In a world where information is “literally” (with a British accent) at our fingertips through the infinite knowledge that is the internet one can find almost anything he/she chooses. Heck, I can simply speak the words “Ok Google” into my phone and my Google Assistant is at my beckon call. However, this plethora of information can make it difficult to gather concise and accurate material because you don’t know what to believe or follow (#fakenews). Researching programming for training for the sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is no different. Alas, there is an easy solution to your needs in this area young lads and lasses and that is the comprehensive text by US Army veteran and OCR expert, Evan Perperis.
In his book, Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite Obstacle Course Racing, Evan covers all the bases to ensure that you are able to properly prepare yourself for the sport of OCR and perform at your optimal level. This isn’t to say that this book makes it “easy” because actually it’s quite the opposite but as with anything you get out what you put in. Don’t misunderstand me this book is clear and concise; however, training for OCR is both varied and grueling and there is no getting around that. I just love having everything I need in one spot so I can maximize my efficiency and this book allows you to do that for OCR preparation. Without further ado here is my synopsis of this must have manual.
Evan Perperis has a competitive resume in the sport of OCR that few can match. He finished 7th on the 2015 OCRWC rankings leaderboard, was 8th overall at the 2016 World’s Toughest Mudder with 90 miles completed, and also completed the 7 day, 161 mile OCR America event in 2016 as well. He is also a regular contributor to this website with many of MRG’s awesome articles! I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Evan is a trusted source for information in this sport so it only make sense that you read a book from such an accomplished athlete in our sport. However, that doesn’t mean everything he says is golden because let’s face it, you give me 50 top level athletes and you’ll get probably at least 40 vastly different training programs that helped get them there.
This book begins with review of the basics of exercise which can get a little sciency for a lot of people but I’m a nerd for that stuff so I loved it. He then moves into a review of what a proper diet needs to be if you are eating for optimum performance. He pretty much gives you the meat and potatoes of it all along with examples of meal options, etc. The book then provides a complete breakdown of supplements including rating their purpose, effectiveness and even any concern that you may have regarding the use of many of the categories of products you see in the nutrition store.
Chapter 5 provides a thorough breakdown of how to complete obstacles including Monkey Bars, rings, cargo nets, etc. He even reviews how to properly tie off your feet on a rope. This is a skill every obstacle racer must know whether you are a brute strength beefcake or a smaller female. If you ever have to face a long Platinum Rig during a race you will wish you had developed the rope foot wrap. He then moves on to the run training section of the book in Chapter 6. This is a fairly extensive chapter where he covers programming, progressions, pacing and pretty much everything else you would need to know. He actually recommends utilizing the McMillian Running Calculator to gauge pacing. I feel this is an “old school” approach to pacing but it has worked for a long time. I prefer using a heart rate monitor for both myself and for my performance training clients because it is a lot easier to program runs on pretty much and type of terrain but for the purposes of this book this system will be fine. In Chapter 8, Mr. Perperis shows his roots as a competitive bodybuilder and review hitting the weight room and how to maximize your strength training for OCR. “Do you even lift bro?” He spends about 30 pages making sure you are covered in this area as well.
One of the coolest parts of this book is the interviews that are included over the last 50 or so pages of the text. Evan interviews athletes such as 2016 Spartan World Champ and Spartan legend Hobie Call, 2015 and 2016 OCR World Champion Lindsay Webster, and even 2017 Tough Mudder X Champion Corinna Coffin. There is nothing quite like reading about how these awesome athletes prepare in order to compete at the level that they do. You never know what little tidbit that they can provide that might make the difference in your preparation.
All in all I see this book as a 300 page piece of reference material that you keep on the shelf if you are an obstacle racer. You don’t simply read through it to feel all warm and fuzzy. If you want that then read Nicolas Sparks or take some Beta Alanine or something. However, if you are looking to put yourself on the podium next to the likes of Ryan Atkins or Amelia Boone then you need to have this book in your library.
You can pick up a copy on the Team Strength and Speed website at http://www.teamstrengthspeed.com/the-book. If you’re lucky, maybe Evan will even autograph it for you!!
If you’re lucky, maybe Evan will even autograph it for you!!