The Biggest Myth In Obstacle Course Racing

I hear it all the time. At this point it’s got to be the biggest myth in obstacle course racing

To be honest… It’s partially true.

And I’ll get more to the “partially true” part in a just a minute. But first…

The myth: “You have to become a runner to be an obstacle course racer”

True or False? Your gut says true, huh? Mine did at first too…

The BIGGEST concern my obstacle course racing clients talk about during our consult is running…

“I’m afraid of not making it to the finish line…”obstacle race training

“I know the obstacles will be tough but what if I puke when I’m running… or pass out?”

“I want to do a Spartan Race but I get shin splints when I run a lot. How can I still get ready?”

It’s as if obstacle course racing and training for a marathon go hand in hand… but it doesn’t have to be.

I’m sure this goes against everything you believe. Yet hear me out because I’m going to save you from hours of wasted time running each week…

At the very least, I’ll show you some research and let you decide.

First, I need to address the obvious… yes, you have to run anywhere between 3 – 12 miles at any given obstacle course race. It’s unavoidable. Mandatory. Necessary for success. But do you have to become a “runner” to cross the finish line?


It’s important to know what I mean by “becoming a runner”. I’m talking about the need to go for several long distance runs throughout the week to prep for your race… Something I see a lot of obstacle course racers doing…

And at first, many of my first time obstacle race training clients believed this myth to be true… I’d even get emails saying, “Joe, are you sure this is enough running?”

And for the veteran racers, I’d have to quickly snap them out of their runner’s high and explain how our game-plan of how less running will get them MORE results and faster results too… But how?

For one, it’s destroying the only hormones known to increase your performance, give you more endurance and help build strength for conquering obstacles… You can read more about obstacle race training and hormones in my recent article, the “Silent Killer of Spartan Racers”, Here.

I’ll ask you this…

Is running more really the best way to increase endurance? Check out this study:

obstacle course racing doctorJust a few months ago, the British Journal of Sports Medicine compared a group of volunteers who ran 5 times each week for 60 minutes per session and a group who ran 3 times per week with only 12 minutes per session. The result?

In just 6-weeks the group of participants who spent only 36 minutes running each week had significantly greater cardiovascular improvements compared to the participants who ran 5 hours per week… This is the same running protocol used in the 6-Week Obstacle Overtake System.

Note: The group that ran 5 hours per week did make improvements. They just weren’t as good as the group who only ran 36 minutes per week.

There’s a reason why my clients and I use this form of cardio. They make massive cardiovascular progress and we get to focus on building strength and dominating obstacles with our simulation training instead of wasting training time running. It’s the ultimate triple-threat training.

As a trainer, I have another focus for my obstacle course racing clients. Keeping them healthy while they progressively become more fit and get stronger for their race. With that said, too much running increases your risk of injury. So much so, you may not even make it to the starting line of your race.

Image training for hours and hours, gearing up for your obstacle course race only to throw in the towel due to injury… Or even worse, running yourself into a chronic “endurance Obstacle Course Raceinjury”. What do I mean?

Recent research has shown as many as 79% of runners get injured at least once during the year. That’s a whole lot of runners. And I don’t like those odds for my clients or for you.

That’s nearly 8 out of 10 runners getting injured each year. You’ve probably had to suffer through some of these:

Plantar Fasciitis: Painful inflammation at the bottom of your feet that feels like a nagging, sharp and painful sensation near the base of the heel that can be annoying and paralyzing. The pain has been described like stepping down on a nail. Not something you want deal with training for your obstacle course race, right?

Shin Splints: This is the most common of them all. A good chunk of my obstacle course racing clients express a history of shin splints before we start the program. Shin splints feel like a searing pain in the shin area, stretching from just above the ankle to below the knee cap. After a few miles into your run, the pain of shin splints may disappear, however they come back with a vengeance right after and days to follow.

Runner’s Knee: If you’re feeling a constant ache underneath your knee cap when you run, chances are you’re suffering from runner’s knee. This syndrome only gets worse with more running and requires a rest period stretching from a few weeks to several months.

Now you see why I’m so “anti-running”… More harm than good.

If “becoming a runner” was the only way you’d be successful at obstacle course racing, then I’d tell you to suck it up and do it… Fortunately, there’s a better way. And pain is NOT gain.

In running’s defense, I will have my clients do one distance session per week… your body needs to know what it feels like to endure a several mile run… There’s a formula you will want to follow to make the most out of it.

Here’s A Quick Blueprint I Give Most Of My
Obstacle Course Racing Clients…

Week 1: Run as long as you can. Be sure to log your mileage and time.

The next week – complete 0.5 – 1 mile longer than the previous week. Even if that means walking the last half mile. You must complete a longer distance.

This weekly progression will improve your endurance and challenge your mental and physical toughness to complete the run.

This is ONLY ONE type of cardio I use with my clients to improve endurance. You can read more about the other forms of training I use with my clients HERE.

So really, you have two choices. You can run the risk of damaging your hormones and being one of the 8/10 runners who get injured each year. All while wasting hours and hours of your week running the trails or hitting the treadmill…

Or you can consider shortening up your running workouts and getting better results, reserving more time for obstacle simulation training and strength training so you can dominate your upcoming obstacle course race.

My clients and I take the ladder. However, the choice is yours.



Joe LoGalbo is an obstacle race trainer for racers of all levels - elite and beginners. He is also the creator of the revolutionary Obstacle Race Training systems: Obstacle Overtake System, Obstacle Insanity Program, Obstacle Beast Program, and The Short Course Crushers Program. Joe is passionately providing the OCR community with expert training and nutrition articles and videos daily.

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