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4 Steps to CRUSH Your First 5K Obstacle Course Race!

Obstacle Course Racing is both a style of training and physical experience that can benefit and is fun for just about everyone.

The problem?

The people who could benefit the most from having OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) in their lives are the people who are either the least likely to think they are cut out for it or don’t even know it exists.

I am talkin about the folks who don’t workout (yet), or have tried to get consistent with exercise and haven’t seemed to make it stick (yet), or have never found exercise fun (yet).

Sure, the seasoned weekend warrior or experienced athlete would also have a fabulous time racing.

But OCR has a magic to it that is uniquely qualified to get people excited to train, train them better than any style of exercise program they’ve tried before (hello REPS Model), and has an added CELEBRATION to their goal completion!!!

My petition as to why OCR is the perfect style of training for people new to fitness or newly back is a whole other topic that I could wax excited about for…forever? So I am going to cap it at this for now:

Training for OCR is freaking exciting, better than any other training out there, and you get to CELEBRATE!

If you need more convincing, stay tuned, that blog is yet to come!

Today, however, I am going to assume that I have done my job of convincing you that Obstacle Course Racing is your NEW FAVORITE way to exercise (or very possibly you’ve convinced yourself and are looking for how to get started), and talk:

How the Heck Do I Train for My First 5k OCR?!

STEP ONE: Find and Book Your Race.

First things first, I like to encourage people to actually pick and sign up for a race.

At first sweaty blush, I can see how this seems like maybe I picked up the cart and threw it directly in front of the horse, but here’s my pitch:

When you are signed up for a race you have a very tangible goal.

You are locked in.

Some of the most diligent I have ever seen new or newly back fitnessers is when they are “getting in shape for their wedding.”

Why suddenly, after a lifetime of never lifting a weight, are they hitting the gym and googling workout supplements during their board meeting?


They know their timeline, they know their desired outcome, and they know that technically when the day is over they never have to workout again.

Where OCR is superior in my book, is that, once the race is over?

People are EXCITED to book their next race!

The healthy habit continues!

STEP TWO: Build Your Crew.

Do you have to race with other people?


Is it more fun?

Hell Yes.

Are you more likely to stick to your training plan?


That’s why I race WITH my clients.

We both get to look forward to the race day together, and they get accountability with their workouts, because we meet 2-3 times per week for strength and yoga with check-ins on their walking progress.

Or they are part of #CouchToCourseRaider, Raider Fit’s signature 10 week online group fitness program that is literally designed to get you off the couch and CRUSHING your first 5k OCR.

(Sound fun? It is. Join the commitment free waitlist to be the first to know when the next session starts and for added bonuses along the way!)

STEP THREE: Figure Out Your Timeline and Work with It!

If this is your first ever 5k OCR and you are starting from exercise being waking up and walking to your coffee pot (hey, you’re still getting steps in), I would say plan for at least 1 month to train.

Yea, you heard me, if you train for just one month you will complete the 5k and crush at least 50% of the Obstacles!

That being said…

The ideal timeline for your first time to slay up to 65-75% of the obstacles is 3 months out from race day.

This is the timeline we use for #CouchToCourseRaider because it allows us to nail foundations in month 1, build strength and endurance in month 2, and add in higher intensity workouts to simulate race day into month 3.

This is called progressive overload and is the most effective method of training for any fitness goal.

The takeaway here is, the longer you have to train the stronger you’ll become.

My big piece of advice, however?

I wouldn’t book your first race more than 3 months out.

Without the excitement of having actually felt how amazing it is to complete an OCR, it is easy to lose steam for a lot of folks who don't love exercise. By the time the race comes around, workouts and walks have ceased and we are back at square one, rather than feeling fired up and ready to CRUSH!

STEP 4: Let the Training Begin!

But How?

This is the million dollar question that gets a pretty easy peasy answer.

Start moving more.

The best part of OCR training is that it doesn’t have to take hours of your life!

My recommended exercise cocktail for your first 5k is a mixture of strength, walking and mobility.

We’re talking 30 minutes 2-4 days a week.

Plus walking more everyday.



Don’t panic!

The goal is to be able to walk a 5k (3.12 miles) by the time the race rolls around.

Instead of shoe horning a 5k walk once a week and sitting for the rest of your week; focus weeks one and two on just upping your step count.

Before you start your training plan, look at your average daily step. Then, tack on 1000 more every 3 days (ie if your daily average steps are 1,800, start by trying for 2,800 for 3 days, then 3,800 for 3 days. By the end of the month you're hitting 10,000 steps without thinking about it).

In weeks 3 and 4, keep working on the step count, but this would be the time you start practicing for mileage. Pick a day you don’t work (I do Sundays) and make that your long walk day. Your goal is 3.12 miles, but start with what you feel comfortable with!

Aren’t I supposed to run the OCR?

Not if you don’t want to! I have done plenty of races with clients, friends and family where we’ve walk/run, or just straight up walked the whole thing and had a GREAT time!

If you want a more specific running training program, stay tuned, that will also be its own breakdown in the future.

For the workouts?

Aim for 2 days of strength (this can be 30 minute bodyweight sessions at home).

Plus 2 yoga or mobility sessions.

Bonus, ideally, we are also mobilizing everyday.

This can be as simple as stretching before bed or a 10 minute flow on your lunch break.

If you are feeling stuck on what these look like or where to start:

Check out my insta and YouTube page for full length workouts and inspiration!

Between walking, strength and mobility, not only will your body be primed to work optimally come race day, you will be moving more functionally than 80% of people out there - including people who have worked out for a long time.

You will be well balanced, injury proofed, and set to age well.


My favorite part? Once you are hooked on OCR, you only get stronger and stronger.

When you get stronger on the course, you get stronger in life.

You feel better, sleep better, digest better, move better, age better.

Ya’ll it’s just better.

So your quick recap and take away for How the Heck DO I Train for My First OCR 5k:

STEP ONE: Find and Book Your Race.

STEP TWO: Build Your Crew.

STEP THREE: Figure Out Your Timeline and Work with It!

STEP 4: Let the Training Begin!

You got this Raiders!