Editor’s Note: David Adams, a University of Tampa student and U.S. Army veteran, is comparing obstacle race preparation and other endurance regimens to the training he underwent in the military. In a series of stories for EnduranceSportsFlorida.com this summer, he’ll write about his progress.
By David Adams
On Friday evening I participated in my first obstacle course since leaving the Army, the Picnic Island Adventure Run in Tampa.
Hundreds of competitors showed up, and the starting line was crowded. The course design was challenging, and many elements of the race were similar to obstacle runs and competitions I took part in while in the military. I finished the 3.6-mile course in 101st place overall (out of 274 men) with a time of 35:35.
My conditioning (or lack thereof) played a major role in my finish and although I am in good physical condition, Picnic Island was a cardio wake-up call.
Picnic Island is a beach park offering amazing views of Tampa Bay, nestled behind a small industrial district at the very end of Westshore Boulevard. The course was designed with endurance running in mind as right from the start we were running in sand. After a short distance, the route led us into shin-deep water, soaking my shoes and ensuring the rest of my run would be completed in wet footwear.
From there, the race took an uphill turn and led us from the beach into the park. Other obstacles were set up throughout the race in addition to several areas where runners were forced to wade through waist-deep water. The obstacles included a small area of dirt hills, a low crawl underneath cargo netting, a tire run, and a small “wall” jump. At the very end of the race we were required to swim out into the bay around a floating buoy and back to shore.
Compared to the obstacle courses and competitive runs I took part in while in the military, Picnic Island was very challenging. The major difference was the obstacles. Those in military competition were usually more physically demanding. For example, instead of crawling in sand under a cargo net, during my training in Air Assault School we conducted an obstacle course that required trainees to low crawl through mud underneath barbed wire.
Other than the difference in obstacle construction, there were no other glaring differences. If anything, the course design of Picnic Island took runners on a more demanding route than any of my Army runs.
My conditioning at the start of this race was not what I was hoping. I twice had to stop for ten-second breathers, which was very disappointing. Although I run regularly during my training schedule, I never thought to run off-road. I paid the price as I was gassed by the end of the run. I have made the decision to change my training regimen and tailor it more towards endurance and cardio training over the summer in hopes of improving my run times over the summer.
I had a great time at Picnic Island, and I view it as a valuable learning experience. I am going to strive for improvement on my run times, and am planning to start off-road running on a regular basis in an attempt to improve my endurance. While 35:35 might not be the fastest time, I am happy with the results of my first adventure run, and look forward to seeing marked improvement after my next race.