BEN’S ZONE: Five Tips to Start Obstacle Racing

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Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness.  You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂

Ben running

Five Tips to Start Obstacle Racing

It about this time of year that some helpful bod in the office will be suggesting doing some kind of charity activity this year. The fog of January is lifting and we’re all starting to believe we might see sunlight again. People are starting to think about being active and finding a good way to get motivated. Obstacle racing has been gaining in popularity over the last few years and so it’s likely that the helpful office person will be suggesting you all do one for charity. At this point you’ve got two basic options. You can either have them sacked (or killed) or you can follow my beginners tips below to get into OCR.

1. Run on trails

Obstacle racing is biased towards running as fast as you run between obstacles. You don’t have to, but it’s fun. Most people realise this and start running but they start running on roads. This is rubbish for two reasons, it’s dead boring (even with good tunes) and it’s easy to get injured as road running puts stress on the joints. The answer is to run off road, which is loads of fun and easy on the legs. I’m lucky in that I have a forest 2 minutes from home, but if you don’t there will be a park, so join your local park run. You don’t have to run every day and so a park run is a great way to make friends and get going with the right kind of training.

2. Buy some trail shoes

Trail shoes don’t cost a bomb and they make a huge difference off road. They’re built differently to road shoes and so in addition to much better grip you’ll find they’re easier to feel the ground through. You can get a set for about £25 if you look around and, believe me, when you see other people scrabbling round in the mud, while you power on, it will make sense.

3. Do bodyweight exercises

You don’t have to be super human to do OCR but it’s nice to be able to have a crack at most obstacles. Forget the gym, in a race you’ll mainly be lifting yourself, so start with some basic calisthenics, which is a fancy name for press ups and sit ups. Start with sets that have small numbers of repetitions, if you feel stronger, do more sets, as time goes on you can increase the number of exercises per set. If you feel confident get a pull up bar and start looking into that (here is a really great tutorial).

4. Don’t overtrain

With a big training goal, the temptation is to go hell for leather, I know, I’ve been guilty of this myself. Just be aware that overtraining will not hit you in a gradual way, it comes on very suddenly. If you push too hard too soon you can see your performance drop off a cliff and you may not see it coming. Remember that to win the race you have to finish. Also remember that your body does not get stronger during exercise but in the rest period afterwards, so make sure to build in rest days. Above all else, prioritise sleep, your body will not perform without it.

5. Get a shirt with your name on

Whether you decide to do this for charity or just for fun, get a running shirt with your name on. If you’re a woman don’t train in it (men may cat call you) but have one for race day. There’s nothing that bucks me up more when I’m flagging than a spectator saying ‘Go on Ben’ or ‘Go on RAW’ (my team). It makes a massive difference when you hit the wall.

So get on it, summer is coming, why not get involved in some crazy OCR fun, you never know, you might love it

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