Obstacle Course Training | How to Prepare and Train for the OCR World Championships
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How to Prepare and Train for the OCR World Championships

Tips and tricks from the OCR World Champ Jon Albon

Before the 2015 OCR World Champs, Jon sat down and laid out his approach to training, preparation, and the race itself.


Race Overview

There’s two main things to keep in mind:

  • The course is very steep
  • There’s mandatory obstacle completion

The steep course
The course at Ohio is really up-and-down with a lot of short but sharp gradients going up that will get your heart rate up. They key will be to then work on your recovery as you’re coming down.

Now, the trick is on the way down it’s not flat running: it’s all technical so you MUST be good at running technical downhills.

Mandatory Obstacle Completion
If you want to keep your wristband and say you’ve completed the race you MUST complete all obstacles.

The key to getting through is grip strength. Make sure you’re training your grip strength in preparation for this race, as the last thing you want is to fail on an obstacle because you couldn’t hold on.

Another important part in Jon’s preparation is research. Learn what obstacles are in the race and train specifically for them.

Essential Training:
Some key training sessions in preparation for OCRWC are:

  • Hill repeats –
    • Get’s you used to up and down
    • Don’t just recover on the down – push on the down so you get used to technical downhill while running fast
  • Grip strength
    • Bouldering,
    • At home circuits – hanging in joists in your garage
    • Do it every other day or every 3 days to build up to get stronger and stronger

The key here is to remember that it will be really cold in the morning then warm up throughout the day and once you get working and moving you’ll also warm up.

Jon’s approach:

  • Have a lot of layers on before the race
    • keep them on until just before the start so you remain warm and flexible right up to the start of the race
    • Make sure you strip them off so you don’t overheat during the race – you don’t want layers and layers on while you’re actually racing

Jon’s Choice:

  • Trail shoes – steep and slippery terrain
  • Shorts – tights soak up water and weigh you down a little
  • Singlet/vest – to protect his chest against ropes and other obstacles
  • No gloves or hat

Because the race is very intense it’s important to consider what you take on nutrition wise to keep you going. It tends to be difficult to consume solid food when racing at the level the OCRWC demands so Jon tends to stick to liquid energy gels and washes them down at the water stations.

During the race:

  • One gel every 20 – 30 minutes
  • Make sure to stick to a strict schedule to allow the energy to trickle in gradually instead of waiting to feel your energy levels diminishing where it can be much harder to pump them back up again

Mental game – Dealing with exhaustion:
When you near the point of complete exhaustion during a race it’s important to remind yourself that no pain lasts forever and you’ll be at the finish line soon if you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Just keep plodding along and you will make it soon enough.

“No pain lasts forever… Just keep putting one foot in-front of the other and you will get there”


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Peter Dobos

Peter is the Community Manager at ObstacleCourse.Training and brings a unique blend of writing, sport science, and 16 years of "extreme" racing to the table.

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