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6 Tips for Obstacle Racing in the Cold Winter

6 Jan 2016

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Obstacle racing can be a year-round sport, depending on where you live.

If you’re close to the equator, you’ll probably need some words of wisdom on racing in the heat, regardless of the season.

But if you’re in parts north and you have a local obstacle race planned over the winter, you’ll need to take specific measures to prepare for race day.

Here are 6 tips to get you ready for an obstacle race in cold weather.  

1. Wear the right shoes.

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You may already know traction in obstacle racing is important for off-road, trail-heavy courses (as opposed to urban races).

But traction is still important in a winter race, maybe even more so. Aggressive treads will help your feet keep their grip over icy surfaces, which you’ll likely run into.

2. Dress in layers.

Dress in light, loose-fitting layers so you can peel them away and put them back on as needed.

You may need at least three layers to protect you from the cold. The first layer should ideally be compression wear or similar technology that will help wick away moisture and keep you dry.

The compression may also help keep your muscles warm and provide some protection against the elements (stray branches, jutting icicles, etc.).

The second and/or third layers will add further protection from the cold. They should be warm, but light and loose layers that can be peeled away relatively easily.

3. Cover extremities.

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In extremely cold weather, you can lose a lot of heat through your extremities: feet, hands, and head.

Rapid heat loss can put you at risk of hypothermia. To protect against hypothermia and similar complications, be sure to cover your extremities.

A hat (or breathable ski mask), gloves, and blister-free socks with wicking away fibers can help keep you warm.

4. Warm up.

Sure, this is a no-brainer. You know you need to warm up before an obstacle race, but this becomes even more important for an obstacle race in cold weather.

In extremely cold temperatures, give yourself at least a 5- or 10-minute longer warm-up than usual. Do an extra set of lunges, squats, push-ups, arm swings, dynamic flexibility stretches, etc. to raise your core temperature and prepare your body for the challenge ahead.

5. Stay hydrated.

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Think it’s only in hot weather when your body rapidly displaces water? Think again.

In cold weather, it may be easy to forgot to replenish fluid loss since you’ll be focused on maintaining your body’s core temperature.

Even so, your body is still working hard and losing fluid in the process, so be sure to hydrate throughout the race.

6. Train for winter racing.

In order to preserve your body from the total shock of running in cold weather on race day, get yourself acclimated to activity in the cold outdoors.

Try to do some form of physical activity, preferably running or obstacle race training, at least once a week the four to six weeks leading up to your race. This will help prepare your body for the extreme temperatures of race day.

Do one of your weekly running sessions outside, do a bodyweight-focused workout outdoors, or even shovel for a couple hours following a snowstorm.

Follow these tips for your next obstacle run in cold weather and enjoy the winter wonderland!

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