Tag Archives: obstacle race training

Mr. Media Features ‘Obstacle Fit’

By Pete Williams

Bob Andelman (aka “Mr. Media”) usually interviews actors, TV stars, and media personalities. This week he was nice enough to devote a 30-minute Skype interview to obstacle racing and my new book Obstacle Fit. Please check out the interview.


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ObstacleFit.com Launched

By Pete Williams

ObstacleFit3 With the recent publication of our e-book Obstacle Fit, we’ve launched a companion website – ObstacleFit.com – that will cover all things related to the booming sport of obstacle racing.

We’ll continue to to cover the world of Florida endurance sports, including Florida-specific obstacle races, here at EnduranceSportsFlorida.com. But if you’re looking for the definitive site for obstacle race news, training tips, and videos, as well as a comprehensive list of races around North America, check out ObstacleFit.com.

Obstacle Fit the book – Your Complete Training Program to Run Fast, Conquer Challenges, and Discover Your Inner Spartan, Mudder, or Warrior,” was released last month and is available at the moment for just $4.24 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

PeteHanging“Obstacle Fit is a must-read for anyone who wants to race at their peak,” says Adam Campbell, the fitness director of Men’s Health magazine. “Pete Williams has created a cutting-edge training plan that will help you perform better, reduce your risk of injury, and literally overcome any obstacle in your way.”

“Obstacle Fit is exactly what I’d expect from a masterful writer like Pete,” says Lou Schuler, co-author of the “New Rules of Lifting series. “It tells you as much as you’d ever want to know about the subject, including how to train for it, in Pete’s signature writing style – upbeat and entertaining while also thorough and useful. If you currently race, or have any interest in starting, this is the book you need.”

An excerpt from the Obstacle Fit book appeared today on Livestrong.com.



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Want to Dominate Obstacle Races? Get Obstacle Fit

ObstacleFit3Obstacle Fit, a new training program e-book to prepare for obstacle races and get in the best shape of your life, is now available.

Written by Pete Williams, editor of EnduranceSportsFlorida.com and an avid obstacle racer, Obstacle Fit is your complete training program to run fast, conquer challenges, and discover your inner Spartan, Mudder, or Warrior.

Williams is a certified personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the co-author of a number of prominent fitness books. Obstacle Fit is currently available for just $4.24 at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

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Triathlon Training by Obstacle Racing

By Pete Williams

The bike leg at Fort DeSoto Park

ST. PETERSBURG – I wedged my way through the crowd Saturday for a look at the results of the Top Gun Triathlon, doing a double take at the number next to my name.


I had broken an hour in a sprint-distance triathlon for the first time anywhere, including three previous attempts at Top Gun. This despite riding my bike just once since the St. Anthony’s Triathlon three months ago and undergoing just three modest swim workouts during that period.

Granted, the Top Gun swim course apparently was 80 yards shy of its usual quarter-mile and nobody could remember more favorable conditions for the 10-mile bike. The giant American flag at the entrance to Fort DeSoto park was still, the park’s notorious winds absent.

Still, I ran a fastest-ever 5K run leg at Fort DeSoto, broke my overall PR (set in 2009) by four minutes and finished seven minutes ahead of last year’s effort. I finished 32 seconds ahead of a friend of mine the same age who I’d never beaten, a guy who finished four minutes ahead of me in mid-April at the Escape from Fort DeSoto Triathlon, a slightly longer course, and who crushed me by thirty-one minutes at the Olympic-distance St. Anthony’s Triathlon two weeks later.

Later on Saturday, I headed to Crystal River for the Twilight Triathlon and finished three minutes faster than last year – despite doing two triathlons in one day.

How could this be?

Maybe I’m onto a training secret: get faster by not training. This could be a best-selling book.

Actually, it probably has a lot to do with training for obstacle races. I’ve done nine in the last nine months, ranging from the 5K (Warrior Dash, Highlander, Mud Crusade, Hog Wild) to the 5-6 mile range (Savage Race, Dirty Foot Adventure Run) to the 9-mile Super Spartan Race  to the 12-mile Tough Mudder. Then there was the YAKathon, sort of the middle ground between obstacle racing and triathlon with a 1-mile kayak (or stand-up paddle), 6-mile mountain bike ride, and 5K obstacle run.

Some triathletes scoff at obstacle racing since there’s little-to-no swimming involved and because some participants walk much of the course.

