Taking on the challenge of an OCR can be a daunting one and as I will go though over the next 3 part blog there is a lot to consider and creating a program of training can be overwhelming. As a qualified L3 Personal Trainer and nutritionist I can offer a number of different services to help you on you way. Hit the button below to book a free consultation and find out how I can help you on your journey to fitness.
Not to give away any spoilers but to have the will power to overcome fear and your minds basic system of self preservation and throw yourself blindly, feet first, into a shipping container of stinking, muddy, iced water takes a certain, Je ne sai quois . However, for the people out there who don't have the energy of the Energizer Bunny, the thought of the iced water is probably preferable to the prospect of pulling on your trainers and getting out for that first run.
Let's break this down into its different components and facts you will have to face:
So, how in the heckins do I get ready for such an epic challenge?
As with all of lifes challenges breaking the training down into its individual components is the best place to start. From the things I've already described we can place training in three distinct categories; Strength training, Cardio training (mainly running) and Mental preparation. If you are starting from a 'couch' level fitness I would suggest around 4 months worth of training to get the most out of an OCR. It's currently November, which gives you plenty of time to prepare your 4 month training plan in preparation for the first Tough Mudder at the start of May 2020. Time is precious and it's much more beneficial to start early and take your time than start late and not be ready. And who knows, you might even enjoy it!
Cardio - Goal 10 mile continuous run, three runs a week.
I'm afraid there is no way of sugar coating this for you, so I will pull off the plaster fast... you are going to have to run!
My advice with running is to take your time at the beginning because the more you do, the easier it gets. Oh, and it is worth investing in some good running shoes, good quality shoes can be the difference between success and misery. Bad shoes can cause knee issues, bad form and really hinder progression. It's not about the price tag it's about being fit for purpose. If in doubt go and ask a professional triathlon shop for a fitting or do some research into what shoe type is best for you.
There are endless 'Couch to 5k' apps available which will assist and support you through the beginnings of your running. If apps aren't your thing, the goal of a 'couch to 5k' is to get you 'continuously' running for 5k (3.1miles). The best way to get you running that distance is a mixture of running for time and distance. Begin with time; running is hard and will take time to get used to so patience is your best friend here. Your starting level will depend completely on your current ability. For complete beginners, start with 10 mins, 3 times a week. Pop your trainers on, and get out there for a brisk walk. I'm not talking about a leisurely stroll, get out there and walk to get your heart rate up, 10 minutes is nothing in the grand scheme of your day. Once you are comfortable with the walk, we begin to get a bit more technique focused, and add intervals:
Running for 30 minutes 3 x a week can be not only exhausting, but time consuming too, so once you have reached the 20 minutes continuous running we can adopt different rationales for each of your 3 runs in the week. Your week could look like this:
Speed is a great way to improve your VO2max (how much oxygen you get in each breath) which in turn will make running longer distances easier. Focusing on speed for your run can be done in a few different ways, the one I'm going to suggest is, in my opinion, the easiest. Set up your GPS tracking system (more about this in the distance chapter) to measure your distance completed on your 20 minute continuous run. Then simply run further each time within a 20 minute time frame. It's impossible for me to suggest an increase of speed per time as each runner is individual but the way I see it is if you manage 1 second faster than your personal best that's progress.
Power is also monitored by distance, however, it is much more route dependent. Increasing your power output is vital for building strength and resilience within your running. As with speed your run should last for 20 minutes and is based on distance. This time when you are planning your route add as many hills as you can stomach and achieve in a 20 minute run. Progress your power runs by increasing your distance and hills. If you are anything like me you will try and find the steepest or longest hills within your area and throw yourself at them with no regard for your own sanity only regretting your decision 2.5K up a 1:10 hill only ever completed by the elite.
Distance is your main focus but it is by no means the most important, the others may be shorter but they all play a vital role in you achieving your goal. Once you have reached the 30 minutes continuous jogging point, you are well on your way and you should be feeling pretty chuffed with yourself. From this point, the progression method uses distance and you begin to hunt down that illusive 5K. This can be tricky. The easiest way to monitor your distance is with a wearable GPS device, this could be a watch or simply taking your phone with you. I find the 'Strava' app exceptional for planning and monitoring routes.
Using a GPS tracker of your choice to record the distance you complete whilst running your 30 minute continuous jog. You might be surprised at how close you are to that 5K already. The system of progression from here all the way up to your desired distance is now consistent and very similar to the way you managed to achieve your 5K with the only difference being the addition of distance. Prepare to go out by creating a route which is 0.5K further than you ran previously then use the distance instead of overall time. When you have reached your limit go back to the run walk system, for example: I have completed a 30 minutes continuous run and monitored it on my GPS app and I managed 3.8K. I'm feeling pretty happy with that and feel confident to go for a 4.5K route. I'll plan it on my phone before I go out so I know where I am going and set off. I get to around 4K and I'm exhausted so I will walk for 30 secs and jog for 60 secs. The next time I go out I do it again but get to 4.2K continuous this time, so I move back to the 30/60 or 30/120 system again. Once I have reached the 4.5K mark, I will increase the distance and start again. With hard work and determination that 5K will be yours.
At the 5K continuous running point consider adding time to your shorter runs, just 5 minutes or so, a little goes a long way. Continue using these systems all the way to the dizzying heights of a half marathon and beyond.
For me improving your running for an OCR is the most important training goal. All other parts of the course you have a team behind you supporting and assisting you. But when it comes to completing the distance, that's down to you. The more training you put in before the day the more fun you will have.
Look out for Part 2 of So you've agreed to take part in an Obstacle Course Race - OCR where I discuss strength and conditioning training. If you have any questions or want to know more about the services I offer hit the button below.
Until next time happy planning, good luck and enjoy the ride.