Obstacle Mud Runner - issue 21

28 Training tips to run stronger and faster in obstacle racing “I’m an ultra-runner who has recently turned to the complex, exciting and challenging world of obstacle racing” Dawn Nunes For me, the running part is the “easy” section, and the obstacles are more challenging. For some, it is the other way round; you feel you can swing on the monkey bars forever and climb the walls in your sleep! As a sports physiotherapist I thrive in helping runners improve on their technique, work to get stronger, and provide basic but essential tips to perform at their best. I recently completed my first Tough Mudder Infinity. The weather was wet and chilly, the company epic and the course muddier by the minute but I loved it. I was determined to continue out on the course for the full nine hours unless my body said otherwise. I completed it with a 50 km buckle. I have learnt a great deal through my endurance ultra-running which included a rather gruelling 100 miler at the end of last year with Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT) - and find that there are a few key elements to running and endurance that can help you up your game significantly. Just a side note, this is not only about ultradistances, my advice and suggestions are relevant for every distance and runner. I’m talking about running and training optimally and being clever with the time that you have available to improve the running part of your obstacle course races. Know your race Just like you would train specific obstacles that you are expecting to come up against, it is the same for your running. If your course is hilly, train on hills. If it has longer, flowing trails, practice running for longer periods of time without stopping. Frequency I would recommend at least three to four runs a week to maintain your run ability and four to five runs a week to improve it. This can be made up of one to two quality sessions – the hills, speed work or fartlek (varying speed training) a week as well as an easy run and a longer run to round off your run training. Variety Speed work not only teaches you to push yourself, but it incorporates more of your muscle fibres as every muscle is needed for you to push your boundaries to go faster. A word of caution – start gently and do not start speed work within four to six weeks prior to a big event. The potential risk of injury outweighs the possible rewards at that late stage. Be conservative If you are starting to increase the distances you are competing in, start off more conservatively and then from halfway push through to finish strong. You’ll be able to learn how your body works and adjusts and then can continue to run the whole race rather than speed through the first half and walk at the end. The obstacles will also fatigue you, but if you hit them when your legs are burnt out from the running, it will take a lot more energy to complete them. TRAINING : STRONGER FASTER