Want to know what it feels like – and what it takes – to win an obstacle race? Nerve Rush interviewed Jason Fitzgerald, who recently beat out nearly 17,000 people in the Warrior Dash obstacle race in southeastern Maryland.
Warrior Dash Champion! What does it feel like to be the baddest of bad asses in the obstacle race community?
Surprising! I wasn’t going for the win and I’m amazed that I beat almost 9,000 other competitors by over a minute. A few minutes into the race I found myself in 3rd place and my competitive instincts kicked in; I just went for it.
I won’t lie – it feels good – but the race has me thinking “how much faster could I go?” Since I wasn’t running at 100% effort, I might have to run another Warrior Dash to see what I’m really capable of. Stay tuned!
Was this your first obstacle race? If not, how does it compare to the others you have done?
Warrior Dash was my first obstacle race so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the obstacles would be tough so I took my time going over them. They can get slippery from the water and mud so you have to be careful not to hurt yourself. My first priority was safety, followed closely by running fast in between the obstacles.
Because of that strategy, the race felt more like an interval workout: run really hard, rest while going over an obstacle, repeat. It was exhausting!
Let’s talk obstacle race training. How did you prepare for the Warrior Dash?
I did zero specific obstacle training. I’m a distance runner so I’m always running a lot and at the time, my training was focused on the 5k distance. So I was in good shape and had the speed to run pretty fast in between all of the obstacles.
One aspect of my training that really helped was that I do almost all of my running on hilly trails in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. Some parts of the trail are muddy, rocky, narrow, steep, and even dangerous (one of these days I’m going to fall in the river). Practicing those conditions and developing the coordination to run fast over uneven terrain really helped in Warrior Dash. The first half-mile of the race was on a similar terrain so it felt like any other training run for me.
What’s next? Any nuggets of wisdom for potential Warrior Dash champions out there?
I’m not sure when – or if – I’m doing another obstacle race, but there’s always that possibility! Right now I have my eyes set on a half-marathon in a few months with a few shorter races thrown in for fun. But there are a few quick lessons I learned from my Warior Dash win:
- Start at the front (even if you’re slow) – you won’t have to wait behind people at obstacles and you’ll avoid the madness of the crowd.
- Don’t wear very loose clothing – if it doesn’t get caught in the barbed wire (which is REAL!) it might come off in the mud pit.
- Get ready for a lot of hills! Not every obstacle race has them, but most of them do and they’re tough.
- Train on trails before the race. Like I mentioned, it’s incredibly helpful to be comfortable running on uneven terrain.
Thanks for your time! Where else can Nerve Rush readers find you?
My pleasure, hopefully your next obstacle race will be just as fun and fast. You can check out my running and coaching site at Strength Running. Also check out my detailed article on how to train for Warrior Dash if you want to learn how you can win your next obstacle race!
Thanks for the interview and good luck with all your gut wrenching adventure!
[photo credit: Benjamin Lehman]