Question

I have been working out (weight training and cardio) and shrinking in size since Sept. I’ve never been a runner, but since I’ve had my 2nd daughter 2 years ago, it seems my muscles have forgotten what a simple jog is.

I look like a kid trying to run for the first time; like I’m not able to get it out of 1st gear. I also have exercise induced asthma. I stopped taking all my medications for it about 4-5 years because I know I can control it without it.

My brother wants me to run in the Warrior Dash in July 2013. First of all is this possible to train for in such a short period of time? Second, how should I go about starting the training for it?  - April Miller

Answer

Yes, you have plenty of time to prepare for the Warrior Dash being 6 months away, especially since you mention you have been active since at least the last 3 months.  I think in your case you might be experiencing some trepidation with all the marketing and hype of the obstacle portion of these events.

As far as your exercise induced asthma make sure you can in fact control it and do not hesitate to seek medical attention should you have issues with it in your training.

The Warrior Dash is a short distance event of 3 – 4 miles unlike it’s long distance counterpart Tough Mudder which exceeds 10 miles.  While the hype of the Warrior Dash is the obstacles like the one shown above, the fact is the majority of a Warrior Dash course is actually running and not negotiating obstacles.

Another thing to consider is that Warrior Dash events are designed for all ability levels meaning you don’t have to be a hardcore athlete or in incredible shape to attempt them.  That being said, there is some risk and if are not adequately prepared you will find the experience harder than it needs to be.

For your training, you should approach it similar to how you would for a 5K or 10K.  It is your endurance rather than your strength that will carry you through the race.  Since you mentioned your running needs work that should be your primary focus, and not getting caught up in preparing for the obstacles.

In addition to your running you should incorporate strength training along with circuit training to re-create the start and stop nature of the event when negotiating obstacles.  Stopping to perform exercises at regular intervals while running will simulate the effort needed on race day.

Runner Academy is giving consideration to developing a Warrior Dash training plan at some point in the future but for now let the following be your guide.  While it is far from a specific schedule and exercises, it should hopefully give you an idea of how to structure your training.

As a beginner aim to start your formal training no later than 12 weeks out, however in your case I recommend you begin building a base now with running and walking 3 times per week.  Start with walking and running up to a mile each time out for your first week, and build gradually.  The following week you might increase to 1.5 miles and increase in subsequent weeks.  If you have difficulty running the full distance feel free to walk.  In subsequent weeks your time running should replace your walking as you build endurance.

As for your formal training period aim to run 12 – 15 miles per week at the beginning of the training period and aim for 20 – 22 miles per week at your peak.  You should run 3 times per week with one run being just a simple long run.  Allow for a 1 week taper where you return to your first week level of training.

On one day of the week aim to run one mile, stop for immediate strength exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, body weight squats or holding a plank position for 30 – 60 seconds and then immediately run another mile and repeat another set.

On another day of the week run up to 3 miles and after each mile perform 1 to 2 strides.  Increase the number of strides as you progress to a maximum of 6 total per workout.

You should continue working out in the gym with resistance training that you have been doing or other strength exercises at least one other day per week.

Finally, you should have one dedicated day each week to just running the distance of the course and beyond.  Begin with a long run of 5 miles and build to 7 miles.

If you have the ability to do any of your running in a park or a non-paved trail it is a bonus to simulate those conditions as well.

I also recommend you sign up and complete a plain old 5K race as part of your preparation.  It will give you the confidence to have some race experience.

Now, go out and crush it!