Obstacle Course Racing has hit the world of sport like a lightening bolt in the last year or two. People from all walks of life are getting up off the couch and onto the trail to try out this latest trend. However, running obstacle courses is not a new concept—just ask the military. The military has been incorporating obstacle courses into their training for decades. Many people ask me how to train for an obstacle course race, and my simple answer always is: Get out on the trails. Here are the top five reasons why trail running makes you a better obstacle course racer.
1. Get Comfortable With Your Surroundings – All obstacle course races take place in a natural environment, i.e. trails! On race day, you want to be as comfortable as possible with your surroundings, so spending time on the trails beforehand will improve your skill on race day.
2. Fewer Injuries – Trail running is a more forgiving surface than the concrete or asphalt in front of your house. Trails also help build more strength in your muscles and ankles as you constantly adapt to the changing terrain, roots, rocks and more on the trail.
3. Learn to Hike – If you live in a mountainous area, spending time on the hilly trails will greatly improve your overall performance in an obstacle course race. Many of these races take place on ski resorts or other challenging terrains.
4. Expect the Unexpected –Think of the trail as nature’s playground. Natural obstacles are bound to occur!
5. Mental Strength – Trail runners are mentally tough. Maybe it’s something about being out alone in the woods away from it all. It is the mental fortitude that trail running instills in us that presses us forward in obstacle course racing.
Overall, the benefits of an obstacle course racer trail running are numerous. Trail running is just plan fun. It gets us out of the city and reconnects us with nature and our natural surroundings. The two sports really are like cousins to each other and share many of the same characteristics. That’s the dirt for this week!