The main point of these kids OCRs is to have fun! Challenge your kids to do something different. Get outside in the elements with their friends and simply have fun and get some exercise.
These races come in all shapes and sizes. 5K, 8 miles to 10-13 miles. Start at a 5K and work your way up.
So if you are thinking of doing a family obstacle course race or having your kids do one of these races, here are the SEVEN MOST COMMON MISTAKES I see made when preparing for a kids obstacle course race:
7. Being Scared
Yeah, you read this right! There is nothing to be scared about. It’s a race with a ton of kids who will cheer you on, help you over obstacles and then give you a high-five with you when you are done! You go at your own pace and do whatever obstacles you want. Your race, your experience!
6. Waiting to Sign Up
This is a common mistake for a couple of reasons. One, you are procrastinating. You are allowing the mistake of “Being Scared” get in your way. By signing up in advance you are setting an actual goal with a date.
The second reason this is a common mistake is a financial one. It costs more money the longer you wait! The price goes up as the date of the race draws near. Not to mention, you could wait too long to sign up that the event sells out. Not true, so compare the race prices.
5. Just Running
The first thing people say to me when they sign up for a kids obstacle race is “OMG I need to start running with my kids!” No, no no. This is actually the by far the most common training mistake I hear. While getting your run in is important, it is actually last on my training regiment.
If you are a runner don’t stop, just realize you will want to do a different kind of running. The amount of time you actually have your kids run straight ahead in one of these races, especially in the New England area, is minimal.
These races are a full body experience, so running in a straight line at a slow monotonous speed is for road races, not obstacle course races. The running I recommend is stuff like hill repeats, stadiums, and sprint work. If you are doing a bigger kids obstacle course race, like a 10 – 13 mile one, then yes, your kids will do some general running, but honestly, I have never run over 5 miles training for one of these with my kids.
4. Strength Training on Machines
YES, you need strength training. NOT on machines. Kids obstacle course racing is all about getting off the couch, out of that chair and getting outside to do something! There are no machines to help you over, around or through obstacles. There are no “fixed planes of motion” like when training on a machine. There is no isolation of muscles like on machines.
What there is… full body movements like pulling yourself up and over a wall, pushing a fellow racer over something, pulling your friend up a half pipe, crawling as low as you can go under things or even having to do 30 Burpees at a time! That’s not being in running shape, that’s not what a machine at the gym is like… that is what an obstacle course race is like!
For some of you, go back and read number seven again! Seriously, if you do the basics like pushups, body rows, pull-ups, burpees, core/abs, lunges, squats, some basic weights you will be fine.
3. Skipping Stretching
This is a common mistake for almost everyone! Actually, you should have a proper warm up and cool down before and after all activities. Things like:
some soft tissue work like foam rolling
a dynamic or moving flexibility routine to prep the body for work
and a post workout routine like stretching and more rolling after
Stretching is key to allowing the body to increase its range of motion. Stretching resets muscle length, increases flexibility/mobility and reduces inflammation and muscle soreness after a workout.
“You are not fit if you are not flexible.” – according to Joe De Sena, Spartan Racing Founder
2. Doing It Alone
If this is your first go around attempting a kids obstacle course race then definitely grab a buddy and go for it. It gives you someone to lean on for support, for motivation, for encouragement and hopefully as a training partner. If you have a common goal with other people, you will get a lot more out of the experience, at least an obstacle course experience.
The great thing about these obstacle course races for kids is that if you show up alone, or are in a heat without a buddy, you will meet someone to run with. That’s how I met a great new friend!
1. NEVER ACTUALLY SIGNING UP!
Need I say more? Sign up and go for it. No excuses.
There you have it! The Seven Most Common Mistakes I see when preparing for a kids obstacle course race. It is your race and your experience, so get out there and enjoy it. Get out of that comfort zone a bit and soak up that great sense of accomplishment you will get. You never know, you may get hooked on these things like me!