The Benefits Of Training Outside For Your Next Obstacle Course Race (OCR)

On my daily walk whilst being absorbed in nature and the rural landscape, I was thinking “what are the benefits of training and exercising outdoors?” As an 80’s child, we were not exposed to mobile technology and TV streaming services. In today’s modern era, it seems that we use the “Great Outdoors” to escape from technology.

There are many benefits for exercising and training outdoors; it’s inexpensive, you can run and jog from the moment you leave your house, and you can do press-ups, burpees, high knees, jumping jumps, star jumps, lunges and squats. Training can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it.  It’s up to you have creative you want to be with your workouts.

It’s More Fun!

As a kid, I’m sure you enjoyed jumping in puddles wearing wellies and getting covered in mud. Your parents might not have enjoyed cleaning your clothes but so what! Making a mess is part of the fun of being a kid! Even as an adult, it’s good fun to jog and play in the mud. Making footprints in a mud field or getting your trousers covered with splashes of dirt is always a sign of a good time.

Natural Light

We all know how important it is to get exposure to natural light and especially through the winter months.  Vitamin D is something that our bodies need and having reasonable amounts of exposure can boost our mood and keep us healthy.

Beautiful Scenery

If you live in the countryside, you’ll benefit from lots of beautiful scenery. This can be anything from jogging through woodland areas, near rivers, streams, over woodland bridges and even near the sea. There are treadmills available that have TV screens, which make you feel like you’re running through nature. Although the concept of artificial realism seems nice; training outdoors is miles better.

Use What’s Available Outdoors

You can be very creative when your training outdoors. If you’re in a park, there may be places where you can jog that have steps for you to climb. You can practice running up and hills, press-ups, star jumps, mountain climbers, planks, squats, lunges, and any form of HIIT training without needing to use weights.

Running up and down rugged terrain is a great way to train for an OCR event. Every obstacle course race that I’ve ever attended there has always been an element of hill running. Incorporating some part of hill running into your training will help to strengthen up your quads, calves, and lower body. Ultimately, when it comes to your next event, these big hills will look less intimidating.

A Cheap Form Of Exercise

We all know that gym memberships can be expensive. They all have their pros and cons. Gyms can keep you motivated as there are other like-minded people there. Gym classes can be great for social purposes. Due to the global circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people must train alone and going outdoors is a good option.

If you’ve got access to monkey bars in your local park; this is a great way to develop upper body strength and help you prepare for your next Tough Mudder.

Fresh Real Air

You can’t beat fresh air. By getting in the countryside is a great way to stay fit and healthy. If you live in an industrial town or city, it can be tougher breath in cleaner air. You live in a city it pays to head outside and find a rural area to enjoy.

Trail Running

Every OCR event consists of trail running. It’s essential to get a decent pair of trail shoes and get out on course. Whether you’re on a bridleway, public footpath, running through a field or a mud track, this will prepare you for your next race and have less impact on the joints compared to road running.

Being Outside & Can Explore New Places Closer To Home

It’s interesting that many people, including myself, are willing to explore further afield before exploring what’s on their doorstep. If you live in the countryside, I challenge you to explore all the country lanes, bridleways, footpaths, and outside walking areas from a 5-mile radius of your house. I can guarantee you’ll be surprised what’s out there! You’ll have more opportunities to explore what’s around you and have more places to go to. The great thing is that not many people will know these places exist. As most people think alike, for instance, on a beautiful sunny day, everyone else will be heading to the beach. Sometimes, it pays to be different and go where it’s quieter. By exploring the great outdoors, you’ll have more adventures and make a lot more memories.

Appreciate Wildlife

As a child, I’ve grown up around wildlife. My dad kept rare breed poultry, ducks, geese, chickens, parrots, budgies, and quails. So being out in the countryside, you’ll see and hear a lot more.  When you’re on your OCR race, you may see some wildlife. During the first lap of Europe’s Toughest Mudder, we were jogging up, and down the hills and between the obstacles there were some sheep on course. It was highly amusing to watch and be part of it. When you’re training outside and especially during the Spring, you’ll see lots of wildlife.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen a heard of deer racing through the fields, to squirrels jumping from tree to tree, from swans and geese flying.

Relive Our Childhood

If you grew up in the countryside, you’ll appreciate how much fun you could have just by being outdoors. If you’re going outdoors, take a backpack with plenty of food and water, if it’s a sunny day have something to protect your skin, such as a neck tube, suntan lotion and head out for a fun-filled adventure.

Training outdoors and hiking can be unpredictable. You never know what you’re going to see when you’re outside.  So, take pictures, get your shoes muddy and have fun!

James King has competed in multiple OCR events including Europe's Toughest Mudder from 2019 to 2022, multiple mud events, 10k runs and currently for his first marathon. James includes useful tips and experiences about OCR on his blog

James King has competed in multiple OCR events including Europe's Toughest Mudder from 2019 to 2022, multiple mud events, 10k runs and currently for his first marathon. James includes useful tips and experiences about OCR on his blog