Ready for a challenge that pits you against miles of hills, walls, mud, rope and maybe even a jolt of electricity? Then you're ready for a long-course obstacle race.
Unlike their little cousins like the Warrior Dash or Zombie Run, you won't be finished after a short three miles of running. In fact, many long obstacle races can be up to 12 miles.
The obstacles are also more intense, with higher walls to climb, deeper water, mud pits to wade through and more military-style obstacles.
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These races are often not even called "races" because you can't complete them alone—you need a supportive team of friends to help push you up the walls and pull you across many of the obstacles. The training and mindset are very different from what's required in a short-course race.
You need to be prepared—physically and mentally—for the demands of a long-course race. This is no jog through the playground with a few monkey bars. Here's how you can succeed.
Increase Your Athleticism
The physical demands of an obstacle race that covers up to 12 miles are substantial. You need a variety of skills and extra athleticism that aren't necessary during a normal road race.
Challenging strength and core workouts are absolutely critical to help you climb barriers, traverse monkey bars, and reach the top of walls and ropes. You can stick to general body weight strength exercises, but it may be more helpful to lift weights in the gym.
Compound, multi-joint lifts are the most beneficial and include squats, dead lifts, military press, bench press, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and the row. These exercises force you to focus on movements, not muscles, and will give you strength that's most transferable to the demands of a long-course obstacle race.
Another type of strength workout you may want to include in your training program is a circuit workout that combines running and strength exercises. This type of workout is very similar to the race itself and is the most specific type of training you can do.
Use a park trail or path that has exercise stations every quarter to half-mile. You can simply do these stations, or run a more structured workout at a track. Here's an example:
- Run 400 meters at a fast but controlled effort (no sprinting)
- Immediately transition into a set of strength exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, side and front planks or plyometrics like jumps for height or distance.
Repeat this sequence 4 to 8 times with 2 to 3 exercises after every 400-meter interval. Remember to include at least 10 minutes of easy running both before and after the circuit.