How to prepare for an obstacle race

You’ve done a 5km run, you have maybe even done a trail run, but now you want a new challenge… something tougher. Look no further than your nearest Spartan Race… a race proven to test not only your running strength, but your upper body strength, leg power, crawling ability and mental toughness. Last week I was the second female (non-elite) finisher in the first Spartan race to come to Bahrain, so read on for my top tips to get through it in one piece…

TAGG Obstacle race prep

  • Train your upper body

You won’t do well in this race if you’re only ever running. Make the bench press and the lat pull down your best friend, so you’re ready to haul yourself over walls, climb ropes and swing across monkey bars


  • Practise combining resistance work with running

Incorporate high intensity intervals into your run training. Set a new challenge every 500m; do 30 burpees, 40 jump squats, 20 press ups etc, so you’re used to utilising other parts of your body, and then still able to get back up and run again.


  • Get good at crawling

No-one wants barbed wire in their bum. So practise leopard crawling on your belly, with your bum low, elbows and knees doing all the hard work. And keep your head low!


  • Train on the race terrain

Our race was on sand – a killer! If you’re not ready for this, it’s really going to sap your energy. Do a little research into your race route – is it hilly? Grass? Sand? Then train as you will race!


  • Don’t worry about what to wear on race day

Whatever you wear is likely to get trashed, so don’t put too much thought into it. You want it light and sweat wicking, not heavy cotton that will weigh you down once you get wet. Leave the accessories at home; if you’re a gadget lover like me, get over it and run without a watch. Better than breaking it! And there’s no need for gloves either. You want to feel the obstacles, and once the gloves are wet they’ll be just as slippery as your hands anyway.


  • Don’t overthink the obstacle

The best way to tackle the obstacle son race day is not to think about it. Don’t think how high the cargo net is, just climb it. Don’t think about how cold the water is, just crawl through it. If you stop and think, you won’t make it. There’s a real team spirit in these types f events, and if you can’t do an obstacle, it’s likely there’ll be someone near by willing to help you get over/under it!


  • Push yourself!

You’ve entered this type of event for a reason – you want a new challenge! So don’t wimp out and skip obstacles. Try each and every one, and see how capable you really are. I pushed myself to the max, and at every obstacle there were lighter ‘female’ options… but I wanted to at least try all the male options first, and I surprised myself by carrying the heavier sandbags, flipping the bigger tyres, and not needing any help getting up reverse inclined walls. And I sure felt proud at the end!

Bragging rights are well and truly deserved after completing an obstacle race like Spartan

There are so many races around like this now. In 2009 I did my first ‘Survival of the Fittest’ in Edinburgh and loved it. It makes your run training more interesting, and the sense of accomplishment at the end is unbeatable. If you want a specific training plan for a race you have coming up, comment below and I can share my training plans with you.

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