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8 May 2020
Obstacle Course Race Training For Beginners
Turn ‘daunting’ to ‘done it’
Fitness Training Manager, True Group
Head Coach, TerraX Obstacle Race Training
Obstacle course races (OCR) look like loads of fun – and they are! An obstacle course race may look daunting for beginners as the obstacles often look intimidating and first attempts at some obstacles may often fail. However, with the right training leading up to the race, you can improve your performance and enjoy the OCR experience. This will mean understanding the basic race overview, setting realistic goals and covering the relevant aspects of training. With the right training and with enough confidence and belief, you can take on nearly any Obstacle Course that is set out in front of you.
Here is an overview of what you need to do to get started on an OCR training programme:
- Set Goals
Start by setting your expectations in terms of the training and race. Both training and race goals need to be realistic. If you are completely new to OCR, the goal for the first race will be to complete the race efficiently and injury-free. The first race will not be appropriate to be aiming for a fast timing. Having a training goal will determine the training volume and intensity. Other factors to consider include time availability, accessibility to training facilities and the number of weeks before race day.
- Get an overview of the Obstacle Race
A common obstacle course race for beginners will cover a 5km running route with about 20 obstacles. The movements required to navigate the course include running, climbing, jumping, carrying, lifting, crawling, balancing, throwing and pulling. In addition, you will also need explosive power, stability and stamina. A point to note is that despite this multitude of movements and skills required in the race, running still forms a major part of the race.
- Design a Training programme: Training Components
The OCR training programme for a beginner should be one that is structured but also includes workouts that are constantly varied to keep you motivated while introducing you to important components that will help you to clear the obstacles. Training elements should include cardio, strength and mobility components. The proportion of each training component depends on your current fitness level and training background.
A good OCR training plan should focus on these elements:
- Increasing cardiovascular endurance (running 5km continuously).
- Building strength in gripping, pulling, lifting.
- Developing explosive movements, such as jumping, leaping, pulling and lifting.
- Improving core strength and mobility.
- Improving efficiency obstacles.
To have an effective OCR training programme, you will need to commit to training at least 3 to 5 times a week. Training frequency of 3 times a week is the bare minimum as there are many training components to cover in the lead up to the race. For OCR beginners, it is recommended to have at least 4-6 weeks of training prior to a race. We should also factor in the final week before the race as a taper week.
Based on a 3-times a week training frequency, one session should be cardio based (5km run), one should focus on strength training and the third one an interval of cardio and strength training. Core and mobility exercises can be supplemented into any of the 3 sessions should you have more time for the day.
To have your OCR training programme planned out with this overview gives you a good understanding on what you need to incorporate before the race. Many fall into the trap of focusing on specific exercises for obstacles without understanding the overall race requirements. With this OCR training plan, all the major components of an OCR race are covered.
To start training, join one of our TerraX OCR Introductory training classes led by our specialist OCR coaches. Classes for various experience/fitness levels can be found on our class timetable.
[Updated: 12 May 2020]