For years, we'd participated in obstacle course races nearly every weekend of the year.
It was a fabulous way to travel the Country, stay in fantastic shape, be constantly striving toward new goals, meet amazing people, and create incredible friendships.
Though we don't travel as often to participate in OCR, as it is known, we do still keep up-to-date on the latest rankings, trends, discussions, and more.
Here, we'll discuss some of our race memories, different organizations, training strategies, and recommended training gear.
You'll also be invited to share your own obstacle course race stories!
Our very first obstacle race was Spartan Race Fenway Park, Boston, MA.
A Personal Training client had extended a challenge to register for the race after she'd either heard or seen a commercial for it.
We went online, got registered, and started to form a small team.
The race, at that point, was about three months away, so we had plenty of time to train, all while not knowing exactly what we'd be getting into.
Thinking back (this had to have been 2012 or 2013, possibly), we were all far more focused on our total body strength training than we were on our running proficiency and energy system development for what we'd be encountering during the race.
It was great to feel strong as far as most of the non-technical obstacles were concerned, though there was definitely room for improvement in that department, as well.
Where we'd never seen, or played on, obstacles like these before, some of the more technical ones (technical for the time, as through the years, there have been many advancements in obstacle challenge and innovation) left us over in the burpee area, performing our 30 penalty burpees.
Having run so many stadium (now, Stadion) sprints (referring usually to the distance of the race, but in this case the speed, as well), it is difficult to place the exact, total distance of the race, and how many obstacles there were. In estimation, it was likely close to 3 miles, and with 15 - 20 obstacles, in total.
For those with better memories, please do write your own race reviews, and memories, in our running sports review section! Take us down memory lane!
What do we remember? It was fun, and we wanted to know when we could do it again!
Mostly, had we wanted to be much faster in that first race (and truly all races since), the biggest factor to improving finishing time lies in one's ability to run well and quickly between obstacles.
Efficient, obstacle completion shouldn't take very long. It is possible to make up a few seconds here and there when your obstacle proficiency is that much better than that of fellow racers. And, yes, burpee penalties and/or penalty laps can create gaps.
Still, the best way to put more distance between yourself and other racers is by improving your running speed and efficiency, over whatever distances are required, and on whatever terrains you might be racing.
Since that first race, we've participated in many different, obstacle races with several different organizations.
Among those organizations:
The different race types, distances, etc.:
The States in which we've raced (so far):
Through all the years of running multiple days and multiple laps of obstacle course races, my favorites have been the ones where time was our last concern.
More enjoyable was spending time with friends, encouraging and helping each other through, over, and under obstacles.
Whether with Team Ilene (pictured), Team Train With Boh, Team RWB, and others, there was joy in being with others during the experience.
When winning isn't the absolute main objective, it really is an incredible team sport and experience.
Even better, in our opinion, is when we've been able to pair our passion for racing with our passion for fundraising. In running for charity, we've been able to help make a difference in the lives of others, and to involve family and friends in that mission, as well.
Even after all of these years of the sport having existed, there still seems to be debate as to the best ways to train for obstacle racing.
From a fitness professional perspective, our answer is an, "it depends."
It depends on you, your goals, your training history, injury history, and more.
We mentioned the importance of running efficiency and speed, and how that may be more important than obstacle proficiency when it comes to improving your finishing times.
So, yes, strength training of some kind is going to be important. News flash, though, it doesn't have to be boring. Nor, should it be!
Harmony between your running workouts, a comprehensive strength training program, some obstacle-based practice, flexibility and mobility training, and especially rest and recovery are key elements in the puzzle.
It will also be about your ability to improve upon the areas, and in the environments, that will be challenged or challenging during a race, including but not limited to:
Some crosstraining with swimming, biking, bouldering, yoga, and snowshoeing can work wonders!
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In talking about rest and recovery, it is worth mentioning that we've seen lots of racers cast aside any legitimate concerns about their own health and safety when injured, just to maintain a training or running streak, or to be out on course on race day.
"No pain, no gain" is an outdated philosophy that endangers more athletes, recreational and competitive, than it helps.
No, but having more intelligent discussions about the appropriate times to rest and the appropriate times to adjust (training) are key to your being able to enjoy activities like obstacle course races, marathons, and other sports for the duration of your life.
We've been guiding the success of Personal Training clients for nearly 20 years.
And, we do it quite well, if we do say so ourselves.
Take a look at our Framingham Personal Trainer page for more info, membership options (we do offer both in-person and remote/online training), and to see if we might be a great fit for your training goals and needs!
Have you run in obstacle course races?
We'd love to hear all about it or them!
How did you train? Which obstacles were the toughest?
How do you plan on training differently for your next one? What do you recommend for gear?
We know some race reviews can get pretty lengthy. That's okay! There's lots to learn, and we're sure that your reviews will benefit our readers immensely!