Whether it’s a Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, they’re gaining in popularity,” said Stinson, MS, a certified performance enhancement specialist with Memorial SportsCare.
Though more people are participating, these competitive events — which combine off-road running through fields or rough terrain and challenging obstacles — are not for everyone, Stinson cautioned. Training is very different from training for a traditional road race.
“A Tough Mudder’s typical course is 10 to 12 miles with 20 to 25 obstacles,” Stinson said. “When I signed up in February for an October race, I had never run further than three miles. During my first three weeks of training, I focused on increasing my running base to a minimum of four to five miles. Then I added various obstacles after each mile. I was shocked at how progressively more difficult each mile became after the obstacles.”
Before signing up to compete in this type of race, he recommends that every participant have previously competed in a traditional race, such as a 5K or 10K and be able to run at least three consecutive miles.
To prepare for this race, you should strive to complete a run/obstacle workout at least three times a week and work out on two additional days with further cardio or strength training.*
Stinson suggests a workout that includes:
- Warm-up. Five to 10 minutes of easy jogging, grapevine, alternate sides, high knees or butt kicks and gentle stretching.
- Running. In between obstacles, run one to two miles at a comfortable pace. Let your body be your guide and gradually work up to 12 total miles.
- Obstacles. Work up to 60 seconds for each obstacle and focus on increasing your upper body strength. Obstacles can include monkey bars or pull-ups on a play set, push-ups or mountain climbers (stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with hands on the ground to assume a high plank position; keeping your upper body still, draw your feet to your hands, one at a time as if climbing a mountain). Moving a sandbag or log from one point to the next and back is another option. For more ideas, watch Joshua Grant, an athletic trainer with Memorial SportsCare as he takes a strength-building workout outside.
When signing up online, many of these race sites provide sample workouts at various intensity levels or a daily workout email.
Need an extra boost in your training? Memorial SportsCare offers a Healthy Lifestyle Program or Sports Enhancement Program to help you train for an event by offering customized exercise instruction based on your goals.
*To reduce your risk of injury and before beginning any new exercise plan, please consult your physician.