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Funk Dooby

How can I adapt my running training to take on an OCR?

by editor
Monday 10th July 2017
Are you a runner looking to take on an obstacle course race? Worried that you may have neglected that upper body training a little? Concerned that you haven't climbed up anything for 20 years? Help is at hand. We spoke to For Goodness Shakes personal trainer Stuart Amory, who gave us his top 10 tips for adapting your running training to take on an OCR. We have a team taking on Tough Mudder this September, who will definitely benefit from these...
Tip 1 Keep running…in the vast majority of obstacle races you do have to cover a number of miles and they obviously involve your skill…running. Beefcakes will never win an obstacle race over 5km so keep the running going so you can keep getting to the next obstacle as quick as possible.
Tip 2 Use what your mumma gave you – Your bodyweight is your greatest training aid due to the fact that you will require to climb, crawl and swing your body across, under or over many of the obstacle ahead. Start incorporating great compound bodyweight exercises into your weekly plan. Great examples are mountain climbers, squats, press ups and burpees.
Tip 3 Do you actually lift bro? – Now most of the time this refers to gym-monkeys performing bench press etc but what I mean is can you lift your body up to the bar or along a series of bars? Chin ups and pull ups are essential to perform well at an obstacle race. Start will reverse pull/chin ups meaning hold the bar, jump up then lower yourself down as slowly as you can. Start with 5 x 5 reps with a minute rest between sets taking 5 seconds to fully lower then move to 10 seconds before increasing the reps. Do this a couple of times a week and you should be able to chin the bar successfully within a few weeks.
Tip 4 He who fails to plan is planning to fail – All good runners should incorporate some resistance or conditioning work into your program to maintain a strong body during and especially towards the end of a race so gradually include some or all of the exercises mentioned above into your weekly schedule. I’d recommend 2-3 sessions a week where you concentrate on strength work…bodyweight or actual weights, it will all help.
Tip 5  Oh bee doo, I wanna be like you-oo-oo! – Apologies for monkeying around here but the monkey bars are often found in obstacle races so find some and start swinging. Straight arm swing or the bent arm techniques are used when traversing the bars. Use the straight arm swing if you are a beginner and concentrate or the back and forth rhythm of your lower legs to assist your timing and in moving forward. If you can’t find any monkey bars then practice changing the position of your hands on a single high bar.
Tip 6 Obstacle courses don’t just provide physical challenges, there’s mental challenges too. Some obstacle may appear difficult because they are 5 foot plus off of the ground but the question is would they be difficult if they were one foot above the ground? The answer is no so find the bravado you probably once had as a fearless kid or develop it by joining a parkour class or head to a climbing wall. The mental strength you have developed as a runner in not giving up when your legs are screaming at you to stop or when you feel that you’re going so fast that you feel like your breathing in razor blades will be easily transferrable if you allow it to.
Tip 7 Carry the weekly shopping without the trolley – More and more obstacle races are utalising carries to fatigue the participants so incorporate carrying logs or sandbags or weights into your training. The distance of the carries can range from 5 metres to a couple of miles depending on the toughness of the obstacle race and usually they will involve hills too so sweat in training so you don’t bleed in battle.
Tip 8 Learn from the best…by watching the many tutorials available online – The best way to learn is to see it physically demonstrated in front of you and you’ll find many videos online made by my friend Doug ‘The Beard’ Spence. We don’t want you to fail at obstacle races…we want you to learn by training and improving and gaining this sense of achievement which in our opinion is a major part of what life should be about.
Tip 9 Give it a go without the pressure – Why not do an obstacle race with a group of friends and work together to conquer the obstacles?! Have a laugh, work them out and watch other groups tackle them before you do. Also you could get there early to watch the first wave go off and see how they get past the technical parts of the course. Join the very helpful and informative ‘Mudstacle’ group online. Joining has many benefits including discounts and reviews but they also put on fun Mudstacle waves for members to join so creating a relaxing atmosphere to ease you into obstacle racing. Once you feel comfortable then book your place in wave one of a future race and see how you fare against the best on the day.
Tip 10 Put a smile on your face and race – Sounds cheesy but obstacle races are supposed to be challenging. The Race Directors are looking for many ways to test or fatigue the racers so maintain a positive attitude throughout and play their game but don’t let them beat you! 

Image CC by 2.0 Funk Dooby

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