With the 2016 OCR World Championships (OCRWC) complete athletes are already reflecting on their performances and planning on how to improve for 2017. Several comments have appeared on Facebook reflecting on which races to do to prepare for OCRWC next year. This raises the question, which race series should you fill your calendar with for 2017? That depends on your performance and areas of weakness in 2016.
As I state in my book “Strength & Speed's Guide to Elite OCR” you need to focus on your weaknesses (feel free to pick up a copy, it also has interviews with 2016 Spartan World Champion Hobie Call, Ultra-Beast Champion Marco Bedard, Short/Standard OCRWC Champion Lindsay Webster, plus a ton of great inf0). To help you out, here is a quick guide for planning as you develop your 2017 race calendar:
If You Had Trouble on Obstacles:
If you are in the group of athletes that lost their band or had to redo obstacles several times, I recommend packing your scheduled with a mix of Savage Races and Conquer the Gauntlet events. Both series have mandatory completion and are known for some challenging and unique obstacles. Both offering a “must complete” format for competitive racers simulating the condition of OCR World Championship races.
Savage Race has several obstacles that gave many athletes trouble including a Platinum Rig and Platinum Rig Samurai (or Tree Hugger). Specific technique developed at Savage Race will directly transfer over plus their format prepares athletes with the no fail mentality. Their race distance also helps simulate some of the pacing associated with doing well at OCRWC and therefore tests many of the same biological systems.
Conquer The Gauntlet is home to the toughest obstacles in North America. If you can finish a CTG with a belt (they use belts instead of bands), you will be able to complete anything OCRWC can throw at you. With the addition of Stairway to Heaven at OCRWC 2016, CTG is the only place to practice this obstacle in a race setting. Add in some other very challenging obstacles, like Walls of Fury (five 8 foot walls in a row, which make a single 8 ft. wall seem easy), Pegatron (a pegboard obstacle that will test grip and back strength) and Tarzan Swing (CTG’s version of the rig), and it provides the optimal training/racing practice. If you failed the tiny Platinum Rig you may have trouble figuring out where to practice this awkward movement. The only obstacle I have seen that helped me complete it is CTG’s Belly of the Beast, which requires horizontal movement across the bottom of a net. Not the perfect example of practice, but I have not seen anything better.
If The Mountain Left You Struggling:
If you had trouble with the climbs then you need to add some Spartan Race Supers or Beasts to your schedule. They often choose mountain courses for their venues and nothing will prepare your legs like climbing other mountains. Add in Spartan Race’s penchant for including heavy carries like sandbags, double sandbags, logs and buckets, and it will test your climbing ability to the max. This is great training for that brutal sandbag carry that made an appearance on all three days. The Super also simulates race pace for OCRWC due to its’ similarity in length and the Beast/Ultra-Beast provide great over-distance training. If you can handle 13-30 miles of mountain, surely you can handle 9 miles at Blue Mountain.
You may also want to add in some Tough Mudders like the one in New England that takes place on a ski mountain. The option to do a single lap or multi-lap of those events can provide some great aerobic training without worrying about placing. Plus, they have different obstacles, another positive for improving your overall proficiency.
Looking to Add Speed into a Short Couse Run or Relay:
For those looking to improve on the sprint course or relay, you need to include top end speed. This means getting close to your short course/relay race pace. To do this sign up for a couple of Warrior Dashes, which are basically pure speed competitions. This will stress your top end speed and get you used to chasing down our sport’s strongest runners. If you were on the technique leg of the relay, refer back to the paragraph on completing obstacles and if you were on the strength leg of the relay, refer back to the paragraph on running mountains.
So what is the best race series to prepare you for OCRWC? The answer is a combination of variety and focusing on your personal weaknesses. Doing only one specific race series will not prepare you for OCRWC. That is what makes OCRWC great and truly the pinnacle of OCR. Their variety of obstacles, variation in terrain and multiple distances make it truly the most prestigious honor in our sport. If you are only doing Spartan Races, Tough Mudder or Savage Races, it will not adequately prepare you for the variety and the difficulty of the obstacles. OCRWC is about being well rounded and the only way to be well rounded is to get outside your comfort zone and try some race series that offer different obstacles, different terrain and require different speeds to truly test your proficiency.
Besides the race series mentioned above you should also mix in some non-series races like those held at Shale Hill (known for their hard obstacles), Dirt Runner, Viking at Sunny Hill, Newbsanity or local events like Indian Mud Run (which had their floating walls at OCRWC). As always, check Mud Run Guide for the latest and best coupon codes for these races. Enjoy the off-season, start building your base for 2017 and put some thought into your plans for next year if your goal is OCRWC.
Honey Badger picture provided by Christina Armstrong
Evan Perperis picture provided by Amy Perperis of Strength & Speed
Sam Oleskey picture provided by Sam Oleskey
Sty picture provided by Demetrios Karellas
Nathan Palmer picture provided by Nathan Palmer
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