Have you booked onto your first obstacle course race and need a source of inspiration? Well in order to prepare, look no further than this guide!
Over the last few years I’ve completed many obstacle course races ; ‘Survival of the Fittest‘ three times, ‘Tough Mudder’ twice, ‘Dash of the Titans’ once and ‘Pretty Muddy 5k. With these races you definitely need a different approach in terms of preparation, as you never know what you may face on the day of the race.
1. Get those miles in!
Many people I’ve ran alongside at the events, think the distance between obstacles is short. Whilst some are close together others are literally miles apart, therefore, it is important to run for duration at least once a week.
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2. Train for those obstacles
Be prepared for those obstacles you may face; try pull ups, sled pushes, box jumps plus the monkey bars. Make sure you have enough upper body strength to help yourself and others. On the day you may be climbing up ropes, over tall walls, swinging from monkey bars and running up high slopes (which eventually become slippy over time).
3. Wear the right gear
Before, during and after the race, it is important for you to be well prepared at all times. In cold weather it’s important to keep warm ahead of the race – especially while waiting for your start time. So wear warm clothes and then ask spectators to hold onto these, or place them in the bag drop. Make sure what you wear is durable and waterproof so, during the race, you don’t feel ten times as heavy when jumping into or swimming through any stretches of water. Bring dry, warm clothes to change into after the race – you may have to wait for other participants to finish.
4. Fuel is important!
Food and drink is important when preparing for your event, particularly in the days leading up to the event. Eat chicken, with rice or pasta the night before – carbs are the key for events such as these! On the day it is advisable to eat 2/3 hours before the race begins. Try not to eat something that is totally alien to you as this may upset your normal routine, but fruits/bagels/oatmeal are a good place to start. Remember – everyone is different, so prepare for what your body needs and what you find comfortable before race day. Hydration is also important on race day. I like to sip on an energy drink beforehand, as I require more energy for an OCR than I would a half marathon or 10k. If you prefer water, go with whatever works for you!
5. Mental preparation
On obstacle course race day you just have to push through. It’s all about that mental strength. Tell yourself that you can do anything and you will do anything. You have trained well and prepared yourself, both mentally and physically, therefore, you can conquer anything. On race day, remain positive. If something tries to knock you down, just focus on how great you will feel at that finish line. The achievements will feel immense!
6. Create an army!
Get a team of fellow competitors together and motivate each other towards that finish line – train together and ensure that your teammates are fighting fit for the task ahead.
7. Shoe prep
Cross country shoes are the way forward for these events – often you have to run through mud, woodland and all kinds of terrain. This is not road running! Light weight shoes are the best as they won’t hold onto mud or water.
8. Stay positive
From my own experiences, holding onto a particularly unpleasant obstacle experience on the day is not great for your mindset. If it sticks in your head that you failed to complete a particular obstacle, and you’re as competitive as me, you will hate the idea of failure. Try and have fun on the day. Things may happen, whether you bungle the monkey bars due to a mere slip of the hands, or not want to complete a particularly tough obstacle, get your mind back on the task ahead and SMILE!
9. Savour the moment
Really cherish the moment you cross that finishing line – you have overcome so much! Just think, while others, the world over, have sat in front of the TV that day, you have just completed an OCR, no matter the distance. Well done you!
10. Share on social media
It may sound like a random point to make, but sharing your achievement, whether by photos or status on social media, can be a great motivator, not only for others but also yourself. Of course we are all different, but some will see a friend’s achievement and be inspired to get involved. Even the act of posting photos yourself may motivate you to sign up for more! Share away!
I hope by sharing my experiences and thoughts, you feel more reassured to sign up for an OCR now! If you’re inspired to join a running club team event here at Nottingham YMCA gym, please enquire at reception. Alternatively you can speak to me or Danny for more information.
By Emma Sleight, posted on 12th January 2018