Sunday, July 6, 2014

Training for obstacle course races

I have been asked by a few people lately what I do to train for an obstacle course race (OCR).  So, in this post I will share some of my training workouts that I do to prepare for OCR races and a video to help give you an idea of the intensity involved.

Since most obstacle course races consist of 3-5 miles (some cover up to 13 miles) plus 12-24 obstacles I don't spend too much time on my steady state endurance.  I don't go out an run easy for miles and miles. Instead when I do my "long run" (usually only 5-6 miles) I incorporate several exercises along the way to break up the feeling of getting comfortable.  I have only done one race (Tough Mudder Oregon) where there was any length of running over 1 mile.

I train 5-6 days a week with at least 1-2 days of rest.  I break up the week by doing "race simulation" workouts, strength workouts in the gym, track workouts, and obstacle training.  My obstacle training involves heading down to a nearby school and playing on the equipment; usually this will include monkey bars, balance beam walks, parallel bars, log hops, some pullups and jumping pullups, and jumps over a gate.

When I go out for my long run I usually will include some burpees, lunges, squat jumps and mtn. climbers every 10 minutes.  Keep in mind that i am not doing these exercises at 100% but I am also not lollygagging. My goal is to simply break up the running rhythm and stress the body to the point where it becomes a little uncomfortable.

Most obstacle course races occur on hilly terrain so running hills is a regular part of my training.  Again I don't do any long hill repeats but lots of short steep repeats, or run on a course that has many ups and downs over the course of the workout.

As for the strength training that I do, I will do 2 days a week with each lasting about 1-1.5 hours.  I really try to keep my body under stress the whole workout, so I will occasionally wear a weighted vest (15lbs).  This helps to build functional strength since the weight is on my body rather than being held in my hands.  Moving your body up/over/under things becomes much easier when you're accustomed to moving more of your own weight on a regular basis.

I do anywhere from 3-6 sets of each exercise, usually based on time (30-60 sec) rather than reps, and keep rest periods minimal.  I'm not trying to bulk up, so I don't need to take 1-2 min rest periods after sets.  Here is a list of exercises (and a video) that I regular do when strength training for obstacle course racing.

In this workout I do the Deadlifts and Man-Makers for reps (8) while the rest for 45 sec each; except Power Jacks which are only 30 sec.  I try to keep these as powerful as I can in 30 sec.  I do 4 sets of everything and keep rest between exercises and sets minimal.

1.  Barbell or Trap Bar Deadlift  4x8
2.  DB Man-Makers 4x8
3.  DB Farmer's Walks  4x45 sec
4.  Lateral Box Push Offs 4x45 sec
5.  TRX Atomic Pushups  4x45 sec
6.  Jumping Pullups  4x45 sec
7.  TRX Frog Kicks  4x45 sec
8.  Hanging Toes to Bar  4x45 sec
9.  Power Jacks  4x30 sec

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