Do you want to trick yourself into getting in shape fast? Don’t book a tropical vacation. Sign up for an obstacle race! This not only will encourage you to step up your cardio game like a normal 5k, but also help build practical strength. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you crush your first race.
Tip #1: Focusing on all cardio is a no-no.
It’s a race, so you have to run. It’s as simple as that. Make sure you plan to log some serious miles over the next few weeks. Now it’s time to do some homework:
- Check out the race’s website to see if they give you any hints of what the challenges are.
- Watch some YouTube videos of people competing in similar races. Take notes. Are they climbing walls? Doing army crawls? Watching these videos will help you formulate your plan of attack.
Running an 8-minute mile won’t help you with the physical obstacles, so you have to incorporate some form of strength training. We recommend focusing on body weight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and lunges. Sneak in a round or two of box jumps to get your heart rate up mid-workout. You can never over-prepare, so don’t be shy to add some weights in there. Try carrying a 20-pound dumbbell in each hand as you walk around the gym. If anything, all this training will make carrying a load of groceries breeze.
Tip #2: Don’t set-it-and-forget-it on the treadmill.
In the perfect world, you’d train outside on similar terrain as your course. But alas, you live in New England, and the weather is as unpredictable as Lady Gaga’s outfits. Treadmills can be your best friend, as long as you know what you’re doing. If you’re like most people, you hop on, set the speed, and stay steady at that pace until it’s time to leave.
We dare you to get out of your comfort zone.
Switch up your speed each time a new song plays. Try jogging on an incline. Your path won’t be a perfectly flat course, so it pays to practice different environments. Don’t worry if running isn’t your strength. An obstacle race is more about the obstacles than the running. Most courses aren’t timed, so you can walk between obstacles if you have to.
Tip #3: Find your tribe.
Obstacle races are fun because they’re not a solo activity. Your competition isn’t the only one you’ll be competing with. Most races encourage you to sign up with friends. Not only does this make completing obstacles a little easier (yay, teamwork!), but also gives you a gym buddy while you’re training for the big day. Try finding at least one other person to take the plunge with you. You’ll be each other’s cheerleaders as well as boost your confidence at the gym.
Tip #4: Balance your workout schedule.
You wanted a challenge; that’s why you signed up for the race in the first place. But that doesn’t mean that every workout has to be go, go, go. In fact, you should incorporate at least one complete rest day every week. That means relaxing and letting your muscles heal, not sneaking in a hike with the family. That would be considered “active rest,” where you’re still exercising but at a low-intensity. Our favorite activity on active rest days is attending Group Centergy. This Pilates and yoga fusion class stretches your tired muscles, builds core strength, and improves your balance. Trust us – these skills will come in handy on race day.
Tip #5: Pick out your race uniform in advance.
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you look good after working out, you’re not working out hard enough?” Don’t worry. You’ll most likely look like something the cat dragged in after your race. But who cares as long as you’re accessorizing with a smile!
You’ll be crawling through mud, getting bruises on obstacles, and maybe even pricking yourself on barbed wire. You clearly don’t want to be dressed to the nines on race day. However, you also don’t want to wear baggy sweats and the t-shirt you typically save for house-cleaning day. We recommend running tights so that mud can’t sneak up the leg holes, nor will the loose fabric get caught on anything. Invest in a moisture-wicking tank or t-shirt as well to keep you cool during the race. While they may not be as pretty, invest in darker colors so stains will be less noticeable.