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The Quick & Dirty Way to Train For OCR

Deciding to run a race, or compete in an athletic competition, on a simple whim can be an extremely fun thing to do. After all, when inspiration hits, you might as well ride the lightning! For some, though, this may mean signing up for a race in the near future that you don't have time to fully train for. If ever there is time to prepare, you should always prepare, but sometimes you just don't have time to put in all the training before an event arrives. So what do you do?

In a situation like the one mentioned above, you have to prioritize "category training". So what do I mean by "category training"? Let's use a Spartan Sprint as our example. In order to prepare based on category, you would look at the challenges that the event will have, and "clump" them together by category. For the Sprint, you might look at the Monkey Bars, Rope Climb, Twister, Wall Climb, Olympus, and Multi-Rig and say, "Hey, these are all obstacles which require a lot of grip strength and upper body strength. What's an exercise or two that I can do to build grip and upper body strength?"

Since you don't have a lot of time to train, you may choose one or two exercises which fit this criteria that you'll perform regularly to prepare yourself for these obstacles. In my last full season of racing, before C19 stole our events, I only used weighted pull-ups and chin-ups for my grip and upper body "obstacle" work. I didn't fail any of those obstacles all year long. If you have a rope to climb, maybe you use that instead, or in conjunction with the pullups. But those are two awesome exercises that will absolutely prepare you for the above obstacles if you are proficient at them.

Next you look at all the obstacles that require some "raw strength"; things like the Bucket Carry, Sandbag Carry, Atlas Carry, and so on. What's an exercise that mimics the same movements and engages the same, or similar, muscle groups? If you don't have a bucket or sandbag to train with, I'd recommend KB Farmer's Carries for this one. Farmer's Carries train your body to move under additional weight. Farmer's Carries are also semi-awkward with the Kettlebells moving around. You need to control them and get used to that feeling because it'll be similar with a bucket or atlas stone. Bam! There's another several obstacles tackled.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can look at the event as a whole and realize that the majority of your time will be spent running. Since running is such a massive part of OCR, you would want to spend time running. Yes, Ellipticals and Stairmasters and Rowers are great ways to train cardio, but we have limited time, and so you need to run so that we can improve at your running. On top of just knowing you need to run, you may also want to work in shorter distance, higher effort runs since this race (the example is a Spartan Sprint) is shorter. Using interval runs or sprint work can increase your overall running abilities rather quickly.

Is it all this simple? Well, kind of. The title of the article is "The Quick & Dirty Way..." after all. Will this work? It absolutely can. Is it the ideal way? Not even close. Do I recommend it? Only if there is no other way. But sometimes quick and dirty is all we have to work with, and doing what we can is always better than nothing! Best case scenario, give yourself plenty of time before a competition so that you can follow proper training program and put your best effort out on the course.


Check out our OCR Training Programs! Our programs are customized to fit your specific race goals, current fitness level, and equipment/time availability!

Featured Program: Stadium/Urban OCR

10 Workouts + 5 Race Simulations

The Stadium Training Program was built for the Urban Athlete. Stadium/Urban Obstacle Course Races are extremely fast pace and high intensity with a much shorter duration. We built this program to fully equip you to blaze through the bleachers, tunnels, and stairs while smashing the obstacles!

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