Beginner Mistakes Everyone Makes in Obstacle Course Racing

I recently commented to one of my friends at a Tough Mudder that you can always tell who the beginners are. We quickly agreed this was a discussion that needed to be shared with the masses in order to help Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) newcomers avoid the mistakes of those who came before them. See if you recognize any of these Beginner Mistakes Everyone Makes in Obstacle Course Racing.   

1. Wearing Cotton

“Oh I’m getting in the mud, better wear some old shirts and shorts.” That’s the logic behind some people’s race clothes which inevitably puts them in head-to-toe cotton; cotton socks, cotton t-shirts, and sometimes even cotton shorts. The problem is cotton holds water, stretches and doesn’t dry. Instead, beginners should opt for synthetic materials. You can pick up all these items at MudGear if you want to look good but still be functional at the same time. 

    2. Old Shoes

    Along the same logic path of cotton is wearing old shoes. To keep their nicer shoes clean, they grab an old ratty pair of shoes with worn out treads. I would highly discourage this because you want traction on the course.  You don’t have to opt for the $180 VJ Shoes (although those are really good), but don’t grab a pair on their last leg. Just like your clothes (unless they're white), you can clean your shoes afterwards, and they will end up looking brand new.  Plus, your less likely to fall on the muddy trails in front of your friends when you wear shoes that actually have some traction. 

    3. Duct Tape Shoes

    Speaking of shoes, you’ll no doubt see people duct taping their shoelaces. Save the time and effort, and just double knot your shoes tightly.  Duct tape does nothing except remove the ability to adjust your shoelaces if you tied them too tight or too loose. Furthermore, it creates a slick surface running right over the bottom of your shoes. 

    4. Going Out Too Hard

    You’ve made it to the start line; the emcee has you all pumped up and motivated; add in your free sample of the latest energy drink, and you are ready to go!  When they say “GO!”, you take off only to burn out in the first mile. Beginners (and many more experienced athletes too) go out too hard only to blow up in the second half of the race. If you are running for fun then take it easy. The first half of the course, regardless of distance, should feel easy.  After all, you can always turn it on in the second half of the event if you still have extra energy.

    5. Not Fueling

    'It’s only a couple of miles, I won’t need any water or fuel,'  you think as you run past the first aid station.  Take an extra minute, and stop at each aid station for a cup of water and a snack when they're available. You’ll thank me in the second half of the event. Having a little bit of water on course will make you feel better the next day, especially if you plan on partaking in the post event beer. Drink the water at the aid stations when you can, and don’t use it for other things - which brings me to…

    6. Trying to Stay Clean

    It’s an OCR…you are probably going to get muddy. No issues if you want to take an extra second or two to rinse your hands in a water obstacle, but don’t try to wash your hands off at aid station. Your shoes will also get dirty. So, don’t go too far out of your way to avoid puddles. By the end of the day, you’ll be muddy and soaked! Another 15 minutes of being that way won’t make a difference in the long run.

    At the end of the day, if you want to know how you should be dressing or behaving, just look at what the Pros in any sport are doing, whether that is OCR, triathlon, trail running, powerlifting or road running. If you look at the start line of any elite OCR, you’ll realize that they all look like they went shopping at MudGear.  MudGear’s outdoor apparel is #MadeTougher and built for the rough conditions of OCR. Even if you are a beginner, a set of MudGear socks, shorts and race jersey will make it seem like you know what you are doing and create some epic photos for you to share with your friends...and isn’t that the reason most of us are out there?

    Evan “Ultra-OCR Man” Perperis is a professional obstacle course racer for the MudGear-Battle of the Lions Pro Team.  With over 65 overall podiums and counting, he is best known for his annual ultra-endurance events that often last multiple days to raise money for the charity Folds of Honor.  You can read about these events and his military service in his biography “Ultra-OCR Man: From Special Forces Soldier to Record Setting Pro OCR Athlete” (available in hard copy, digital and audiobook).  A NSCA-CPT he also has an additional five books on training and preparing for Obstacle Course Racing. 

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