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5 Things You Should Know Before You Sign up for an Obstacle Course Race

Mud runs and obstacle course races are SO MUCH FUN! They take a good old-fashioned running race and add whole new levels of challenges: mud pits, foam traps, slides, rope ladders, and so much more! They make running a race a whole lot more enjoyable.

But before you run that obstacle course race, there are a few things you need to know.

It’s not just a run.

If you’ve been running for a few months or years, you can probably knock out a 5K without too much difficulty. But obstacle course races aren’t just about running! You may have to climb, crawl, jump, and do other physically demanding activities that will tire out your muscles. You may find yourself running out of steam faster because the obstacle course uses up more energy than the race itself. It’s a good idea to spend a few weeks training to combine the race with the obstacle course.

Dress for the obstacle course.

Every obstacle course has an outfit that makes it easier to run! For mud runs, you want to wear light, tight-fitting clothing that won’t get heavy when sodden with mud and water. For a climbing course, you’ll want clothes that are loose and allow you to move freely. For foam races, you’ll want quick-drying clothing that won’t rub. Make sure you’ve got the right shoes as well — running shoes are great for running only, but you may want to consider cross-trainers if you’re mixing obstacles with the run.

Know your obstacle course races.

There are a number of popular options, but the three most common are: a Spartan Sprint, a timed 3.5 mile race with 10-15 obstacles and penalties of push-ups or burpees if you skip the obstacles; a Tough Mudder, an untimed 12-mile challenge with 10-15 obstacles of mud and water (cold water), but with no penalties if you skip obstacles; and a Warrior Dash, an untimed 3.1-mile event featuring 10-15 obstacles, including a crawl through deep mud as the final obstacle. Make sure you know what type of obstacle race you’re signing up for, then train specifically for that race!

Don’t push too hard on your first race.

If you’re fairly new to running and obstacle courses, you may find yourself struggling to cross the finish line of harder, more physically challenging races. It’s a good idea to choose an easier obstacle course race first, one you can be fairly certain you’ll complete. Once you get a feel for the obstacle courses, you’ll know just how far you can push your body in your current physical condition.

Know thy limits.

This is key for any race, but particularly for obstacle course races! Some people just don’t have the physicality to complete all of the obstacles, and that’s totally fine. Know where your limits of strength, endurance, and cardiovascular conditioning are and don’t try to push yourself too far beyond them. It’s more about having fun and being fit than killing yourself trying to complete a race that’s too hard!

[Image credit StockPhotoAstur | via iStock/Getty]

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