So you’ve made the commitment to run like a maniac for miles, jump through fire, scale 30-foot walls and crawl through dirty, filthy mud on your hands and knees and still leave with some dignity. Hopefully you can recruit some of your buddies to join you in this suffer-fest. After all, misery loves company. Welcome to your first obstacle race.
Obstacle racing has become wildly popular. Creative, unpredictable, unforgiving races specifically designed to make participants puke, sweat, bleed, and cry are popping up everywhere. Regardless of which race you choose to do, there are some basic needs to be met before race day. Here are a few helpful tips on obstacle race training for beginners.
Beginners usually do a 5k like the Spartan sprint or Warrior dash, but there are plenty of races to choose from. Make sure that you choose a distance that is commensurate with your fitness levels. Even a short race like the annual 3 ½ – 4 mile Spartan Sprint held at Tuxedo Ridge Ski Resort can be grueling if you are running it for keeps, so choose smartly.
Preferably close to your own personal stomping grounds so you can prepare adequately. Its hard – unless you are in exceptional condition – to get ready for a race that is going to be on ground that you are totally unfamiliar with. Long story short: don’t make your first race in Alaska if you live in New York City. Keep it close to home.
Either way, you will be running your own race. First timers should keep in mind that there are seasoned veterans who show up to these races every year and many of them do multiple races in a year. Don’t try to compete with them. Go for your personal best. And have a great time!
A couple of months out from your event, I would suggest tapering your gym workouts and increasing the frequency of your creative workouts:
Basically, try to move in ways you have not moved before.
Run hills, run flats, run down hills, run for distance, run for speed. Interval training is a great training method to use for your first obstacle race.
You can crush a lot of calories prepping for this event, but you need to keep your feet on the ground diet-wise or you will literally eat your gains away. Yes, your appetite will go through the roof, but maintain a connection to dietary reality, and you will do far better.
Stick to quality proteins, clean carbohydrates – vegetables; low glycemic fruits and starches, such as rice, beans, sweet potatoes, etc.; and lots of healthy fats from olives, avocadoes, and nuts. Cover your dietary bases by supplementing your diet with a quality multivitamin and fish oil.
Un-interrupted sleep equals increased growth hormone production, which means increased strength and faster recovery from the rigors of training. Additionally, hydrating is important. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, especially sodium. Adding low sugar electrolyte drinks or coconut water to your daily workouts is a very smart idea.
You are now armed with tips for obstacle racing 101. Go conquer your first obstacle race so you can brag about it!
NYC Personal Trainer / Strength Coach
Bindu Nambiar is a strength coach and personal trainer at Physiqology Inc., a New York City based personal training company. Bindu specializes in injury rehab, strength training for sport, flexibility, and mobility training.