How to run faster: Cadence

Running cadence is effectively the number of steps you can take per minute and this has been shown to attribute to a better economy and faster running as well as reducing injury. Which is a win right?

We all want to be faster and less injury-prone! If we look at elite runners or your typically ‘fast’ runner, they will generally have a cadence on the high side, usually around that of 180 steps per minute.

This has been recorded to be the ‘Magic number’ when it comes to your steps per minute. So it MAY be something to work towards.

Of course, like everything, it isn’t a one rule fits all principle, but a general rule of thumb, so it’s worth trying to see whether improving your cadence will indeed help you become faster and efficient. Some runners will have longer strides, lower cadences, and still boss times.

Like a lot of things in running, it’s all dependant on your own personal biomechanics.

Monitoring your cadence can be kind of tricky and there is a couple of ways to do this.

Stopwatch method – During this method, you will count your steps on one foot across the minute then multiply this by two… You have two feet right? This will be a pretty accurate way on how to assess your current cadence rate

The smartwatch method – During this method you find your smartwatch and see if it has a cadence rate on it – most of them do nowadays if you have a good model. This method I find is less accurate, but possibly a lot easier to monitor than the above method.

To improve your cadence the best method I have found is to use either a metronome app set to your desired steps per minute (180) or sometimes your smartwatch will have this mode built-in for ease of use.

I like to utilise this during easy runs in some short intervals, such as 1 – 2 minutes, and to follow the metronomes beats whilst trying to keep my HR low. You can increase this over several weeks Your HR may raise out of the zone, but over time your body will start to become more efficient at this cadence and your HR will level out.

Hopefully, this has helped. Feel free to reach out if you need any further advice or coaching needs.

Jake Barber

Jake is an online run coach who specialises in Endurance and OCR events.


What You Need To Know Before Your First Obstacle Course Race

Heres what you need to know before your first Obstacle Course Racing event, and help you get prepared

Wear the right gear

Those that have done an OCR will all be familiar with this one. You’re lined up to your first obstacle course race, wearing the latest road runners or Nike Met-cons from the Box. You glance down, and all of a sudden you see a sea of trail shoes… Oh wait… I didn’t read the small print… This race is on trail?!

Or worse, you don’t even notice that 90% of these events are off trail and you’re running along in your fresh, reebok nano’s to be met with a muddy downhill and your skating like Bambi on ice.

Do yourself a favour, get some good trail shoes!

Prepare to grip

Monkey bars, rigs, hoists, Walls, all these obstacles involve GRIP! Your best bet is to work to maximise your max pull-ups on your run up to the event, that will give you the biggest bang for buck. 

But if you have a lot of time, then do a dedicated grip training program. I have a free Ebook, about training your grip for OCR, check it out.

Running is involved

Be prepared to be able to run the distance of the event… and hopefully a bit more. 

Generally, events range from 5km to a half marathon distances, so make sure you’re fairly comfortable at running the distance you have chosen and bare in mind you will have a myriad of  obstacles fatigue your along the course!

It’ll be a good idea to look at the previous race at that location to see if there is any sneaky elevation involved. If there is… Hit some hills!

Learn to carry

Whether it be a Sandbag or an atlas stone. These events generally involve some sort of carry. Get used to be able to carry in all sorts of different holds, from front rack, to on your back, to farmers carries (This will also help with grip)

Don’t think doing some hypertrophy 10 reps of 3 sets in the gym will get you through this unscathed. Get used to carry weight and moving with it!

You may get wet or muddy

Some events pride themselves on making you as MUDDY as possible… personally, i hate this aspect of OCR. But it still stands as some sort of gimmicky part of it!

My advice, don’t be wearing something plain white, as you will look like you’ve come straight out the sewer! And don’t go getting something brand new for the event – Things can easily get ruined or ripped on course!

in fact, in the USA, a lot of people have taken to not wearing much clothing at all!

It may push you out your comfort zone

If its your first event, its’ a pretty good guarantee that you will be pushed out of your comfort zone in some way. Theres not many sports like it and it will test you at some point on course. It could be how technical an obstacle is, a big fall, mud or how heavy something is.

The bonus to this, is after the event, most people feel great, feel accomplished, like they have been through the wringer, and everything that seemed tough before, isn’t so tough anymore!

