For some, the idea of running through the mud and hopping over walls is fun, but the idea of running through 13 miles of mud and “hopping” over 10 foot walls is a bit too much to take on (at least for now anyway). There are obstacle course race events like Tough Mudder that you really need steady and determined training to complete. The good news for those who aren’t ready for the ultra-serious events is that there is another batch of obstacle course races for beginners.
OCR For Beginners: Start Here
As anyone who has done an obstacle course race knows, the majority of these races revolve around running. A great introduction to OCR is to find trail races in your area and get used to running a 5K on uneven ground. While not technically an obstacle course race, trail races require a lot of endurance and quad strength, and they will get you ready for the uneven terrain that you’ll see at even the most basic obstacle course races.
Once you’re ready for some obstacles, a great place to start is with Warrior Dash. Warrior Dash is probably the easiest major obstacle course race series. Warrior Dash obstacles are a ton of fun, but don’t require a lot of skill or upper body strength to complete. All Warrior Dash races check in at just over 3 miles.
Another great place to start is with some local races, which are becoming more and more popular around the country. Mud Run Guide is a great resource for all things OCR, but they have a great “race finder” tool that will allow you to see what races are coming up in your area. Another site to check out is Active, which has a list of “mud runs” you can search for. Mud Run Fun also has a pretty decent list of races you can check out.
Things to Know
We have a great article about some Spartan Race clothing tips you know before you run your first race, which includes things like avoiding cotton clothing and making sure you have the right shoes for the race. These tips apply to both long and short obstacle course races for beginners and experts alike. Check out that article to make sure you are set head to toe and ensure you have the right gear before you start the race.
Some other useful tips involve training and mental preparation. Keep in mind that most of these obstacle course races for beginners are built around running. You won’t be required to do anything you aren’t capable of doing, and if you aren’t sure about any obstacle, you can always skip it and move on to the next one. Very few people run these races to win — most of us just go out there to prove something to ourselves.
Know the course
Most races have course maps located on their website and you can view the layout before the race begins. Other races like Spartan Race hide some of their Spartan Race obstacles, but you can still get a sense of most of the things you’ll be up against. Make sure you look out for water obstacles so you know whether or not you should dress accordingly. Knowing the course is also a great mental preparation exercise, as you can see what obstacles you have to overcome and you can figure out any technique that might be helpful.
Have no fear
The real hurdle in obstacle course races for beginners is the fear of not being able to do it. As long as you are realistic about the distance (no need to sign up for a 24 hour race your first time out!), you CAN DO just about any race. Just remember to be careful, and make a few friends along the way who might be able to lend a hand to help you through obstacles.
Obstacle course races for beginners are great ways to get acclimated to the sport without the pressure of having to complete every obstacle by yourself. And some events with burpee penalty (Spartan Race obstacles for instance) can be skipped as long as you’re not in the competitive waves. If you ever don’t feel comfortable doing an obstacle or want to save your legs for later in the race, simply go around. Events like Tough Mudder vs Warrior Dash vs Spartan Race are supposed to be fun, and it’s important you remember that when you’re starting out. Get out there, try something new and fun, and hopefully we see you on the course soon!