Obstacle Course Racing events have been around for decades in one form or another, yet the number of first-timers jumping into the scene is now at an all-time high. Overcoming a course’s many challenges takes a well-rounded athlete that can endure both physical and mental demands, and has helped OCR become more than just an event, but a lifestyle for many of the competitors. Team RFT Coaching Pro OCR just came off one of their most successful events of the year at the Tough Mudder X in Sacramento and two of the team members, Brooke Bowen and Matt Judy, offered to share some details on the event and how they prepared for the day’s challenges.
The Tough Mudder X events have a signature tagline of the “Toughest Mile on the Planet”. What did Sacramento’s course consist of?
Matt: It’s a one-mile, off-road course meant to test your overall athletic ability. You can't just be strong, or a good runner, you have to be a great overall athlete. In that mile they scattered two sections of four workout zones, and five obstacles. The first section of workouts consisted of functional movements with odd shaped items like sandbag cleans, sled pulls, box jumps and pull ups. You then get into a longer stretch of running (roughly 1/2 mile) and into a series of obstacles that were mostly grip and shoulder intensive.
The second group of four workouts had a lot of movements that get the heart rate really high. Squats/sandbag thrusters, bear crawls, walking lunges with a slosh pipe that had to be locked out over head (slosh pipe is a big PVC pipe filled with a little bit of water so that it's uneven and the weight shifts constantly) and finally into burpees/sandbag over shoulder. Then it was a quick run to Everest (a quarter pipe you have to run up and get over the top) and a quick sprint to the finish.
How much prior knowledge do you have of the challenges you’ll face and how do you prepare for them?
Brooke: We had a good idea what the course would consist of from watching the event on television last year. There were obstacles I had never done which is nerve-racking but we tried our best to mimic them in training. We knew there would be heavy sets of 15 different functional fitness movements. Fifteen became the magical number and we'd try to do the heaviest weight we could for 15 reps and then go right into a skills type exercise like monkey bars.
If someone only had only a few hours a week available to train for OCR, what would you recommend in terms of workouts?
Matt: You should spend the majority of the time running. Running and grip strength are the two single most important tools you can have for an OCR event. In a very short event like this I would absolutely recommend focusing on your work capacity as well. Right from the get-go, your heart rate is through the roof and there's no time to rest to let it come down. You need to learn to be comfortable (or at least tolerate) your heart rate being that high and still keep moving hard.
What’s one of your favorite go-to workouts that provides the most benefit for your time?
Brooke: I really love sprint running workouts and do them every week. Warm up well then do 5 x 1 minute all out, with walking between each one until your heart rate is down. Then 10 x 30 second all out, with walking in between. In the gym, I love doing a similar structure with two sets of different 15 reps hard and fast and then rest for 1:30-2 minutes. (Example: sandbag cleans and pull-ups)
Matt: I've always been a fan of strength training. It's what I enjoy most. I really have to force myself to run and get my work capacity training in. But I get very happy every time strength day rolls around.