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How 135 Surveyed Obstacle Course Racing Athletes Are Training

As always, a grand "THANK YOU" to the athletes who filled out the survey. 135 is a pretty solid sample size, so the data should be fairly helpful for other athletes to view. Without further ado...

Question 1: How many miles do you run per week on AVERAGE? (If you use KM to gauge your distance, just do a little math for the conversion)

Because we're all about training here, seeing 55 people respond that they are only running between 1-10 miles per week on average is Bad for improvement in OCR. You will make very little progress running that low a volume. UNLESS you are doing a significant amount of cycling, cross country skiing/skimo, or hiking/rucking, you are barely going to improve at 1-10 miles per week. Now, if you don't have an improvement goal, fine. Also, if you have an injury that's limiting you, fine. I can't image that large a portion of our surveyed population either doesn't want to improve or is injured. So, to those capable, get out and do a higher volume of running. It is the single most important training the typical OCR athlete can do to improve in our sport.


Question 2: Which do you prefer MORE: Running on trails or hard surfaces? (We're defining Hard Surfaces as roads, tracks, and treadmills)

Most surveyed athletes (87) prefer running on trails, a decent few (36) are equally happy with both, and some (17) prefer running on the harder surfaces. Whichever you choose is fine. Obviously if you live in a big city, it's hard to find trails, so you're just automatically limited. When programming for/training athletes for OCR, I try to get them on trails as much as they are possibly able (accounting for time and accessibility). I have 4 reasons for preferring trails.

  1. Almost all OCRs are on trails. Running on trails and running on flat surfaces are not the same thing. Trail running is a skill. It's better to train specifically for the skill needed on event day.

  2. I, and a lot of the athletes I've worked with, find roads monotonous. Trails have constantly changing terrain which means you need to focus all the time and are less prone to boredom.

  3. Trails are typically softer surfaces compared to roads, tracks, and treadmills which TYPICALLY means less stress on your body.

  4. (Though a more nit-picky reason) Due to the constantly varying terrain on trails, your stride is changing as you run. This can help with injury prevention as your body is required through move through much different patterns than if you are constantly running with the exact same stride length, cadence, etc. on a surface without barriers or change.

With all of that said, either works. Whatever you need to do/can do to get in the training will work. Just make sure you do the training.


Question 3: Please select all of the Cross Training activities your participate in ON AVERAGE in an AVERAGE Month.

I'm a HUGE fan of this graph/these results. Cross Training not only gives you variety (which typically keeps people interested and motivated) but it's also extremely valuable for injury prevention. Any/all of the categories listed are great forms of Cross Training, and each has carryover for OCR. Which, and to what degree, each type is used is dependent on the athlete, their capabilities, their likes and dislikes, and their goals.


Question 4: How many days per week ON AVERAGE do you train/workout?

Firstly, those training 1-2 days per week, if able-bodied individuals, aren't doing anywhere near enough training to elicit results. 2-3 days can be beneficial, especially if you're new to fitness and just getting started, but eventually that number should increase to 3-4 as a baseline. I'm a fan of anywhere from 4-6 days per week. The number of days is completely dependent on each individual and what works for them, and what their goals are (I know I keep saying that...because that's what matters). If you want to be really competitive, 5 days per week COULD get you there. If you want to have fun, do well, and see improvement over time 3-4 days of programming will certainly help. Personally, I train 6 days per week on average. However, not all days are intense...many are not...and I take other off days before/after more strenuous training events and races.


Question 5: How many hours of sleep do you get per night ON AVERAGE?

I purposely used an ugly graph here because these results aren't pretty. While they could be worse, most people (82 of those surveyed) are getting 7 or less hours of sleep per night. If you're in the same boat because you are working long hours to support your family, more power to you. If you are in that <7 hours of sleep per night group because you aren't managing time well and are staying up for no GOOD reason, then make some changes. 53 of you are getting enough, or close to enough sleep. That's awesome. Personally, I aim for an exact 8 every night. That's the best that I can do currently between my work, training, and family. In an ideal world, and in order to recover better and improve as an athlete, I'd shoot for 9 on average.


Question 6: What percentage of the food that you eat during a typical week would you say is VERY healthy?

Nutrition, along with sleep, is SO very important for training. Not only that, but it's essential for being healthy in your daily life. I don't hesitate to say that if you are eating less than 50% of real, very nutritious foods, you are short-changing your training and your body. I take that back, make that 70%. Ideally, you want 80% OR MORE. I know, the world is screwed up and making healthy food choices isn't always easy or intuitive. None-the-less, it's your body, and it's your training. Eat real, healthy foods to fuel yourself to better health and fitness.


Well, that's all she wrote. Hopefully you gained some insight into how others are training for Obstacle Course Racing, and maybe learned something about what you can do/change to be a better OCR athlete.

 

FEATURED PROGRAM:

5 Training Days Per Week


The Champion is for the OCR participant who wants to be standing on the Age Group or Elite podium, or for athletes who are committed to elevating their fitness to completely new levels. This fully customized program is designed to get you in the best OCR shape for winning the race.




What You Get:

✓ 100% customized programs

✓ An awesome Trio Fitness OCR T-shirt

✓ Direct contact with your coaches: Joel & Luke

✓ Tips and advice from Elite OCR athletes (Joel & Luke) for best race-day practices

✓ Demo videos for all exercises

✓ Obstacle demos for technique and strategy

✓ Track reps, rest, tempo, and weight

✓ Upload progress photos/measurements

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