Off-Topic: Some tips for taking part in an extreme run

To sleep, perhaps even dream …
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The next posting will take a few days, I’m still pretty much burned out by the extreme run from Saturday. While I visited a Spa on Monday (took the day off) and the massage did wonders (and hurt like hell as my muscles were still sore), I am still very tired. On the plus side, at least I can open doors with one hand again.

Still, it was a great experience — and I have already registered for the run next year. Interesting how an evaluation can change from “once is enough” to “well, it was fun …” once the pain begins to subside. So, until I have time for the next posting about organizing creativity, here are some tips for taking part in an extreme run judging from my first-time experience:

  • Clothes, clothes, clothes — Functional clothes are key. Modern fabric lets go of water quickly. Personally, I loved running in long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt with an additional T-Shirt over it. It was an additional barrier against the water (even if mostly psychological) and it kept the vegetation at bay. Also, you can’t immediately see all the scratches. The T-Shirt had the additional advantage that when the start number was torn off, it did not rip holes into my long-sleeved (and more expensive) shirt. Some obstacles were graveyards for start numbers.
  • Outdoor jogging shoes — My jogging shoes have a profile made for cross-country races. I think they are invaluable for such a run — esp. when it came to running up- and downhill. One downside: After mud pits, the soles were thickly coated in mud and walking became like slithering on ice. However, going off-path for a few meters and removing the mud on the dirt/plants worked well. Removing the mud is time well-spend.
  • If the obstacle becomes unbearable, press on — My main concern regarding the run was the swimming/diving obstacle. I hate cold water. However, when this obstacle came I had already crossed shallower streams and I didn’t think much about simply running into the water. A good idea of the designers of the track. But once I was breast-deep into the water, the cold really stung. As the worst had already happened, I immediately switched to swimming despite still being able to walk. It allowed me to set my goal on crossing this obstacle as fast as possible and burn a few calories. I think the question regarding the water is not “Is it cold?”, or “Does it hurt?” (YES! to both), but “Do the muscles still operate under your control?”. If they do, press on and get past the obstacle as fast as you can. If not, you might want to scream for help. Even after leaving the water I pressed on, ignoring the wet clothes and concentrated on the following crawling obstacle. Worked really well. The only really ugly moment was crossing a another stream by swimming and having to wait at the other side. The person in front of me took a moment to get out and debris prevented me from going out beside her. Trying to keep the position is the slight current with the jogging shoes sinking to the bottom was … uncomfortable. There’s a difference between being able to swim and being able to swim well. It’s something to work on.
  • Wear easily recognizable clothes — A lot of people wore costumes for the run. While it was part of the “fun”-character and the overall theme (“Braveheart“), I think it also made sense when you want to have good photos of the run. Judging by the few thousand photos I’ve seen online (no joke), people in costumes are photographed more often and it’s much easier to find yourself if you wear a costume. I wore black running clothes, and despite having the exact times when I was at specific obstacles thanks to the “Zombies, Run!” GPS tracking, I had a hard time finding myself on the photos. I did find a few, but a costume would have made it much easier. And don’t get me started on features like “search for start number ____” — most runners lost their start number or it was obscured by mudd.
  • Conserve your energy — Sounds like a no brainer, but with people around you running faster, you might want to remember it. Even if you can run the distance, if you haven’t trained crossing the obstacles as well, you might need to be careful with your energy.
  • Don’t trust your arms if they feel without strength — After about 10 km my arms felt like lead. However, when I needed them they worked well. Thus, don’t trust your arms when they feel without strength, they might still work.

That’s it so far. For the next run, I’ll probably wear a costume. Perhaps even a wetsuit vest against the cold water. Can’t wait for March 2015. 🙂

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