Have you ever run an obstacle race? You know—the ones with mud pits, 20-foot vertical walls, cargo nets, electrically-charged wires and walls of fire?
They're fun. But you need the right training to prepare yourself for the challenge of completing a difficult obstacle course. With obstacles every few hundred feet on courses that are almost always hilly with uneven terrain, it's downright difficult to maintain your pace and get in a groove.
For most runners, it's a challenge just to run in between each obstacle!
But there are specific ways that you can train to ensure you have a successful race. Make no mistake: whether you're running a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder, these aren't your typical road races. It takes a particular mindset to conquer them. Here's how.
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Run on Hilly, Uneven Terrain
If you've been a road runner your entire life, prepare yourself for a real shock on race day. Almost all obstacle courses are held on ski slopes, trails and large fields. Even if the course is just a few miles, you probably won't have any firm footing during the entire race.
Preparing for this type of race is critical, so you need to practice running in areas with similar terrain. Run on more trails—the hillier, the better. You don't have to run as fast as you normally do. In fact, you'll likely need to slow down to navigate the rocks, roots, hills and even fallen trees.
By training on trails similar to those on the day of your obstacle race, you'll benefit in two important ways. First, the mental advantage is enormous. You'll know what to expect and won't get flustered if you need to vault a big rock in the middle of the course next to a fallen branch.
And physically, you'll already have the trail running skills you need. The added coordination, agility and flexibility that you gain from trail running will help you navigate not just the terrain, but the obstacles as well.