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Run Like Hell: Agility Training for Zombie Obstacle Course Races

29 Apr 2013

Run For Your Lives 5'8Zombie-themed obstacle races can be a great a first mud run for beginners. When I ran Run For Your Lives, obstacle athletes of all fitness levels took their best shot at escaping from the undead.

Most beginner obstacle race training programs will help you build a foundation for fitness for a 5k zombie run.

Some of the obstacles you’ll encounter in a zombie race are similar to those you’d see in any other mud run.

But probably more than many mud runs, zombie-themed races require agility to get through safely and successfully among the living.

If rolling an ankle is a common injury for many obstacle races, ankle injuries may be even more likely to occur during the course of a zombie race.

Agility is a must in order to suddenly turning, darting, and sprinting you’ll need to do in efforts to escape walkers.

What is Agility?

First things first: what’s agility? Agility is the ability to change direction quickly and efficiently. While speed is usually linear, agility requires multi-planar movement.

Agility requires training beyond leg strength, power, and flexibility, which you’ll need to include as well in your mud run training program.

Training for agility will improve your coordination, balance, and ankle strength and mobility.

Here are five exercises to boost your agility.

1. Ankle Hops

Ankle hops are a great preparation exercise for agility work.

These hops promote elasticity and flexibility through the ankles, serving as a great warm-up exercise to agility training. It’s also a great beginner and warm-up move for plyometrics.

How To Do Ankle Hops

1. Stand tall with your feet a few inches apart, knees soft and slightly bent.
2. Using your ankles and calves, hop up and down. Spend as little time possible on the ground.
3. As you land, bend your knees slightly and land on the balls of your foot.
3. Repeat hops for 20 seconds.
4. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 2-3 sets.

Harder: single leg ankle hops.

2. Quadrant Hops

Like ankle hops, quadrant hops are great for ankle flexibility, strength, and elasticity.

They also help boost your coordination and improve your ability to change direction quickly with balance and stability. This will come in handy when it’s time to run for your life.

How To Do Quadrant Hops

327_4_quadrant_hops_1              327_4_quadrant_hops_2

1. Set up a quadrant on the floor or ground using tape, rope, or other material that will stay in place as you hop.
2. Stand with feet close together as you did for ankle hops.
3. Hop forward, then diagonally back.
4. Hop again straight forward, then diagonally back to start.
5. When you hop, be sure to land on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent as you did for ankle hops.
6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for a total of 20-30 seconds.
7. Rest for 30 seconds.
8. Repeat steps 2-5 for a total of 2-3 sets.

Harder: quadrant hops on a single leg.

3. Compass Drill

Unlike ankle and quadrant hops, the compass drill is a multiplanar running/dashing exercise.

The compass drill will help you enhance your ability to change direction quickly while you are running at full speed.

How To Do the Compass Drill


1. Set up five cones or similar markers as pictured. Place cones 2-5 10 feet apart from cone 1 (center cone).
2. Start at cone 1.
3. Run at full speed to cone 2 and touch. Run back to cone 1 at full speed.
4. Run to cone 3, touch. Run back to cone 1.
5. Repeat for cones 4 and 5.
6. Rest for 2 minutes
7. Repeat the drill, but move in the opposite direction (1-4-3-2-5).

4. Around the World Cone Drill

The Around the World Cone drill, similar to the Compass Drill, will help you improve your agility by challenging your capacity to change direction on the run.

Unlike the Compass Drill, this drill adds the component of running diagonally, something you’ll need to be effective with in order to evade zombies.

How To Do the Around the World Cone Drill

atwcone drill

1. Set up 4 cones or similar markers 10 feet apart from each other to form a square.
2. Start at the lower left cone.
3. Run at full speed to the top left cone.
4. Then run at full speed diagonally down to the lower right cone.
5. Next, run to the top right cone.
6. Lastly, run diagonally to the lower left cone where you started.
7. Rest for 2 minutes.
8. Repeat steps 2-7 for a total of 2-3 sets.

5. Modified Suicide Drill

If you played basketball or had a cruel PE teacher, you’re probably familiar with suicide drills.

Suicide sprints are a metabolic-meets-agility drill. Like with the above two cone exercises, you’ll need to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction throughout the drill.

Don’t have access to a full-length basketball court? No problem. You can modify suicide drills to fit limited space using the directions below.

How To Do Modified Suicides

1. Gather three markers.
2. Place a marker at point 1. Place another marker 10-15 feet away from point 1. This will be your point 2. Place a final market 10-15 ft away from point 2. That’s your point 3.

3. Run at full speed from point 1 to point 2. Stop to touch the floor/ground next to the marker.
4. Run back to point 1 at full speed. Stop to touch the floor/ground next to the marker.

5. Run from point 1 to point 3. Stop to touch the floor/ground next to the marker.
6. Run back to point 1.

7. Repeat steps 3-5 for a total of three laps. Work up to six laps.
8. Rest 90 seconds.
9. Repeat for a total of 2-3 sets.

When To Do Agility Training

You can include anywhere from 2-3 to all of the agility drills above on just about any workout day.

To be mentally fresh and focused for the drills, perform them close to the beginning of your workout.

You can do agility drills right after a warm-up of light cardio, leg swings, single leg deadlifts, lunges, and similar movement prep work.

If you’re zombie run is less than eight weeks away, try to do at least a few agility drills twice a week.

Practice and improve your agility so you can survive the apocalypse!



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