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Train For An Obstacle Race With This 6-Week Plan

Pete Williams /

obstacle

Have you recently run through a finish line caked in mud from head to toe? If so, you’re not alone. More than 2 million people(!) completed an obstacle race in 2012, a number that just keeps increasing.

“Experience is the new luxury good,” says Will Dean, founder of the Tough Mudder series. “This is what people want to brag about on Facebook.” Social media has been a major driver for sure. Who wouldn’t want to post photos of themselves crawling under barbed wire, getting zapped by electrical cords, leaping from 12-foot platforms or climbing cargo nets?

If you’ve never answered the call of the mud, fear not. Although it might seem uber-intimidating to power full speed over miles of ditches and hills, the dirty little secret of these races is that many participants walk the majority of the course.

There’s no shame in walking between obstacles—or even around the scary ones—but you’ll feel best if you’re ready to conquer the event. And we have just the plan to get you there.

Follow this six-week program of integrated workouts that combine running with movements that mimic the challenges and rhythms of an obstacle race. This way, you’ll be prepared to leap over walls, move quickly while carrying logs or buckets of gravel, and wiggle effortlessly through claustrophobic-inducing tubes and freshly dug tunnels. Now go get dirty, girl!

But first a few guidelines…

Warm up before every workout. An active warm-up is important before an obstacle race or training session since you’re using your entire body. Make sure you’re loose and limber going into every workout by completing a few walking lunges and lateral lunges, planks, arm swings and hip circles.

Get in touch with your inner-child. In an obstacle race you’ll be called upon to navigate monkey bars, balance on beams, climb walls and traverse ropes. Chances are you can find all of those things at your local playground. This is a great excuse to play more with your kids. No children? Borrow some nieces or nephews or use the playground during o -hours.

Run off-road. Obstacle races take place on dirt. So why train on concrete or asphalt? Even in urban areas, you usually can run on the grass along sidewalks or through parks. Challenge yourself to stay o of cement as much as possible.

Training Key

Active Rest (AR): This is an off day, so there’s no formal workout. But if you have time, consider spending 15 minutes in motion on a foam roller or playing your favorite sport.

Interval Run (IV): This speed workout will have you alternating between fast running and walking or slow jogging. A 3-3-2-2-3, for instance, consists of 3 minutes of running at 80-percent effort, followed by 3 minutes of walking, 2 minutes of running, etc.

Obstacle Run (OR): This race-simulation workout will break up a run by mimicking an obstacle every half mile.

Park Bench Routine (PBR): Find a bench (outside, or in the gym if necessary) for this workout, which will have you alternating between sets of pushups and dips, both performed while leaning on the bottom of the bench. If the workout reads “10- 8-6-4,” do a set of 10 of each, a set of 8 of each, etc.

Park/Beach/Playground (PBP): This workout is best performed at a park, beach or playground where you have pull-up bars, park benches, monkey bars and the ability to run on grass or sand.

WEEK 1

Click here for the pdf version of Weeks 1-3

All workouts are 30ish-minutes, including a 5-minute full-body warm up.

Monday
IV 1-mile easy run, 3-3-2-3-3 intervals, 1 mile easy run

Tuesday
PBP 400-meter run, pull-ups (5 or to failure), 50 mountain climbers, 400-meter run, 20 push-ups (repeat until reaching 25 minutes)

Wednesday
AR

Thursday
PBR 400-meter run, 15 burpees, 400 meter run, park bench routine 12-10-8-6-4-2 (repeat until reaching 25 minutes)

Friday
PBP 1-mile run, 20 pushups, 50 mountain climbers, 5 pull-ups, 10 burpees (repeat until reaching 25 minutes)

Saturday
AR

Sunday
Rest

WEEK 2

All workouts are 40ish-minutes, including a 5-minute full-body warm up.

