How to prepare for an obstacle course race


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I'm no obstacle course race (OCR) expert, but I've completed two Tough Mudder races and know my way around the world of physical fitness.

I'll be doing my first Spartan race at the end of September - the SoCal Beast in Temecula. Honestly, I won't be doing a ton of preparation for the Spartan race. Kettlebell Sport training keeps me in great condition, and is my main focus. However, I have been increasing my running mileage and trying to work in some cross training every week.

The key to holistic health and balance is variety - I do so much kettlebell lifting that I have to force myself to take a step back every once in a while and mix it up! The Spartan race is a great opportunity to challenge myself - all while doing some bonding with the whole KOR Strength team.

Here are a few tips to prepare for an OCR:

  • Build up running or walking endurance. OCR's usually involve a lot of mileage, and whether you plan to walk or run, you don't want a lack of endurance to ability to tackle the obstacles.
  • Improve pulling and grip strength. Almost every OCR includes an obstacle that requires climbing, hanging, or pulling a rope.
  • Get on all fours. You can bet you will be crawling and working on quadrupedal movements will give you a leg up (no pun intended).
  • Carry heavy stuff. You may be required to pick up objects that are not only heavy, but awkwardly shaped. Prepare your back and legs to safely do the work by incorporating deadlifts and farmer's walks into your training.
  • Incorporate explosive plyometric training. Being able to run fast and jump high will help you tackle almost any obstacle.
  • Balance, balance, balance! Many OCR's have challenges that force you to move slowly and carefully (i.e. a balance beam over ice cold water). You can prepare yourself by including unilateral movements like single leg RDL's into your training.
  • Aim and shoot! Practice your throwing skills with implements such as a javelin or a football to prepare yourself to hit the target in the spear throw.
  • Do you want to try a Spartan OCR? Leave a comment below with why you want to try an OCR and you'll be eligible to win a FREE entry to any Spartan race in the continental U.S.!