Running a Race with Obstacles

Photo By: foxypar4

So you have signed up to run the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, or another type of race with obstacles. Good for you! Not only because you signed up for a race, but signed up for a race that is a little more unusual than a normal 5K or 10K.

Below are a few tips for preparing to and running these type of races. Obviously, if you are just looking to run the race and do not care about competing (like 95% of the people who run these events) than you may not have to train as much as you think. The Tough Mudder race is a bit more challenging but not impossible (but may require a bit more training than races like the Warrior Dash).

Training for the Event

  • Make sure you can run the distance – if the race with obstacles is a 5K, make sure you can run a 5K (if not longer). You can walk between the obstacles if you’d like, but you want to at least be in somewhat good shape for the event.
  • Trail running may help – running the sidewalk or road is fine, but most of these races take place on the trail so preparing for this type of atmosphere will only help.
  • Simple upper body strengthening – you don’t need to go all out, bench pressing 300 lbs, but you may want to incorporate some push-ups, squat thrusts, lunges to help build some muscle mass before the race.
  • Interval running – since you will be running and then stopping at an obstacle, and then running again, it may be beneficial for you to incorporate interval running into your training. Run at a faster pace than normal for 3-5 minutes, slow down for 2-3 minutes and repeat.


  • Throw away shoes – make sure you are wearing shoes that you are comfortable in and will be able to toss after the event. The shoes will get muddy, dirty, and torn and will more than likely see there last bit of life during this event. Make sure to bring other shoes for after as well!
  • Spare clothes – it’s fun to walk around covered in mud from head to toe, but it gets old pretty quickly. Once you have time to shower off at least some of the mud, have some spare clothes to change in to. Consider the “racing clothes” done after the race as well.
  • Warm up – even if you are not “competing” in this race, you want to make sure you  do not pull a muscle and hinder yourself from running or training for other events. This is especially important for these type of races with obstacles.
  • Lace up those shoes – with the water and mud that you will be trenching through you want to make sure that your shoes are as tight as possible or they may slip off in the mud. The last thing you need is to be going barefoot through the course.

During the Race

  • Get in front – if you are looking to compete, you may want to get as close to the front of the wave as possible. As your group starts and gets to an obstacle (all at relatively the same time) you may have to wait until you can even begin the obstacle. If you are out in front you may not have to wait as long.
  • It’s a race, but slow down at obstacles – yes, you are being timed, but you want to make sure you are as safe as possible. Although some of the obstacles may not be that demanding, you may be tired, hot, stressed and could easily fall and injure yourself. Safety first!
  • Watch for others – if you have the “luxury” of being around a whole bunch of people when you are doing the obstacles, make sure to know where everyone is. You do not want to kick, punch, scratch another racer, nor do you want them to do the same things to you. It’s kind of like driving – be a defensiver runner!

Can you think of any other tips? Comment below!

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