Obstacle course races such as the Spartan Race are increasingly popular with adrenalin junkies and fitness enthusiasts looking for a new challenge. If you have taken part in an obstacle course race before, you probably have an established routine that works for you. If this is your first time preparing for a race, here are some tips from a Physiotherapist to help you in the build-up, pre-race, and post-race to ensure you stay in top condition and injury-free!
BUILD UP TO RACE DAY
You’ve worked hard for weeks to build grip strength, endurance, and conquering obstacles. In the week leading up to the race, not a great deal needs to change in your training routine. Ideally you want to be comfortable with any of the possible challenges and obstacles, so it is worthwhile spending a bit of time going over the techniques needed, for example – hanging, clambering, climbing, and crawling. As important as training is, it is equally important that you do not over-train in the week leading up to the race.
Hard and heavy training can take place up until 3 days before the race, with a perhaps a light/fun or skills and technique session 2 days out.
2 days before the race, you should start focusing on LIGHT soft tissue work (emphasis on light), such as hopping on the foam rollers and spikey balls, a few gentle laps in the pool, or book yourself a massage therapy or physiotherapy session. This should not be an exercise to test your pain tolerance levels, but to ensure that you are going into the race with good range of motion in your joints, your connective tissue is moving smoothly, and that your muscles aren’t tight.
The night before the race, you shouldn’t worry a great deal about nutrition. The idea of the “pasta parties” are long gone. You’re better off sticking to your normal eating habits and making sure you:
Are well hydrated
Get a good night’s sleep – practice good sleep habits such as no electronics 60 minutes prior to sleeping
Stay off the alcohol – your risk of injury increases with dehydration. A glass of wine with dinner will not send you to ruin, but I would generally recommend going without just for one night.
This is individual to each person. Some people can exercise well and eat food regularly close to the race. Some are best snacking regularly prior to the race, and meanwhile others function better with no food up to 3-4 hours before racing. The only constant is to ensure you are well hydrated before the race starts. You can even consider adding electrolytes to your drinks.
After the race, now that you’ve earned it, it’s time to celebrate with your friends!
However, you must ensure to keep HYDRATED – Singapore is an extremely hot place to train hard, and your body will feel the effects more acutely from the loss of body fluids. Look after any cuts, scrapes, or injuries that you’ve gathered from the race. The following day, perform some active rehab such as a gentle swim, cycle, jog, some light foam rolling, or even a sports massage.
Then, prepare to get hooked and set yourself onto your next obstacle race goal. Good luck out there and have fun!
*Our UFIT coaches will be getting you pumped up at the Spartan Race official warm-up sessions before every race heat on 13 October 2018! We will also be there with our tent at the Festival site, so come along and say hi and share your war stories with the community!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kieran Sadiadek is a UK trained Physiotherapist with extensive clinical experience at UK’s NHS hospitals and clinics, as well as with professional football club Burnley FC. In Singapore, Kieran spent three years with Jurong Health Services working with the Intensive Care, General Medicine, Orthopaedics, and Sports Rehabilitation units. He also presented published research in that time. Subsequently, he was the Head of Physiotherapy at a private clinic before joining UFIT Clinic.
Kieran is an avid sportsman, active in rugby, touch rugby, soccer, Gaelic football, and basketball. His love of sports compliments his passion in treating sports injuries in amateur and professional athletes. His main ethos is to provide his clients with the independence to take control of their rehabilitation program, and enjoy the process of recovery.
Kieran is also a certified sports massage therapist, dry needling therapist, and kettlebell instructor.