Below, we're discussing 5 different mistakes that are commonly made by athletes in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing. The ability to identify if you are making these mistakes will give you the opportunity to make adjustments in your programming to improve your training.
Mistake 1: Going too hard, too fast.
Hopefully you've heard this before, and if not, that's why we are listing it first for this article. Especially early in a New Year when everyone's motivation for exercise and fitness goals seem to be higher, there is the temptation to push too hard too fast. Often, this leads to mental burnout for those who have never held a training program consistently before, and it unfortunately also leads to injuries quite often. Don't mistake me for saying that you should just take things super easy and slow. You should be performing your training at an appropriate level based on your current abilities. That's where smart programming is put to practice.
Mistake 2: Changing too much, too fast.
Whether it's the way you're training (strength training vs endurance training or power training vs cardio) or your nutrition or any other aspect of training, for most people, making a lot of extreme changes all at once is an easy way to set yourself up for failure. If your goal is to change from strength training primarily, to primarily endurance training, switching your whole program overnight is the wrong solution. You should spread out the change over the course of several weeks, at least. Not only to let your own mentality begin to adapt, but to let your body adapt as well. Similarly, if your goal is to eat a much more balanced and nutritious diet, trying to change your entire daily food menu won't work for most people. Your best bet would be to select one or two of the worst foods you eat, and swap them out for one or two new nutritious foods. Over time, continued use of this process will have you making much better nutrition choices.
Mistake 3: Calluses.
Online forums, such as Facebook, are crawling with posts about calluses. People always want to know if they should cut them off, shave them down, leave them be, or avoid the subject altogether with gloves. You should leave your calluses alone. That being said, if you are frequently tearing calluses, the better question to ask is, "what am I doing with my training?" Calluses will most often tear off when you are constantly causing a lot of friction. If you are doing things like Dead Hangs, Grip Switches, or practicing on Rigs, and you are tearing calluses, I'd say your grip strength needs improvement, or you are doing too much of that type of work. In all my years of training for races, and in actual races, I've never torn a callus off. If you do grip work frequently, but not in super high volume, you will develop tough hands that are unlikely to tear. Is it possible that they do anyway? Yeah, sure. For the majority though, this advice will work. Assess your training before you start cutting or shaving off layers of skin.
5 Training Days Per Week
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Mistake 4: Planning too much and executing too little.
I'm a planner in the most extreme sense. I've done things that people have questioned me about, and I don't explain myself because it doesn't make sense to tell someone that I did "x" to eventually achieve "y" for a random thing I want years down the line for another thing I want at at an even later point. If you're good at planning, then you have an amazing ability to get ahead of the curve and beat others through preparation. However, without executing your plans, you'll never get anywhere. It's better to not have a plan and try, than to have the perfect plan and never try. For everyone planning out the perfect race season or the perfect training season, good on you! Do it! Plan it! But make sure you execute the details needed to achieve it.
Mistake 5: Thinking the "little things" don't matter.
Unfortunately for you and I, the little things do matter. They are the easiest things to ignore of course, because they seem small. For instance, if you go on a 10 mile run (the "big thing") but then skip your post-run mobility and stretching work and eat a bunch of junk afterwards (the "little things") you're setting yourself up for eventual failure. That failure might be in performance, or it might be injury. Giving up on the "little things" also makes it a lot easier to slowly scale back the "big things" and justify it in your mind. I've seen it happen to clients, and I've seen myself do it. The "little things" do matter, a lot. I'd much rather have a client run 6 miles and do their post-run mobility and stretches and eat a healthy meal than have a client running 10 miles and skipping the rest. Of course, not every single little detail has to be perfect all the time - life would be a misery if we took it that extremely - but you should care about the "little things".