Training plan: Going the distance

Overcome any impediment you may face in an OCR with this eight-week strength and conditioning plan

FORGET 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, or even triathlons. Obstacle course races are unique in that you won’t know quite what lies ahead of you until you’re at the starting line. Most race directors pride themselves on surprising participants with challenges that will push competitors in both body and spirit, from barbed-wire crawls to icy cold water crossings. But there are usually a few commonalities: Most contain a combination of running over rugged terrain plus obstacles that rely heavily on functional fitness, from wall and rope climbs to heavy carries and monkey bars.

Joe DiStefano, C.S.C.S., director of sports for Spartan Race, has put together a two-month training plan to help you push to the finish line feeling exhilarated. “The difference between randomized workouts and actual training for an event like a Spartan Race is focusing on a strategic mental and physical outcome that will be put to the test,” he notes. “Following this program is the real deal!”

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How it works

Each week of training has a run day, a strength day, a stamina/interval day, and an endurance day. You choose which days you train and which days you don’t, but stick to this order of workouts throughout the week and get all four in between Monday and Sunday. You’ll find intensities listed many of the workouts.

Use your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) on a scale of 1–10, with 10 being a 100% or maximal effort, says DiStefano.

1. WEEK 1 Pretesting

RUN

Three miles as fast as you can

STRENGTH

A. Maximum hand-release pushups (Do as many as you can for one minute) Begin your pushup with your chest on the floor, hands spread out to sides like the wings of an airplane. Bring hands back to floor near chest and push up.

B. Dead Hang

Grip an overhead bar or rings shoulder-width apart. Hang with feet suspended and arms extended for as long as you can without losing form, keeping shoulders down and chest up.

INTERVALS/STAMINA

Max burpees: Do as many as you can in five minutes.

ENDURANCE:

Hike as far as you can for 60 minutes.

2. WEEKS 2 & 3 – Phase 1

RUN

2½ miles at 85% (RPE: 8-9)

STRENGTH

Do these as a superset; rest 60 seconds between sets.

Part 1 A. Negative Pullup (four sets of 5 reps) Do a

Do a pull-up, then descend for eight seconds.

Beginners: jump to chinover-bar position before lowering for eight seconds.

B. 3-minute Bucket Carry (Carry the weight in front of you—at least 35 –50 lbs)

Part 2 High-plank Hold Accumulate a total of five minutes.

INTERVALS/STAMINA

Part 1 7 Burpees “on the minute” (Do 7 burpees, remainder of the minute is rest); total of 10 minutes.

Part 2 800M (½-mile) run: Run at 75% intensity (RPE: 7–8); do four sets, resting one minute between sets.

ENDURANCE

Hike as far as you can for 90 minutes.

3. WEEKS 4 & 5 – Phase 2

RUN

3.5 miles at 85% (RPE: 8–9)

STRENGTH

Do these as a superset; rest one minute between sets.

Part 1 A. Burpee Pullup (four sets of 10 reps) Do your burpees below a pullup bar. At the vertical jump portion of each rep, do a pullup (chest to bar).

B. Bucket Carry Stepup (3 minutes, 35–50 lbs) Use a 16-inch step. Goal is 50 steps total/set.

Part 2 Walking Lunge 300 feet, as fast as possible.

Part 3 Dead Hang Accumulate a total of five minutes.

INTERVALS/STAMINA

Part 1 Burpees 30 sec. on, 30 sec. off (four minutes total). Goal: Do at least 10 reps per set.

Part 2 Run 800m at 80%, Rest 45 seconds (four sets).

Part 3 Burpees 30 sec. on, 30 sec. off (four minutes total). Goal: Do at least 10 reps per set.

ENDURANCE

Hike as far as you can for two hours.

4. WEEKS 6 & 7 – Phase 3

RUN

Five miles at 85% (RPE: 8-9)

STRENGTH

Do these as a superset; rest 60 seconds between sets.

Part 1 A. Hand-release Burpee Pullup (four sets of 15 reps) When on the floor in the burpee, bring your chest all the way down and release your hands out to the sides; come back to pushup position and push back to standing. Bring chest to pullup bar as you come up.

B. Bucket Carry Stepup (three minutes): Use a 16-inch step. Goal is n60 steps/set.

Part 2 Walking Lunge 300m, as fast as possible.

Part 3 Dead Hang Accumulate a total of five minutes.

INTERVALS/STAMINA

Part 1 Run 800m at 80%. Rest 30 seconds; six sets.

Part 2 Burpee 60 sec. on, 60 sec. off (10 minutes total). Goal: Do at least 20 reps per set.

ENDURANCE

Hike as far as you can for three hours.

5. WEEK 8 – Taper/Prerace

RUN

Three miles as fast as possible; compare to Week 1

STRENGTH

A. Max Hand-release Pushup Do as many as possible for one minute; compare to Week 1.

B. Dead Hang Hold for as long as possible; compare to Week 1.

INTERVALS/STAMINA

Burpees (do as many as you can in five minutes).

ENDURANCE

Hike as far as you can for one hour.

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