‘I’ve signed up for my first obstacle-course race – how should I train?’ ‘Training for an obstacle- course race is different from a road race. You’ll need plenty of power, agility and full-body strength to help cope with the obstacles. Train as specifically as possible, so run off-road on trails and uneven terrain to build ankle strength and to boost footwork and balance. You should also build up general body strength. Simple body-weight exercises are fine – think press-ups and pull-ups. You’ll also be pushing off on one leg a lot, so single-leg squats and lunges will help with this.
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And don’t forget your glutes – they’re your powerhouse, and are used even more off-road and with climbing. Lie on a mat on your side, legs stacked and straight, a resistance band below your knees, and raise and lower your top leg. You could also do “clams”. Lying on your side with legs stacked, knees bent and feet together, hinge your top knee open. Since obstacle-course races also include jumping, you should do jump squats and burpees to get your fast-twitch muscle fibres firing and increase your power. And, as the race is high-intensity, you need to practise keeping your heart rate high, so try doing 30 seconds of burpees or high knees, then rest for 30 seconds (or to suit your fitness).
Aim to do these moves for 15-20 minutes once or twice a week. Your running training can be one off-road recovery run at conversational pace, plus another conversational-pace run that you build by five to 10 minutes each week to be longer than the race’s distance or time, so you’ll definitely have the stamina on race day. If you’re already fit and want to go for a good time, add in a “cruising at speed session”, where you can only answer with three or four words.
These events are meant to be fun, so try to enjoy the whole process. If you find yourself wondering what you’re doing half way round the course, focus on the obstacle you’re on, then reset and go to the next one, taking it one step at a time and not thinking about the race as a whole. And you’re bound to be fitter, stronger and more powerful than when you started training, so you should be proud of that.’
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