If you have any questions regarding your first OCR event, then feel free to drop me a line and i’d be happy to answer your questions and have trained beginners all the way to elite field athletes.

Jake Barber

Jake is a coach who specialises in Endurance and OCR events.


How To Train Your Grip For OCR

On this weeks podcast, Jake talks about the PROPER way to train your grip for OCR. If you’re countlessly doing dead-hangs and farmers carries with no results, then give this little podcast a listen and open up your eyes to your different grip types and how to train them! Knowledge bombs await!

All the information for this podcast is available for free on the Master Your Grip Ebook by clickety clicking here!

Check out our sponsor for your plant based, natural, anti-bacterial hard soap and AWESOME apparel! Use code RISE to get 10% off site wide!

Trust me its a good one & its all available on iTunes, Spotify and all other decent podcast apps!

Feel free to check out for all your essential updates and free EBooks! and click here for any Rise & Grind OCR Merch!

Rise & Grind Host Details: 
Jake Barber – @Riseandgrindrunning
Graham Roberts – @ispiremc
John Chambers – @idesignthisway
George Edwards – @ge_training
Aaron Selfe – @the.a_ron126
Glenn Coleman – @glennyc1981

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Three Week Home Workout Programme

We currently live in unprecedented times full of fear and unknowing of what the future holds and what the true hold and repercussions of Covid-19 will be. I for one am sure I’m not alone in feeling totally useless during this time and wanting to help as much as I can.

It is very important that we stay active during this time and try to maintain fitness levels.

As such, I have designed an easy to follow three week training program that will be suitable for a beginner and good fun for anyone. It is designed to help you maintain some level of fitness and attack some basic strength, anaerobic and aerobic energy systems each week to keep you ticking over. And as an added bonus it can be done with the most minimal and inventive home equipment as well as very little space!

Please feel free to share with anyone that you feel this may help keep motivated during this time of solitude. And please remember to Stay at home, Protect the NHS and Save lives.

Week 1

Over Head SquatUse a PVC Pipe, mop or broomstick!8360s
Push-Up WeightedUse a backpack with anything in to create weight8360s
Front Rack Step UpUse a backpack, sandbag or bag of potatoes to front rack8360s
Chair DipsResting your hands on the end of the chair seat to perform dips8360s
Spiderman Push-upsNot your favourite neighbourhood super-hero…8360s
Russian TwistsUse a backpack, sandbag or bag of potatoes or food15360s
Workout 2 – Metabolic Conditioning
10 Rounds:

20s Squat Jumps
20s Sprawls
20s Mountain Climbers

Rest 30s
Workout 3 – Aerobic Capacity
3 Rounds:

30s High Knees
30s Burpees
30s Jumping Jacks
30s Alternating Lunges
30s Skaters
30s Mountain Climber Twists

Rest 90s

Week 2

Over Head SquatUse a PVC Pipe, mop or broomstick!10360s
Push-Up WeightedUse a backpack with anything in to create weight10360s
Front Rack Step UpUse a backpack, sandbag or bag of potatoes to front rack10360s
Chair DipsResting your hands on the end of the chair seat to perform dips10360s
Spiderman Push-upsNot your favourite neighbourhood super-hero…10360s
Russian TwistsUse a backpack, sandbag or bag of potatoes or food10360s
Workout 2 Metabolic Conditioning
5 Rounds:

30s Burpees
15s Rest
30s Wide Mountain Climber
15s Rest
30s Squat Jumps
15s Rest
30s Plank Tucks
15s Rest
Workout 3 Aerobic Capacity
3 Rounds:

90s Skipping
30s Mountain Climbers
90s High Knees
30s Push Ups or Plank Step Ups

90s Rest

Week 3

Over Head SquatUse a PVC Pipe, mop or broomstick!8460s
Push-Up WeightedUse a backpack with anything in to create weight8460s
Front Rack Step UpUse a backpack, sandbag or bag of potatoes to front rack8460s
Chair DipsResting your hands on the end of the chair seat to perform dips8460s
Spiderman Push-upsNot your favourite neighbourhood super-hero…8460s
Russian TwistsUse a backpack, sandbag or bag of potatoes or food15360s
Workout 2 Metabolic Conditioning
3 Rounds:
30s Squat Jumps
30s Mountain Climbers
30s Rest

