Whether you’re taking part in an obstacle course event for fun or for a personal challenge, you will come up against all kinds of obstacles that you will find testing in different ways.
These are a few that you can expect, with tips on how best to handle them:
There will be pressure to run as fast as you can and not get left behind. But you don’t want to be on your knees out of breath before you even get to the obstacles. The chap who runs off first will almost certainly drop back unless he is very experienced and just a very fast runner. You need to pace yourself and not cook yourself in the first 400 yards!
The excitement and adrenaline will make you want to just go for it but you need to be cool and push yourself at about a 7 out of 10. Save the 100% for the last quarter of the race.
When you are approaching an obstacle you need to be aware of the people around you and if you have time, watch where other people are struggling with and learn from this. If you need to get your team together to plan how best to use the team’s strengths and weaknesses beforehand then this will ultimately save you more time than going straight in and having several failed attempts.
If you are jumping into water, it will be muddy and you will have no depth perception. This means if you jump in with arms and legs everywhere you could end up hurting yourself and others. If you jump in with your feet together and arms by your side, you will minimize the risk of injury.
Remember you don’t know what the ground will be like under the surface of the water. It might be very shallow or you might go right under. So make sure to be soft in your knees as you enter the water.
Depending on the height of the wall, you might need some help or look for footholds that will assist you. If it is flat you will need the momentum to help you and so some pace at your approach is best: go for it! If it is too high you might need to boost up the next person and they can in turn help you when they are up at the top to assist in lifting you.
Leave the strongest member to last as they will probably manage on their own and then you have the second strongest up on top helping people over. If you are advanced, you will probably just go for it and the momentum and brute strength will get you over.
Before you jump on, make sure your hands are as clean as you can get them and, if a member of the team has a dry t-shirt, clean your hands on it. If you don’t do 20 pull ups before breakfast in the morning it will be the grip that might let you down so make it as easy on yourself as possible.
If you can see people falling off look at why they are falling off. It’s normally because they go too fast and are rushing and their hands slip. Or they stop half way and lose momentum because their strength or grip is exhausted.
The technique is to swing, reach and grip. If you go into it with momentum this will carry you forward. If this is a technical obstacle, then again watch people do it first and try and look at where they are going right or wrong. A few pull ups in preparation will really improve your grip strength for this and there is no short cut as this is the best preparation.
We used to play on this as a kid in the playground and now you’re still doing it as an adult! This will test your coordination speed. You need to just take your time as it’s better to do this in your own time slow and steady rather than rushing and falling through. We recommend you pick a route straight up and don’t over stretch yourself.
Be aware of what you are doing when you swing your legs over at the top as no one wants a kick in the face. Don’t jump off it as you might well meet an unforgiving metal frame half way down.
Much like the monkey bars, if you have just been crawling along the ground in the mud make sure that you have got the worst of it off your hands to ensure you get the best grip. Use the momentum to swing yourself in a controlled way from ring to ring. You can power this by lifting your knees!
Don’t over reach but try to keep consistency as this will be the most efficient way of getting it done. Again, if you have never done this before, watch a few people do it first. It can look intimidating but if you calmly reach from one to the next you will smash it!
This can be about good technique rather than strength. Having jumped as high as you can, grip the rope and then it’s time to lock off so you can push up. Lift your knees up and you want the rope hanging on the outside of either the right or left of your feet. Let’s use the right, for example: If you imagine the rope hanging on the outside of your right foot, then you need to bring the left foot over the top of the right foot with the rope underneath your left foot and on top of your right foot. You then step down on the left foot so it is back alongside the right.
This locks off the rope enabling you to push the body up using your legs not your arms. If you use your arms you could fail halfway and then you’re not going any further – that bell at the top will not ring itself. Use your legs and continue this technique and you will see it requires skill not strength, other than some grip to hold you steady.
Stay low and move fast! This is very easy but if you want to go fast you need to keep your chest just an inch off the ground. Move by making contact with the ground using your forearms to hold yourself up but low enough that you don’t touch what is above you. Push off the ground with your big toes with heels turned in.
Keep your bum down so you don’t get your shorts caught on anything. You don’t want to finish the race half-undressed at the other end!
Final tip from us:
After completing each obstacle make sure your watch and timing chip are still with you and not playing hide and seek in the mud!