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Obstacle Course Races

stew smith

Hardcore Obstacle Races such as the intense military spec ops based , mud, crawling, climbing, even zombies chasing you, are all the rage these days. Most of these races share a common denominator - mud, water, obstacles you climb, crawl under, jump over, and run to and through. Most also throw in a few curve ball obstacles as a surprise that are usually terrain / race event specific to include sliding down hills, dealing with fire, rope climbs and swings, swims, log carries, and many more. But much of the fun is to not have a mapped out course and list of the obstacles to challenge your mind as well as your body. Here is a list of obstacle course races that are growing in popularity:

The Spartan Race - - A race complete with miles of obstacles, mud, fire and more and a variety of distances for different levels of fitness. This race has taken off and have venues around the world.

Metro Dash - A short sprint type race full of 15+ obstacle / events. You will only run 600 meters in this race, but lift / pull / climb / push through so many events you wish you could rest with a mile jog.

Tough Mudder - Designed my British Special Forces, this 10-12 mile run mixed with as many obstacles will challenge any competitor.

Warrior Dash - - Another obstacle race complete with miles of obstacles, mud, fire, and running.

A fun one for the FREAK in you - Run for Your Lives - - This is a shorter 5km race complete with obstacles and mud BUT you run from the zombies chasing you.

There are many races that are out there and some likely very close to you. See US Race Calendar for more info and the dozens of races in your area.

The training plan below is specific to the Civilian Military Combine, but you can use this training program to build your abilities and strengthen your weaknesses for ANY race. See link to their site and non-profit involvement. This race is one of the toughest as it combines strength and muscle stamina from the PIT as well as cardiovascular endurance and leg endurance for running up / down steep hills.

For this training program, a 7.5 mile race complete with obstacles every mile and a six minute burnout PT in the Pit for a pre-race warm-up will build a foundation of obstacle course fitness you can take to any race. The Pit is simple 4 exercises and you have a 1:30 seconds to do as many reps as you can at each station with a 30 second rest and rotate between each station.

The weight is not super heavy but it will allow for most levels of fitness to complete the 90 second set:



These exercises are full body and highly anaerobic events. Train each exercise for 90-120 seconds to get used to the exercise for that time, BUT also adapt to the 30 second recovery period. Make sure in your workouts that you practice the 30 second rest period for optimal performance gains in the PIT. Another option if you are not into lifting weights is to add the 8 Count Pushup / Pullup Pyramid into your training routine once a week for a few months.

To train for any event, I highly recommend getting familiar with these four exercises in sequence and following this quick workout with a longer run of 6-7 miles to get a solid foundation of the distance required for this race. Yes - this race is on a ski slope so prepare by running hills. Mix these PIT workouts 2-3 times into your weekly workout with 3-4 runs per week totaling the 6-7 mile distances (LSD run and interval speed work). If you do not currently run that distance, build up to 5-7 miles of running over the next several weeks. Perhaps by adding a mile per week to your runs for 5-6 weeks will help you depending on your current mileage per week. Here is a sample running plan. Arrange to fit your personal schedule and fitness level as needed:






*note – the above distances assumes you already jog regularly in your workouts – If you are a beginner or currently do no running, see optional beginner plan

Another training method to help with your speed is to mix in mile intervals with exercises that are from the PIT or that mimic the obstacles in the run. For instance,

Repeat 3-4 times
run 1 mile timed
KB swings 90 seconds or box jumps
30 seconds rest
burpee – 90 seconds or thrusters
30 seconds rest
pull-ups – max (mimic pulling obstacles)

Since, every mile there is an obstacle, doing more 1 mile interval work during the week will enhance your times, but building a base of 5-7 miles per running session will help you with endurance.

You then have 1 minute to the start line where you funnel off into a 7 and a half mile steep mountain race.




Here is a sample week of workouts to fit preparing for these events into your schedule. You will have to get creative with simulating these obstacles, but it can be done with relative effort.




The week of training above is just one of many ways to pre-train for this event. Creating a strategy for success in the CMC race requires you to practice the events, adapt to the recovery and exertion levels, pace your miles to your level of fitness and abilities, but most importantly –have fun doing it.

Enjoy the workouts and preparation and good luck with the race!

Stew Smith CSCS
Founder Heroes of Tomorrow Fitness

Good luck with your nutrition / performance fitness program and I hope you see improvement soon. Workouts can be easily obtained at the Fitness Ebook Store.

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