Has Quarantine Life Motivated You to Look for a New Adventure?
May 11, 2020
If you're looking for something new, fun, and exciting to try once you're no longer confined to your home, then look no further. Here's why obstacle course racing is the adventure for you.
For those of us who have been quarantined for weeks or months on end in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all adjusted in our own unique ways. Some of us have taken advantage of the opportunity to sleep more, be a little lazy, and spend hours on end playing video games and watching Netflix. Don't forget those highly addictive TikTok videos. There are some of us who have put lots of energy into being more productive. Some of the popular activities have been cleaning and redecorating, home improvement projects, cooking and baking, at-home workouts, or learning new skills like playing an instrument or perfecting makeup application. Then there's those of us who have fallen somewhere in the middle: some days we are motivated to be productive and other days we can barely get out of bed. Regardless of which group you fall into, it's safe to say you're probably feeling a little stir-crazy, and can't wait to finally get out of the house and live your life to the fullest now that you've realized how much you used to take for granted.
All of a sudden, post-quarantine life seems to hold such a huge realm of opportunity. What can we do differently now to make ourselves feel more alive, to make ourselves better, to give life more meaning? Sure, vacations, concerts, beach trips, and going out for drinks with friends all sound like perfection right now, but do you find yourself longing for something more adventurous? Do you want to try something you've never done before that will make you feel elated, strong, invincible, and gratified? Do you want to feel a powerful connection with others? Enter...obstacle course racing (OCR).
There are many stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding the world of OCR. People believe it is too out-of-reach; that it's only for those crazy, extremely fit athletes who can run marathons and do pull-ups for days. The truth is, OCR is for EVERYONE. Literally. There are no prerequisites or qualifications. You don't have to be a good runner. At an obstacle course race, you will see athletes of all shapes, sizes, and ages. You see everyone, from people who just the day before decided to get off the couch and start getting active, to groups of friends who just want to have fun and get dirty, to families with kids, to a courageous person with one arm who wants to prove to everyone that anything is possible, to seasoned athletes looking to make podium. The races are open to everyone. While some do offer competitive/elite heats, all of them offer "open" heats, which means there are no rules and anyone can participate.
You may feel afraid or embarrassed because you don't consider yourself a good runner, but that's okay! While some of the bigger, more competitive races can be 6 miles or more, almost ALL race companies offer a 5K distance, which is 3.1 miles: the perfect distance for someone just starting out. You can run, jog, or walk at your own pace. Stop for a break when you need to. It's important not to think of it as a race. Sure, "race" is in the title, but really, it's an event. Think of it as a giant playground, where you get to run through a course filled with fun (sometimes muddy) obstacles. Some of the obstacles do require some strength, but if you can't get through one, you can simply pass it and move on to the next one. What you'll find at these events is that most of the time, a fellow racer will be there to give you a lift or help you through something because it's all about teamwork, camaraderie, and having fun.
Furthermore, we all have that voice in our head telling us, "Oh, you can't do that," because we've either never tried or we lack the self-confidence. That's where the best part of obstacle course racing comes in: you will be SHOCKED to find out what you're actually capable of! It doesn't have to be anything extraordinary. It can be as simple as running a mile without stopping, getting over a 6-foot wall without assistance, jumping into a giant pool of muddy water, or doing anything that you didn't believe you could do. It is such an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line. There's nothing quite like it. It's addicting, and odds are you'll sign up for your next race that same weekend. There's something about it that makes you want to get better, to beat your last finish time, to conquer the obstacle you couldn't get through last time, or to try another race on different terrain with different obstacles. Oh, and don't forget the free swag that comes your way once you finish. You will definitely get a medal, just for finishing, and many race organizers will also give you a finisher t-shirt. You might even be lucky enough to get a banana, protein bar, sports drink, and/or free beer.
If I've peaked your interest, here are some of my favorite race organizers so you can do some research and find one near you (keep in mind that most of the spring/summer events have been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, but you'll still be able to find plenty of races being tentatively held this fall): Spartan, Tough Mudder, Savage Race, Bonefrog, and F.I.T. Challenge (Rhode Island). There are many more local races as well, depending on your location. The best websites to find races happening near you are Mud Run Guide and OCR Buddy.
My advice to you is to find a local 5K obstacle course race. Sign up with some friends. Once quarantine-life is over, make a day out of it and just have some fun. The worst that happens is that you decide it isn't for you, and you can go try a different adventure. The best that happens is that you find a new fun activity to do with friends that gets you active and out of your comfort zone. Maybe you even become an OCR enthusiast and it takes over your life, like it did for me (and millions of others around the globe.) Just get out there!
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