So I’m currently preparing for my first proper obstacle race, the Race For Life Pretty Muddy 5k. Well, I admit it’s not quite my first obstacle course – I did one a few years back and didn’t have a great experience so it put me off for good….or so I thought….but when Race For Life asked me to join their blogger team I realised that this was the time – I’m going to really challenge myself and push my boundaries for this amazing cause. So here I am, preparing for what I am going to count as my first proper obstacle course race, because this time I’m going to do it right!
1. Kit Preparation – Race and Post Race
What you wear is essential. Depending on the time of year make sure you will be warm/cool enough and always race in kit you have worn before – crawling through mud is not an ideal time to deal with chaffing seams or an annoying waistband that keeps slipping. Remember in an obstacle course you may be crawling so long leggings may be the most comfortable.
Wear the right trainers, I made a mistake wearing a really, really old pair that had literally no tread left…. massive error…. I just slid back down anything I was trying to climb and caused no end of trouble. Obviously you don’t want to wear your brand new treads so either get a specific pair of trail shoes to get muddy or wear an oldish pair that still have some life left… just give them a good clean afterwards!
Post-race you will be cold and gross…. make sure you have a complete change of clothes with you – you will be thankful you did….and check out this post for some valuable cleaning of post-obstacle course kit advice!
2. Distance preparation
This is straight forward but whether you sign up for a 5k or a 10 mile obstacle course just make sure you know you can get round that distance. Since there will be a lot of obstacles along the way you inevitably will have breaks as you have to wait for various obstacles etc but your stamina still has to be up to the distance…if not more so – it’s pretty tiring crawling through mud, climbing up ropes and then still jogging around the course….
3. Get a good team around you
I cannot emphasise how important this is! An obstacle course race will push you out of your comfort zone so make sure you are comfortable with the people you choose to run with. Make sure you are all clear on how you are going to tackle the run – are you going for individual times and regrouping at the finish or are you going around as a team at the pace of the slowest member of the group? Knowing what to expect is paramount and exactly where I went wrong in my previous experience. Don’t underestimate how much it can knock your confidence and experience of the day if you don’t get your group dynamic sorted out.
4. Know what to expect
Look into what you can expect of the obstacle course race you are signing up to. If you don’t want to have to jump into a lake and swim to the other side for instance you may want to check this out before rather than having a nasty surprise ruining your day.
5. Remember it’s all fun at the end of the day!
Don’t take it too seriously! (Unless you really want to of course!) A majority of people at obstacle course races are going to have fun, get muddy, have a laugh and push themselves a bit. I’ve purposely signed up to one that I know is going to be a fun, relaxed and friendly experience – Pretty Muddy is an all female race raising money for Cancer Research. I love the idea of it being all girls and everyone I know that have taken part in a Race For Life event has only had really positive things to say so I am getting excited now! I cannot think of a better way to get over my fear of obstacle course races!
Finally – check out this post for some post-obstacle course tips for looking after yourself and a quick recovery when it’s all over!
Find out more: Race For Life website
Photo credit: Race For Life
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