September 2016

What To Expect During An OCR

Obstacle course runs have been long on my fitness bucket list. After Hamburg Marathon in April, I realised there’s so much more out there for me to achieve. Conquer a marathon and you can achieve whatever you set your eyes on. It’s what is motivating me during my current workout program and new round of marathon training.   

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A few weekends ago, I took part in my first obstacle course race: Dirty Dozen. The atmosphere was like no other running event I’ve taken part in. Think of obstacle course races and it conjures up images of  women with bodies that scream muscle envy and ripped, topless, bearded men. Yes. There were plenty of them. But it was also full of everyday people, everyday athletes. 

Here are a few things I learnt about obstacle course racing and what you should expect when taking part in your first OCR.

It takes longer than a normal race

OCRs come in varying distances, just like normal races. But, the added layer of obstacles does mean they take longer to complete. By way of example, I ran the 12km Dirty Dozen race; 12km as a normal distance takes me over 1 hour to run. The Dirty Dozen 12km took me just over 1 hour 50 minutes to complete.

OCRs are challenging. Not just because of the layer of obstacles, but also because of the type of the obstacles placed on the course. I have one heck of a fear of heights and a fear of deep water where I can’t see and feel the water bed. Guess what? Dirty Dozen’s obstacles contained ones that involved deep water and heights.

Conquer your fears

A surge of adrenaline hit me when I ran-walked towards the wall obstacles. Part of me was scared, but part of me wanted to complete the course and all its obstacles. I was absolutely terrified when I swam in the lake, but what got me going was thinking about achieving this. You aren’t forced to complete all the obstacles, so if you don’t want complete an obstacle, you can skip them. Some OCRs will give you a forfeit, like burpees.

Wear the right clothing

Don’t wear cotton during an OCR because the mud and water will soak it up and add extra weight. You’ll probably feel like you’re dragging extra weight around with you. Loose clothing might get caught in barbed wiring.   Trainers are equally important. Trail trainers are good to wear and ones with support.

The Dirty Dozen course was on farmland: the mixed terrain did feel uncomfortable and strange at first, but you get used to it throughout the run. I wore my Asics Gel Fuji-Attack 4 trainers, which generally did provide sturdy support.   

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Elbow and knee padding are very useful

OCRs involve a lot of crawling and climbing. After completing Dirty Dozen, I realised that wearing knee and elbow padding is probably a good idea, especially if you’re wearing shorts.

You may come out with lots of bruising, but at the end of the day it’s all worth it.

Have you taken  part in an OCR before? What tips would you give to people? Put your tips in the comments below.