Running, outlandish outfits, fire, walls, barbed wire, and mud; these are just some of the things that you see if you attend one of the Extreme Obstacle Races that have been sweeping the USA for the past few years. They are popping up everywhere,and now include the Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, Gladiator Rock’n Run, Hero Rush, Mud Factor and the Tough Mudder, just to name a few.
There are ones that focus on harder obstacles, such as wall climbs, crawling under barbed wire, and trekking through frozen water, testing how tough you are mentally and physically. Then there are ones that are more fun-oriented that add a spin to the normal 5K or 10K run such as the Color Run (where you get splashed with color) or the Soap Run (basically soap instead of mud). Even though they try and change things up, they all are about one thing: taking you out of the norm, having fun with like minded people, and being active.
Reason #1: Obstacle Races Promote Functional Fitness
They take the basic functional activities that you loved doing as a kid and let you do them as an adult; what’s not to love about that, right? It seems that even people who don’t like “working out” love these types of challenges because they involve accomplishing something. People want to show that they took on a challenge and completed it, and these races allow you to do that. They take your primal instinct of achieving and competing and give you a playground to do it in. These playgrounds are usually filled with mud and people egging you along the way, so it is easy to see why they have become popular.
Reason #2: You Get to be Part of a Growing Fitness Community
You get a giant, fun community that says it’s okay to play outside and have fun, and then party afterwards (which all of them do). The aspect of camaraderie within these races is the backbone of ongoing wellness. You can turn your training, your fitness, and your “working out” into a social gathering, enabling a group of people to help you meet your fitness goals on an ongoing basis.
These races also base some of their items off of military boot camps (such as the Camp Pendleton Mud Run) and most people that I know of, even if they don’t want to be in the military, want to see what it’s like to go through some aspects of military training, at least when it comes to climbing over giant walls and rummaging through mud and trees. I have personally completed five of these races and continue to sign up for more. I plan to try out for the Mecca of all obstacle races at some point: the American Ninja Warrior Challenge.
Reason #3: Obstacle Races Make Fitness Fun
Coming from a stunt background, I love playing on monkey bars, climbing ropes, and jumping over and under hurdles. The events give you goals to push your fitness level and wellness in general, and while they are fitness-related, they try and present it to you in a fun and different way helping you to stay active in your life. I believe that these are here to stay because of that. One of the biggest complaints from my clients is that working out “isn’t fun.” These races give you another way to be active (taking away one of your favorite excuses!). They are the epitome of why unconventional training is such a wonderful thing; it makes fitness and wellness fun for people.
How to Prepare for Obstacle Races
Want some help with getting started with your obstacle race training? Here is a quick little circuit that you can do that will help you gain muscle and strength for obstacle races.
Brood 9 Obstacle Race
Go through 10 reps of each exercise with no rest in between exercises and a 60 seconds rest between circuits. (to up the level, try shortening the rest in between sets and double the reps. This will heighten the intensity and cardio).
A1: Knee Tap Burpees – 5 x 10
A2: Spider Crawls – 5 x 15 ft
A3: Wall Jumps – 5 x 10
A4: Alternating Push Ups/Crab Push ups – 5 x 10
A5: Frog Jump Deck Squats – 5 x 10
Bonus: Burpee Pullups – 10-20 Reps
Your Next Obstacle Race is Waiting for You to Sign Up
If you need evidence that this type of race is here to stay, just look at how gyms are taking it on themselves to push their clients into being apart of their teams for these races, and doing specific workouts to help them complete them. This gives people an even better reason to train and be a part of a team that is attempting to accomplish something together. Of course, this helps with continued success in people’s fitness goals, as well as your overall fitness longevity throughout your life. I personally urge you to try out an obstacle course race and see what you think of them. You will feel like a kid again, and feel truly accomplished and driven to continue on.