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Ultimate Training Guide for Out-of-the-Gym OCR Prep



OCR Training Guide

Mankind has always tried to expand limits and set new goals. It’s like an instinct that has to do with the challenging nature of people. Sports are a fundamental field of such action. 

Maybe this is why sports are so popular and attract so much global attention. 

There are billions of viewers watching events like the Olympic Games or the World Cup. And still, new athletic activities are developing all the time, and new sports keep getting added to the Olympic Games calendar. 

OCR is not yet an Olympic sport but is increasingly expanding. And without a doubt, it is only a matter of time before it makes it’s appearance at the Olympics.  

What is OCR?

OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) is a sport that involves the overcoming of obstacles. OCR athletes participate by walking, jogging, and running over and through various obstacles, purposely added to create physical challenges that test one’s wits, endurance, and physical prowess. 

OCR training has deep historical roots. The 1900 summer Olympic Games in Paris included the 200m Obstacle Swim. Obstacles have been used for competitions since the 1800s. 

It is thus not a surprise that OCR is not only extremely popular but has also taken various forms. 

Before we speak about OCR training, it would be useful to mention just two of the OCR events to gain a better understanding of the unique nature of the sport. 

Here are two very popular races: 

  1. Tough Guy
  2. Spartan Race

1. Tough Guy 

Tough Guy first took place in England in 1987 and is considered the earliest contemporary OCR. It is claimed to be the most demanding competition in the world. 

Athletes participating need to cover a distance of 9 miles (that’s 15 km) that is full of tough obstacles to overcome. Such is the level of difficulty that up to one-third of the Tough Guy starters fail to finish. 

Not to mention the two fatalities that have occurred in the race. Or the many injuries of a significant number of participants. 

2. Spartan Race

Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races first held in the US in 2012 and then spread to many countries around the globe. There are various variations including: 

  • Spartan Super 
  • Spartan Sprint 
  • Spartan Ultra 
  • Spartan Beast 
  • Spartan Ultra
  • Spartan Trail
  • Spartan Kids Race

The distance needed to be covered varies from 3 miles (4.8 km) to marathon distances (that is more than 26 miles or 42 km). Spartan Race is becoming more and more popular and is now held over 30 countries in the world.

All of you must have now gained a clear picture of the OCR and its challenging nature. OCR training is particularly aimed at preparing for participating in such demanding conditions. 

How Do I Train for OCR Training?

Because of the diversity of OCR, the training involved is equally varied. If you want to be a serious participant, you need to concentrate on both the aerobics as well as the strength aspect. 

If you are a very strong athlete but with no such agility, you will have problems performing decently in an OCR game. 

Similarly, being in good shape and competent in running many kilometers would not be enough if you neglect to improve your muscular endurance. 

Balance is the magic word when you prepare for OCR games.

Although there is not a common training programme for all people, there are basic principles throughout the training process. 

First, you should know your strong and weak points and adjust your training schedule accordingly. For example, if you have a background on weightlifting and your muscles are well developed, you should focus on aerobic training. 

Remember, this is an endurance game, so you must master the skills and are mentally prepared. Preparation is key for success and even survival in this sport.

If you’re going to run, you must first be sure you can run the entire distance non-stop. It doesn’t matter how fast you can run if you can’t cover the distance involved. Prepare for different kinds of runs such as intervals, hills, long runs, and easy aerobics.

If you are a more experienced runner, your attention should focus on becoming physically stronger. 

Do not neglect training all parts of your body. After all, you want to keep your strong points and improve your weak areas. 

Essential Training

For beginners, OCR training shall take into consideration all the above factors. Age and experience are also very important factors when planning the best possible training. 

Younger athletes could follow a harder training schedule while older ones should always have on their minds that the possibility of injury is higher for them and not exaggerate during practice. 

This is very relevant to the experience factor, as experts can assess their limits and evaluate their condition comprehensively. Rookies, on the other hand, should not overestimate their potential and risk possible injuries. 

