Signing up for a Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race can seem like a daunting task at first glance. You often hear of these races and envision many miles of treacherous landscape and countless obstacles to push you to your limits. Some people jump right into a challenge like this. But if you're on the fence about signing up because you're not sure if you're ready, you're not alone. While it is typical to feel a little anxious before a race (I did!), I am here to provide you with some tips that I gave my group fitness team, and that I also used myself for my first obstacle race that made it an awesome experience! It is my hope that after reading this, you will make it a goal to sign up for one race in 2018 if you haven’t participated before. You won’t regret it and you will have a blast doing it! Here we go with some some race tips.
Don’t Run Against the Clock!
Did I say that loud enough? Good. A common concern for people leading up to an obstacle event is whether or not you are fast enough to participate. “What does my mile time have to be to enter?” or “I don’t want to get last place so I don’t think I should sign up.” These were thoughts I heard many times leading up to our runs. It is important to know that these runs are about the journey and having fun while you do it. You should complete them for you and nobody else. While there are often “competitive waves” that are chasing a great time on the course, that doesn’t mean you need to sign up for them! Most “standard waves” are filled with people just like you who are doing something new for the first time or who are looking for a new workout challenge. Don’t worry about your time and run to have fun!
Master Your Body Weight
While most races are at a minimum of 5k, or 3.1 miles, it certainly helps to do some running before joining an obstacle race. However, there are other important areas of your physical fitness readiness that you will want to address. Body weight circuits are a great way to prepare for an obstacle race and it is something I trained my classes on frequently before heading out to the course. Areas that I recommend you focus on are:
- Core – Isometric exercises like Planks and Back Extensions (Superman) to stabilize as well as dynamic exercises like Bear Crawls, Army Crawls, Wood Choppers, Leg Lifts and Crunches are all great choices. These core exercises help you maintain your balance on uneven ground or slippery surfaces.
- Grip – Most races will require you to hang during an obstacle, which requires more grip strength than you would expect. Spend time at a pull-up bar working on hanging and supporting your body weight in space. If you can execute pull-ups, even better. For those who are unable to hang or do a pull-up, no sweat!! Most races offer an option of walking around or through an event that requires action on the monkey bars.
- Strength – Push-ups and Squats will give you a foundation to conquer most obstacles you will face. Make it a goal to get comfortable performing high repetition sets of these exercises.
- Conditioning – In addition to running and incline walking (most courses are going to have hills) you want to be ready for anything thrown your way. Try to incorporate exercises like burpees, jump roping and mountain climbers into your routine. Some races like the Spartan issue penalty burpees for missing an obstacle so always read through the race rules depending on which race you join according to your fitness levels!
Grab a Buddy & Enjoy the Day!
This may be the most important factor of them all if you are interested in joining a race. I had an incredible time running races in 2017 mainly because of the great group of people who attend my Bootcamp classes. Each race we completed as a group, helping each other through difficult obstacles, competing with one another and motivating each other. If you have a training group (as the trainer or participant) or even just one workout buddy who you frequently train with, consider signing up together! You will without a doubt find the experience much more enjoyable with a group of like-minded people. Your group will feel more like a team than ever before after completing a race together! Also, realize that it isn’t just about the race itself. Most races give you a ticket to a festival the day of the race as well! Those event are filled with music, food, drinks and activities. The post-run festivities are a great time to relax and enjoy the company of friends, reminiscing about all the challenges and excitement that the day offered.