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Training for tough terrain
12February/2018

Training for tough terrain

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BY ADAM MCNAMEE

As an ex-commando, I am an advocate for mixing up your training regime on a daily basis, and I think the rest of the world is finally starting to agree. The increasing popularity of obstacle course racing and endurance courses are a testament to that.

But what does training for tough terrain and preparing for the unexpected do for the body and the brain? What results do you see? What challenges will you face? And how do you prepare the body for tough terrain events such as obstacle races?

Every person with a basic knowledge of training knows that a mixture of cardio, strength, resistance, and endurance training will make for a stronger person, and this is true for terrain training. Obstacle training combines all three training methods while pushing you mentally as well. Not only are you exercising every muscle in your body, but you’re also being taken out of your comfort zone regularly, facing psychological challenges such as heights, confined spaces, and cold water.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty — how do you train for this sort of thing?

Interval training: This is going to be one of your best friends when it comes to obstacle training. Sprints with a jogging rest period will train your body to handle the breaks in between the obstacles on a course. This sort of training will also help your recovery after overcoming a tough obstacle.

Get outside: Training outdoors will also add to the challenge, as you are exposed to the elements. Weather and a changeup of landscape will always push you, because it’s unexpected and you can’t prep mentally, making the physical challenge all the more beneficial and fun.

Camaraderie: Having a buddy or a group to train with is great because it gets you used to the fact that you’ll have other bodies around you and gives you a sense of camaraderie. It also increases confidence in your own ability, because others will see your growth and encourage you to push harder.

Circuit training: You also need to conquer your circuit-style strength training. By keeping each exercise in the circuit dynamic, specific, and consistently moving, you’re able to combine aerobics with strength. Use equipment such as medicine balls and incorporate explosive movements to increase difficulty — and meaning you’ll start each new exercise in the circuit exhausted from your last, which is exactly what will happen when you’re racing on a course.

Bring it all together: Once you have smashed both of those styles of workouts (interval and circuit training), combine them! When the whole body is strong and works synergistically, you develop a flow and strength that isn’t easily gained by traditional body part splits of one-muscle-group-per-day-type training. A combination of these training types achieves this.

Create road blocks: To top it off, go for a run and every 15 minutes or one kilometre, stop and do some burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, or squats. I know this may seem like torture, but it’s something I like to call ‘road blocking’. While it’s unlikely you can build a pit or a wall in your backyard to imitate a real obstacle course, you can give your body obstacles like the ones I’ve just mentioned that will imitate similar movements and the tempo of a course.

A tough mentality: Finally, it’s important to remember you’ll have mental interruptions and blockages throughout the training, but the best course of action is to face them head-on and try not to overthink. You’ll be finished before you know it. The more you can cultivate a positive mindset, the easier it is to get on with the task at hand without limitations.

On the day: The day you’ve been training for is here — the one you have built up in your mind to be the biggest obstacle of all. One piece of advice? Despite the pain, pushing past it is the biggest win you’ll have all day — other than crossing the finishing line. Having a good attitude and being able to have confidence in yourself and your ability is key to being successful in any training.

There are so many benefits to this kind of training, which is why so many people across Australia are turning to this ‘outside-the-box’ approach to training and getting involved with obstacle course racing. This type of training has also been proven to have an edge over the mental benefits of conventional exercise, as it assists with stress and energy levels and increases self-confidence. Goals should be hard, and that’s what makes it all worth it once you’ve achieved it.

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