Team Xtreem Training!
Rule 1: Understand your start point, set a target, find the training activities you enjoy and then fit them around your life.
This feature is not a ‘one size fits all’ training programme. The aim is to give some general guidance on training for Obstacle Course Racing so that you can develop your own training programme. I am a strong believer that training programmes should be developed by and for the individual. We all have different levels of base fitness, we are working towards different targets and we all have differing levels of time that we can devote to training.
Rule 2: Run Forrest Run! Never forget that OCR is a trail run with obstacles, so make running the basis of your training programme and then build around that.
Whether you’re new to fitness to fitness or you’re smashing your weekly Park Run, it is all about running, running, running, running and running. Running is at the heart of the best Obstacle Course Racing Athletes, you just need to Strava-stalk Jon Albon or Ross MacDonald to see they are smashing out some serious distance on a weekly basis.
Rule 3: Respect your body, train hard but rest when you need to. Don’t overdo it and listen to your body. Pain normally means something isn’t right.
I would advise alternating between a hard running day and a steady running day, I would not recommend running hard back to back and definitely not within 24 hours of your last hard run. I recently completed 3 hard 7.5 mile trail runs back to back and without 24 hour separation between them… needless to say I busted my knee and missed a race due to it.
Rule 4: When doing any HIIT exercise always aim to be challenged but make it achievable. Failing sucks. Never sacrifice form for numbers, do less or take longer but don’t cheat the exercise.
Once the foundation of your training programme is laid through running, it’s time to start thinking about the Obstacle part of Obstacle Racing and HIIT is ideal.
HIIT has been around for a while in the form of circuit training and these days comes in many forms, ranging from Insanity, Les Mills GRIT, Boot camps, Crossfit and British Military Fitness.
The benefit of doing HIIT is that it develops the energy and strength required to tackle obstacles on the back of a sprint or a fast paced run, whilst also developing a fast recovery mechanism, to help you get running again after an obstacle.
An alternative to paid gym membership or classes is to head down to your local park or football pitch. Pick two spots roughly 300 – 500 meters apart to run between. At each spot then do 30 – 60 seconds of body weight exercise between each run. Maybe go for a first round of 30 seconds each of burpees, push ups, sit ups, squats, mountain climbers, then rest for a few minutes before repeating with 45 seconds of each rep. There are two key things to note:
Make it achievable: Tailor the distance, duration and exercises based on your own level. Start with a challenging but achievable distance and duration and build up over time.
Keep good form: Learn the proper form for each exercise online, there are plenty of videos demonstrating burpees, squats, push ups etc. Once you know good form, never sacrifice it. It’s better to do 10 strict burpees in 45 seconds than to do 20 with poor form in the same time.
Rule 5: Have a training activities in your weekly programme that you really enjoy. Whether that’s a 5km tarmac run, 10km trail run, bouldering or swimming. If you enjoy it do it.
Bouldering or climbing is a great exercise activity for Obstacle Racing, firstly it is great for upper body and grip strength. Secondly it’s good fun and gives you confidence when moving at heights.
Personally I love bouldering, so to have an exercise activity which I really enjoy is a really good thing. It develops good technique for tackling obstacles, as well as upper body and grip strenght. Most of you have probably now heard of the ‘heel hook’ technique for getting over walls. It originally comes from climbing and is a method used by climbers to get more purchase on a wall.
My sessions tend to start with a few warm up routes on the easiest grading, I’ll then pick a grading (a defined difficulty level) and work around the centre tackling all the routes. Try to get some traversing in if you can, as it is really good for endurance strength.