Climbing walls, jumping over fire and crawling through mud—obstacle races are not conventional events. So why would you train using an ordinary training program to prepare for one?
In order to guarantee a safe, positive experience on race day, you need to prepare for the unique challenges these courses present. Use this six-week training plan to build the confidence and strength you need to tackle your first obstacle race in top form.
Week 1: Build an Aerobic Foundation
Endurance will be your greatest asset on race day. Uneven terrain, hills and unfamiliar obstacles are combined to create fatigue like you've never experienced in a traditional race of the same distance. This fatigue, in turn, can make you miss obstacles, forcing you to repeat them or, even worse, be disqualified from the course. For this reason, it's important to steadily building your aerobic base.
Log your miles at a slow, steady pace, increasing mileage by 10 percent each week. If possible, log these miles off-road, which mimics the surfaces you'll face on race day. One or two of these runs should be done on hilly terrain.
Week 2: Increase Mileage and Add Strength Training
As you continue improving aerobic endurance, add two strength-training sessions on your short run or rest days. Focus on movements that build strength for common obstacle movements, like crawling, climbing and jumping--try jump-squats, lunges, pull-ups and push-ups. Look for a list of the obstacles or photos of them so you can tailor your strength-training workouts more specifically.
Perform high repetitions (15 to 20 or more) of bodyweight exercises for muscular endurance and explosive power, which will be more important than traditional strength.
Week 3: Train Your Weak Areas
Maybe you're lacking in upper body strength, or your broad jump leaves a bit to be desired. Whatever you struggle with, this is the week to focus some of your training time on those weaknesses.
Reflect back on your training plan and identify your weak points after two weeks of training. Add the necessary exercises and keep your running mileage the same as week two.