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  • Writer's pictureAlexa

How to train for an obstacle race!

I write bespoke training plans for all sorts of runners. From those starting out, those wanting to get faster or go longer or those struggling to find a training plan that fits them and their lives.

Sometimes a very specific request wings it’s way to me, and in this case Scott Barker got in touch to help improve the running element of his Spartan Obstacle Course racing performance!

What is Spartan? Is probably the best known brand of Obstacle Course racing events with races of varying distances all around the world. It’s a serious event with a good amount of training in strength as well as running to cover the distance of the events and complete the obstacles, for all levels of competitor.

Scott was already competing, and had a great base of fitness as well as some excellent results. He wanted help to improve his performance for the  Ultra distance Spartan race - racing over 30 miles with more than 60 obstacles! Last year he missed out on the podium by just over a minute - finishing in 4th. He was also looking to improve his rankings at a shorter 16 mile event 3 weeks later.

As Scott already had a weekly training routine that worked for him; including bouldering, strength work and specific obstacle training for his target events I didn’t change that routine. My focus was on making tweaks to the running elements to ensure we built endurance and worked on speed endurance and fatigue resistance. 

Each run had a specific aim to compliment his training; be that building distance, building speed or recovery from a hard week of training. I also worked with Scott to include some training sessions into his run commute. Helping training fit around life a little better. 

With a tough training schedule each week recovery was important so recovery days and recovery weeks where mileage and intensity dropped off were important to keep performance levels high.

it’s always an interesting balance to build distance without sacrificing speed. I took advantage of the “interval” style of the Spartan events, where the running is broken up by the obstacles to include sessions quite specifically to build on this whilst working on speed. Lots of tempo pace work. 

The three weeks between the 30+ and 16 mile event also required thought to schedule, allowing for recovery, a few key sessions and then a small taper.

The results Scott achieved were brilliant. First place at the super tough 30+ mile Ultra Beast event in Scotland. With a 2nd and 3rd back to back placing at the shorter events, securing his place as 3rd overall in the Elite rankings for this year. Well done Scott!

Fancy giving Obstacle Course Racing a try with Spartan? Scott has a promotional code; SPARTANSCOTT and it entitles you to 20% off open and age group waves. You can sign up with this code at

Photo of Scott on the podium with 2nd place

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