An endurance coach’s tips for obstacle course racing

Endurance coach, Paul Cadman, shares his tips for obstacle course racing and Spartan, including nutrition, training and on the day advice.


With the addition of Spartan Racing to our ever-growing list of partnerships, the MitoQ office has been abuzz with images and stories of inspirational feats of strength and resilience. When we found out that Spartan had announced its first ever race in New Zealand, we realized it was time to put our money where our mouths are and enter a team.

Paul Cadman

So, as our MitoQ team sets themselves up for the inaugural Spartan race in New Zealand, we spoke to endurance coach Paul Cadman (pictured above) on his recommendations in the lead up to the event.

MitoQ: What should our priorities be leading up to the race?

Paul Cadman: Consistency is king, it’s about doing something every day of the week. Even if it’s just going for a walk or doing something restorative like yoga, it is good to be moving your body every day.

I recommend doing bigger work outs five days a week and having two days for restorative recovery.

MQ: What should my training regime look like, what areas should I be focusing on?

PC: For a rough guide I would suggest: Mon on, Tues off, Wed on, Thurs off, Fri on, Sat on, Sun on.

Most people have more time in the weekend so be realistic and aim to do your longer workouts on these days. These are great days to work on your endurance.

I recommend two 1.5-hour endurance sessions a week. That can be walking, hiking, or running. Try running for 3 minutes and walking two for the whole 1.5 hours.

During the week you can focus more on strength training. Core work is going to be pretty essential as it will build your base for most of the obstacles. You should work this into your everyday workouts.

Another area to focus on is your upper body. A great way to do this is by implementing more body weight exercises into your routine. Self-supported movements like pull-ups with a resistance band, push-ups, burpees (a lot of burpees), planks and wheelbarrows. Just ensure that you ease into it to avoid being crippled by it.

Lower body should be mostly covered in your endurance training but for some extra assistance, try doing shuffles with a resistance band around your ankles and then progress to adding in some squats.

On the active recovery days - Tues and Thurs - do something restorative like yoga or roller work to ensure that you are moving the lactic acid around and giving your muscles some extra support.

What you are wanting to do is get a lot of variety so that you are covering everything. This will mean that you will be well rounded on the day.

Paul Cadman

MQ: Any tips on how to get through the race without burning out?

PC: It all depends on what you want to get out of the race on the day. If you are there to be competitive and run a personal best you are going to approach the race differently to someone who is there to have fun and just get to the end.

MQ: Oh, we are definitely the latter!

PC: In that case, my key piece of advice is to not go too hard off the start line. Be realistic and pace yourself. It’s a long race and you don’t want to run out of steam after 20 minutes. It’s going to hurt at the end no matter what you do, so make sure you have fun.

MQ: What should we eat the night before the race?

PC: Just normal food. No seriously.

I don’t recommend going down to your local Italian and eating a large bowl of pasta, it’s not going to help. Don’t do anything your body will be unfamiliar with.

Also, try not to eat anything too inflammatory or unhealthy like loads of sugar, processed foods or takeaways.

Eating something 2-3 hours before the race, like a boiled egg, can help you sustain energy throughout the race.

It’s more important that you are increasing and focussing on your hydration.

MQ: How much should I be drinking?

PC: You should be having between 2 – 2.5 litres of water normally and when you are training you should be increasing this to an extra litre per hour of training.

You can lose up to one litre of water through the night so make sure you are hydrating as soon as you wake up in the morning to replenish the levels.

MQ: What do you recommend taking with me on the day?

Water… or any type of restorative fluids, something warm to put on after the race, gel sachets if you think you will need some extra support during the race or after, someone with a first aid kit is always helpful.

What are your key recovery tips?

Make sure to stretch adequately and do restorative sessions as part of your training.

Nutrition is important. Protein is key for repair and recovery, I recommend having protein 20- 30 minutes after a workout, especially for females.

It also helps to have a balanced diet with lots of amino acids. Again, fluids are key.

Oh, and take your MitoQ!

Lastly, what are your tips to getting through the race mentally on the day?

Focus on your own race. Don’t chase the dudes at the front you don’t know how long they have been training or their level of fitness. Take it easy, start slow and finish with a smile on your face!


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