The Ultimate Obstacle Course Race Training Plan

The eight-week training plan for obstacle-course domination. PLUS: The Dos and Don'ts of race day gear

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Tough Mudder Toronto endurance event series Mount St. Louis Moonstone     Photo: Andrew Hetherington

Like marathons and triathlons, obstacle-course racing requires specific training. But the skill set is wildly different. To finish an OCR, you’ll need endurance, upper-body strength, good balance, and, perhaps most importantly, mental fortitude. “Obstacle racing throws everyone onto an even playing field,” says Daren de Heras, cofounder of team SISU, a nationwide obstacle-racing club. “To succeed, you’ll need total body fitness.”

De Heras created an eight-week plan, divided into four training categories—run, gym, playground, and outdoors—to prepare participants for any course longer than eight miles. Do one workout from each training category per week, except for the run, which you’ll do twice. Use the workouts here to get started, and check out the sidebar for the full regimen, which covers everything from balance and stability to endurance and race-specific skills.

RUN
Workout 1:
A three-mile steady run with ten burpees each mile.
Workout 2:
A one-mile tempo run, followed by five eight-to-ten-foot wall or fence climbs, then a one-mile run, four wall climbs, a one-mile run, three wall climbs, a one-mile run, two wall climbs, a one-mile run, and five wall climbs.

GYM
Workout 1: Five sets each of five burpees, five squats, and five lunges per leg. (Complete in a steam room for bonus points.) Swim for 30 minutes in a lap pool.
Workout 2: Twenty-five sit-ups, 50 kettlebell snatches, 25 push-ups, 50 kettlebell swings, 50 burpees, 50 kettlebell clean-and-presses, and 50 mountain climbers.

PLAYGROUND
Workout 1: Ten sets each of 30-second bent-arm hangs, 20 parallel-bar dips, and ten walks across the balance beam.
Workout 2: Bear crawls, crab walks, low crawls, wall climbs or muscle-ups, mountain climbers, rope climbs, balance beam walks, and squats with a bucket of sand held overhead, all to exhaustion.

OUTDOORS
Workout 1: A 90-minute march carrying 15 percent of your body weight in a backpack. Stop every ten minutes to do ten push-ups while wearing the backpack.
Workout 2: A two-hour hike, carrying a heavy rock or log (20 percent of your body weight) against your chest.

Dress for Success: The dos and don’ts of race-day gear

DON’T: Wear cotton. It rips easily and gets waterlogged.

DO: Opt for form-fitting synthetic materials like Under Armour’s HeatGear compression shirts and shorts (from $25).

DON’T: Wear shoes with Gore-Tex. They keep water out, but they also keep it in.

DO: Run in minimalist trail shoes with aggressive tread and a low profile, like Inov-8’s X-Talon 190s ($120).

DON’T: Race with your glasses or a hat on or your keys in your pocket. You will lose them in the muck.

DO: Use gloves, like Mad Grip Pro Palm ($10), to protect your hands and enhance your grip. Cut off the fingertips for quicker drainage

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