STRENGTHEN WITH AN OBSTACLE COURSE RACE TRAINING PLAN...THERE’S NO NEED TO ANSWER THE “CALL OF THE MUD”. Entering and competing in an obstacle course competition is NOT required for this sixth challenge!!! When resistance training is combined with aerobic exercise the health dividends are increased. A 6-week obstacle course training plan will be offered for those who are looking for a structured approach to incorporating strength work into aerobic sessions.
Earned Runs will feature a plan developed by Pete Williams that was released in 2013 by womensrunning.competitor.com. It was updated in October 2016, and presented in the article “Train for An Obstacle Course Race.” It’s designed to be performed outdoors.
The plan can be downloaded; it comes in 2 portions, weeks 1-3, and weeks 4-6, Monday to Sunday. The exercises are clearly meant to prepare trainees to function under conditions presented on an obstacle course: Burpees, pull-ups, mountain climbers, push-ups, triceps dips, planks, squat jumps, and monkey bars, to name some.
The workouts are defined as “Park Bench Routine” (PBR), “Interval Run” (IV), “Obstacle Run” (OR), “Park/Beach/Playground” (PBP) workout, “Active Recovery” (AR), and “Rest”. The total amount of workout time, spent repeating the exercise and run sequences, begins at 25 minutes and increasingly lengthens to 65 minutes. Each workout is different.
The Williams article is a good read. He spills the “dirty little secret of these races”, that “many participants walk the majority of the course”. Last summer, when I had completed only 1.5 weeks of his 6-week plan, I learned why. Performing the exercise sets, especially those with Burpees, left my legs so wobbly that the running sets were nearly impossible and even fast walking was difficult.
I followed Williams’ plan for the purpose of adapting it for use by those who won’t be aiming to finish an actual obstacle course. The Earned Runs ADAPTED PLAN is an alternative activity for someone who enjoys performing strength exercises outdoors during or after a walk or run, in a park or area with benches or structures that can be used to perform certain moves.
Changes were made to make the elements lower impact: 1) ‘run’ sections were changed to ‘run/walk’ sections, but the option to ‘run’ all remains; 2) jumping moves have been swapped-out with those that do not require hopping or bounding. The program is friendly to challengers who seek to strengthen, but not competitively test, the functional limits of their bodies. And to those who need to be kind to their joints.
My trial of this program during Summer 2018, while recovering from knee and calf injuries related to osteoarthritis, was a timely confidence booster. I wasn’t able to run at that time and wasn’t sure I would ever run again. Walking had replaced the aerobic exercise that had been my favorite for the past 40 years. It felt slow and much less rigorous than running, and I felt much older and rickety.
The addition of obstacle course training to walks dialed up the intensity of my workouts; it forced me to complete a number of tough new strength exercises nearly every day while still outdoors. There wasn’t the opportunity to become distracted or lazy and skip them after returning home. When finished, feeling tired and dirty from getting down in the beach sand, but accomplished, I headed back with the day’s fitness work DONE!
Even in rainy and foggy weather the obstacle training sessions were great experiences. However, there was a new difficulty to face. Embarrassment was the biggest obstacle to climb over/get around on the obstacle course. There were people out and about the park and walking paths all summer long, including parents with children enjoying the small playground that held equipment I needed for some exercises.
Each time I set out I hoped no one would see me drop to the ground to perform push-ups or hold planks, or struggle to hang from monkey bars and rings. I positioned myself to be as far away from the little tykes as possible, sometimes on the sandy edge of the play area. Over time my reticence to exercise in public diminished, especially with improvements in form and strength and a slight tan.
The 2019 Summer Challenge VI suggests committing to the Williams’ obstacle race training plan or the alternate Earned Runs Adapted Plan version. Another option is to customize one of these plans to fit your personal needs and abilities with your own changes; the Earned Runs Adapt Plan can serve as a model. (see NOTES below).
Commit to begin on Monday, June 3 and finish the first full week of July. After one to two weeks of rest, repeat again to stay in top shape all summer long into the first full week of September. Or begin whenever ready.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Of course, feel free to tinker with it and swap out exercises, change the repetitions or timing as you like.
Earned Runs 2019 SUMMER CHALLENGE VI Obstacle Course Adapted Plan calendar PDF
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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