A client came to me not long ago and said she was planning to do a Warrior Dash event with her daughter. She wanted to know if I thought she could do it. Would she be able to participate with knees that didn’t let her run very fast or very long?
My response was the running was the least of her concerns when it came to an obstacle course type of race. I told her I wasn’t worried about her at all because I knew she was strong, fit and capable. I knew months of functional fitness training (plus clean eating!) would get her through the race just fine.
Her concern was indicative of the mistake most people make when they sign for a Warrior Dash or a Tough Mudder. They focus on covering the distance and not the obstacles that will be in their path. Working on leg endurance should be part of your training program, but it’s important to balance it with body weight training. If you are training for your first Warrior Dash, here’s a five-exercise workout I recommend to help you prepare for the challenges you’ll face:
- Mountain Climbers: You many not be climbing an actual mountain but you will be climbing. Using your hip flexors and core will be key in tackling walls and crawling challenges like Road Rage.
- TRX Row: I love using suspension trainers to practice pulling a client’s own body weight. The exercise can be made more challenging by taking your body lower and more parallel to the ground.
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Apparently people like to get muddy. Well, they like to get muddy if they get a medal for it, at least. Adventure racing has exploded in the past few years. People are rising from the couch and willing to get in their cardio more than ever. The Warrior Dash is one of the fastest growing adventure race events in the world.
The Warrior Dash is an extreme 5K race with obstacles. The first event took place in July 2009 in Joliet, IL. Those first 2,000 participants took on the first ever obstacle laden race course and spread the word. That word spread like wildfire! In 2011, more than 33 Warrior Dashes took place across the globe with more than 700,000 participants. This year the organization anticipates hosting 65 worldwide events and welcoming more than 1,000,000 racers.
So what is the draw? What are the people coming to the events for? Each event is a 5K course with at least 12 obstacles along the way. Each event has different obstacles, but some of the favorites include jumping over fire, crawling through mud with barbed wire, navigating the capsized catamaran, or making it through a scrap yard of rusted wreckage. New Warrior Dash obstacles are created all the time to ensure no single event is like the other.
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I always thought running was dirty. It’s sweaty, sticky, smelly, sometimes salty and therefore crusty. I assumed that was enough to keep most people away, despite the difficulty of the activity itself. However, looking at the growing trend of mud runs, maybe running just wasn’t dirty enough to get your average joe off the couch.
Races with names like The Warrior Dash, The Mud Run, and The Down and Dirty 5K are booming in popularity. For example, the first Warrior Dash was held in Joliet, Ill in 2009. 2,000 participants tramped through the mud obstacle course that year. This year, over 650,000 people have competed in Warrior Dashes all over the world.
These races get their roots from Marine Corps events. The courses are typically either a 5K distance or a 10K distance and they are full of dirty obstacles that are extremely distant from the challenges of road racing.
Some events include military-style challenges such as an 8-foot climbing tower and mud pits. Other races include having to crawl over cars, leaping over fire pits, crawling under barbed wire, climbing ropes, walking a tightrope, or ramming your way through a rubber jungle. Each event is different, but all events include one element: mud.
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