3 Rounds:
30s Burpees
30s Mountain Climber Twists
30s Rest

3 Rounds:
30s Alternating Lunges
30s Push Ups or Plank Step Ups
30s Rest

3 Rounds:
30s High Knees
30s Bicycle Crunches
30s Rest
Workout 3 Aerobic Capacity
3 Rounds:

60s Jumping Jacks
60s Alternating Lunges
60s Get-Ups
60s Push Ups or Plank Step Ups

90s Rest

How To Train For A Sprint or Short OCR

For some this is the entry level event as they build up to a longer OCR, but that doesn’t mean these events are any less hard! If you are running a sprint correctly, your heart should be trying to burst out your chest as your lungs gasp for air all the while your legs are filling with lactate and begging for forgiveness.

A Sprint is a solid all or nothing effort, you have to push as hard as you can and they can last from anything to 25 minutes to an hour depending on your ability and length of the course. They usually have a strong similarity to running an all out race between a 5 and 10km pace, again, depending on the full length of the course.

When we look to train for such a fast paced event its good idea to focus on some specific items to the race, they generally have little to no carries and rely on top end speed to get the job done effectively. When working with athletes i will generalise the training into three categories:

  1. Speed
  2. Power
  3. Specificity


When we look at Speed we should spend at least some of our time focussing on VO2 max type workouts, which help stress your aerobic power and also slip into that Anaerobic zone. Which in turn should help you be a little more speedy come race day!

Here are some examples, they should be fast and each set should feel pretty good initially until you start reaching the end of each interval, your recovery should be enough to bring your heart rate down to a recovered state to perform the next effort at the same level of intensity and speed.

VO2 Max Interval progression examples:

Week 1:

10 Min Easy Pace

1 x 1000m @ <5Km Pace

2 x 800m @ <5Km Pace

2 – 3 Minutes Recovery Between Intervals

10 Min Easy Pace

Week 2:

10 Min Easy Pace

1 x 800m @ <5Km Pace

2 x 1000m @ <5Km Pace

2 – 3 Minutes Recovery Between Intervals

10 Min Easy Pace

Week 3:

10 Min Easy Pace

2 x 1000m @ <5Km Pace

1 x 1200m @ <5Km Pace

2 – 3 Minutes Recovery Between Intervals

10 Min Easy Pace

During week four you should consider a deload week to help adapt to the stimulus of training unless you have a super fine tunes plan

Week 4:

10 Min Easy Pace

2 x 800m @ <5Km Pace

2 – 3 Minutes Recovery

15 Min Easy Pace


When it comes to strength training for a sprint, a great place to start would be some solid compound movements and building up a base using a standard 5 x 5 principle for at least 4 – 6 weeks. After a base has been established and as we near closer to race day, the biggest bang for buck that you can do is concentrate on some more power based moves. These will prime your muscles ready for race and and ensure your legs are an absolute power house come race day.

Some weighted power move examples:

Remember these moves should be EXPLOSIVE, so the reps and sets are low, but the movement should be fast and controlled.

Med Ball Slam

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Rest: 60s+

KettleBell Swing – Russian

Sets: 3

Reps: 5 – 10

Rest: 60s+

Sled Sprints

Sets: 3

Reps: 20m

Rest: 60s+

Dumbbell Thrusters

Sets: 3

Reps: 5 – 10

Rest: 60s+

Another example would be explosive bodyweight movements such as plyometrics, which can be incorporated to help build your speed-strength, makes us a bit more agile and help push you into that Anaerobic zone. They are also pretty handy as they don’t involve any speciality equipment like those above!

Be warned, hitting power moves seem fairly easy at the time, especially something as ‘simple’ as Plyometrics. “Its only a Jump, thats not going to do much” but trust me, you will get DOMS, especially if you haven’t done them before or in a long time. In fact if you’ve done a Plyometric session for the first time or in a while and you don’t feel it then next day, you most likely have done it wrong!

Again, remember these should be EXPLOSIVE! so the reps are short and sweet!

