Overcoming Obstacles: Obstacle Course Race Running

Obstacle CourseHate is a word describing a strong dislike towards something. So I will begin by saying that I HATE running. I really hate it. I find it long, boring and monotonous.  I’ve tried so many times to get into it and each time I have failed miserably.  I’ve tried running in the park. Running on a track. Running on a treadmill. Running with a friend.  Running with an iPod.  Each time I ran, I have gotten bored after 10 minutes and wished I was doing something else or taken my bike out for a ride instead.

My Alternative to Running

So running isn’t for me. It isn’t for everyone. I commend the people who have the mental toughness and discipline to run every day.  I like to think I do have some mental toughness and discipline in me though just not when it comes to running.  I’m a gym rat. I enjoy working out at the gym and participating in group fitness classes. I enjoy it so much that my part-time job is teaching group fitness classes.

I thought about joining a running group to help me get into running but it never fit into my schedule. Ok, let me rephrase that. I never made an effort to fit it into my schedule.  My common law partner isn’t in running either. In fact, he hates it just as much as I do. We keep on saying that one day we’ll suffer through the pain together and go for a run.

It never happened.

Challenging Myself in a Different Way

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve reached a plateau in terms of my fitness. Believe it or not, even people in the fitness industry need motivating.  Just as much as you guys.  Maybe even more.

This year was the year I decided to try an obstacle course race.

Obstacle course races are nothing new and have been around since the beginning of civilized society. We can thank the Ancient Greeks for that.  They had a race known as the Stadion, where competitors would complete obstacles as they ran around a track naked.  The Stadion was once part of the five events in the Olympic Pentathlon. These races also became an essential part of military training, preparing soldiers to maneuver their way through obstacles that they may come across in the battlefield.

These races come in a variety of distances and obstacles, ranging from easy (Mud Hero) to insanely tough (Tough Mudder).   Aside from running a certain distance, you have to muscle your way through obstacles such as crawling through a  narrow tube, climbing a cargo net and wading through pools of mud.   Tough Mudder is considered the toughest obstacle race on the planet. This is the one obstacle course you want to work your way up to. The course length is 10-12 miles with 25 military style courses that were designed by British Special Forces. These courses were designed to challenge your toughness, strength, stamina and mental grit. Obstacles include jumping into a dumpster filled with ice water (!) and wading through water with live electrical wires hanging above you.  Like the majority of obstacle course races, Tough Mudder is all about completion and having the bragging rights.

This is not for the faint of heart.

I decided Tough Mudder was too tough for a beginner like me, so I did Mud Hero instead. I did not actually take the time to train for Mud Hero, but I was lucky in a sense that I developed a decent fitness from working out regularly and teaching my fitness classes.  The course itself was not too bad. The only thing that wore me out was the uphill running, which is one of the things you should focus on when training for these races. Another aspect to focus on is upper body strength training to help you climb those cargo nets, and make your way  up those walls. What I liked about the race was that while you may be tired when you reached an obstacle, it was a nice break from running.  My curiosity as to what the next obstacle would be my motivation to keep me running.

The fact that there was free live music, free beer and food (unfortunately not free) to celebrate the event also helped my motivation.

With one obstacle course race under my belt, I’m ready to move on to the next level.  Warrior Dash is next on my list.

My goal is to put my limits to the ultimate test and complete Tough Mudder in a few years.

Have you done any obstacle course races? Would you do Tough Mudder? Am I crazy for wanting to do this? :)