Obstacle Course Races Breathe New Energy into Running

by on August 13th, 2010
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If you’re tired of the same old 5ks and marathons, or if you just want to test your hand (and feet) at a different sort of race challenge, obstacle course races may be right up your alley. Obstacle course races range from shorter-length runs of 5K to 10 miles or more of running, all sprinkled with climbing, crawling, balancing, jumping and sliding down obstacles.

With races like the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Urbanathlon and the Spartan Race, runners and fitness enthusiasts swim through mud, dodge barbed wire, scale walls, climb military barricades and crawl through tunnels to compete in challenging yet fun full-body workout events.

These obstacle course races have only been around about two years, according to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, but there are already 1 million people signed up to participate in obstacles course races this year. Obstacle course races draw a wide range of participants, from triathletes to extreme fitness fans of CrossFit and Insanity workouts to runners looking for a new challenge.

Obstacle course races glean inspiration from military training and cross country races, with many courses laid out on rough terrain. The Tough Mudder races, for instance, include 10-12 mile courses designed by the British Special Forces, with obstacles such as fire to leap through, mud to wade through and cargo nets to crawl under.

To train for an obstacle course race, it is helpful to focus on full-body workouts using natural objects or obstacles and your own body weight for resistance. Exercises such as push-ups, planks, pull-ups, hurdles, stair climbing can help you prepare for obstacle course races. Come race day, don’t forget to smile and enjoy the mayhem.

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