Obstacle course races have taken the UK by storm! Have you done one yet? With over 20 taking place in the London area each year and rising, it’s obvious that people of all fitness levels are looking for different ways to get fit and obstacle course races seem to be one of the most popular. Obstacle course races involve a mix of running and undertaking various physical challenges, over a variety of distances. Looking to do your first one and want to combine fun with fitness? Then something like Pretty Muddy or the Gauntlet Games is perfect. Wanting something more challenging? Then Toughest or Spartan Race is perfect. If you are preparing for your first one, then you’ll probably have a whole host of questions – what to wear, how to prepare, which shoes are best, how to get there? Some answers, you’ll get from your chosen obstacle course race’s website, but in a lot of instances, the answer is, it depends.
To help you out, we gathered together our top tips for obstacle course races from a variety of people, all who have completed different races and have varying levels of fitness.
Christina Leronymidou’s top tips
- Wear lightweight quick drying technical fabrics (avoid cotton at all costs) that fit tight (you don’t want loose clothing getting caught anywhere).
- Trail shoes. Seriously. Just cough up some money and get some. Otherwise you’ll be slipping and sliding all over the place.
- Train for running and grip strength.
Completed races: Toughest London
Christina is a writer for Healthy Living London. See her blogposts here.
Ashlie Groves’ top tips
- Train upper body strength in the lead up to the race (it’s something I always wish I’d done more of).
- Watch online clips for obstacle tips-the right technique can make all the difference
- Bring a bin liner for your wet clothes and plenty of baby wipes – not all races have a shower.
Completed races: Spartan Beast, Dirty Dozen, Beast in the East, Back to the Trenches
Ashlie is a writer for Healthy Living London. See her blogposts here.
Hannah Cox’s top tips
- Gather a group of friends to run with – it’s so much more fun than running alone, plus, you’ll have people to share the experience and memories with.
- Take a GoPro or similar and take lots of pics!
- Have a post-running kit ready for after the race!
Completed races: Pretty Muddy, Nuts Challenge, The Gauntlet Games
Hannah is a writer for Healthy Living London. See her blogposts here.
Toral Shah’s top tips
- Don’t be scared of the race! It’s far more fun and less scary that you think!
- Train by running on different terrains and on hills – I didn’t do enough but hilly intervals on the treadmill at classes such as 1Rebel helped.
- Practise monkey bar techniques – I went to a mad crossfit style class at Gymbox. There are many OCR training classes on.
- Go as a team – this makes it much more fun and more empowering.
- Definitely use trail or OCR shoes – makes things a lot less slippery
- Wear clothes that dry quickly
- Have a change of warm, dry clothes and change as quickly as possible once you finish.
- Don’t worry if you can’t do the obstacles!
Completed races: Toughest London
Toral Shah is an anti-cancer chef and nutritionist. Her website is www.theurbankitchen.co.uk
Rosie Flynn’s top tips
- Drink lots the night before and on the morning, but don’t forget to go to the loo in good time!! You don’t want to have to find a bush to wee in!
- Eat a good breakfast like porridge. (But definitely make sure bowels are emptied before you race – some people poo themselves apparently due to the nerves and excitement!)
- Get there early! Some events are disorganised and queuing to register etc takes time.
- Training in a gym will help with the physical stuff, but won’t prepare you for the potentially cold, wet, uneven, un-air conditioned environment. Doing things like Spartan was more about mental endurance / mind over matter. (Try not to cry, it makes your face colder.)
- Wear good terrain shoes and invest in proper running clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. No cotton or wool!!
- Be wary of wearing contact lenses in courses that involve deep water (but also realize that glasses can fall off and break).
- Bring bin bags, baby wipes / shower stuff that campers use, clean clothes that are easy to get into and some snacks for afterwards! Your car will be filthy and if you get public transport back home you might still stink of cow poo (even after showering with make-shift hose pipe showers that only have cold water).
- Drinking too much water at the water stations can give you a stitch!!
- Run with a group of people who don’t mind sticking together. Or run with someone faster than you who you have to catch up to!
- Some races feel like the worst thing ever and you regret doing them 5 minutes in, but the feeling of finishing them (even if it’s 5 hours later) is worth it.
- Get some before and after pics! (And hope that people can see the difference.)
Completed races: Beast in the East, Back to the Trenches, Spartan Beast, Spartan Sprint, Nuts Challenge (twice), Tough Mudder (twice)
Rosie is a social media manager, drummer and writer for Healthy Living London. See her blogposts here.
Sophie Kay’s top tips
- Have fun.
- Give every obstacle a go.
- Wear long leggings to protect your legs.
Completed races: Toughest London, Gauntlet Games, Pretty Muddy
Sophie is a personal trainer and fitness blogger at www.thefitologyway.com
Eliza Flynn’s top tips
- If you’ve got long hair, secure it well, otherwise trying to re-tie a loose ponytail with muddy, cold hands is not fun at all. I prefer plaits as my hair generally stays off my face that way.
- Don’t try and take anything unnecessary with you – this goes for phones (unless they’re in a waterproof case and secured to your body), jewellery or snacks. Not unless you’re doing one that’s over 12 miles.
- Take easy to put on, old clothes for after the race and get changed as soon as you can so you don’t get too cold.
- Lay everything you need for the race out the day before – you don’t want to be panicking on the day.
- Invest in some good trail shoes and make sure you try them on before you run. I ran in new trail shoes on the day and ended up with bleeding heels. However, I’d rather have run in those than in trainers as trainers have no grip and I’ve seen people who have run in trainers ending up with twisted ankles or torn muscles due to slipping. Personally, I love my innov8’s as they have wide-foot options (for people like me) and are so comfy.
Completed races: Beast in the East, Back to the Trenches, Spartan Beast, Spartan Sprint, Nuts Challenge, Tough Mudder, The Zombie Run, Pretty Muddy
Eliza is a writer for Healthy Living London. See her blogposts here.
Got any more top tips for obstacle course races? Let us know in the comments below.