As the sport of obstacle racing picks up momentum across the mainstream media, we thought a ‘beginner’s section’ would be useful to add. If you’re new to obstacle races, all of the resources listed here are things you should know going into your first race. It’s a basic list of the advice and resources we have published on Grit Camp since our launch, and which have been helpful to newcomers and seasoned athletes are alike.
How to know if you are ready for an obstacle race?
To find out if you are fit enough for an obstacle race you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Can you run the mileage equivalent of that of the race?
- Do you have experience with off-road and trail running, climbing, swimming, carrying extra weight for extensive amounts of time, enough grit and perseverance?
- Have you been training for at least 3 months prior to the race?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then sure enough you will finish it.
Some races also have specific measurements to gauge if a person is fit enough to finish. An example of this are the more competitive Spartan Races which have a burpee test you can try to complete (this ties in with 30 burpees being the penalty if you fail any obstacle in a Spartan Race):
How can I train and prepare for a race?
First of all you should find and choose the race you want to do. This will give you a framework and goals on which to base your prep and training. You see, it’s much different to prepare for a Spartan Race Sprint (3 miles) than a Tough Mudder (around 12 miles). The latter would require more running work, endurance etc. than the former, which is a more explosive and quick sprint.
A good way to find and choose a race is by using our race finder apps:
Once you’re all signed up for a race, you should start the prep by getting to know the basic training routines required to perform in such an obstacle race. Chances are that you’re not completely new to the fitness world and you already have a basic understanding of training. However obstacle races are a unique challenge, which will test every single part of your body. Hopefully all of the parts are durable enough. Start by reading the following material:
- Free ebook guide: minimal optimal obstacle race training plan
- 3 easy ways to collect extra miles and run further
- The never boring cardio circuit workout
- Train exclusively outdoors and why
- The 3 crossfit type workouts perfect for obstacle races
Generally speaking, to perform well in an obstacle race, you need to be a well-rounded athlete. The following disciplines should be the staple of your training regime:
- Strength training
What should I eat to perform my best?
Your diet can affect your performance either positively or negatively, and it also impacts how good you feel and look on the day of the race. In the days leading up to a race, you should aim to consume the same food you would normally eat before a heavy workout. Any new foods you might be tempted by, you should test on regular workout days first. Don’t introduce them right before (or even worse – during) your race.
Too many athletes these days face the inevitable discomfort of over-consumption of sugar and carb-ladden energy gels, difficult-to-digest breakfasts or one of those energy drinks in a rave packaging. All of these are terrible choices which lead to the uncomfortable fermentation of alcohol sugars in your gut, and to insulin spikes followed by an energy crash. Your performance ends up being unstable and you might even experience fatigue earlier than you would normally.
To find out about better ways to fuel up for a race day and to get informed about general improvements you can make to your nutrition, check out the advice below.
Race day nutrition:
- How to fuel up for long races: electrolytes, fat and carb fuel with no bloating
- Kickass pre-race protein balls
Pre-Workout and general nutrition:
Are there things to be aware of for the actual day of the race?
Missing out on essential items to bring for the race day can result in unpleasant surprises. From personal experience what is clear is that it is best prepare and pack all gear a couple of days before the event then just double check the night before the race that you’ve packed everything you need.
There is some advice which can make all the difference to your experience of the race, such as the no cotton rule, packing trash bags and more.
Check out the full lists of things to keep in mind here:
- 10 Essentials to bring on a race day
- 5 tricks for your first obstacle race
- Dealing with sleep issues ahead of a raceday
- 7 hacks to make the most out of your gear on a race day