Updated: Jan 18, 2019
My first ever experience with Obstacle Course Racing was in 2013 at a super muddy Warrior Dash (which was SO MUCH FUN). Since then, I have been doing more races every year with a goal of 20-25 for 2019 (I know that's not a lot for some of you crazies). My brain is very analytical and competitive so I always take time after each race to think about how I can work more efficiently and cut off time/improve my placement. Here are 5 changes you can make RIGHT NOW that will make a big difference for your overall performance.
#1: Get the right shoes.
For my first several OCRs, I ran in some old tennis shoes. BIG MISTAKE. I spent most of my energy trying to climb up the muddy hills or falling on my butt on the way down. They also got as heavy as cinder blocks after going through water which will cause you to waste a ton of energy.
My first trail shoes were Inov-8 X Talon 200s (not a sponsor). They were a game changer! It took a while to break them in, but once I did, I was able to run so much more efficiently and focus on performance rather than not falling on my face. There are a ton of great trail shoes out there, just make sure you do your research to find shoes that drain water easily and have great grip.
#2: Drink more water.
When I first started doing OCRs, I was averaging about 32-48oz of water a day while also drinking 3-5 cups of coffee. Yes, I was basically a raisin. During races I would have to stop at every single water station and also slow down several times because my body would feel like it was over heating (which it was). I started increasing my water intake slowly with a goal of getting to 100oz every day and once I reached 100oz, I never turned back. My absolute minimum for a day is 100oz and I will drink more if I feel thirsty or do a longer intense cardio session. I will never stop drinking coffee, but now I only drink 2 cups a day. The result of this increased H20 is that I don't waste time having to slow down or stop at every water station.
#3: Practice run-to-obstacle-to-run efficiency.
My fitness background is in weight lifting so I never had an issue completing the obstacles, but when I would try to start running again after an obstacle I would feel like I couldn't breathe and needed a solid minute to let my heart rate come down. That obviously shows you that I needed to improve my overall cardiovascular performance. It also shows that I needed to get my body conditioned for the transition.
Try these sample circuits. They will make a big difference!
Deadlift - 10 reps
Burpees - 15 reps
Deadhang - 30 seconds
.5 mile run
Hand/grip switches - 10
Farmer's carry - 30 seconds
Box jumps - 15
1 mile run
#4: Climb those hills!
The hardest part about OCRs for me was the hills. They completely fried my muscles and my lungs (I think that's the point). I hated it, but I started training on the hills. For some workouts I'd do hill sprints at a steep incline and for others I would do more of a steady pace for a longer time at a lower incline. Either way, practicing your hill efficiency will shave off a ton of time and actually improve your overall running too.
#5: Make your own race course.
This doesn't have to be anything fancy, but it can be a TON of fun! I usually go to a local park or playground with my bucket and sandbag and create a small course for myself. I try to include monkey bars, pull ups, jumps, crawls, carries, and running all into one big party! I'll usually do a workout like this 2-3 times a week with only one of them at my actual race intensity.
These 5 metrics have played a huge roll in helping me to improve from a Open Heat racer to Top 10 Elite racer finisher.
If you aren't sure how to actually put the training pieces together, visit the Trio Fitness OCR Website. My brother Joel (also a top 10 Elite race finisher) and I will coach you to success!