The purpose of any Christmas List whether you’re 4 or 44 is to ask for things you really want “from Santa” and might not necessarily buy for yourself. The older you get, the more expensive your tastes get and correspondingly your Christmas List is likely to be filled with splurge items that would be cool to have. Many of the items of my OCR Holiday Wish List for Men aren’t cheap, but then again neither is obstacle course racing. These items are functional and fun, which is what a wish list should be. Enjoy.
These are just plain cool. Kettlebells provide a great functional full body workout that will enhance any OCR athlete’s performance if used correctly and regularly. These are the coolest kettlebells I have ever seen. Kettlebell workouts are pretty primal in general, what better way to pump up your workout than to swing these bad boys around. They also come in zombie and legend versions. They’re pricier than regular kettlebells, but worth the holiday splurge. Prices can range from $42 – $169 depending on weight.
Sandbags are another versatile training tool for all around fitness. A fun total body workout is the pancake burpee. Hold the pancake sandbag in both hands in front of you and begin the burpee. As you finish coming down out of the explosive jump-up at the end of the burpee – release the sandbag by slamming it to the ground as hard as you can as you’re landing, really use your whole body in the slamming motion. As you go down to the ground for burpee number 2, place your hands on the sandbag as you go down and continue the burpee holding the sandbag as previously stated.
Spartan has their own branded pancake sandbags but you can get them from companies like Hyperwear and Onnit among others. I can’t speak for any other than the Spartan bag which has survived thousands of full power slams, but I’m sure they’re all similar. Shop around for best prices. Prices range from $30-$80 depending on weight and brand.
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a heavy vest to weigh you down. Rogue Fitness offers a nice variety on their website and you can certainly shop around online for one that meets your style and functional preferences. The one I’ve used is from HumanX. I like the Velcro strap which allows you to really cinch it down and restrict your breathing some for added fun running stadium stairs or doing pull ups. $77 for this model – will vary by brand.
Bouldering Gym or Rock Climbing Gym Pass
Most major cities and many smaller towns have rock climbing gyms or bouldering gyms. Bouldering gyms are my preference. There are no ropes or harnesses when you boulder; you simply climb up and down, left and right using your hands and feet on indoor rock walls. The workout is amazing and it helps with everything from the incline wall and traverse wall obstacles to anything that relies on grip strength. You can get day passes from a local bouldering gym for around $15 per day. The gyms will be glad to sell you a gift card.
They don’t call the spear throw the burpee maker for nothing. No matter how much you practice, you probably still suck at it. Practice more. Plus, it’ll keep the pesky neighbors away when they see you plunging a spear into a hay bale in your backyard.
Dirt in Your Skirt offers a nice premade spear kit that I’ve personally used. There are also dozens of YouTube tutorials on how to make your own. Go the YouTube route if your friends and family already think you’re nuts and you don’t want to add “he asked for a spear for Christmas” to their list of charges at your hearing. Otherwise, order the $35 kit from Dirt in Your Skirt.
Grip Strength Trainers
Almost every obstacle relies on grip strength in one way or another and it is an often overlooked aspect of OCR training. There are plenty of gadgets to help with grip strength out on the market. The donut-like rubber rings from GripProTrainer.com are a nice twist. Think of them like one of those indestructible Kong toys for dogs, except they work grip strength and are unstable enough to really work the range of gripping muscles.
Mud and Obstacle Magazine SubscriptionThis is a great magazine that offers tips, tricks, and news about the OCR scene and our athletes. Enough said. Get a subscription for the OCR enthusiast on your list. www.mudandobstacle.com. $24.99 for a 1 year subscription (6 issues)
Dedicated OCR Running Shoes
Notice I didn’t say OCR specific shoe. There are arguments to be made pro and con for every type of OCR specific shoe out there. Reebok, Inov-8, Icebug and others all make the “perfect” shoe made specifically for OCR that will improve your performance. Just ask them, they’ll tell you. But all brands fit differently and a “perfect” OCR specific shoe may not be for you. Trail shoes can be a viable option.
After a particularly treacherous Spartan Super in Wintergreen, Virginia this summer I was done with doing OCR’s in my regular running shoes. I slipped and fell more times than I could count on that mountain that was soaked with 24 hours of pouring rain prior to the race. After trying several makes and models, I opted for going with a trail shoe from my favorite running brand, Saucony.
For me the Saucony Peregrine 4 is the answer. It’s lightweight, drains quickly, has a great grippy tread pattern and fits my foot like a protective glove going over rocky terrain. I’ve run muddy mountains in these with no problems. $110
Racing Bib Protector Shirt
For those of us who aren’t 25 anymore and don’t relish the idea of running shirtless, or for those of you who have ruined a few compression tops when the safety pins holding your race bib on tear out going over a wall, there is Xracewear. These shirts and shorts have a built in mesh pocket for your race bib. It’s a good alternative to safety pins and having permanent marker all over your chest and back. Prices range from $15 – $30 depending on style
A Place to Display Your Medals
More and more races these days are giving medals to finishers and most of them are pretty cool. Guys like to display cool stuff. I have medals from OCR’s, trail runs, half marathons, etc. all over the place. Some are hanging over the corners of random picture frames in my house, some are in dresser drawers, and one is currently hanging on a lamp shade… I don’t even know why. Get organized with a wall hanging medal display. I found this one online at Medalhangers.com and it’s going on my own personal Christmas list. I love the mountains and I prefer to run them when I can. There are hundreds to choose from, Google it for options galore. Many companies will even customize them with whatever you want. This one is $50; prices vary by company and design.
Any article you read on obstacle course racing says NO COTTON anything. Keep your Fred Flintstone feet blister free and as dry as they can be with this made in the USA sock from Darn Tough. Oh, and did I mention they have a lifetime guarantee? No kidding. Wear them out and the company will replace them for free… for life. Who does that? Perfect stocking stuffer. ‘Nuff said. $14
Speaking of stocking stuffers, these last few items are just some goodies that every OCR athlete’s home gym or travel kit should have. If the guy on your list doesn’t have these items – he needs them. And they’re all essentially $20 or less and can be found anywhere.
- Ab Wheel – simple, effective core strengthener.
- Jump Rope – universally loved by children and hated by most adults, great for conditioning nonetheless.
- Travel first aid kit – sometimes I finish a race looking like someone threw me out of a moving vehicle. Walking around the festival area post-race with some fresh wounds is cool; going to the medic tent is not. Neither is driving home 4 hours with a bleeding leg. Throw a compact first aid kit in your glove box so you can slap a Band-Aid on and drive home.
- Gas Cards – for those OCR addicts willing to drive several hours to run a race, gas isn’t cheap. Fund their travel to glory.