Build an Effective Obstacle Course Training Plan
The first thing you need to do when starting out with obstacle course training is get some good training wheels. You will want to have at least one person helping you every step of the way so they can keep track of your progress and make sure everything is going according to plan. This person needs to be someone who is experienced in obstacle courses and knows what works best for them. They will also need to be able to motivate you if necessary.
Another advantage of having someone else around is that it allows you to focus on other things while they are working on the obstacles. If you don’t have anyone else there, then you may feel like you’re just running through a field of wheat stalks without any direction or guidance whatsoever!
In addition to having someone else around, you’ll also want to have a few different types of obstacles available at all times. For example, you might only need one type of obstacle in the morning and another type during the afternoon. Or maybe you’d rather not use any obstacles at all and just go straight from the parking lot into the woods. Whatever your preference is, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to train on whatever type of obstacle suits your needs best.
Furthermore, you should make sure that the obstacles are always set up and ready to go whenever you decide to train. Some people may find this unnecessary or too time-consuming, but this extra preparation can pay off greatly in the long run. For example, if you want to take a break after every lap but still continue training, then you can get a head start on the next obstacle and cut down on wasted time.
During the training process, you should only work on one task at a time. Use the same routine every day and don’t try anything too complicated until you’ve mastered the simpler techniques. There’s nothing worse than getting frustrated and giving up altogether because you were expecting too much out of yourself. Take it easy in the beginning and work your way up to the harder stuff when the time is right.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have some sort of goal in mind, either. Maybe you want to train for a month and then run through the course without stopping. Or perhaps you just want to see if it’s possible to make it through the whole thing in one day. Either way, having something to work towards is often enough motivation in and of itself. You might not even need outside sources of motivation since you’ve got the goal of finishing your obstacle course behind you.
Obstacle course training is a lot different than some of the other exercises you’ve probably tried in the past. This means that it’s important to treat it differently as well. The above tips should be more than enough for the average person to start out on, but don’t be afraid to experiment on your own or on your own time.
Remember, if something doesn’t work for you or something seems inefficient, then there’s no need to adhere to it. The idea is to get yourself fit, not to blindly follow some routine that someone else made up!
Tricks for the Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses aren’t always what people think they are. Sure, they typically involve climbing over walls and going under fences, but that’s only part of what you need to do to prepare. If the course you’re preparing for also involves water crossings, you’re going to need a solid plan to keep yourself from getting too weighed down or soaked.
The most important thing is to prepare for the water by wearing clothes that won’t hamper your movement and choice of shoes as well. Typically, if you have to wear clothes that are restrictive or heavy, such as jeans or boots, it’s best to go without and wear something like swim briefs or going barefoot instead. You might feel chilly at first if you aren’t used to it, but you’ll be able to move much faster and retain your mobility.
The second most important thing is to have something for transportation. This is a bit more complicated than it seems since most people will tell you just to run everywhere. While this certainly is an option, especially if the course isn’t that large, you may find yourself exhausted by the time you get to the water obstacles that are further down the course. If you’ve had to drag a log across the course before trying to get to the lake, then you know just how much of a pain it can be if you don’t have enough energy left over.
If you have a choice, running is going to be better than walking which is better than jogging. If you’re in good enough shape, then you might even want to try to do some sort of light jog the whole time. If you can’t do this, then at least try to avoid walking whenever possible.
If you really feel like you’re going to need to walk some of it, then it’s best to conserve your energy as much as possible. This means that when you do have to walk, don’t linger. Jog or run for a short bit until you’re fully warmed up and then continue on at a fast pace until you start to feel tired. Then, stop and jog or walk for a bit until you feel ready to start running again. This is going to take a lot more energy on your part since you’re not going to be able to just set it on cruise control and let the legs go on auto-pilot the whole time, but it’s much better than just dragging it out and using up all your energy early.
This is a good approach to take whenever you’re either just starting out with running or when you are preparing for an obstacle course race. By warming up and cooling down as needed, you’re going to feel a lot less stiff and sore the next day. You may even find that this warm-up/cool-down technique can be used in your day to day workouts to help prevent injury and aid in your flexibility as well.
Obstacle course races can be fun, but they can also be extremely frustrating. Each one is different enough that you’re never going to feel like you’ve got all of them figured out, but there are certain things that you can always count on to be there. The first thing is the mud. It’s going to be there, you can count on that. Unless you’re in a desert state like Arizona or New Mexico, you can also count on it being very humid as well.
This is why it’s so important to wear the right clothing. It doesn’t particularly matter what you wear on your top half since most of it is going to get trashed anyway, but you want to make sure that you have plenty of lightweight clothes on your bottom half. Remember, you’re going to be running a lot and that means that you’re going to work up a bit of a sweat, so make sure that you have shorts or pants that are both breathable and light.
As far as shoes go, this is one of the few times where it might actually be better for your feet if you went with a cheaper option. Most of the time when you’re running in shoes, your feet are not going to be supporting all your weight. They’re going to mostly be in contact with the ground only where your foot is pressed against the shoe.
When you’re hopping, climbing and walking on slippery surfaces, most of your weight is going to be supported by the shoes themselves. While there are certainly running shoes that are well suited to these types of activities, most are not. This is why it’s recommended that you go with a pair of tennis shoes instead. They’re going to be much cheaper and they’re still going to give you more support than a pair of flip-flops.
If you happen to live in a colder climate, then snow boots might also be a good option. Just make sure that waterproof is going to be a feature of whatever type of shoe you choose. If you happen to get a pair of snow boots, then they’re also going to double as water protection for the rest of the race. This is especially important when it comes to river crossings since your feet are going to be submerged for a longer period of time.
One other thing that you should always carry with you when running any sort of distance, is a small backpack. Now, this doesn’t mean that you go and load up on a ton of unnecessary items. In fact, you don’t even need a backpack at all. You can simply use a fanny pack or perhaps attach a small bag to the front of your body.
The reason for this is that if there is a particular obstacle that you aren’t good at, like the ladder in a Tough Mudder, then you can store some items in the bag that you can dispose of before attempting it. This will lighten your load and make the obstacle a little bit easier.
You can also carry things like water and energy bars in your bag. Of course, you can also just carry those in your hand, but having them stored away from possible falls is always a good idea. This is also a great place to put any expensive electronics that you don’t want broken during the race since you won’t have to worry about them bouncing around loose in your pockets.
Sources & references used in this article:
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