.e. rope climbs, wall climbs, monkey bar work, etc.
- 1600m run
- 40 weighted lunges
- 800m run
- 20 pull-ups
- 400m run
- 10 burpee box jumps
- 100m run
Vary workouts, have fun and conquer the next obstacle course race!
Good luck on your adventures and contact me with stories and pictures and I’ll share on the site!