How to safely prepare yourself for an obstacle race

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Obstacle course racing has become widely popular over the years, with many different options all around the world. They require extreme upper and lower body strength, advanced agility, cardiovascular fitness and endurance. The point is to test your body physically – not to mention, you gain some major bragging rights! 

This type of race is dangerous, however, if you do not properly prepare yourself. Erica Illium, an athletic trainer at the Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Center, shares some tips on what to do before, during and after an obstacle race to keep your body in top shape.

Before the race:

In order to participate safely, you will need to be training for weeks in advance. This includes cardiovascular and strength training that is tailored toward the demands of the race. It is also recommended that you train in similar conditions to the race (heat, altitude, etc.). 

Some suggestions include:

  • Treadmill interval training
  • Body weight lifting
  • Training at Cross-fit or Parkour gyms
  • Working on grip strength
  • Functional obstacle training such as:
    • Burpees
    • Rope climbs
    • Rows
    • Sled pushes
    • Planks

Another thing to keep in mind is hydration and fueling. You should be drinking plenty of water days prior to the event, along with eating nutritious meals to increase energy and recovery. Make sure to pack snacks to have available such as bananas, trail mix and granola bars. Electrolyte drinks are also great to have on hand. 

The day of the race, be sure to properly warm-up your body. You will need to increase blood flow by elevating your heart rate with some quick exercises  and stretch tissue, so you decrease the risk of injury. 

During the race:

During the event you need to remember to pay attention to your body and what it needs. Wear loose fitting clothing that promotes airflow and is light in color. If at any time you need a break, just step to the side of the course. This will allow participants to pass you and allow for you to take as much time as you need.

Be on high alert for symptoms like:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Tunnel vision
  • Collapse

Alert medical staff immediately if you are feeling these symptoms to ensure you are properly taken care of. 

After the race:

After the event, it is important to continue moving. You need to keep walking to decrease the amount of blood pooling in the lower extremities. Sitting or laying down is not recommended. 

Hydrate and focus on your breathing. By concentrating on breathing, you will be able to bring your heart rate back to a normal speed.

After about 10 minutes, don’t forget to stretch to prevent muscle cramping – and be proud of yourself, this is a great accomplishment!

For more information about preventing dehydration, check out our blog: Why Dehydration Can Crush Any Workout – And How to Fight It .

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