Written by De Soto Ambassador John Fielding
Triathlon is a challenging sport. The off-season presents challenges of its own. It may be several months, nearly six in my case, until the next big triathlon. With no imminent races, it is the perfect time to challenge yourself in new ways. Your fitness may now be at its peak and this is a great time to keep that fitness up for next season while trying new events where your focus may be to have fun. A highly individual sport like triathlon can be hard to do in a group and this is a chance to grab your friends, family, and have fun staying fit.
Obstacle racing, like a Spartan race, presents added dimensions to triathlon fitness. While your cardio fitness is likely off the charts, the base strength required by the obstacles is a whole new challenge. Another departure? Obstacle racing has a group focus. While not a “buddy system” race, the obstacles present a number of opportunities to help another racer along the way. Meanwhile, the trail running, climbing, and obstacles keep that hard-bought conditioning in top form. With this in mind, I agreed to take on a Spartan race with a friend of mine. Now was the chance to try something new without worrying about injuries.
After getting our families together and planning a weekend getaway, we made our way to the race venue. The atmosphere of a spartan race is world’s different from most triathlons. The race festival area was set up on a beach area on the shores of Lake Lanier, Georgia. A Spartan race, unlike a triathlon, is spread out over the course of a couple days with racers going off in fifteen-minute waves. Being one of the first waves, we were able to do the course with almost no crowding. The result? Just over nine miles of trail running and twenty-nine challenging obstacles that really do challenge your fitness level. I’m happy to say that I achieved my goals of having fun and not getting injured. Along the way I managed to finish in the top 10%, challenged my limits, and made it a goal to develop better overall strength for obstacle racing.
Obstacle racing is an ideal off-season activity. It’s no secret that triathlon can be an expensive hobby. With gear needed for three sports, you probably have a substantial investment in swimming, cycling, and running. Not to worry! The majority of obstacle racing can be done without any new investment in gear. Like me, you probably already have favorite De Soto Sport training gear and a host of running shoes that are on their last legs ready for a run through the mud.
One of my favorite pieces of gear for training is my Skin Cooler Long Sleeve Shirt. The long sleeves provide a number of great benefits like sun protection, wind protection, and the cooling effect! I found that the long sleeves were fantastic on the Spartan race. If you’re interested in taking on a Spartan race, you can be assured that you will spend time in water, mud, and crawling through all sorts of situations. Combine that with the trail running, and I found that the long sleeves were perfect for protecting arms during these challenges.
Another piece of gear I opted for were my favorite Tuesday run shorts. I’ve told people before how the material is unlike your average run short. Made from board-short style material, the durability worked perfectly in shedding not just sweat, but also the dirt and mud that you pick up along the course. Something I didn’t expect was how well the mesh pockets did on the course. I didn’t occur to me that pockets full of mud and water can lead to some unexpected extra baggage, but the mesh pockets drained instantly the second they were above the water line. With amazing freedom of movement and a skin cooler liner, there is nothing holding you back from your best.
If, like me, you are hitting your off-season, I encourage you to get out and try new challenges. Your fitness is probably top notch at this point and you can carry that through to next season. In fact, you may even find that you are able to improve on areas of weakness and come out stronger than you thought. Enjoy this opportunity to find events that you can do with your friends and family and know that the De Soto Sport gear you’ve invested in is every bit as tough and flexible as you are. Happy off-season!
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