How to Train for an Obstacle Race

As of recent, obstacle courses have been taking the fitness world by storm. These races are challenging and require a great deal of athleticism to complete successfully. A typical course includes sand pits with ropes that need to be traversed over or through in order for you to finish the race, all while navigating more than 10 obstacles at once on your way.

The “how to train for spartan race” is a game that requires endurance, strength and speed. It’s not easy though so be prepared to work hard.

Man climbing wall during obstacle race.

Note from the editor: This is a guest article by Jason Fitzgerald. (source of header picture)

Obstacle course races have progressed from a niche sport to a common weekend pastime in the previous five years.

Athletes of various shapes, sizes, and fitness levels may be seen on the starting line of every Warrior Dash, eager to tick the event off their bucket list. Many of the runners in these events had only competed in a few road races and would not even consider themselves “runners.”

And I believe it’s a fantastic idea! Obstacle course races (OCR) are helping more couch potatoes get in shape and live a more active lifestyle as they become more accessible. That’s not a problem.

But, of course, it opens up a lot of opportunities for individuals in shape who want to smash an obstacle race — those who don’t just want to complete it or run the most of it, but want to compete and see where they stand among the other OCR athletes.

There are some aspects of obstacle course racing that you must examine and prepare for while training if you want to push yourself and finish at the head of the pack. As you would expect, these events need a higher degree of fitness and athleticism than a typical road race.

In 2012, I defeated over 17,000 individuals in the Maryland Warrior Dash by more than a minute. I’m not the most talented athlete, but there was a significant gap between “trained runner” and “ordinary Joe,” which I exploited. I believe you can as well.

You’ll need to take a unique approach to your training, expectations, and race strategy. And, in order to genuinely thrive at obstacle races, you’ll need to plan beforehand.

Let’s get this party started. Now is the time to get down to business.

101 Obstacle Race Preparation

Having a diverse skill set of strength, endurance, and speed will aid you in conquering any obstacle racing challenge. Being in better condition will also make the event more enjoyable since you will struggle less. Let’s concentrate on good preparation so you can enjoy the race rather than simply survive it.

The most crucial considerations are as follows:

1. Consider where you are now and where you want to go. Assess your current level of fitness, objectives, and what you want to achieve before you begin training.

You should be aware of the following:

  • Whether you want to run a short or long race, we have something for you.
  • How difficult is the distance for you right now?
  • Your fundamental fitness level (how much training do you need?)
  • Do you think you’ll be able to overcome the challenges?

Determine your skills and limitations and compare them to your next race to ensure that you are properly prepared.

2. Allow ample time for training. Give yourself around 6-8 weeks of specialized obstacle race training if you’re a regular runner or strong athlete who wants to win the race. If you’re new to running or fitness in general, it’ll probably take you 12-16 weeks to get up to speed.


Remember, we’re preparing to win the race, not simply to complete it.

3. Do a lot of running. Obstacle races are, without a doubt, first and foremost, running events, with strength and agility testing coming in second. You won’t compete nearly as effectively if you don’t prepare for endurance with regular weekly running, long runs, and activities that improve aerobic fitness.

4. Develop all-around strength. Overcoming barriers requires a fundamental level of strength. Fortunately, you don’t have to be the next pro strongman to perform well, but knowledge and competency with simple bodyweight or resistance band workouts can significantly improve your results.

Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and planks are good places to start. Although a thorough weight-lifting regimen isn’t required, you may wish to supplement your strength improvements with some somewhat more advanced medicine ball workouts.

Pulling yourself over walls, climbing monkey bars, leaping over obstacles, and crawling through tunnels are just a few of the activities that will help you fulfill the race’s demands.

5. Work on improving your general athleticism. Running a good obstacle race requires more than just physical strength and cardiovascular fitness. To give oneself an advantage on a difficult course, you’ll also require agility, coordination, and overall athleticism.

Dynamic flexibility exercises guarantee a broad range of motion and are an excellent method to warm up before a run. However, running part of your miles on hard terrain is the greatest way to prepare. Roots, rocks, fallen logs, mud, hills, and even stream crossings are all part of trail running.

Local playgrounds can serve as an excellent training ground for playing like a youngster. Crawling, climbing, and balancing activities will all translate well to obstacle racing.

These aspects of preparation will aid you in achieving your goals on race day. When you line up before the starting gun, you’ll know you’ve done your homework – and thorough preparation breeds confidence.

An Obstacle Race Workout Example

It’s critical to train particularly for the race you’re about to compete in. This is why marathon runners go lengthy distances while 5k runners train quickly: they’re developing the precise fitness they’ll need to win their race.

Obstacle course races are distinct in that they mix running and strength training in a stop-and-go format. To “pure” runners who aren’t used to this sort of racing, it may be very difficult and unsettling.

