How to Prepare for an Obstacle Race

With Tough Mudder over, and the Beast Race looming on the horizon, OCR's have been firmly on my mind lately. I've signed up for my first race of 2017 already. Once my wedding is out of the way, my training and nutrition will be all about the race prep. A few other Aberdeen bloggers have signed up to run the Beast Race with me, and with it being their first time obstacle racing, I've been thinking about what advice I'd give to an OCR newbie. And what I wish I'd known before my first time!


Get training! You'll  need a decent level of cardiovascular fitness to be able to run between the obstacles. At the majority of races the obstacles will be evenly spread so you won't have too far to run before you have to stop again, but not all races are made equally! For example at the Beast Race, a large chunk of the course is uphill on rough terrain, and you run approximately 5k before you reach an obstacle! Of course you can walk it, but for me, the quicker I can get round a course the sooner I get a warm shower, some food and a well earned drink! Practice running off road and up hills, and wear the trainers you'll be racing in.

Look up the kind of obstacles you'll be faced with so you can figure out what your strengths are and what weaknesses you'll need to work on. A good amount of obstacles will require moderate upper body strength to pull yourself up and over them. You don't need to be a pull up pro but I do recommend working on your arms and back strengh. Lat pull downs, tricep dips, even push ups will help. You don't need superhuman strength, and your fellow racers will always lend a helping hand, but the sooner you start your training the better. Don't put it off too long!

The Week Before

Stay hydrated.You don't want to feel dehydrated on the day of the race as you'll end up peeing like a racehorse after downing water too close to your start time. You should be drinking at least 2 litres daily anyway (more for men), but make sure you hit that target every single day leading up to your race.

Rest! Obstacle racing is bloody hard work. Your body goes through a lot during the course. Whether it's plummeting into freezing cold water or throwing yourself over 8 foot walls, it'll take a lot of energy out of you! Reduce your training, or at least the intensity of it, a week before, and rest completely for the last day or two. Don't do anything new that will cause more DOMS than you can handle!

The Night Before

Get organised. Prep your kit so you know you have everything you need, and don't spend the morning stressed out and running around like a headless chicken! I like to look out all my clothes - sturdy trainers, decent underwear, a super supportive sports bra, my oldest but most durable leggings and usually my team Epic tshirt! Don't wear anything you don't want to ruin - it'll end up covered in mud and god knows what, and probably snag on barbed wire at some point! Don't forget a towel and clean, warm clothes to change into!

If you have a GoPro or similar piece of kit, make sure it's fully charged with a memory card inserted and look out any extra equipment you'll need. I tend to use a chest strap as I'm worried the head mount would fall off or get caught on the obstacles.

Carb up and sleep! Like I said, your body burns a hell of a lot of energy during an OCR so make sure you fuel up properly. Plenty pasta, rice or sweet potato with dinner should do the trick. Try your best to get a full nights sleep (7-8 hours) if you're not too excited/terrified of what lies ahead!

On The Day

Enjoy a carb heavy breakfast when you wake up and drink around 500ml water 1-2 hours before racing. Protein oats are ideal as the oats will slowly release energy and your muscles are gonna need that protein to recover from all the strenuous exercise they're about to do. I usually grab a banana about half an hour before my start time. The simple sugars give me a quick energy hit and it means I'm not starting hungry. Or hangry - that would be bad news for everybody!

Arrive at the race location on plenty time. You'll need time to register, check your bag/car keys in and find the toilets, without missing the warm up! Stretch out any problem areas before starting - dynamic stretching is best before a race. Most events will have this organised so make the most of it!

Last but not least, the whole point of the experience... ENJOY IT!

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