Have you taken a peek at obstacle course racing websites, and thought, “Oh, lord – there’s no way I can run through the mud and climb and leap through obstacles like these kids! I’m not chiselled like those people; they’re definitely younger than me; I’m not built for something like this anymore!”?
While some obstacle course races are high-octane, intense competition, many, like Mud Hero, blend skilled competitors with first-timers and everyone in between. Just because the guy on the flyer can wash clothes on his abs, does not mean the competition needs to be that fierce; nor are the competitors all under the age of 30.
If you’re feeling doubtful in the ways above, and considering participating in OCR from over the age of 30, then take a look below at how you can put those worries away, and prepare to have one of the most fun days you’ve ever had in the mud.
A hybrid sport
Combining CrossFit with adventure racing and stamina, obstacle course racing is a hybrid sport that forces athletes to focus on both endurance and strength. The cardiovascular aspect is more significant than strength, but ignoring either aspect during your training will hurt your performance (or your body) on race day.
Training is something that is necessary to avoid injury, but training also shouldn’t be something scary. Before diving into some training routine though, you should decide in advance the type of race you want to participate in. At Mud Hero, we offer both 6km and 10km races: you should be aiming to be able to run the distance of your race in comfort, so if 10km seems like a stretch for you now, then start with the 6km race, and move up from there when you’re ready.
Training over 30
So let’s start easy. Let’s say you’re going to hit up the 6km Mud Hero race, and you have 5 weeks to train for it. Perfect!
Get your training routine to include a 6km run 2 to 3 times a week. Plan to run outside (Mud Hero races occur outside after all!), and try also to incorporate different terrains, including dirt, grass, mud, hills, etc., as you will want your feet accustomed to those surfaces on race day. In other words, avoid treadmills and concrete/asphalt as much as you can.
Take your time on runs. Time your first one, and run at an easy pace. Over the following weeks, slowly aim to beat your last time, always improving your pace slightly.
Of course, endurance running is really only part of the battle in OCR. You need also to include strength exercises, and those that focus on grip strength especially, such as monkey bars, rock climbing, pull ups and chin ups. You want to try to incorporate these into your routine in a way that mimics an obstacle course race. That is, you want to incorporate strength exercise in the middle of your run.
If you can start, before your run, with a few strength exercises, and then complete them again every kilometer, then this will make you best prepared for race day.
What is key for your training is consistency. Get into a routine, and remain dedicated to it. This does not merely refer to your physical training: it refers to your diet as well.
Train yourself to sip water throughout the day, every day. Focus your diet towards healthy fats (like nuts and avocados), lean proteins (such as fish and chicken), and healthy carbohydrates (like sweet potato and oatmeal).
What is important is to not change things prior to the race. Sudden changes to your diet, eating foods you are not accustomed to, could upset your stomach or make you feel heavier than you are on race day. Try also to eat meals at the same time each day, avoiding late night snacks at all cost.
(Read our article here for more information on how to diet for your race.)
The psychology of OCR
A significant aspect of obstacle course racing, especially from one over 30 who is doubting their self, is the psychological side of the equation.
Some obstacles can in fact challenge your fears. Investigate the obstacles featured in your race, and then if any jump out at you as something you may not be willing to engage, take note, and try to face that fear head on in advance. (Now, if you can’t get over your fear, have no worries: at Mud Races, it is totally allowed to skip an obstacle if you must!)
The other “fear” we expect may be bothering you is your age. If you’re over 30, be assured that you will not be the only one. Many of our participants are over 30, or 40 – and even over 50! While OCR is meant to challenge your physical strength and endurance, no one is here to judge you. We are all here to have a good time together, so this “fear” really needs to be put to rest.
There’s nothing about being over 30 that should be “scary.” For one, your experience will show that you know how to have more fun at the after party.
We’re here to have fun, and you should join us. At the very least, it’s an excuse to feel like a kid again, getting messy in the mud.
Register for your Mud Hero race here.