How Train For An Obstacle Race


Women's Health |

By Wanita Nicol

Thinking of entering an obstacle race in 2016? Here’s what you need to know.

Carina Marx, 33, is a machine. She’s been a personal trainer for 12 years – if you’ve visited the Virgin Active at Melrose Arch, you might have spotted her in action – and has tried every sport under the South African sun. In 2013 she started entering obstacle races for fun with friends. But in 2015 she upped the ante, taking part in seven competitive Black Ops Elite Warrior Races – 15-kilometre trail run, 30 obstacles, no assistance. She got onto the podium three times and ended the series fourth in the women’s category and fifteenth overall (across the men’s and women’s categories). Ace your first race with her tried and tested tips.

Just enter

That way there’s no backing out! But do your research to enter the appropriate category for your fitness level. If you’re nervous about doing it on your own, enter a team. The more, the merrier!

Run, run, run!

No matter how much of a runner or non-runner you rate yourself to be, having good running fitness makes life a lot easier and you’ll enjoy the obstacles a lot more. To make running more fun, find a friend to join you or try a park run on Saturdays. I actually always hated running – but now I love hitting the trails.

Do some functional training

Find a functional gym or an obstacle course where you can learn a few techniques and how to handle your own bodyweight. It will prevent unnecessary injuries.

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Strengthen your grip

You can use a few methods – hold a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell for as long as possible in each hand, hang from a pull-up bar for as long as possible or use hand-spring grips to strengthen your grip.

Arrive early

Get there well before your start time so you can register and warm up before the race without stressing yourself out. Don’t forget to stretch afterwards!

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Laugh at yourself

And your friends. Obstacle racing is probably the most fun I’ve had my whole life and you can’t help but get addicted to the sense of achievement once you’ve managed to do things with your mind and body that you never thought would be possible. I would recommend it to anyone who’s lost the spice of life.

Wear the right gear

I strongly recommend comfortable clothes that dry fast and nothing too baggy. I prefer long tights to protect my shins from scratches and bruising – there are a lot to choose from, but I always find First Ascent and Cape Storm have strong durable tights. Or try calf and arm sleeves from Compressport – they also improve circulation so you don’t get a calf or forearm pump.

Try to avoid baggy tops – they they get caught on barbed wire and branches and accumulate mud. Racer back vests are always a winner.

As for shoes, get good, light trail-running shoes with good grip. I like Salomon’s S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG or Innov8’s X-Talon 190. No road running tekkies! You will slip and fall.

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