Where to Start
I often get asked by women starting out on their own fitness journey's, "Where do I start?" This is normally followed up by a string of other questions about how to train, what to eat, what to wear, etc... To all the women and really anyone looking to start a new fitness program be it in the gym, on the trails, or tackling a new sport, START SLOW! I know this advice is dispelled over and over again but it's true. No one woke up and decided today is the day I am going to be the best in the world at __________ and instantly snapped a finger and was there. You can decide you want to be the best or just to change your life and take on a new challenge. The key is to pace yourself.
It's exciting when you make the choice to change something physically about yourself. You step into the gym and watch everyone around you lifting extreme weights or you hop out onto the trail and instantly think you are Caballo Blanco after reading a book like "Born to Run." Our enthusiasm is often thwarted when we don't rise to our own expectations. Learning any new skill is a LONG process. It takes years to develop and master a new sport. The sport of obstacle racing is particularly interesting as it combines so many aspects of different sports all into one.
My suggestion to those just starting out in the sport above all you need a strong endurance base. If you can't make it through a 5k then forget about the obstacles. My advice when picking a race, make sure you are comfortable with the distance. Don't let the allure of the 10+ mile obstacle races lure you in. Doing them doesn't make you tougher than the person doing the 5k distance obstacle race. My first year obstacle racing the longest race I did was a 6k. Now I prefer the longer distances but that's a whole other story. But I took the first year and figured out the sport, figured out how to get over, around and under obstacles, and built an endurance base. My second year racing I expanded and started to take on longer distances. And looking into this year I am doing an array of distances but more focused on the longer ones, just because they are my personal favorites.
The key however again is to start slow. I was reminded today as I ran past trail signs on the mountain, when I learned to ski I didn't start out on the black diamonds. I took my time paid my dues on the green circles which made my first time on that black diamond that much more special! The second part of starting slow is to not try to do what everyone around you is doing. It's so easy to get pulled into the posts people state about workouts or what you see around you in the gym or on the road. In reality the best thing you can do for yourself is to progress at your own pace. Work with a trainer or coach and set up a manageable and attainable training program. Take the time your body needs to recover when it needs the rest. Fuel it with the proper nutrition.
Finally, when you get to race day, just run your race. Forget about the hundreds of people around you and do what you came there to do. My best races have been the ones with zero expectations of what might come. The more I race the more important it is to remember to just do what you came there to do. Train hard, have fun, and continue to explore each day.