Over the last few years, obstacle course races and events have become incredibly popular all over the globe. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, make the decision to push themselves out of their comfort zones, to sign up for an obstacle endurance event, and to attempt to get into the best shape they can possibly be in. Endurance obstacle courses are fun, they are rewarding, but they are also very tough, some more so than others. In order to get yourself as fully prepared, both physically and mentally, you must ensure you know what you are signing up for, you must ensure you take your training seriously, and you must be prepared to push yourself out of your comfort zone when needed. Up and down the country there will be obstacle course veterans who are in sickeningly good shape who make the events look easy, but the thing you need to remember is that, once upon a time, they too were novices and they too will have been nervous about their first event. To ensure you have fun, perform well, and remain safe, here are some tips for your first endurance obstacle course event.
Treat training as if it was the real thing
Before you even consider signing up for an endurance obstacle course, you must ensure you are willing to put the hard work in during your training sessions. Endurance obstacle courses require strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility, mental toughness, and much more besides. Because of this, you must make sure you put the hard work in when you are training. Training for the event should begin several months out, and you must ensure you mix things up. Going out for a leisurely jog, and perhaps breaking out a few push ups here and there just won’t cut it. When you train, you should approach each session as if it was the real thing. This means you should give each session your all and work as hard as you possibly can. When running, when you get tired, though it may be tempting to stop and walk until you catch your breath, you should push on and keep going. On the day of the event, you will be in competition with hundreds of other people, so unless you will be stopping and walking during the race, don’t stop and walk when training.
Train in soaking wet clothes
The next time you plan on going for a long run through the countryside to help you get in shape for the race, soak yourself with cold water before setting off. To some people this may sound like hell, but that is exactly what’s going to happen on the day. These events are filled with water traps, mud, dirt, slime, and much more besides. This means that you are going to have to complete the event whilst soaking wet, freezing cold, and covered in dirt and mud. To help get you physically and mentally prepared for this, train in cold wet clothes. This will help give you a feel for what it is going to be like on the day, plus it will help you kick things up a gear because training in heavy wet clothes will be a great deal tougher than thin and dry clothing. It may be extreme, but it will help you no end when race day finally comes around.
Mix up your cardio
When training for endurance obstacle courses, a lot of people will simply go on long runs several times per week, or will perhaps simply hop on a treadmill or exercise bike in the gym. Whilst any form of cardio will be beneficial, to ensure you are fully prepared for the race that awaits you, you should mix up your cardio and try different things. One week you should try slow and steady endurance based cardio, whereas the next you could try HIIT cardio instead, and try things like hill sprints. This is because you will perform different types of cardio on the day. When you make your way around the course, you won’t be sprinting flat out because that would tire you out. At the end however, with the finish line in sight, you may be racing other people, so to help improve your score, you may wish to sprint as quickly as you can. Not only should your training involve different speeds and different intensities, you should also try different methods. You could try HIIT, walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, or anything else for that matter. The more forms of cardio you can incorporate into your training, the better.
Don’t forget to rest
Though you will need to train consistently in the run up to the event, you must also ensure that you are getting plenty of rest as well. Rest will help your muscles to recover and will help ensure that your energy levels don’t plummet before the big day. Ideally you should take at least two full rest days each week in the lead up to the race, plus you must make sure you are getting plenty of sleep each night.
Before endurance events, people often perform a practice known as ‘carb loading’. This is where they consume large quantities of carbohydrates, for the purpose of replenishing and stocking up their glycogen stores in the muscles. Basically, carb loading is like filling up a vehicle with fuel before a long journey. The night before your event, you get to enjoy foods such as pasta, rice, noodles, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and so on. Never carb load on the morning of race day because it will weigh you down and leave you feeling too full and bloated. Instead, a moderate carb, high protein, high healthy fat breakfast such as avocado, smoked salmon, and poached egg on wholegrain toast, will work best.
Nothing more to say here, other than to have fun and enjoy yourself. It will be tough, but you must enjoy what you are doing and try not to take things too seriously, even if you are competitive.