To start off before the main article, here’s a little visual regarding the importance of certain training needs. If you haven’t produced a good level of competency on one level – should you really be moving up to the next level?
Fairburn’s Hierarchy Of OCR Training Needs
How To Master These Levels
Make Sure You Run
This one should be fairly obvious – with courses generally ranging anywhere between 3 and 10 miles, there will be stretches of running between obstacles and when you’re wet and muddy this can take a long time. Build up some quality off-road mileage in your legs and you’ll get round with no trouble!
Don’t Neglect The Upper Body
There will be 6/10ft walls to get over, ropes to climb and monkey bars to get across, so you’ll need to strong up top. This can be achieved by building up your upper body strength through various exercises such as press ups, tricep dips and more. No need for a leg up now!
Train On The Appropriate Terrain
Forget the roads and tarmac you need to hit the trails – the uneven, rocky or muddy paths will be exactly what your body is demanding.
Master The Burpee
An integral part of any self-respecting OCR training regime – the burpee utilises your whole body as well as cardio system for one killer exercise. The explosive aspect of this exercise will help you over many an obstacle.
How do it: From standing, drop down for a push up, then jump your feet up to your hands and explode into the air with a big leap. Land comfortably with soft knees before dropping back down into the pushup position for your next one!
Break Up Your Run
Don’t just run at the same speed, you need to mix it up to mimic obstacles. This is simple, set yourself a goal to throw in sets of bodyweight exercises to your run or complete not only a 5 mile training run, but a 5 mile training run and 50 pushups.
Training suggestion: Run for 5 minutes followed by 10 press ups, 20 lunges, 15 burpees or your choice of exercise and repeat for your desired time.
Do Interval Workouts
Jumping obstacles in succession will be taxing – training your body and heart to work in short bursts with minimal rest will see you making short work of those monkey bars or 4ft. walls.
Read: Tabata Training
Get yourself down to a local park or woodland trail, get on your hands and knees and pratice 20-30 yards of bear crawls, or if you don’t mind getting down and dirty then army crawls might be for you, bonus points if you get through a tunnel on a local play area. The amount of cargo nets or concrete tunnels strewn through nearly every OCR event leaves this an invaluable training method that is often neglected.
Also read: 10 Ways To Get Faster At OCR.
Run Up Hills
You can forget running on a flat course or getting a personal best – the hills will test your leg, heart and lung strength all together. It may take a while to get up a hill but when you hit the flats afterwards your legs will thank you with massively increased speed and technique. Not only this but running down hill is equally important to master to protect your knees and has been shown to improve running cadence and foot turnover speed.
Basic hill training: do 5 or 6 hill sprints of 30 seconds after a 5k run every other week, jog back down for recovery.
Practice Your Swimming
Not only is swimming a great way to improve your cardio strength, V02 Max, practise using your upper and lower body in sync and is fantastic for joint/muscle recovery but you might find yourself surprised by a lake swim thrown into the middle of a race, you’ll be glad you can swim fast during those winter events.
Mix These All Together
Sometimes a hill might appear on a training run – surely you’re not going to avoid it because your hill training session isn’t until next Tuesday? Add a hill sprint into that distance run! Why not drop to your hands and knees and crawl up that hill? Anybody passing by won’t give you too many strange looks. Add in sprint between trees on a flat trail so you know how to change gear when you feel like overtaking your competitors – then find a sturdy branch to perform a few pullups. Run to a local pool or lake (where safe and allowed) and break up a training session with a swim before running home – you’ll get to know the feeling of running while cold and wet!
Practice these skills at Mad Mike’s Assault Course.
Written by me: Keith Fairburn
Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach.
Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.