In all cases, you should keep in mind the following essential rules:

  • Get the right outfit
  • Start your training with dynamic warm-up stretches 
  • Always look to enhance stamina
  • Keep a balanced running and strength training
  • Focus on grip strength
  • Concentrate on your needs and analyse your body and health condition
  • Keep a healthy diet

Regarding the right outfit, make sure that you never use cotton. Cotton is a material that holds water when wet. You don’t want this to happen in an OCR event, where rain and mud are basic external factors.

Additionally, you should rotate your training methods to achieve the right balance of your body. This is crucial. OCR is not a usual sports activity as it involves all your physical and mental attributes. 

Spend at least ten minutes for warm-up stretching. Enhance your stamina and keep it strong. Spend much time for strengthening both your grips. Revitalise and strengthen your muscles. 

Your training programme should reflect your personal and unique body needs. This is why it’s so significant that you first perform a need analysis of your body and then adjust your training sessions accordingly. 

Any previous injuries can affect your performance and increase the chances of injuring again.

Is It Possible to Train Out-of-the-Gym for OCR Prep?

Preparing for OCR is an amazing process. The nature of the contest provides flexibility when choosing training places. You don’t need to spend all your training time in a gym. 

You can run outside, preferably in parks or accessible forests. You can spot parks with monkey bars and practice there, in race conditions. 

Another ideal training place is the hills, especially if you can find routes with small natural obstacles that will simulate the racing conditions. 

For the most advanced athletes, running on a mountain could be a perfect choice. OCR is an outdoor activity and you should practice in similar conditions as much as possible. 

How to Train Out-of-the-Gym for OCR Prep?

Practising different training programs in different locations will add variety in your preparation for the real racing. Avoiding monotonous repetitions will always keep your motivation high. 

After you have picked the right training places, you should try to develop explosive movements of your body gradually. Jumping and leaping are such movements and will help you a lot. 

Another basic goal is to improve core strength and mobility. Stretch up warming, running, and push-ups are all essential training methods for achieving that goal. 

And best of all: You can perform them everywhere!

Another option I strongly advise is to include swimming sessions during your preparation period. Swimming can be a great addition to your training outside the gym and will greatly benefit you. 

It works your whole body, tones your muscles, and builds endurance and strength. 

Not to mention that you could find a lake as an OCR obstacle in real race conditions and gain an advantage over athletes who are not familiar with the aquatic environment. 

Of course, the gym will always be the reference point providing all the “comfort” you need. 

Apart from the weightlifting session, it is important to frequently use the gym’s monkey bar for strengthening your wrists and treadmill for enhancing stamina. 

The Diet Factor

I mentioned it before but need to point out again: Keeping a healthy diet is essential. Take good care of your nutrition daily. 

Again, we can’t apply a general formula. Each one of us has different nutritional needs. 

You should be aware of the following aspects of your diet:

  1. The number of calories you need to consume each day
  2. The amounts of protein and carbohydrate you need
  3. The daily amount of fat you need

A nutritionist could help you find out what is best to eat. Like training, you can keep a variety in your nutrition. 

With discipline and knowledge, you can follow a suitable diet for you. This is more than the OCR. It’s about your health, and following the right rules would boost it!


Taking part in OCR can be a significant life experience. All athletes who have experienced OCR can verify that. For getting the most out of the experience, though, you need to be ready. 

Perfect planning prevents pathetic performance. The feeling of satisfaction when succeeding in unconventional circumstances is indeed marvellous.

I try not to forget, though, that the journey could be more important than the destination. All the preparation for an OCR, the will to expand your limits, and the ability to test yourself are basic prerequisites. 

The whole experience can make you a wiser and better person and teach valuable lessons for life, which one could argue, is the ultimate OCR. 

Till next time,


Nikos Vasilellis is the Founder of Nereids Aquatic Coaching and has a passion and love for aquatic activities which is combined with his care for helping others. Nereids Aquatic Coaching helps children and adults overcome their fear of water by focusing on their individual strengths and helping them enjoy the aquatic environment safely.