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How 210 Surveyed Obstacle Course Racing Athletes Are Training

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

THANK YOU to all of the athletes who took the time to fill out this survey. We really appreciate you providing your training data so that others might learn and benefit from it. We had planned to separate the data between Age Group, Open, and Elite, but since there were only 16 elite responders we didn't think that was enough to be a good representation. Also, as we were going through through the Open vs Age Group, the average differences were not significant enough to separate them out for each section and make it worth the read for almost double the time. We may put out a survey later this year for Elite/Pro athletes only and then athletes can compare their training to that data...anyway...time for the meat and potatoes.

QUESTION 1: What level do you currently (or most frequently if you change levels) race at?

I'm glad we got a lot of responses from AG athletes. Helps give an idea, from the overall data provided, about where the middle ground of training is. Obviously it's not a perfect picture, but it's there.

Question 2: On average, how many miles do you run each week? (We understand that it will vary depending on where you are in your training, so give your best general average) (If outside of USA, please convert KM to Miles for closest average...most of our viewers/readers are in the USA...sorry)

In general, running 1-10 miles per week is not going to put you in very good shape overall for OCR. IN GENERAL is what I said. If you are doing a lot of cross training, it could be enough. If you don't have a solid background in running though, you can improve your running (and cardiovascular overall) capability by running a bit more. For overall fitness and OCR improvement, I would recommend that the 71 running 1-10 miles per week push that up to the 11-15 mile per range week if possible.

QUESTION 3: Which race distance do you PRIMARILY train for?

Likely due to the options available for OCRs, it's not surprising that most people are training for any distance race that they can make it to. 10K was very very popular. Perhaps that's why Savage Race has that as their main's far, but not too far...Savage must have known :D. More Ultra people than I expected which is cool.


One thing the data shows is that there are a lot of OCR athletes who are still struggling to complete obstacles at events. If that's you, we'd love to help. You can check out our training programs HERE or email us with any questions you have:


QUESTION 4: Do you regularly (at least 2 times per month) incorporate hill/incline training into your programming? (Examples: Hill repeats, hill sprints, incline treadmill, mountain running, stairs, and similar training methods)

Why this question? Hill training can greatly improve your running strength and endurance, hill sprints can help your speed, etc. Most OCRs, even if not on a mountain, will have hills. If you aren't trained to handle the hills, you will struggle. Obviously for anyone doing mountain races, you will die hard on that mountain if you never got hill training in. I would highly recommend incorporating some type of hill work into your training regularly.

QUESTION 5: What forms of cross training do you incorporate on a regular basis? (Regular basis = At least 2x per month) PLEASE SELECT ALL THAT APPLY.

Just one person who typed in, "none". I can't imagine training for OCR, or anything else, and not doing any cross training. If you know someone like this...tell them to add some variety to their training; it will only benefit them. Anyway, it's awesome to see so many different forms of cross training being used, and many of them in pretty high quantity. Keep up the good work, everyone!

QUESTION 6: Do you incorporate heavy carry training into your program on a regular basis? (Regular basis = 1x per week of at least 1 exercise for heavy carries)

Many OCRs, the big name ones included, have some sort of heavy carry. As such, it would be beneficial to train for these carries. You might be good at them without training, but you could be much better and faster with training. A lot of strength work overall will help with heavy carries, but if I know I need to carry something heavy while walking/running, I will train for that. It's also generally good grip training.

QUESTION 7: What is your current age bracket?

I am glad we had such a wide age bracket of persons fill out the survey. It gives us an overall better picture of how the OCR community is training on average. It's especially awesome being at races and seeing people of all ages out in the elements and challenging themselves with physically difficult tasks.

QUESTION 8: Do you regularly incorporate Grip Strength Specific work into your training? (Regularly = AT LEAST 1x per week) (Examples: Dead hang, Grip Switches, Rope Climbs, etc.)

Most people are training their grip strength regularly - it is so essential for obstacle course racing. When I first started in OCR in 2015, I could do most, if not all, of the obstacles without any grip specific training because I grew up climbing trees and playing on monkey bars and doing manual labor for a long time, then followed that up with years of work in the gym. Now, I do lots of grip strength training to be even better at obstacles and ensure completion.

QUESTION 9: Are you generally able to complete ALL of the obstacles at the events you participate in? (Generally means that you are capable of completing all of them, but sometimes make a mistake and fail one/some - But you are capable of running a clean OCR anytime you go out to race)

87 people said they can't regularly complete obstacles at races. I highly recommend that you put together a list of the obstacles you struggle with and then either look up strategies online and training to practice and prepare, or work with a coach or friend who can teach you and help you with strength deficiencies or whatever. Finishing an OCR having completed all of the obstacles is a great feeling!

QUESTION 10: On average, you would say that you eat a healthy, balanced diet (Diet defined as "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats")

For those eating healthily less than 70% of the time, if it's an issue of finances, I get it. If it's an issue of self discipline, work on it. Modern processed food is so junky and bad overall. To be eating it 30%+ of the time is going to negatively affect your overall health and your fitness as well. Aim for 80%+ healthy, nutritious, real foods to fuel your life and fitness.

QUESTION 11: How much time do you spend (on average) for a workout? (Again, we understand that this number may vary depending on where you are in a training plan, but give us your best estimate).

Duration is dependent on your goal - or should be. Obviously life demands will play a roll in how long you train as well. For someone to continuously improve in their fitness, I'd recommend 45-60 minutes of training per session. Can you improve with less? Yes...depending on the goal. A 60 minute run won't prep you to any decent level for an Ultra all depends. Most people are training between 45 and 90 minutes, so that's solid.

QUESTION 12: On Average (again, understanding that it may vary) how many days per week do you typically train?

For OCR, 3-6 days per week is what I would recommend. Less than 3 just isn't a lot of volume, so progress will take MUCH longer. This is also goal dependent. If you are training for a Spartan Sprint, maybe 3 days of training per week is enough to do well. For a Spartan Beast, probably not. I don't like 7 days of training. Recovery is very important, so days off for rest and recovery make a big difference.

QUESTION 13: Which recovery method(s) do you utilize at least 1x per week? SELECT ALL THAT APPLY.

Some people wrote in other methods, but it would make this list like 24 options long, so if it didn't have more than 1 person using it, I didn't include that method. The fact that 5 people said they don't use any methods is interesting. Personally, I use static stretching, dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and massage gun because I don't have easy access to the other options...or I would use most of them.

QUESTION 14: The MAJORITY of your running is done on which surface:

I personally don't enjoy road running. I also think it is far less valuable for OCR training since the vast majority of OCRs are on trails, not roads. Trail running (especially technical trail running) is a skill that needs to be learned. Trails also demand that your stride length, foot placement, etc. change constantly which helps develop lower body muscles in ways that they may not on a smooth road. Road running is great for keeping a consistent pace, but may lead to higher frequencies of overuse injuries from stressing the lower body in the exact same movement pattern over and over again. Do what you have to do, but if you can make it out to a trail, I recommend trails over other surfaces.

QUESTION 15: On average, how many hours of sleep do you get per night?

5 or less...I am sorry for you. 6-7 isn't terrible, but if you have a high training volume, it's certainly not ideal. It seems to be where most people are in general from past surveys. I try to shoot for 8 and often times end up getting 7. If you are a HIGH volume athlete, sleep 9+ hours. Your body needs the recovery time. Do your best to get enough sleep, and also get quality sleep!

That's all for this year! Thanks for reading.

Hopefully you gained some useful insight.

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