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Editor's note: Lindsay Babb of Fargo, N.D., is director of PR and marketing for HARD CHARGE. She's also an obstacle course racer, marathon runner and general fitness enthusiast.
By Lindsay Babb, community contributor
Chances are, you've seen it before. Pictures of people leaping over walls, crawling through giant mud pits and climbing cargo nets that seem to go a mile into the sky.
And you've probably thought it looked completely crazy, but also like a ton of fun.
Obstacle course racing (OCR) has become one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide. Millions of people have signed up to challenge themselves, get muddy and have a ton of fun with friends - and even total strangers.
Most see the pictures and assume the sport is for hardcore athletes. The opposite is true. Most OCRs, like HARD CHARGE (which is coming to Seminole Valley Park July 20), are designed for any fitness level.
“While everyone runs the same 4-mile course and is faced with the same 25 obstacles, each individual is free to go at his or her own pace, even skip obstacles if needed,” Greg Lang, president and CEO of HARD CHARGE, said. “The ultimate goal is to get up, get moving and get involved in a fun activity.”
Though designed to be enjoyable for all fitness levels, it's still not a bad idea to have a basic fitness base if you're planning to participate in HARD CHARGE or any other OCR.
Where Do I Start?
Every OCR is different, so see if the race makes its course map available to view. If there are a ton of crawling obstacles but not many upper body ones, focus on lower body moves like mountain climbers and the bear crawl.
If there aren't many obstacles but the course is longer distance, do more cardio to build stamina. And learn the exercise move synonymous with OCRs - burpees.
Whether walking or running, endurance is needed to make it through the miles.
Couch potatoes should start with just 15 minutes a day of walking and work up to an hour. For avid walkers or cyclists, it's the perfect opportunity to give running a go. Try five minutes for every 15 walked, working up to a 5k.
Those interested in following a set program can find great “Couch to 5k” programs online.
Seasoned runners, keep it up. Push speed with quick, fast intervals or try running at a slightly faster pace for the duration of a run.
Good old fashioned push-ups are tough to beat. To challenge muscles, try switching arm placement - do a set at a wide arm stance, then bring in the hands closer together. Pullups and muscle-ups are great for OCRs with monkey bars and a lot of tall walls to get up and over.
Lunges and squats still are two of the best. Make it more challenging by adding weights. Other great exercises include the bear crawl, mountain climbers, skaters and box jumps.
One of the most important preparation tips, especially for first-timers: Make it a team effort.
Recruit friends and family to take on the challenge together. It's fun and less intimidating to try a new challenge surrounded by a familiar group.
Mind over miles
Finally, mental fitness is just as, if not more, important than physical, so come with a great attitude and prepare to have a great time.
[naviga:li]Contact Babb at lindsay.babb@HardCharge.com