Heres some examples

Box Jumps

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Rest: 60s+

Depth Jumps

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Rest: 60s+

Broad Jumps

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Rest: 60s+


So now you’ve got some speed and some serious power in those legs it’s good on the run up to the event to get super specific. So what does that mean? I’ve found the best workouts emulate the race as close as possible, but usually as simple as possible. You want speed and fatigue, an ‘obstacle’ and to try and the key, which is to get back to pace as quickly as possible and maintain in the hurt locker.

When we are looking at Sprint or shorter OCRsI like to keep things simple and follow my 400/10/5 principle which consists of a piece of fatigue work for 400m, followed by a weighted movement for 10 reps and a bodyweight movement for 5 reps. You can mix this up with a variety of movements to make it specific and a sufferfest.

As we are being specific, I’d advise to use the workouts as running based, but I’ve seen success in crossing over with rowing and the Assault Bike. Again, I like to try to aim for 5 rounds, but you can start with 3 and build up further across a period of weeks.

Race WOD 1:

3 – 5 Rounds for time:

400m Run/Row/Assault Bike

10 Sandbag Lunges

5 Pull Ups

Race WOD 2:

3 – 5 Rounds for time:

400m Run/Row/Assault Bike

10 DB Thrusters

5 Burpees

Race WOD 3:

3 – 5 Rounds for time:

400m Run/Row/Assault Bike

10 Sandbag Squats

5 Mountain Climbers (Each Side)

So now you’ve carved yourself into a true Sprint worthy OCR athlete you’ll be able to conquer your next OCR or Spartan Race with a top performance to show for all your hard work! Just remember to ensure you taper before race day so your feeling fresh and ready to dig deep!

I hope you enjoyed this article, if you’d like to get involved with my OCR coaching and take your performance to the next level then feel free to reach out! 

Jake Barber

Jake is an Online coach who specialises in Endurance and OCR events.


How To Train For A Spartan Ultra

Morzine – The Ultimate Spartan Ultra Event in Europe

The Trifecta has been completed, but now you are planning on the big one.

You want to conquer the Ultra Beast!

Well here’s an article of what I feel are the things to prioritise when you are heading into these types of events in general.

Long Runs

If you had any key sessions during each microcycle (Week), these are the ones to prioritise. After all, you will be getting at least 30 miles in come race day. You can start your long runs as low as an hour and slowly increase your time by 5 – 10 minutes per week to be hitting somewhere between 2 and 3 hours comfortably.

Making sure to allow for recovery weeks every so often where we reduce the time on feet, to recover and adapt to the increasing training volume.

These runs should be very easy and you should aim to keep your heart rate low, in zone 2, with minimal spikes unless planned, and even so these should be kept minimal. The key to these sessions is to build your aerobic base, build your heart muscle and let your mitochondria flourish.  Unfortunately, too many people get stuck in that moderate intensity rut, by hitting these runs too hard, usually in zone 3, not only is it counter-productive as you won’t fully be in an aerobic state.

You may also find that this moderate intensity will grind you down week on week and you will start to feel fatigued. A good indicator of this is if you constantly feel too tired to train, If your volume is not properly managed and your base and aerobic build is not strict, you will find this more common and your risk burning out before race day.

If you want to better manage your aerobic work and you don’t own a heart rate monitor then the best thing is to keep your pace as such that you can comfortably hold a conversation. This is a great indicator that you are in an aerobic state.

In endurance training, we need volume and time on feet, You can further add volume by adding either a secondary long run in the week or by having a longer run the day before just make sure you’re training smart and allowing a lot of recovery between them.

A lot of people I’ve coached for ultra distance events expect me to give them a 4 / 5 hour training run. Almost every time I get the question…. Er… Shouldn’t I be running longer than this?

It sounds like a good idea, but theres more than one way to skin a cat… or in this case, build volume into your training plan, and by going out and doing a stupidly long run for 4 or 5 hours, your only risking injury and pushing fatigue. You want to make it to race day right?

Save the big 5+ hour run, for the actual race! Trust me, when push comes to shove, your body will surprise you with how much further it will go… in fact, thats why these events get so addictive, as you push further and further down the rabbit hole of your bodies capabilities!

If you’re going to go out for a long 5+ hour session, then go out for a big day of hiking up some mountains, In fact, make it load bearing, that’ll give you more bang for your buck and help you embrace the suck.


