Should I lift or run in preparation for an obstacle course race?
If you have recently signed up for an obstacle course race and are asking yourself this question, the answer is very, very simple. ..
Mud runs and obstacle races include tests of strength and endurance. You will be required to run at least 3 miles, but it is not a straight ahead, all at once. As you encounter challenges along the course, the running becomes interval based, with random stops and starts. Even super-fit obstacle athletes taking on lengthier races should not focus on running a PR on a 13 mile course because the run portion is probably up the side of a ski slope, not on a flat road.
Turning our attention to strength, unless your goals is to look good in the race day pictures, bench press and biceps curls are not going to get it done. Leave the tests of absolute, max effort strength to the powerlifters and set your sights on increasing strength relative to your bodyweight. Think manageable weight on the bar, maximum effort and intensity. You want the kind of strength that will help you scale a wall or climb a rope, but won’t slow you down as you hike up hill or low crawl through the mud.
So, when you sit down to create your obstacle race training program here is what you should be thinking…
Baseline cardio endurance, hills and intervals. Plan to run 2-3 days per week. One day should be used to build endurance covering a distance that is at least equal to that of the race. Hiking a long distance or uphill with a weight pack is another way to build baseline cardio. During the other 1-2 run workouts schedule hill sprints or intervals. Vary the distance of the intervals and hills, but keep the intensity high. For example, head to the running track and put in 6-10, 400 meter sprints with a rest period equal to the time it took to complete the sprint. Or, find a hill that takes 90 seconds to sprint and complete 8-10 repeats, resting as you jog or walk back to the base of the hill.
Relative strength, compound exercises and athletic movements. Lifting 2-3 days per week think bodyweight, big movers and explosion. Push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups and rope climbs will be essential for success on challenges that involve monkey bars, the cargo net or wall traverse. Big movers refer to exercises that use a barbell and recruit large muscle groups; usually more than one muscle group at a time. Squat, thruster and deadlift are the best among them. Finally, train athletic and explosive movements like kettlebell swings, burpees and box jumps that combine elements of strength and conditioning into one move that will leave your entire body fatigued.
You do not have to train each element during every session. On day utilize compound movements for strength and another spend some time on kettlebell work. Then, every few weeks combine strength, athleticism and cardio into one hybrid workout.
After a dynamic warm-up try this:
25x Kettlebell Swing
5x Push ups