Obstacle course training help.
May 23, 2011 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Okay, so when I turned 40 last year I wasn't super-psyched about the direction my body was going. I started exercising a bit, and this year decided to set a goal. I decided to do this stupid "Warrior Dash" thing. Possibly because it looked more fun than a standard race, possibly because I'm an idiot.

Now, keep in mind, I haven't been in any kind of race since high school. Right now, I'm running three days a week and doing yoga for strength two. I'm up to running a little over 2.5 miles and hope to be running 3.5 by the end of the month. The race is mid-July, so my plan is to be able to run the distance confidently. I'm not worried about time, I just want to finish.

But now I'm starting to freak out about the obstacle portions. So, I guess my question is three-fold.

1. Should I worry about the obstacles?
2. If I should, how should I train for them?
3. Any advice about general just before race stuff, like when to lay off, diet, etc.

Thanks for your help groupmind!
posted by lumpenprole to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I did a Warrior Dash last summer and the course was tougher than the obstacles. The one I did was at a ski resort and the course was up, across and down a mountain. The trails were not groomed. It was pitted earth and rocks. The obstacles that probably travel with the Warrior Dash tour included a long pipe to crawl through, a maybe four foot high wall to climb over, tires to step through, cargo nets to climb, a one foot tall pile of flaming charcoal to jump over, a slip n' slide and finally a mud pit. There was also a small pond to swim across. That was unique to the location and was the toughest one because the water was so cold.

Maybe add some push-ups and pull-ups for the climbing, but otherwise I think you'll be fine.

My race advice is wear clothes and shoes that you want to throw away. The mud pit at the end will ruin them. There were a lot of nice costumes and running shoes in the trash pile at the end.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:43 PM on May 23, 2011

My wife just did a similar race a couple of months ago. She was in shape, but I don't think she was in as good a shape as you will be. She was not running the full distance before race day, for example. It was certainly the hardest thing she had ever done, physically. The course was laid out on and around a motocross track, so there were plenty of hills, but not the ungroomed trails Ol' Grimey talks about. Plenty of mud though, as it had been rained early the morning of the race. It also sounds like the obstacles were more numerous and tougher in her race -- 7 foot walls, military-style crawls through mud, etc. Stamina was not really too much of a problem, as the obstacles provide little mini-breaks to catch your breath. It took its toll on her, but I know she would do it again in a heartbeat.

Specific advice would be to echo the disposable running gear (and bring a full set of clothes to change into, obviously, including undies and shoes), and to run with a team for the moral support. I'm not sure she (and her friends) would have finished if it wasn't for everybody pushing each other along (sometimes literally).
posted by Rock Steady at 5:03 PM on May 23, 2011

Hmmm. Anyone have a suggestion for one-race shoes?
posted by lumpenprole at 5:23 PM on May 23, 2011

You should be retiring running shoes when they hit around a year in age or 500-600 total miles (whichever comes first), so if you have a pair of retired or ready-to-retire shoes, I'd use them.
posted by dersins at 5:33 PM on May 23, 2011

Shorts and whatever just get at the Goodwill.
posted by dersins at 5:33 PM on May 23, 2011

I am doing another race but it is the same sort of idea. They have a detailed training regimen here!
posted by bob bisquick at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2011

I did one of these; actually, I suspect it's the same one Rock Steady's wife ran. I found it easier than running a straight up 5K, because you could take 'breaks' to do obstacles, none of which were that difficult (and people would help you over the ones you couldn't do yourself.)

I wore Vibram Five Fingers, but they're still a little messed up from the race. Some guy was wearing Merrell Trail Gloves and they hosed right off, but I don't know if you're as much into the barefoot running as I am.

It was a lot of fun, and people of all shapes and sizes ran the race; some people took as long as an hour and a half on it.

Anyway, have fun!
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:01 AM on May 24, 2011

If you want a better idea of what the race is actually like than you can get from a promo video on the Warrior Dash web site, some dude ran the Oregon one last year with a helmet cam on: Part 1, Part 2. It's not a well-produced video by any stretch of the imagine, and I suggest you watch with sound off, but it should, I hope, reassure you that the obstacles appear to be... not so difficult.
posted by dersins at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2011

I did one last fall in the middle of the worst arthritis flare-up I've had yet. (Yes, that was dumb.) It was totally doable.

- The obstacles were not a big deal. Probably the best thing you can do is find a playground and go clamber around - climb up some ladders, get used to moving with all four limbs on a discontinuous surface. If you can do pullups that be great, or if you have access to a lat pull-down machine that'd be fine too, but nothing required the ability to do a dead-hang pullup or anything, it was just a lot of crawling at various angles.

- Give yourself three days before the race to rest up. Eat something the morning of, but nothing too heavy. Don't change your caffeine routine too much. Races at this length are really just not that big a deal.

I walked the whole thing at an arthritic-old-lady pace and it still only took me just under an hour. It was good fun!
posted by restless_nomad at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2011

Huh! I think I was at the same one that Frank Grimes was at. Seconding that the obstacles weren't that big a deal, and largely served to break up the monotony of the trail running. My shoes did indeed get messy as hell, but I just hosed 'em down and they were fine afterward.

Anyway, the whole thing was pretty relaxed and goofy, not nearly as XXTREMELY SERIOUS TO THE MAXX as I was worried it might be; really, it was sort of like a Ren Faire with a bunch of people running around for a bit.

One thing you may want to train for is the hurdles; they're not super-high, but they do require a nice fluid movement to get over them, so you might want to practice vaulting yourself over a three-foot-tall-ish wall if any are on your running route.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2011

A bunch of us did the Warrior Dash last year (sounds like the same one as Greg Nog and Frank Grimes above - man, I remember that pond...). I recommend NOT getting used shoes from Goodwill or your local equivalent. One of our crew tried that and even though the shoes were her size and they were broken in pretty well, she still ended up with huge blisters because her feet were not familiar with those particular shoes.

The only obstacle I had trouble with was the tube crawl. If you're my height (6'4") or taller, expect some scrapes on your vertebrae in addition to the ones that everyone gets on their knees.

Everything else is good fun; it's not hardcore in the least. People dress up in goofy costumes, and you get free beer and a viking hat at the end. It's great.
posted by xbonesgt at 12:12 PM on May 24, 2011

Thanks for all the feedback people. I'll probably just sacrifice my current new balances and pick up another pair after. You've all calmed me down considerably about the obstacles.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2011

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