Obstacle Courses: My 2 Cents

Recently, a new type of exercise has taken the UK by storm. Nope, not Boxercise. Or Pilates (it’s 2014, not 2004). Or Metafit. Or P90x.

 

I am talking about the Obstacle Course.

 

These days, you can’t open a copy of Runner’s World without seeing photos of what can only be described as muddy Rambo wannabes running through the English countryside, lugging logs, climbing ropes and willingly jumping into ice cold water. It’s like they all know something about the Apocalypse that we don’t.

 

I saw a conversation on Twitter recently among some fellow runners who weren’t positive towards this slightly wild cousin to the trail and road race. As someone who has done their fair share of obstacle courses (well, I did two. But that’s two more than this time last year), I started thinking about why I enjoyed them:

 

  • The aim is very different to straight-out running events. As well as your typical running strength, these events also test your upper body and mental strength in ways a running race doesn’t. What else would you need to haul yourself across monkey bars over ice cold water?
  • If you choose the right one, it can be an amazing team event. Tough Mudder and Total Warrior like to promote a no-man-left-behind ethos, which means that the time you get as a team isn’t as important as the fact that you all completed it together. That’s really nice, and different to a running race when you’re competing against other runners, but also against yourself.

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  • If you thought completing a 10k race was satisfying – imagine how it feels to complete a 10k obstacle race. After you finish, the high is amazing as you feel that you can run, lift, jump and scramble as well as any action hero. In fact, these events make all those old action movies look lame. I’m looking at you, Running Man….
  • As a runner, you probably spend a lot of time cross training. This is a good chance to give those other muscles a chance to shine.
  • Don’t be put off by the waiver they get you to sign! You also have to sign a waiver when you go paintballing, get your ears pierced and … when you sign up to any normal running race too.
  • As a girl, it’s awesome to kick ass. I remember during Total Warrior that I wanted to do every single obstacle, and I did and it was so satisfying. I’m a sucker for events with names that make me feel like a hero.

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  • As a guy, it must be awesome to kick ass. Why spend all that time in the gym pumping those guns if you never get a chance to test them?
  • The variety of events is huge. You have 10 mile events, 10k events, zombie apocalypse events. You can find ones with high tech obstacles like electric shocks, or good old rustic ones like hay bales to climb over. There are even events which simulate the Zombie Apocalypse.

 

At the end of the day, running is still my favourite activity, and there’s nothing that can top that in my opinion. But these obstacle courses are a good way to test yourself in a different way, and the team dynamic has also encouraged other friends of mine to get involved when they wouldn’t normally have considered it.

Total Warrior

That’s not to say they’re for everyone – they’re just another option. I am 99% sure I’ll never attempt a triathlon. But I am definitely considering Tough Mudder. If for no other reason than the fact that the word Apocalypse has been mentioned twice already in this post, so it seems that it might be better to be prepared than not. Maybe they’re on to something….. 😉

 

Ellie B

 

Tips for New Runners

No one ever

Because we owned Total Warrior a few months ago, some girls at my dance school are interested running. So we’ve started a running club every second week to work on stamina and distance.

When you start running, there are a few things which can help you get into the groove a bit. Here are some things that I’ve picked up over the years. I’m by no means an expert, in fact   I think I’m lucky enough to get through each day without falling over (I’ve been failing at that recently). But here is what has helped me:

  1. Stretch your calves: When you start running, your calves may go into shock and let you know!! Get into the habit of stretching them when you can to help them recover, but also to strengthen them for when you run.
  2. Be regular: it’s wayyyyy better to do a 10 minute run 3 times a week than a 30 minute run and then nothing for two weeks. Get into the habit of going out, and you’ll find it will soon feel normal.
  3. Start small: it’s ok to do a mix of running and walking when you first start. If you’re really new, try 1 min walk, 1 min running for a total of 20 minutes. Then each week, make the running periods longer.
  4. Don’t worry about everyone else! Everyone is too busy with themselves and their own agenda that no one will be looking at you run, no matter how self conscious you feel. So don’t worry, keep your head up and get out there!
  5. Join a running club: running with people is SO much easier than running on your own, and it makes you go when you’d rather do anything else. Find a local running club near you, and meet people who are at your ability. It’ll be a great source of support.
  6. Get the gear. Of course, you don’t need all the fancy clothes and accessories to go running. But some things help: headphones which stay in when you run, a pouch to hold your iphone/keys, and good shoes which will support your feet.
  7. Get a PLAYLIST!! I can’t stress that enough. I LOVE it when a song comes on that pumps me right up!! Currently my fave is Beyonce’s ‘Run the World’.
  8. Create small goals: What do you want to achieve out of this? To run 5k? To do 10k in an hour? To get fit? Work out what your goal is and remind yourself of it every time you want to put running off……
  9. Make a plan: Know when in your week you have left time for running. This will mean it’s less likely to get squeezed out by washing, work, kids, making dinner!
  10. Just go. Don’t think about it too much, or make it bigger than it is. Just try going out for a run. You may feel awkward, self conscious and stiff, but these feelings will subside as you do it more regularly. And it’s a great way to get some headspace away from the daily grind!

just go

Good luck!

SB and I are off on holiday today and I can’t wait!! We’re going to Turkey, along with everyone else in the UK. SB has already told me that I need to go on any excursions by myself because we only have 6 days and he plans to spend all 6 by the pool. We’re going all-inclusive too, and I intend to get my money’s worth….

See you in a week! Happy Running!

Ellie B