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How Your Body Should Look For Obstacle Course Racing

I apologize in advance for the click-baitiness of the article title. Really, I did use it to get you here, but not for the reason the title would have you believe.

You see, there is no certain way an obstacle course racing athlete should look. Or any athlete really (except maybe physique/body building competitions where there are standards for appearance, etc...doesn't matter, you get the point). As an athlete in endurance sports, the way you look should not be what you are thinking about.

We are all built differently. We are all shaped differently. Some have long legs and short torsos. Some have short legs and long torsos. Some have long limbs and thick chests while others have small frames and thick limbs. It's about long-term (and I mean LONG TERM) dedication to hard work, proper nutrition, and good training programming. That's it. Ignore what the athletes around you look like. Focus on one metric and one metric only: Performance.

3rd Place Elite Finish at the Mill Spring Spartan Ultra in 2019 while weighing 153lbs.

You may say, "I need to lose body fat to increase my performance at ultra-distance races". That's completely different than, "I need to lose weight so I look like the other athletes." You might think, "In order to perform better at heavy carries, I need to put on a few pounds of muscle." That's a completely different mentality than, "I need to get jacked so I look as ripped as the other athletes in my post-race photos."

I can't tell you the number of athletes I've beat at races who have looked physically more imposing than me. I also can't tell you how many people I've lost to who looked less physically imposing than me. Performance is the only metric that matters. Your capacity to perform will be what separates you in obstacle course racing. Can you maintain the pace? Can you climb? Can you descend? Can you efficiently navigate the obstacles? Do you hydrate properly? Do you fuel properly? Performance is what matters. Don't look in the mirror, and don't look at the scale. Find measures of performance with which to evaluate yourself.

2nd Place Elite Finish at the Fayetteville Spartan Ultra 2022 while weighting 160lbs.

Examples of some measures of performance could be your time on a 5K, or you VO2 Max, or the number of burpees you can complete in 5 minutes, or how long you can dead hang...use metrics applicable to your goals and work towards greater levels of performance.

Performance. Performance. Performance. Losing weight doesn't always make you a better runner, and gaining weight doesn't always make you a better hybrid athlete. Your training will dictate your weight, your capability, and overall, your performance.


About the Author: Joel Hayes

Joel has been competing at the Elite/Pro level in OCR since 2017. He has podiums at Spartan Race, Savage Race, Bone Frog Challenge, Terrain Race, and several local OCRs. He most recently competed in the 2022 GORUCK Games, won the Myrtle Beast Terrain Race, and qualified for the Deka Mile and Deka Strong World Championships for his age group. Joel's favorite races are the long ones where mental, emotional, and physical endurance all matter.

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