5 tips to boost your Warrior Dash training

Francois Baijot, Adair Rodriguez, Adam Ulbricht, Adam Bockler and Joe Chianakas at Warrior Dash Midwest 2011

Last week, I ran the Warrior Dash for the first time with a group of friends. I’m not a runner, so the thought of doing a 5K obstacle course seemed a bit daunting. I decided I needed to prepare myself.

Since running the Dash, I’ve also included a few other tips to help future warriors. So here are the methods I used in my training, and some other ideas to keep in mind as you go along.

Build momentum for yourself

Six weeks out from the Dash, I devised a plan for myself. Like I said, I’m not a trained runner since I’ve never done cross-country or track. I started by running a mile every day for a week. Then 1.5 miles. Then 2. By the time I got to 2.5 miles, though, I could only run 3 days a week because of an erratic work schedule and other conflicts. Starting a summer class and a full-time job meant that I could only find one day in a week to run 3 miles, and the same for 3.5 miles.

A 5K race is only something like 3.25 miles, but I thought by preparing myself for 3.5 that I would be ready for a lesser distance. I ran another 5K race six days later, with no training in between, and I had to stop and walk twice.

Run in similar conditions

The Warrior Dash isn’t generally held on a straight road or a track, which were my general training conditions. Though, a few times, I made it to the park where I ran on dirt trails on little hills that best replicated conditions at the Warrior Dash I attended.

Unless you have jungle gyms or your own obstacles, it’s probably difficult to train for those. If you’re a rock-climber, that may help you. The obstacles, in my opinion, weren’t that difficult and actually allowed you a chance to rest in between the run since you had to slow down for everybody else.

Be careful

As I ran up a hill, my foot was on a slight slope and I thought I rolled my ankle about halfway through. I felt it ache but I kept going. By the time I completed the race, I was limping out of the mudpit trying to keep my balance.

The Warrior Dash conditions are slick in spots because of the mud, and you aren’t given any safety devices when you climb the obstacles. Granted, a fall from the height wouldn’t kill you, but it’s a little more precarious when you’re hot, sweaty and a bit worn out from running.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty

Not only will you be sweaty, but you will be caked in mud. The final obstacle is a giant mudput, covered by strands of barbed wire that force you to army-crawl through a pit of filth. You are only allowed to wash your face and hands after the race, so the rest of the time will be spent caked in mud.

Unless you’re like us, and you find a tiny water hole where everybody else as washed their filth off and you’re just bathing in nastiness.

Have fun

We had about a 90-100-minute drive from home, so we had fun in the car blasting music and we motivated each other as we ran. The Dash has bands on site and offers you a free beer once you’ve finished.


  • Mike K.

    June 27, 2011 @ 11:36 am

    What did you think was the most difficult obstacle in the race? And why did you find it to be difficult?

    Do you plan on running in any other obstacle races in the near future?

    • Adam

      June 27, 2011 @ 11:57 am

      One of the more difficult obstacles was a device you had to climb that had was essentially a net of rope. You had to be careful where you placed your feet so you didn’t slip and required more combination and body unity than some of the other obstacles.

      Also, the tires were a challenge since the dirt beneath was muddy and a wrong move would’ve resulted in a badly damaged foot. I walked those.

      I don’t plan on doing any races soon. Yesterday, I saw a video for the Tough Mudder 10K apparently developed by British special forces. Brutal.

  • Warrior Dash

    June 27, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

    I recommend running on a forest… My favorite part of the obstacle is always the mud pit.

    • Adam

      June 27, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

      Yep. This is something I wish I would have done more of – take some old running shoes and go running through the forest so I wouldn’t be afraid to get muddy and know what the slick conditions are like.

  • Marija

    March 19, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

    This post makes me SO pumped for the Warrior Dash this coming June! I was introduced to the awesomeness only a month ago. I’ll also be training for the Tough Mudder next year and I cannot wait for that. 😀 I know it’ll be hell, so I started the Tough Mudder training regimen they have on the website with 5, 8 ,and 10lb dumbells and my legs were aching! I’ve a long way to go, but people like you make it that more exciting! So thanks. 🙂

    • Adam Bockler

      March 21, 2012 @ 9:34 am

      Good luck, Marija!

      • Nicole

        March 31, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

        I will be doing WD in June as well. I think I a going to find some trails to run. That is probably the best advice. Thanks veterans!

        • Adam Bockler

          April 3, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

          Good luck, Nicole!

  • Mitch

    March 21, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

    thanks for the tips, and just like marija, I too am training for the the warrior dash in june and a tough mudder for next year……..about how many people were running in each wave?

    • Adam Bockler

      March 21, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

      Maybe 100 or 150. Lots more than I thought.

  • Chris the Online Workout Guy

    April 24, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

    Check out http://XT50.net. My team used it to get ready for the Ohio event this year. It’s a killer workout and you can do it on any mobile device, computer or PC. We all did it at home. They posted the video we made on the site: http://crosstrainingandfitness.com/tough-mudder-training/ Stay Muddy!


    May 22, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

    I’ve been training for warrior dash for more than six months. I am so pumped! I’m doing the one in June so it is getting close. Thanks for the tips.


    • Adam Bockler

      May 22, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

      Have fun, Angela!

  • Wesley

    June 25, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    I just heard of the WD and i signed up and its in a week. What should i work on mainly?

    • Adam Bockler

      June 27, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

      I’d suggest working in the heat. When I ran this race, I was running typically in the mornings. My wave was in the afternoon, though, which meant temperatures were up. So I was a little gassed strictly due to the heat.

  • Amanda

    July 19, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

    A group of friends and I are doing a WD in October so I start training tomorrow! I cannot wait. Running has always been so boring for me but I think the WD will be fun!

    • Adam Bockler

      July 19, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

      Amanda, it’s pretty flat where I live. So getting off the pavement and into the more wooded area was a lot of fun for me than just regular streets and tracks – definitely a change of pace. Good luck!

  • Alyce

    August 12, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

    I just did the Warrior Dash today in Windham. HOLY MOLY! The worst was the first run up the hill. No amount of training prepared me for that. I think next time I will work on more endurance training and a LOT of hiking. The obstacles were not that bad though.

    • Adam Bockler

      August 12, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

      Glad you made it through, Alyce! With all of the obstacles, the 5K is definitely about endurance.

  • Aubrey

    August 14, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

    I am planning on signing up for the 2013 Dash, I was wondering if it was diffcult running the course with 500 people? That seems like there would be a lot of bumping into people and getting in each other’s way.

    • Adam Bockler

      August 14, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

      Hey Aubrey,

      It’s a little congested at first, but it will usually start to thin out after the first half mile or so once the faster runners get out in front. By the halfway point, I was pretty much only running near about 10 people, maybe. It starts out like herded cattle and quickly disperses from there.

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