Ultra events are pretty much like an eating contest. And if you can stomach your food whilst running, you’ll always have the upper hand! I’ve seen so many people fly into these events, but bonk HARD just due to their ego on nutrition.

Trust me, you have to EAT! 

Find foods that work for you and experiment during your training runs. A good place to start is to eat around 70 g of carbs or around 300 Kcal per hour. This can be split across the hour in smaller chunks or in one sitting, whichever sits better with your stomach!

I tend to try and keep my fuel natural, so will have some bananas, dried fruits, nuts, home-made flapjacks. Occasionally on some events which have me running through the night like Europes Toughest Mudder, Ive used a hot electrolyte and carb mix to help warm me up, This has worked wonders. Its also a good boost for your morale!

Ensuring electrolytes are present are key to help prevent cramps, so ensure you’re topped up on these or at least have some salty food to hand, like pretzels or salted nuts! (Get your mind out the gutter)

Also make sure you have a mix of sweet and savoury foods, as if your out on course for a long time, you may get really sick of chowing on constantly sweet tastes, I know I do… Some of my athletes like eating baby food pouches, rehydrated food, pizza, even sandwiches! Anything that you can stomach and that is higher calorie, is fine!

The other thing is hydration, ensure you are constantly taking sips of water throughout the event and not waiting until you are gasping. This will also lead to cramp, so keep it in check as once you’ve got cramp, its usually really hard to get rid of!


The next is hills, no doubt about it the ultra events are usually placed in the hillier locations! So make sure you’re getting your body used to them!

If you’re going to compete, then a good place to start would be hitting some 15% incline threshold work, 5 – 10 minutes of work, hitting that comfortably hard zone. Then dropping the treadmill back down to 1% at an easy pace for you to recover… before getting that treadmill back up for the pain cave. You can build these sessions up from 30 minutes of work up to near an hour.

These sessions are hard, but theres not much better that will get you ready for hills come race day unless you are blessed to live at the foot of some mountains!

Secondary to hills, is usually carries up them! So don’t be afraid to grab your trusty bucket or sandbag and get used to hauling ass up that hill with it, although thats probably better practiced out in the open, unless you want to be chucked out the gym, or fancy bribing the PT on shift!


Your kit will make or break an ultra event. You need to be prepared for the weather, look it up during the week and get a rough idea well in advanced. IF you’re going to get wet and be submerged, do you need neoprene or merino wool? Is the climate hot? Then less is more. Is the sun out? You may be exposed to it for a long duration.

Looking this up before hand will be key to your completion.

Theres no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!

Are you taking a hydration pack? Where is your food going to be stored? How often will you be at your drop box? Do you need a spare set of shoes / socks?

You need to plan for every single eventuality, and then some more on top. Most ultra distance events never go to plan, so you need to know this and make sure you have enough stuff that you can keep the plan going and not have to call it quits!

Recommended Kit

These are just some of the items I’ve used previously in ultra events which have really helped me:

Hydration Vest – Osprey Duro 15

First Aid Kit – Lifesystems Trek First aid kit

Base Layer* – Skins DNAmic

Windproof Jacket* – North Face Quest

Running Tights* – 2XU Hypnotik

Running Cap* – Ciele Cap

Dry Bag – Osprey 5L Drypack

Food Source of choice min 300Kcal SPARE ICE

Electrolytes, salt tabs or Mustard 

*Cold Weather Essential

PS. The links above are affiliated, so if you wish to help fund this blog then click the links to support


Using all the above, write yourself a race plan, fuel strategy, clothing change plan. Anything that you think will help you get to the finish line. You can rarely just ‘wing’ an ultra event and it will get that ego and rip it out your head if you’re not lucky!

Crap at fuelling regularly? Set an alarm or a goal of a time interval / mile marker.

What are you going to do the day before the event? What are you going to do the morning of the event? What are you going to do once you’ve finished the event?

What will you do if you get too cold? What will you do if you get cramp? What will you do if you shoes break – Trust me this happens!

Plan every single eventuality, think above it. Write it down, memorise it. Have it with you if needed. 

Just have a F’in plan! Or the gods will chew you up and spit you out a humble lesson!

If you’d like any further advice, then feel free to contact me. I love training people for endurance events and seeing them push just a little further!

Jake Barber
Jake is an online coach who specialises in Endurance and OCR events.