Running is a great activity for your heart and overall health, but it can also be boring. Mile after mile of sidewalk, roadway, and houses can become monotonous and leave you uninspired when it comes time to work out. There is another option!
Fun events such as Savage Races, Mud Runs, the Obstacle River Run, the Green Beret Challenge, and Warrior Dash have given people a reason to start running again. These trails feature obstacles, and challenges participants will hurdle (sometimes literally) to get to the finish line.
READ MORE: Marathon Foot Health
Intense competitive races can be 6+ miles long and feature over 50 obstacles. More relaxed, family-friendly events are often 5K and have 35 or fewer obstacles. While these events have reinvigorated people to join races, they pose more risks for your feet than a traditional running race. Being prepared and getting through the obstructions safely requires some pre-knowledge of what you’ll encounter and the dangers they pose.
NETTING—Many races feature cargo net climbs, swivel ladder climbs, rope ladder climbs, net climbs over ravines and other rope-related challenges. Netting can pose a risk for your feet if you get tangled. Slipping from your foothold and becoming caught can lead to twisted ankles and rope abrasions. Wear high socks to protect your ankles and take care during your climbs.
WATER/MUD—if your race involves water or mud obstacles, you could be dealing with wet and dirty socks and shoes for the rest of the race or if you didn’t plan ahead, the rest of the day. Bring something to change into and be sure to wash and dry your shoes thoroughly after the run.
JUMPING—It wouldn’t be a challenge run if there weren’t a wall or two to get over. These classic obstacles often require a straight drop of up to 20’ which can mean major damage to your feet. Jumping upwards puts a strain on your ankle and Achilles tendon, leaving you open to the possibility of an Achille tendon rupture. Jumping down can be a large shock to your bones and cause a fracture.
RUNNING—In general, all the normal dangers that apply to running and exercise apply to these races as well. Shin splints are the number one reason runners stop running, and your risk increases with the uneven terrain of obstacle races. Be sure to wear proper supportive footwear and only exercise up to the level that you have trained. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast can lead to pain and injury.
READ MORE: What Are Shin Splints?
With everything from military crawls to running up a 10-foot sloped wall to monkey bars to cliff jumps to carrying heavy objects (logs, stones, etc.) to jumping over fire, Weekend Warrior races give everyone the chance to be their own superhero. If you’re looking for a fun activity to get yourself moving this summer, join an obstacle race. Just be sure to take care of your feet!