You’ve made the leap and booked onto your first OCR, but what now? Here, our Soft Tissue Therapist Sarah shares her top tips on getting started with OCR.
First of all, well done! The world of OCR is incredibly friendly and supportive. It’s fun to do as a team but also perfectly possible to do on your own. There are always people out there willing to give you a hand.
Obstacle course racing involves tackling various physical challenges & obstacles, usually with copious amounts of mud and a touch of cold water! Training might seem a bit daunting, so where do you start?
1. You’re going to need a reasonable level of running but you can equally get through a race with walk/run intervals. Plenty of people do this and still get a shiny (muddy) medal at the end. A good place to start is a “Couch to 5km” training plan. The NHS have a great guide that you can find here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/ If you’re already a seasoned runner, change it up with some intervals & hill work to improve your endurance.
2. Strength training is important. You can start with body weight exercises and gradually build up to a full programme with weights and resistance work. Basic skills that will help and can be included in training are squats, bear crawl, burpees (sorry), farmers walk, overhead carry & chin ups (band assisted if needed). Common obstacles you might encounter are low barbed wire crawl, carrying heavy objects, climbing over walls, cargo nets, monkey bars, rope climbs & slides. Along with lots of lovely mud!
3. Grip strength is a must and takes time to build. Muddy monkey bars and rings will test the best grip strength. The jury is out for gloves or bare hands, try both and see what you prefer. Good grip exercises are climbing/bouldering, single arm kettlebell exercises, carries, chin ups or just hanging and gripping.
4. Muscular endurance is essential for getting you through the longer more demanding races. There are often long carries involving heavy tyres, logs, gravel buckets or sandbags. These are often accompanied by long drags of logs (trees!) and even the odd piggy back or wheelbarrow! Circuits, HIIT & cross training are great at building up endurance. If you can also find an outdoor boot camp or one of the outdoor OCR training events, this will help as you’ll be expected to participate, regardless of what the weather throws at you.
5. Change it up. Keep your workouts fresh and try not to get stuck in a training rut. Go for a bike ride, go for a swim, try out bouldering. Everything helps and stops you getting bored. Get out of your comfort zone, try something new!
6. Cold water training. Not the most pleasant but it does really help. Of course if you don’t feel comfortable in cold water or aren’t a strong swimmer, it’s perfectly OK to skip it. There are usually marshalls out in kayaks to ensure everyone’s safety. The water will vary from a paddle to a full on swim but its generally only a short distance. If you’re going to take the plunge, cold showers help, run through streams, get used to running with wet feet. Take a seat in a stream! (Keep it shallow and stay safe, I’m not suggesting you dunk into a river).
7. Rope in as many friends as possible. Training with friends is more fun and that way, you’re all in it together.
There are races out there for every ability, from a Pretty Muddy 5km to a Spartan Ultra. The choice is yours!