The obstacle race is a true test of all-round fitness, pushing your levels of strength and endurance to the limits. It can often be a struggle and a juggle training for such an event,  one where you will be scaling walls, lifting heavy barrels, wading through water whilst running for 10km, half a marathon or in some cases, a full marathon.

When approaching this daunting task, people can often focus too much on one element of the training, which can lead to to failure. Put too much time on the running, and you won’t be strong enough to lift yourself over obstacles, carry objects or jump up steps, spend all your time hitting the weights and your legs will be crying out on the run, not to mention your lungs!

So how should you train for an obstacle race? Read on for a few quick tips…

obstacle 1

Build up your running over time, gradually.

Starting your training weeks before a big obstacle race can be a fun and spontaneous way to get the adrenaline going, but not always the sensible option. Start your running months in advance to avoid going to hard too early, doing a mile or two, three times a week is a great start, and only increase this by around half a mile every couple of weeks, building up to your goal distance gradually. This will help your joints and connective tissue to get used to the impact and the hard nature of running, while you get plenty of rest and recovery between outings. Stick to this quick tip to put any worries of injuries and over-training at bay.

obstacle 2

Apply your strength training to race-day situations.

Sitting on the bench curling dumbbells up to yourself four days a week might give you the arms of an action hero, but it isn’t going to be much use to you when you’re sprinting towards a set of monkey bars that you have to traverse, whilst out of breath. Strength training for an obstacle race is all about building functional muscle, or muscle that will help you perform when you need to.

Of course all muscle is muscle, functional muscle isn’t any different to regular muscle, it’s just learning to build strength performing the movements you’ll be doing on race day, in those conditions. So for example, if you know you’re going to come across monkey bars when you’re worn out, then it would be a good idea to perform pull ups at the end of a gym workout that includes cardio and weights. The result of this workout is that your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems have been taxed and drained, meaning that you’ll be mimicking the condition you’ll be in on race day when you approach those monkey bars, training your body and mind to deal with the exact situation you’ll be in.


Writer and expert