But if you push yourself through obstacle work, both in preparation and the race itself, it’s a brutal all-around workout that produces incredible results. Consider:

TRANSITION TIMES: One of the toughest things about triathlon is transitioning between the swim and the bike and the bike and the run. It’s not just a matter of efficiently changing gear but also catching your breath, getting your legs to adjust, and maintaining speed. Even the best triathletes struggle with transition at times, especially running the first half mile after the bike when your legs feel like cement.

Still, that’s only two transitions. Obstacle races have two dozen running-obstacle-running transitions. Sure, the transitions are more modest, but there’s a lot more of them. Obstacle races are won by people who clear obstacles quickly and regain their speed immediately. Do enough of those and triathlon transitions seem a lot easier.

It’s funny. After doing a lot of obstacle races, it no longer bothers you to run 1.5 miles in sand during a triathlon, as is the case with Top Gun. In fact, it feels easier not having to stop and deal with an obstacle every couple hundred yards.

During triathlons, you’ll often get passed on the run by people who appear to have fresh legs. Some of them do, since they’re competing as part of relay teams. But on Saturday I passed a few people with “R” on their right calves. Part of that is conditioning from obstacle race transitions. The rest has to do with interval training and obstacle-specific work.

INTERVAL TRAINING: It’s no secret that interval training, alternating between hard bursts of effort and lighter recovery periods, is the most effective way to get faster. But runners and triathletes often fall into a lull of training long and slow. I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone.

But obstacle races encourage interval training. Traditional running intervals are effective (i.e. two minutes running hard, two minutes walking or jogging, etc.) but what really works is alternating between strength moves and running.

National races like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race have aligned themselves closely with CrossFit. It makes sense since all three have soared in popularity over the last two years and all three market themselves as grueling, tough-as-nails endeavors.

The one shortcoming with CrossFit is that there’s not much running involved. CrossFitters often cruise through obstacles at races but move slowly between the challenges. (Of course, a lot of runners and triathletes race through the course but struggle with the obstacles.)

But if you can alternate between strength/core moves and running, as the folks at the CrossFit gym TNL Tampa do on Saturday mornings, you have an effective program to thrive in obstacle races. Eric Stratman, the owner of CrossFit, says he jumps in an occasional triathlon and does reasonably well despite not training like a triathlete.

I was skeptical of his claims until Saturday. Apparently if you want to be a faster triathlete, cut down the hours on the bike, swim, and run and just train for a few obstacle races.



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Endurance Strength Training on ABC Action News

By Pete Williams

Strength and endurance need not be mutually exclusive. If you’re someone who has gotten into obstacle racing, you understand the importance of being able to demonstrate strength over both time and distance.

In this recent segment for ABC Action News here in the Tampa Bay area, I teamed with trainers Sophia Zayfman and Nichole Franklin Falzon to show several moves that build strength endurance. We shot this at TNL Tampa, where I train regularly for obstacle races such as Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Savage Race.


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Obstacle Race Training at TNL Tampa

By Pete Williams

The dreaded farmer’s carry

TAMPA – We made it back to TNL Tampa for what I’ve been calling “Tough Mudder Training” ever since I showed up last summer at the CrossFit gym near Westchase.

Back then, TNL owner Eric Stratman took some traditional CrossFit workouts of the day (WODs) every other Saturday morning and interspersed 400-meter and 800-meter runs to make the workouts better simulate obstacle races such as Tough Mudder. After dealing with that torture all summer and fall, I had no problem with Tough Mudder and found such training to be one of the most effective, time-efficient workouts I’ve come across.

These days, TNL puts on such workouts every Saturday morning, though it’s closer to a traditional CrossFit WOD, with little running. This morning’s workout had just one 400-meter run, so I tweaked it for myself to more closely resemble the Tough Mudder training. Here’s what it looked like:

400m run
11 Burpees
40 pushups
400m run
40 wall ball (throwing 14 or 20lb med ball up 10-12 feet onto wall)
11 Burpees
400m run
40 tire flips
11 Burpees
400m run
40 ball slams (20 or 30lb balls)
11 Burpees
400m run
40 overhead walking lunges (25 or 45lb plate)
11 Burpees
400m run
200m farmer’s carry (45lb plates or lighter dumbbells/kettlebells)

Flipping tires is an incredible exercise for developing lower body power.

