Obstacle Course Racing: How to Train & Succeed

Obstacle course racing (OCR) is taking the world by storm and the sports popularity is catching on like wildfire. What’s the appeal? It requires the best of both ‘fitness’ worlds: strength and endurance. Not much of a runner? That’s quite alright. There are strength testing obstacles along the way to give you a competitive advantage. Not as strong as you’d like to be? Don’t worry, if you can run you’ll be more than competitive with others in the field. The range of athletes OCR draws covers the full spectrum of participants: distance runners, weightlifters, hikers, bikers, and fitness enthusiasts looking for a new challenge. And WHAT a challenge OCR is!


Obstacle Race TrainingThe first thing people realize when they compete in their first OCR is that these races are no joke. The physical demand of running while simultaneously conquering strength-blasting obstacles catches people by surprise. I often hear “…that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done’” by first-time participants. The odd thing? They can’t wait to do it again. Something about the event hits people just right: the challenge, the excitement, the comradery with other athletes, and the general energy these events instill in you. Point being? OCR is cool. Really cool! Thus why it’s growing so quickly. The next question? How do you prepare for such events?


My personal quest is to qualify and compete in the Spartan Race World Championships in Lake Tahoe in October. Spartan racing takes place all over the world and is known for their punishing obstacles, lots of mud, and challenging terrain. To compete with the best in the world (or at any OCR) you need to be prepared by working both avenues OCR requires: strength and endurance. If you can work on the combination of both, you’ll no doubt set yourself up for success when you toe the starting line. Here are the key components of OCR training:


1) Run. You’ll want to build up your run endurance.

2) Strength. You’ll want to be strong enough to take on the obstacles

3) Grip Strength. Many of the obstacles require carrying objects, climbing rope, traversing ‘rigs’ and holding your own body weight. Grip strength is imperative.


With the above components in mind we want to make sure to work on all three of the things mentioned above. Here is an example of weekly breakdown of workouts.


M- Strength work (upper body, core, and grip strength focus)

T- Run (medium distance)

W- Interval Run day (HARD interval workout for the week)

R- Strength work (upper & lower body)

F- OCR Workout (combining carries, lifts, burpees, climbs, etc amidst a circuit style running workout)

S- Run (medium distance)

S- Long Run

unnamed-7In total you’re looking at 4 running-only days, 2 strength days, and 1 day that combines both (the OCR workout). This balanced schedule will improve your aerobic capacity, strength, and adjust your body to the endurance/strength combination during your weekly OCR workout. There are numerous specific workouts to follow through this weekly format but the most important thing to remember is that preparing for both the endurance and strength components OCR demands is the key to success.


If you’re looking to challenge yourself to an OCR event and aren’t sure of the right program for you I am absolutely here to help. OCR workouts, strength, and endurance training are all included in my personal training packages and online coaching services. Don’t hesitate to reach out on my contact page for more information!


5 Butt Busting Treadmill Workouts

I’ve always been a preacher of getting your booty outside, enjoying some fresh air, and pounding the pavement. But, if you’re one of those drones who gravitate towards running in place on a treadmill… then this is the article for you! I only kid, slightly. There is actually a time and place for indoor running such as unbearable weather, running in a safe and controlled environment, and (most importantly) when you want to know precisely how far and how fast you’re running. Truth be told you can get one hell of a workout done on a treadmill if it’s done right. The key is to work HARD, mostly by means of intervals, hills, and progression training. These three types of workouts will spike your heart rate, boost your metabolism, and drastically improve your fitness. Not only will these workouts be great for your bod, they will be great for your sanity, too. Below are 5 treadmill routines that will help the time, and your heartrate fly.


*Note: ALL treadmill running should be done at a 1% incline to better simulate outdoor running. Also, if you have a GPS these workouts can easily be done outside.

Healthy couple running on a treadmill in a sport centre


Workout #1


1-2 mile easy warm-up jog. After the warm-up, go immediately into the following:
1/4 mile walk followed by 1/2 mile run (HARD- push yourself 1-2mph over the pace you’d normally run at)


Repeat the walk/run alternating 6 times


1-2 mile easy cool-down when your intervals are completed


TOTAL: 6.5-8.5 miles


Workout #2


1-2 mile easy warm-up jog


At 1 (or 2) miles when you’re finished with your warm-up, start increasing your speed by .1mph every 1/4 of a mile. This is called a progression run. Increase your speed every 1/4 mile by .1mph until you can no longer sustain the pace without falling off the back of the treadmill.
Once you’re cashed, slow the treadmil back down to a walk. Walk it out for 1/4 mile then go into a 1-2 mile easy cool-down jog

Note* Start conservatively slow with this workout- your goal should be to cover 4+ miles in total


TOTAL: 4+ miles




Workout #3


1-2 mile easy warm-up jog. Go immediately into the following:


5 min HARD run, 5 min recovery walk


4 min HARD run, 4 min recovery walk


3 min HARD run, 3 min recovery walk


2 min HARD run, 2 min recovery walk


1 min ALL-OUT run, 1 min recovery walk
Walk it out for 1/4 mile

1-2 mile easy cool down jog


TOTAL: 4+ miles


Workout #4


1-2 mile easy warm-up jog


Stop the treadmil, stretch and catch your breath (for 3-5 minutes)


3 x 1 mile HARD w/ 1/4 mile walk between intervals


1-2 mile easy cool-down


TOTAL: 6-8 miles

Workout #5

1-2 mile easy warm-up jog


Choose a pace that you think you could run comfortably for 30 minutes of running.


Every 1/4 mile, increase your incline by .5%, while keeping your treadmil at a consistent speed


Increase incline by .5% every quarter mile until you can no longer sustain the effort. Once you’re cashed out walk 1/4 mile then go into a 1-2 mile easy cool-down jog


TOTAL: 4+ miles

Effective Elliptical Training

I previously hated the elliptical with a passion.  Hated it. I thought it was for lazy people who wanted to watch TV or read US Weekly while they “worked out.” I also admit that during the few times I did hop on the elliptical I monotonously went through the motions like every other drone in the gym. No wonder I dreaded it. After being banged up a bit from putting in too many miles, I was dreadfully stuck on the elliptical day in and day out. It was then I realized the key to an effective (and non-resentful) elliptical workout is intervals. Once I found that out it was a game changer for me.  Seeing the elliptical is non-weight bearing, our bodies don’t have to work as hard to perform the exercise. We also recover more quickly from the elliptical than we do from running.  Thus, we need to bust our butts with high-intensity, heart racing interval work on the elliptical that will make the time (and your heart rate) fly.




Truth be told, it’s not only possible to maintain, but even improve your fitness by cross training through the obnoxiousness injury brings. Here are 3 elliptical workouts that will improve your aerobic capacity, and maintain your sanity.



1) 15 minute warm-up


15 x 1 minute HARD, 1 minute easy


15 minute cool-down


Total = 60 minutes


2) 15 minute warm-up


5 minutes HARD, 5 minutes easy


4 minutes HARD, 4 minutes easy


3 minutes HARD, 3 minutes easy


2 minutes HARD, 2 minutes easy


1 minute HARD, 1 minute easy


15 minute cool-down


Total = 60 minutes


3) 15 minute warm-up

Increase resistance level by 1 every 5 minutes until 45 minutes is reached. The entire workout your goal is to maintain the same speed while the resistanceincreases.


15 minute cool-down


Total = 60 minutes


This is a Kirk DeWindt Personal Training Article