Recently, I discovered something new to physically challenge myself and that is obstacle course racing. A couple of months ago, a good friend of mine from college invited me to join him at a Spartan Race in Texas. The race was 2-weeks out and I had never done one before. As if that was not enough, this race was not for beginners, it was the intermediate level 10K with 25 obstacles, a “Spartan Super”. I was hesitant to sign up, but I am so glad I got out of my comfort zone and did. Everyone has their own reason for participating in these races whether its competitively or for fun. After completing my second race this weekend, I would recommend O.C.R. to anyone that is willing to get out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. In my opinion, there are many benefits I have reaped from these races and I am sure you will too.
I am always looking for new ways to grow, whether it be mentally or physically. I found that even though I am quite the active individual, working out 5-6 times a week, this race proved difficult. Initially, I thought I would breeze through but boy was a wrong. On my first race about half way through I was quite exhausted and even fell from a cramped calf toward the end. During that race I also was unable to complete all of the obstacles.
This second time around I participated in a shorter race that was still strenuous. I am happy to say I successfully completed all 20 obstacles in under 1 hour and 2 minutes. Like I said earlier, I enjoy challenging myself and have a motto I live by: Succeed. Improve. Repeat. Obstacle racing gives me the opportunity for plenty of improvement and growth. It could be running the same course and trying to beat my time or taking it to the next level and doing a longer course with more obstacles, the challenges are endless.
I have also found that these races give me purpose when it comes to training. I enjoy working out and mainly do it for two reasons. One, to stay in shape and promote healthy living. Two, for therapeutic reasons. It allows me to relieve all my stress, headaches, and anything else life throws my way. Now, I have a third reason. To cater my training specifically to enhance my performance at these races. Participating in these races have showed me where I need improvement and what I specifically need to train.
Many of the obstacles you encounter on these types of races are unconventional and may require you to use muscles you are not use to training or movements you are not familiar with. If you are like me, just your average weightlifter, you may struggle with some of the obstacles or may find yourself winded from all of the running. I quickly realized there was a difference between traditional and functional strength.
Sure, I could bench 225lbs or squat 315lbs but why could I not climb up a rope or get across some monkey bars? Having more time to train for my second race, with the help of my coach, I was able to learn distinct techniques that would help me complete specific obstacles. Additionally, I was able to focus my time at the gym on certain exercises that would help strengthen muscle groups I needed.
Another aspect I love about these races are the friendliness and support from other participants. Even if you are competing against each other for time, you can find strength in your fellow racers who are always so encouraging. There are a couple of specific instances I can recall when strangers were helping strangers. One was when a woman was struggling to climb a wall, she was so close but was not able to reach the top to pull herself over. Rather than completely fail she asked if I would give her a boost and I gladly helped her up and she got over the wall. I recall a second instance when I was hesitant about fully submerging myself in murky water to go under an obstacle. I must have had a face of hesitation because one of the racers saw me and said “lets go man, we got this. Dive in 3…2…1” and there I went.
I am still in the baby stages of my O.C.R. journey but I am excited to see what lays ahead. Most of all I cannot wait to sign-up for my next race!
Succeeding. Improving. Repeating.
Andrew Davila, FF Founder