We’re especially fond of moves like the farmer’s carry, tire flips, and the walking overhead lunge. All of those develop power and endurance strength and if you can handle those you’ll have no problem making it through any obstacle race. I made it through this workout twice before time was called at roughly the one-hour mark. What an ass kicker.

Afterward, we filmed five fitness segments that will air every Sunday beginning next week, June 10, on ABC 28 here in the Tampa Bay area. (They’re always posted online shortly thereafter.) Thanks to Nichole Franklin of TNL and Sophia Zayfman for doing the heavy lifting.

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Training for Triathlons via Obstacle Races

By Pete Williams

Triathlon and obstacle race training complement each other well, except when it comes to wardrobe.

Are obstacle races the new triathlons? Judging by the unbridled growth of Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and other events at a time when interest in triathlon seems flat, that might be the case.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether obstacle racing is a more effective way to train than slogging it out via swim-bike-run, which can be repetitive, monotonous, and potentially damaging to the joints.

Last year I did fewer triathlons but completed six obstacle races. This year I’ve done three obstacle races (Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Savage Race), although tri season has not started.

With the Escape from Fort DeSoto (April 14) and St. Anthony’s (April 29) triathlons rapidly approaching, it dawned on me Friday that I’m way behind on triathlon training. Aside from races, I’ve been on my bike just once since August and have been in a pool just four times since Halloween.

But I’ve done a lot of obstacle race training – integrated strength and interval running sessions that might be the most efficient way to train. I had a hunch that work had put me on track to be ready for next month’s triathlons. This past weekend would be an interesting case study.

On Saturday a dozen friends entrusted me with leading an obstacle race training session at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota. I brought no equipment other than a few small cones to mark off distance. Anything else we’d have to find on the beach.

Here’s what I came up with, borrowing pieces from books I’ve had the honor of writing with Mark Verstegen and Brody Welte:

Warm-up (knee hugs, lateral lunges, drop lunges, butt kickers, leg throwdowns, donkey pulls)

5-10-5 shuttle run (3 times through)

1/4 mile run

Park bench routine (alternating pushups/dips) 12-10-8-4-2 (concrete slabs used instead of park bench)

1/4 mile run

Burpees (12)

300 yard run to volleyball net, simulating blocking on both sides

100 yard run

Park bench routine – 6-4-2

400 yard sprint to finish

We started around 11 a.m. and the heat added to the degree of difficulty, but since most obstacle races take place mid-day, that was appropriate. It was typical of a lot of workouts I’ve done during the last six months, a few of which I’ve chronicled on ABC Action News here in the Tampa Bay area.

On Sunday, I returned to my triathlon training group for the first time since November and just the second time in the last year. This is a group I struggle to keep up with on a good day and figured I’d get dropped early on the 30-mile ride because of the layoff.

Instead I hung on with no problem, took a stint pulling early in the ride, and managed a five-mile run after.

This doesn’t mean one form of training is necessarily better, though there’s a tendency in triathlon training to drift into long, slow distance training instead of more effective interval sessions. Obstacle race training forces you to stay on target.

Bottom line is variety is the most important element of any workout regimen.

That and having great friends as training partners.

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Obstacle Race Training Returns to TNL Tampa

By Pete Williams

James Bellamy overhead lunging

When Eric Stratman started a Tough Mudder training program at his TNL Tampa CrossFit gym last summer, he figured he’d draw a steady crowd to his every-other-Saturday program.

That happened, of course, and we were more than prepared for Tough Mudder, which does not come back to the Tampa Bay area (Fort Meade, actually) until Dec. 1. The 75-minute routines we worked our way up to late in the program might have been tougher than the actual race.

Stratman already is drawing crowds getting ready for other races, such as next month’s Mud Crusade, and we were among the 40 or so athletes who gathered at TNL on Saturday.

Here’s what the workout looked like:

400 meter run

15 tire flips

400 meter run

25 walking lunges with a weight plate held overhead (45 pounds for men, 25 for women)

400 meter run

25 box jumps (on tires)

400 meter run

15 pull-ups

400 meter run

Side tire tosses (100 yards)

800 meter run

That’s a lot more running than the average CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) but that’s to better mimic an actual obstacle race. Most trainees on hand Saturday completed one circuit – at an average of 25 minutes – though a few kept going for an hour. The (free) program continues every other Saturday (March 31 next) at 10 a.m.

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Obstacle Race Training on ABC 28

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