Monday
PBP 400-meter run, 20 pushups, 30 mountain climbers, 400-meter run, 20 squat jumps, 20 V-sit crunches (repeat until reaching 35 minutes)

Tuesday
PBP 400-meter run, 20 pushups, 20 squats, 400-meter run, 50 mountain climbers, 5 pull-ups, 400-meter run, 20 burpees, 15 squat jumps. (repeat until reaching 35 minutes)

Wednesday
AR

Thursday
PBR 400-meter run, 20 jumps for height, 400-meter run, 10 monkey bars, park bench routine 12-10-8-6-4-2, 400-meter run, pull-ups to failure, 1-minute plank (repeat until reaching 35 minutes)

Friday
IV 1-mile easy run, 4-3-3-4 intervals, 1-mile easy run

Saturday
AR

Sunday
Rest

WEEK 3

All workouts are 50ish-minutes, including a 5-minute full-body warm up.

Monday
PBR 400-meter run, 30 push-ups, 50 mountain climbers, 400-meter run, park bench routine 12-10-8-6-4-2, 20 squat jumps, 400-meter run, 20 burpees (repeat until reaching 45 minutes)

Tuesday
IV 1-mile easy run, 4-3-3-4-2 intervals, 1 mile easy run

Wednesday
AR

Thursday
PBP 400-meter run, 20 pushups, 20 squats, 400-meter run, 50 mountain climbers, 5 pull-ups, 400-meter run, 20 burpees, 15 bench jumps (repeat until reaching 45 minutes)

Friday
PBP 400-meter run, swim 50 yards or run 25 minutes and perform 20 burpees, 400-meter run (repeat until reaching 45 minutes)

Saturday
AR

Sunday
Rest

WEEK 4

Click here for the pdf version of Weeks 4-6

All workouts are 60ish-minutes, including a 5-minute full-body warm up.

Monday
OR 4-mile run: 0.5-mile mark (20 pushups), 1-mile (15 burpees), 1.5 mile (20 squats), 2-mile (20 pushups), 2.5-mile (15 burpees), 3-mile (20 jumps for height), 3.5-mile (20 squat jumps), 4-mile (20 burpees)

Tuesday
PBR 800-meter run, PBR 12-10-8-6-4-2 (repeat until reaching 55-minutes)

Wednesday
AR

Thursday
IV 2-mile easy run, 3-4-2-4-3 intervals, 2-mile easy run

Friday
PBR 1-mile run, PBR 12-10-8-6-4-2, 30 squats, pull-ups to failure, 2-min plank, 1-mile run, 30 V-sit crunches, PBR 12-10-8-6-4-2

Saturday
AR

Sunday
Rest

WEEK 5

All workouts are 70(ish)-minutes, including a 5-minute full-body warm up.

Monday
IV 3-mile easy run, 3-4-2-4-3 intervals, 2-mile easy run

Tuesday
PBR  2-mile run, 10 jumps for height, 20 squats, 20 pushups, 2-mile run, PBR 12-10-8-6-4-2 (repeat until reaching 65 minutes)

Wednesday
AR

Thursday
PBR PBR 12-10-8-6-4-2, pull-ups to failure, 20 squats, 2-min plank, 15 monkey bars (repeat until reaching 65 minutes)

Friday
PBP 2-mile run, 15 monkey bars, 20 jumps for height, 20 pushups, 2-mile run, 2-min plank, 15 monkey bars, 20 squats, 2-mile run (repeat until reaching 65 minutes)

Saturday
AR

Sunday
Rest

WEEK 6

All workouts are 40(ish)-minutes, including a 5-minute full-body warm up.

Monday
IR 1-mile easy run, 2-3-3-3-2-3-2 intervals, 1-mile easy

Tuesday
AR

Wednesday
PBR 400-meter run, 15 burpees, 400 meter run, park bench routine 12-10-8-6-4-2 (repeat until reaching 35 minutes)

Thursday
AR

Friday
Rest

Saturday
Race!