Marissa Tartal, ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Each year, new and innovative fitness trends emerge highlighting different ways to exercise, lose weight, and feel great. But, in a refreshing change of pace, good old fashioned running and outdoor activity is quickly surging back into style, with a twist of course. As we look back on 2012, we reflect on the emergence and ever growing popularity of, quite possibly, the messiest fitness trend to date that takes running outdoors to an entirely new level: obstacle course races.
According to Will Dean, the 31 year old English creator of the Tough Mudder series, an estimated 1.5 million people are anticipated to register for an obstacle course race of some kind in 2013. A great majority of those participants will be signing up for the adventure sport’s three biggest races: the Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile run featuring ice baths, mud pits, live electrical wires, barbed wire tunnel crawls and fire; the Warrior Dash, a 5-6k timed mud run consisting of at least 12 obstacles in which participants are encouraged to wear a costume; and the Spartan Series which hosts obstacle races of varying distances and difficulties including the Spartan Sprint (5k), the Super Spartan (8+ miles), the Spartan Beast (12+ miles) and the Ultra Beast (marathon).
Another obstacle course race making a name for itself this year is the Run For Your Lives zombie infested 5k. Much like an intimidating game of flag football, all “humans” are given flag belts at registration which represent your health. The zombies want to take these flags. Should you lose all of your health flags as you dodge not only zombies but man-made obstacles as well, you lose. It will take speed, agility and a group of your closest friends to get out of this zombie apocalypse “alive.”
Obstacle mud runs are all-inclusive – serious athletes, weekend warriors, and couch potatoes alike may partake in the adventure; however, these events require participants to possess both strength and endurance as they navigate obstacles across 3-12 miles of challenging terrain. Advanced runners may have no problems completing the distance, but the lack the strength to overcome the obstacles. Likewise, anaerobic athletes easily master the obstacles but struggle to complete the mileage. To overcome these challenges, we recommend beginning a training regimen that includes both cardiovascular endurance and strength training in functional movements at least 3 months in advance of race day.
At 3.1 miles, the 5k remained the most popular race length around the world for many reasons in 2012. For beginner runners, the 5k distance provides a challenge and a specific goal, rather than merely running for exercise. For experienced runners, 5k events offer an opportunity to beat personal records or work in conjuncture with a stricter training regimen as they prepare for a longer endurance run. But, while typical road races are still as prevalent as ever, there is another 5k that has taken the running world by storm.
If you aren’t necessarily into crawling through the mud or running from zombies, grab some friends and try a fun run such as the Color Run. In this 5k, participants hit the starting line in a plain white tee shirt. At each kilometer, spectators plaster runners with designated color powders. By the end, you’ll be completely covered in color. Nicknamed the “Happiest 5k on the Planet”, you’ll be sure to finish with a smile, especially considering a large majority of the proceeds are donated to local charities.
Running a 5k is an excellent goal for new runners for the simple reason that, if you stick to a structured running program, you can be ready for your first race in just 8 short weeks. So, if your typical road races are getting a bit lackluster, just add some water and a little dirt or maybe a blast of color. Not only are you doing something great from your body but by pushing yourself outside of your normal comfort zone, you will be challenging your mind as well.
To find out more information about how to safely and effectively train for a fun run, contact Tilton Fitness at 609-FITNESS, today!