Preparing is Important to Obstacle-Type Events

Deb Tendick of Appleton is ready to take on the Warrior Princess Mud Run, held Oct. 4 at Mosquito Hill Nature Center in New London.

“None of us have done anything like this before so we are just expecting to be tired and dirty at the end,” said Tendick, who has teamed up with some friends to participate in the non-competitive 5K adventure run and obstacle course designed for women and men of all fitness levels. All proceeds from the event benefit Harbor House domestic abuse programs.  

Mud runs and other events are more than just about running. There are obstacles to climb, jump and crawl through. Limits and strength will be tested. Tendick is willing to take on the challenges. “Climbing the 8-foot wall and crossing the monkey bars seem like they will be the hardest obstacles for me,” she said. “I think that finding a team with the same level of competitiveness and love of fun is key. We aren't worried about speed, just trying our best to do each obstacle and doing whatever we can to help each other along.”

Participants of obstacle-type events need to keep their safety in mind. “Most events are for fitness levels of all types. But there is still a certain amount of preparation and training needed to make the event safe and fun,” said Dr. Subha Rajan, family doctor with ThedaCare Physicians-New London.

Dr. Richard Canlas, sports medicine physician with ThedaCare Orthopedics Plus in New London and Appleton, agreed. “Obstacle courses challenge muscles that you may not be used to using,” he said. “And these events test endurance. You need to prepare effectively.”

Here are some tips to prepare for an obstacle-type event:

  • Register for the event as soon as you can and brush up on what is in store. Many events post on-line maps, even video, of the race course and obstacles. “The more you know, the more you can physically and mentally prepare for the event,” said Dr. Rajan.  
  • Take about 12 to 16 weeks to train for the event. If this is new to you, the longer time frame will help. “If this kind of physical activity is new to you, see your doctor,” said Dr. Rajan.  
  • Take to the trails for training for an obstacle-type event. Knowing the distance of the event will help in training. “Almost all the obstacle races out there are on trails,” said Dr. Canlas. “Throw in some challenges because many courses include hills to make things harder.”
  • Get strong with some whole body muscle conditioning with workout moves like pull-ups, push-ups, squats, rows and kettlebell swings. “Your legs will only get you so far,” said Dr. Canlas. “With obstacle races, participants need endurance, strength, power and agility.”

Also get flexible for the up, down, over and under that can take a toll on muscles. Incorporate yoga, Pilates or your own daily stretching routine to allow you to move through obstacles with ease and prevent injuries.

  • Embrace your inner child and recall those days at recess when you climbed the monkey bars, climbed up a slide and swung in a tire swing. Find an obstacle-specific class in your area or look for online training plans. “You don’t need to take a boot camp type of class but will want to familiarize yourself with some of the training needed to do obstacles,” said Dr. Canlas. 
  • It’s not a mud run for nothing. You will get dirt and mud everywhere. Wear attire and comfortable trail shoes that will, and do, get trashed. “Although many events encourage costumes, wear something that is sensible, won’t weigh you down because of all the mud and won’t get caught on an obstacle,” said Dr. Rajan,
  • Proper stretching is still essential prior to an obstacle course type event. Also be sure to stay hydrated. “Drink plenty of water the night before and have some before the event,” said Dr. Rajan. “Enjoy an energy powered breakfast and bring a snack if you have to be at the event for several hours before the event.”
  • Obstacle course events, for both newbies and the experienced, can challenge strength and endurance. “Don’t give up,” said Dr. Canlas. “It’s OK if you have to go around an obstacle because you’re not physically prepared or comfortable with it. Keep trying your hardest and moving forward. Crossing the finish line will be worth it once you feel that rush of accomplishment.”