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7 Most Common Mistakes Made Preparing For Your First Obstacle Course Race

By Todd M. Cambio | February 5, 2013

You have seen the ads, heard the rumors, have friends that have done these races, but you are just a little scared and intimidated right?

I bet your thinking “Its too dangerous!  I’m not jumping fire or getting electrocuted!”
Well, I am here to tell you that while those a fore mentioned obstacles are present in some of the races, they are not at all of them.  And even if they are at a race you want to do, don’t sweat it, just go around that particular obstacle.  There is no one forcing you to do any obstacle, especially the ones that may be a little more risky.
The main point of these races is to have fun!  Challenge yourself to do something different.  Get outside in the elements with your friends and simply have fun and get some exercise in.
So if you are thinking of doing one of these races, here are the SEVEN MOST COMMON MISTAKES I see made when preparing for an obstacle course race or mud run:
7.  Being Scared
Yeah, you read this right!  There is nothing to be scared about.  It’s a race with  a ton of people who will cheer you on, help you over obstacles and then have a beer with you when you are done!   You go at your own pace and do what ever obstacles you want.  Your race, your experience!
6.  Waiting to Sign Up
This is a common mistake for a couple reasons.  One, you are procrastinating.  You are allowing the number seven mistake of “Being Scared” get in your way.   By signing up in advance you are setting an actual goal with a date.  The second reason this is a common mistake is a financial one.  It costs more money the longer you wait!  The price goes up as the date of the race draws near.  Not to mention, you could wait too long to sign up that the event sells out.
5.  Just Running
The first thing people say to me when they sign up for a race is “OMG I need to start running!”  No, no no.  This is actually the by far the most common training mistake I hear.  While getting your run in is important, it is actually last on my training regiment.  If you are a runner don’t stop, just realize you will want to do a different kind of running.  The amount of time you actually run straight ahead in one of these races, especially in the New England area, is minimal.   These races are a full body experience, so running in a straight line at a slow monotonous speed is for road races, not obstacle course races.  The running I recommend is stuff like hill repeats, stadiums and sprint work.  If you are doing a bigger obstacle course race, like a 10 – 13 mile one, then yes, you will do some general running, but honestly I have never run over 5 miles training for one of these.
4.  Strength Training on Machines
YES you need strength training.  NOT on machines.  Obstacle course racing is all about getting off the couch, out of that chair and getting outside to do something!  There are no machines to help you over, around or through obstacles.  There are no “fixed planes of motion” like when training on a machine.  There is no isolation of muscles like on machines.  What there is…full body movements like pulling yourself up and over a wall, pushing a fellow racer over something, pulling your friend up a half pipe, crawling as low as you can go under things or even having to do 30 Burpees at a time!  That’s not being in running shape, that’s not what a machine at the gym is like…that is what an obstacle course race is like!  For some of you, go back and read number seven again!  Seriously, if you do the basics like push ups, body rows, pull ups, burpees, core/abs, lunges, squats, some basic weights you will be fine.
3.  Skipping Stretching
This is a common mistake for almost everyone!  Actually you should have a proper warm up and cool down before and after all activities.  Things like:
– some soft tissue work like foam rolling
  – a dynamic or moving flexibility routine to prep the body for work
  – and a post workout routine like stretching and more rolling after
Stretching is key to allowing the body to increase its range of motion.  Stretching resets muscle length, increases flexibility/mobility and reduces inflammation and muscle soreness after a workout.

“You are not fit if you are not flexible.” – according to Joe De Sena, Spartan Racing Founder
2.  Doing It Alone
If this is your first go around attempting an obstacle course race then definitely grab a buddy and go for it.  It gives you someone to lean on for support, for motivation, for encouragement and hopefully as a training partner.  If you have a common goal with other people, you will get a lot more out of the experience, at least an obstacle course experience.  The great thing about these obstacle course races is that if you show up alone, or are in a heat with out a buddy (like I was at Tough Mudder) you will meet someone to run with.  That’s how I met a great new friend!
Need I say more?  Sign up and go for it.  No excuses.  Take a peak at the Tough Mudder Pledge:
There you have it!  The Seven Most Common Mistakes I see when preparing for an obstacle course race or mud run.  It your race and your experience, so get out there and enjoy it.  Get out of that comfort zone a bit and soak up that great sense of accomplishment you will get.  You never know, you may get hooked on these things like me!

For more information on training for these races, simply call or email me and I will get you going!

Be Fit,


logo  Todd M. Cambio BS, BA, CSCSI am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach that specializes in Sports Performance Training and Obstalce Course Racing!Owner: Precision Fitness

Tel: 860-287-3768


Topics: 7, flexibility Todd Cambio, Obstacle course, race, racing, running, seven most common mistakes, strength, Training | No Comments »