Become a pro: OCR

Obstacle course racing (OCR) has become hugely popular as it combines running (or walking) with challenging obstacles in the form of monkey bars, rope climbs, swings, wall climbs, mud pits, tunnels, river crossings and platform plunges into icy water, among many others. For those at the back of the pack, this is often a lot of dirty fun…

But it is still a series physical challenge as you need the ability to run between obstacles, the endurance to run and work over an extended period of time, and still have the strength to climb up, over, on, under, or through some of the most draining obstacles that sadistic race organisers can think up. The trick to being as prepared as possible requires some general and non-specific functional fitness, in addition to highly specific fitness components such as running fitness and the strength need to climb and pull your own body weight.

Step 1: Develop a solid fitness base with a few long runs and some interval training. Carina Marx, an elite OCR athlete and Team Jeep South Africa member, says the cardio element of your training will form a great foundation for all your other training, because the fitter you are, the more you can push yourself, and the better the results!

Step 2: Multiple Warrior OCR champion, and 2014 USN Face of Fitness finalist, Hanneke Dannhauser, advises that you then combine running with one or two climbing and/or pulling exercises and one or two strength development exercises during each session.

“Perform them as intervals, circuits or Tabatas, keeping rest to a minimum between stations,” suggests Hanneke. “This structure best mimics conditions in obstacle course racing, as you’re constantly changing between activities on the course, and your training should reflect that. Intervals and circuits are the best way to combine strength and endurance exercises to get you ready for whatever race organisers throw at you.”

Step 3: Hanneke adds that developing grip strength is another essential element of training to ensure you’re able to pull yourself up, hang from and climb up obstacles. She recommends performing these combined workouts – cardio, strength and grip training – 3 to 4 times a week. “Do that and you’ll soon be moving up from a Warrior Rookie to a Black-Ops elite athlete.”

And don’t forget

Carina adds that one of the most important, yet often most neglected aspects of OCR training, is adequate rest. “You need to sleep at least seven hours a night to recover adequately. Recovery can also consist of active rest, like yoga or Pilates, or an easy swim – basically anything that isn’t strenuous and makes you feel well rested.”

Other articles in this series: become a pro at running, mountain biking, triathlons.

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.


Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You'll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.

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