Prepping for an Obstacle Course Race or Mud Run

Rather Listen?

Thinking of doing an obstacle course race (OCR) or mud run this spring or summer? Or maybe you’ve already signed up and now you’re thinking, “How can I prep for this thing?”

The Foundation:

The best and most important thing that you can do is be generally fit and well-rounded. Following a program that builds stamina, strength, endurance, and coordination — like the Daily Street Parking workouts — will prepare you VERY well! 

In fact, if “all” you do to get ready are the Street Parking Daily Workouts 5-6 days a week — with 2-3 of those days at a relatively high intensity — you’ll be adequately prepared for nearly any obstacle course race you sign up for!

But, you can also ask yourself a few questions and add in a bit more “focused” work if you have the time and desire to do so.

How long is your race? Is extra running necessary?

If your race is longer than 5K (roughly 3 miles), you may think about adding in some additional run training. Simply adding a longer run on top of, or in place of, one of the regular Daily Workouts is plenty to prepare your body.

The goal from this additional run training is to get your muscles and energy systems accustomed to moving continuously (and being on your feet) for a longer duration. Often, it is not an athlete’s “cardio” that is a problem at longer durations (if they are generally fit), but the muscular stamina that gives out.

Street Parking offers many options if you are interested in adding in additional run training. Depending on how much time you have from now until your race, and how much running you are already comfortable with, you could start with the Endurance On-Ramp program or dive right into the 52 Week Endurance workouts (running option). Another option: Look into Sessions 2 and 3 of the Extra Endurance program each week for 5-6 weeks. Those two sessions in particular will allow for you to get some speed/interval work in, along with 30 minutes of steady-state running. 

As previously mentioned, we don’t want to bias our training TOO much toward running when preparing for this type of event. We need to keep in mind the OBSTACLES are also a big part of these races. For this reason, using the 5K Run program may be a little on the excessive side. It’s not a bad idea, but because it’s three sessions per week, that leaves fewer available training days to do Daily Workouts or any other preparation for the obstacles you’ll encounter on the race.

What type of terrain are you going to experience?

Will you be running in a hilly or mountainous race? Or will your run be mostly flat?

It is important that your body is accustomed to going up and (maybe even more critical) DOWN hills, if that is a part of your planned event.

This doesn’t mean that you need to find hills for every training session — or even once a week. But at least several times before your race you will want to go for a nice trail run or hike with some good hills to work on the strength, stamina, and balance required for uneven and hilly terrain, as this will even help you mentally be ready.

Street Parking Members can also look into some of the Rucking Program workouts and then find some hills to complete a few of those sessions on to prepare. Another great option would be to add in some of the sled work you can find in the Dirty Work workouts. That type of PUSH will transfer well to those long climbs!

Finally, you can work to prevent knee pain or injury — and build bomb-proof joints — by adding in some single leg and hamstring/glute-focused work. Movements like step ups, single leg deadlifts, lunges, and deadlifts are critical to build strength in the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings). This will balance the muscles on the front side (quads) and build more stable knees much less prone to pain and injury. Street Parking Members can find 3 collections of our famous Butts and Guts program (in Strength Extra Programs) that are designed perfectly for this!

Preparing for the Obstacles:

The programs you choose to incorporate in training for your specific race will depend on the type of race you are signed up for! But here are a few suggestions:

Build your GRIP by using Dumbbells!

If you plan on only using the Daily Workouts to train for the race, we recommend opting for the dumbbell version (Program A) more often than not, as dumbbell work is fantastic for improving grip stamina. To take it a step further, it may be a good idea to use dumbbells that are slightly (or significantly) lighter than you typically do and challenge yourself to hang onto them for longer during the workout. 

Add in some Farmer Carries or Sandbag Carries!

Another way you can modify the Daily Workouts for obstacle course training would be to occasionally swap out running with a Farmer Carry. For every 200 meters of running, you’d carry for 100 meters (or for 1 accumulated minute). If you’d prefer to keep the running as is, you could always add a few 100 meter carries as a finisher to 1-2 workouts each week!

If you know your race has you working with odd objects like sandbags or logs, you may choose to add in some sandbag carries when workouts call for farmer carries or running. And of course, the Street Parking Sandbag workouts (Specialty Extra Programs) are another great option to get comfortable with moving weight that is unstable and not as simple as a barbell or pair of dumbbells.

Improve your ability to HANG ON!

Many obstacle course races require you to hang on to a rope or cross some monkey bars. Upper body strength (specifically hanging) is crucial to feeling comfortable there.

Adding in some pull-up bar hang intervals or max hangs as a post-workout “cash-out” can be a simple way to work on that type of grip strength.

You can also look into some of the Street Parking Gymnastics programs to build your pulling and hanging ability. Check out the Bodyweight Strength program or the Pull Up Extra Programs (Bodyweight Extra Programs). Even if you don’t do the FULL workout for each one, adding in a few of the elements to build up stamina will pay off on race day!

Join US!

The Street Parking Team is participating in TWO obstacle course races this Spring! Come run with us at these events:

Tough Mudder in LA on April 1

Spartan Race in Austin on May 21