Training to Compete

Prepare for race day with these exercises

Recently, the Spartan Race World Championships took place in Killington, Vermont. The weekend truly ushered in the next level of the evolution from it being a weekend activity to a full-blown sport. With cash prizes for top 10 athletes in both the men’s and women’s categories to the tune of $15,000 for the top man and woman, the money is there. NBC Sports was also on hand to film the championship race with a feature airing October 19 on their cable station, so the media has taken notice.

DG19-TRAINING-TO-COMPETE-ins2It was an exciting weekend in the Green Mountain State! As more and more get interested in the sport, more want to know different ways to train to really compete. Unlike many other sports, there are many ways to train for obstacle course racing. Below are three of the best things you can be doing in your training to make race day the best it can be!

1. Trail Running – As we have mentioned before in previous articles, running in the fundamental skill in obstacle course racing. Running on trails adapts your body to the demands of running in the mountains, mud and water. Seek out a trail near you and spend at least a day or two getting to be friends.

2. CrossFit – It is undeniable the explosion of popularity of CrossFit in the last couple of years. What makes CrossFit such a good fit for obstacle course racing? The first is many of the tools used in racing are similar to those you find in WODs— rope climbs, sandbag carries, atlas carries, jump rope, tires and other random objects can be found in any race or box. Secondly, it builds strength, explosiveness and overall body awareness that is completely adaptable on race day. Finally, it teaches intensity and helps give you the push to complete an obstacle on race day, aka grit.

3. Rock Climbing – This is an often overlooked training tool but an important cross-training skill to have in your pocket on race day. Rock climbing is one of the best things you can do to build grip strength— after 10-15 minutes of bouldering around a gym, your hands will feel it. Rock climbing teaches balance, and many obstacles on race day require concentration and balance, both of which are taught in rock climbing. Finally, rock climbing forces you to get comfortable being uncomfortable, which is a tenant of racing. Each time a new route is attempted, it’s uncomfortable and causes you to focus and trust yourself.

These three cross-training exercises are perfect ways to get you more comfortable for race day. Whether you find your love on the trails, in the gym, or climbing a rock face, a balance of all three will help you to succeed on race day. The key is to make sure you have a mix and do not rely on just one skill.

That’s the dirt for this week— get out, find a trail, box and climbing gym, and start on your way to success today! Next week we look into involving the family in the sport and ways to get the kids involved!

Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter, the first professional female obstacle course racer, is a top ranked athlete in the Reebok Spartan Race series. She is also an endurance athlete specializing in ultra trail running races, a Spartan SGX Coach, and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She founded, a leading source for all things obstacle course racing and endurance sports. For more information on Margaret, her upcoming book and online coaching services.

Margaret's book "Obstacle Race Training: How to Beat any Course, Compete Like a Champion and Change Your Life" is available for PRE-SALE! Click HERE to reserve your copy.

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