Circuit workouts mix high-intensity running with strength training, and are quite comparable to what you’ll encounter on race day. They help you build endurance fitness, strength, and confidence to run even when you’re tired.

This is simply an example of a good circuit exercise; you should adjust it to your fitness level and objectives. However, it provides a model for a good training session that you may follow.

Instructions: Complete the following circuit 1-3 times after a vigorous warm-up and 10-20 minutes of easy jogging, resting just as needed:

  • Run 400-800 meters at a 5k race pace for 400-800 meters.
  • Perform ten to twenty bodyweight squats and ten to twenty push-ups.
  • At a 5k pace, run 400-800 meters.
  • Perform ten to twenty walking lunges followed by a one-minute plank.
  • At a 5k pace, run 400-800 meters.
  • Perform 2–8 pull-ups followed by a one-minute side plank (both sides)
  • At a 5k pace, run 400-800 meters.
  • Burpees: 20-30 reps

To help you cool down correctly, finish with 10 minutes of easy jogging followed by dynamic stretching.


Notes on the Workout:

  1. Depending on your fitness level and the duration of the race, adjust the distance of the running intervals.
  2. Squat jumps, box jumps, mountain climbers, push presses, bodyweight rows, farmer walks, or other weighted carry and crawling activities may all be substituted.
  3. Begin with one session per week and progressively increase to two sessions once you have the necessary fitness and energy.
  4. You can make this exercise more harder by:
  • Adding more circuit sets to the circuit
  • Reps for each exercise should be increased.
  • Increasing the amount of completed workouts
  • Increasing the duration of the workout’s running section
  • Increasing your speed
  1. If you’re not sure what your 5k pace is, go for a “hard” effort that you can sustain for the whole session. Slow down if you’re preparing for a long-course obstacle race so the effort is modest.

It’s Time to Take Control of Race Executions

Running a good race takes more than just physical conditioning. For racing success, you’ll need a sound race plan and attitude.

Concentrate on what you can manage the morning of your race so that you may meet all of your objectives and have the finest day possible.

Relax! Stress is natural, and you’ll probably feel a little nervous before an obstacle race. Have a good time with your buddies, crack some jokes, and take deep breaths. Keep in mind that you’ve prepared to compete, and now it’s time to compete.

Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER To become loose and ready for the race, you’ll need a full warm-up regimen of easy jogging and dynamic flexibility exercises, just like any other race. A good warm-up might also help you avoid injuries on the racing track. You’re ready if you’re warm and mildly sweating on the starting line.

Make sure you’re at the proper place. To prevent congestion at the obstacles, racers who want to finish with the top athletes should queue up near to the starting line. If you’re not sure about your pace or fear there will be too many quicker runners, it’s best to start in the middle or at the back of the pack. Always remember to shout your loudest war cry before the start, no matter where you line up!

First and foremost, put your safety first. Every barrier carries some danger, but you should avoid them at all costs by moving slowly and carefully around them. Races are won in-between obstacles with rapid running, not on the obstacles themselves. Assume that every wall, barrier, and rope is slick and muddy, and approach with care. It’s quite OK to seek assistance from another runner.

Have fun with it! You’re doing this to have fun, right? Even if you want to compete. As a result, don’t put too much stock on the race. Laugh. Smile. Take pleasure in the muck. Try to relax and enjoy the electrocution (or whatever it is…) while remembering that you paid money to be here.

There’s a certain kind of excitement in pushing yourself to your limits, so leave everything on the racing track and have a good time running fast and discovering what you’re capable of.


Obstacle races are one-of-a-kind tests of physical and mental fortitude. You’ll set yourself up for success and some huge bragging rights if you get the correct training.

Keep in mind that the majority of runners in OCRs are novices. They aren’t super-athletes, and neither do you have to be. However, if you want to win your next obstacle course event, all you need is a strategic strategy and a willingness to put in the effort.

I didn’t train expressly for the Warrior Dash, which I eventually won. The rest took care of itself since I was in terrific 5k racing condition and perform a lot of bodyweight strength training. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve if you follow these principles.

If you still have questions, I’ll try to answer as many as I can in the comments section below.

Ready? Let your war cry be heard!

Ready? Let your war cry be heard!

Jason Fitzgerald is a USA Track & Field certified coach and a 2:39 marathon runner. Strength Running has the most up-to-date training advice, as well as a free email course on injury prevention and how to run faster.



The “ultimate obstacle race training” is a guide that will help you prepare for an obstacle race. It includes tips and tricks to help you train for the event.

Related Tags

  • mud run training plan pdf
  • ocr training program pdf
  • obstacle course training for beginners
  • spartan race training for beginners
  • ocr training near me