The Great Benefits of OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) Training

We all know that an active lifestyle is great for our mental and physical health. For those that take part in obstacle course racing, it’s become a way of life. As I was training earlier today, I was thinking, what brought me into OCR and how this sport has benefited my overall health over the past few years.

The benefits of OCR training are many; from a having a well-rounded level of fitness including cardiovascular conditioning and strength training, to team building and developing mental toughness. Not only do these attributes prepare you for your next race, but it also can help you in other aspects of everyday life. 

OCR training is an excellent example of character building There’s always going to be a challenge that forces you to get out of your comfort zone. For some, it could be the fear of jumping through an ice bath or climbing a 25m higher A-frame cargo net or charging through a field facing 10,000 volts of electrical current. Whatever the challenge is, and once you’ve confronted it, you can rest assured you’ll have a newfound strength to deal with whatever obstacle comes your way! 

Builds mental toughness and grit When it comes to OCR, you’ll face tough challenges both mentally and physically. When you’re physically exhausted and feel that you can’t go on, your mental grit is going to be challenged. By completing an OCR race, mental fortitude can benefit other areas of your life. Again, mental grit builds character. If you listen to the stories of people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Thomas Edison, they all have bags of courage and the tenacity to get where they wanted to be. Successful people have a vision or a goal that pulls them through the tough times. 

 With an OCR race, you may experience times of self-doubt. When you’re on the course, there are lots of people out there, cheering for you and willing to help. I can guarantee that if you overcome a tough obstacle or situation, think about what you can achieve in other areas of life.

Every year, I challenge myself at Europe’s Toughest Mudder, an extreme 12-hours through the night race. The slogan for this event is “Step The F*ck Up!” Running in the deepest and darkest hours of the night is an extremely tough challenge. It was easy just to call it a day. That wasn’t going to happen! As emotionally challenging that race was, it goes to prove if you’re determined to continue and press on, you will! It’s all about controlling the negative self-talk and pushing on!

Greater self-confidence No doubt, stepping out of your comfort zone and overcoming adversity will build confidence. It’s fair to say that currently, we’ve got things easier than our ancestors. Adversity and overcoming setbacks are a great lesson; this helps us to grow and develops self-confidence.   

You’ll meet new people I’m a bit of a lone wolf, and as I live on my own, I’m used to my personal space. Several years ago, I moved to a new town, mainly out of convenience for employment. It can be hard to fit into a new community. I’m not a drinker, so this made things more difficult. So, I changed my approach and discovered that meeting people in the OCR community was a million times better! As we’ve all got a common interest and will help each other through challenging times. You better believe it that you’ll make some great friends!

You’ll get stronger When you’re interested in the world of OCR events, you’ll find different exercises to train for various obstacles. In my opinion, OCR is one of the greatest sports for overall conditioning. To be a great OCR athlete, you need strength, speed, adaptability, and the agility of a cat. When you’re preparing for an OCR event, you need to train for everything. You’ll be using every single muscle in your body. 

Some of the most popular exercises for OCR training include: 

  • Running, jogging and trail running
  • Pull-ups, push-ups, burpees, mountain climbers, squats, and planks
  • Deadlifts and Romanian dead-lifts
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Box jumps
  • Core exercises
  • HIIT training
  • Battle ropes

What’s great about OCR training is there’s so much versatility, and it’s hard not to get bored when you have a broad range of exercises to choose. More and more gyms are starting to include ropes, jump boxes and monkey bars, there’s so much more opportunity to diversify your training routine.

Training for an OCR race can improve your mental health I love training for an OCR event as it’s a great way to forget about the stresses and strains of the day. After a busy day at work, there’s nothing more than I love than to hit the gym, start with some stretching exercises, move on to some pull-ups, work on some Romanian Deadlifts, then into the 20kg Kettlebell Swings, and followed by Kettlebell snatches. When it comes to training, I must have my music; otherwise, I’m going to struggle.

Training is a great way to destress. Exercise is my therapy. It’s a great way to let off steam and focus on making the body stronger and more resilient.  

You can train outside in the elements If you live in the countryside or close to nature, this is a great way to train. You’ll love being in nature. Jogging on muddy tracks and grass is not only great for the knees and joints – provides a more natural approach to training. Another benefit is you’ll get a free dose of vitamin D through sunlight.

It makes sense to train outside where possible. In the world of OCR, you’ll experience plenty of uneven terrain; you’ll likely to see wildlife and maybe explore different trails too!

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