So I just got back from the Spartan obstacle race in Colorado Springs. I volunteered for a couple days before the race to be able to participate in it for free. I did the sprint which has 5 miles and something like 20+ obstacles spread throughout it.
And it was awesome.
Now, this isn’t my first obstacle race. I’ve done about 4 of them before. So I’m not one of the maniacs that run at every one, but this wasn’t my first rodeo either.
I love them for a few reasons. Most notably:
- They push you to your limits, which many people won’t do in a gym. You will be tired after.
- There is a strong sense of comradery, which I find lacking in day-to-day events. You can always find a helping hand out on the course. Try finding that same helping hand in New York city. Good luck, you’ll need it.
- You get a real sense of your overall health and fitness. If you’re lacking in some athletic field, it will show. You’ll know very quickly if you suck at endurance running, sprints, grip strength, upper body strength, lower body strength, etc. It gives you a template for what you should be working on.
Personal Benefits of An Obstacle Race
I’ve talked about obesity previously, and for good reasons. It’s a huge problem in the US and pretty much every first world country. Physical fitness is imperative to fixing this epidemic. So the more encouragement we can give it, the better.
And I believe obstacle races could be a great key to doing that for certain people.
As I mentioned above, they provide a template of what you need to work on. When you’re going through the race, you’ll catch on to places were you lack the required finesse. This can help you hammer out a plan to actually get you in better shape.
Likewise, it can also be a source of encouragement. Going to the gym day in and day out without a real end-game can start to hamper anybody’s motivation. Sure, you want to look better – but is that enough to get people going to the gym for years?
If you tie this gym motivation into a certain hobby – such as an obstacle race – it can provide the needed boost on the lazy days/weeks.
I know, because I’ve been there. Sometimes the only thing that has kept me going is “well, I have a race in a month so if I slack now it’s going to suck worse later”.
I also find the comradery really unique. It’s something many people never get to experience outside of the military. Certain obstacle races can almost be like group events, with other like-minded fitness enthusiasts. Our culture should encourage more of this comradery, and I think a great place for people to first dive into it and experience it could be at a race.
So you get the health benefits, the fitness training, the mindset experience, and a bad-ass medal after it. The only negative is when you’re half-dying while running it. But don’t let that discourage you!
Find If One Is Near You
So if you’re moderately in-shape already, and want to test yourself out and get the experience, I say go for it!
Naturally, I started with the Spartan Races so I’d always encourage people to also start there but I may be biased. Take note, if you volunteer for a day (before or during) you can get the race for free so you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to participate. Most races are like that, but I only know the details of the Spartan variety.
So do yourself a favor and check them out when you have time!
Here are my personal Top 5:
But there are plenty of others, including more local-family ones. They may be a better place to start if you’re tight on money and volunteer time.
Whichever way you go, give them a try at least once. As Socrates said:
It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.