I love organized running events of all kinds. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fun run, charity run or marathon, or whether the route leads cross-country as a cross or trail run. The community with like-minded people, the atmosphere, the orderly process, the refreshment stations, the gentle competition and the great medals motivate me to train and to register for new events again and again.
But today something is very different from usual, because today I’m trying something new. I’m standing between about two hundred athletes in the starting area of an OCR race in bright sunshine, and I’m really excited for the first time. I’ve never done anything like this before, but curiosity won out again. I thought about it for a long time, but now I’m standing right in front of the venerable Olympic Stadium in Munich and I don’t know what to expect.
The athletes next to me look somehow different from what I’m used to. The runner in front of me is only wearing shoes and shorts. His upper body is free and I have to admit he can afford it. Behind me there is a good-humored group of women disguised as sailors waiting for the start. I see well trained athletes, less well trained people and also a couple with silver hair, joking, laughing, spreading good humor.
I speak to them and they kindly tell me that this is their first time too. They too have always wanted to try it out and so far haven’t dared. It’s good to know that other people feel the same way as me. The music gets louder, thrilling, motivating. The heater on the podium is full throttle! We warm up together with squats, jumping jacks, burpees, constantly accompanied by the battle cry of the Spartans “Arooooo”. The mood is simmering, we can hardly wait for the start.
Finally a loud shot, some smoke and a few seconds later I am on the track with the other athletes.
Our path leads us in a direct line up the Olympiaberg. Running is out of the question, it’s much too steep for that. It rained tonight and we are not the first wave to start, which is why the path through the runners in front of us has already become very muddy. I fight my way up step by step. My pulse rises at the same rate as my steps and soon I’m at the top.
With a heavy breath I look at a high wooden wall that now has to be conquered. I think about it for a moment, start running, push myself up with my left foot and hold on to the back of the wall. Another runner is already pushing me up from below. I am so grateful for the help.
I have registered for the “Open Wave”. So we can help each other (in contrast to the elite wave). When I reach the top of the wall, I can return the favor right away, because now the other runner starts running, jumps, I shake hands, pull and together we both overcome the wooden wall.
Happy I keep running and I’m already excited about the next obstacle. No, I’m not just excited, I’m looking forward to it. At a brisk pace I walk down the mountain on slippery cobblestones over the serpentines, where the next obstacle is already waiting for me. Now you have to balance over a wooden beam without falling off. It’s slippery, I wobble, but I pass the exam.
Now I feel in my element, because now I can run. About two kilometers without obstacles, two kilometers on which I can show my running strengths. I overtake a lot of athletes and I feel good. I can walk. But the next challenge awaits me, the javelin throw.
My job is to hit a bale of straw about six meters away with a spear. The spear must hit and get stuck without hitting the ground. I’ve never thrown a spear before in my life. I balance it in my hand, aim, throw and miss my target by over a meter. 30 burpees are to be done as a penalty in this racing series. I torture myself, have to take several breaks, but every burpee is a debt of honor and so I master this challenge too. I swear to practice burpees before the next race!
This race makes me do things that I’ve never done before. And that’s exactly why I’m here. I have to crawl several meters under a wire mesh stretched over me, wade through the Olympic lake, climb up a rope and ring a bell there, shimmy from one side to the other on a crossbar, drag a heavy steel chain through a parkour and much more.
OCR race? Trainer Uwe Kauntz tells you how to best prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.Run OCR race? Trainer Uwe Kauntz tells you how to best prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.
This race tests our strength, endurance, balance and coordination . I master some obstacles effortlessly, some only after the second attempt, others I have to trigger with burpees. According to my fitness watch, I have already completed 6 kilometers. So it can’t be far to the finish line because I’ve signed up for the short distance. I walk into the Olympic Stadium with confidence, enjoy the venerable atmosphere and see myself at the finish line. But it is still far too early for that.
The next obstacle is waiting and brings me back to the present. I have to take a sandbag weighing about 20 kilograms on my shoulders and carry it up the stairs of the Olympic Stadium, then down in a loop and then back up again. The whole thing has to be repeated three times. My thighs are burning and I have to take two mandatory breaks and briefly put the sandbag down. My pulse is racing and I concentrate on every single step and finally I can hand over the sandbag and have passed this obstacle. With shaky legs, overcome another wooden wall and fight against gravity on a sloping wall flooded with water. At first it seems to win, but my will overcomes this obstacle as well.
Now comes what I’ve seen in so many videos. The only thing left between me and the goal is the “Fire Jump”. Burning logs arranged in a row must be skipped over.
Run OCR race? Trainer Uwe Kauntz tells you how to best prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.
I run, jump, feel the warmth of the logs, land and have made it. I run the last 10 meters to the finish with two arms raised and a big grin.
A lady disguised as a Spartan hangs my first OCR medal around my neck. I have tears of joy in my eyes, I am proud, relieved, happy and convinced. That was such a nice experience, I want to do that more often!
The way to your first OCR race
Every path begins with the first step and ends with your personal story. You have just read the beginning of my OCR story and I am very grateful that I am still in the middle of it, because my passion is still burning for this sport. I am a passionate runner, but also an equally passionate OCR athlete.
OCR race? Trainer Uwe Kauntz tells you how to best prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.
With the following recommendations I would like to encourage you to try out OCR and to help you to complete your first OCR run successfully and with fun. Your passion for running will help you and I can tell you that as a runner you have excellent qualifications.
But before we go a little deeper into the training of an OCR athlete, I would like to take your fear away. An “extreme obstacle course”, as OCR is called in German, has little to do with “extreme” and can be done by any athlete with a little preparation.
At first I was very unsure whether I could do that and whether I was good enough, but in a brave minute I signed up for my first OCR race without worrying about it. My dream race should take place in Munich in April 2014.
From the time I registered, I lost all doubts about “whether” and my mind began to ask constructively and without fear about “how”. Once you’ve defined a specific goal, your head starts thinking about how to achieve it. So I started watching videos, talking to OCR athletes, and doing research on the internet. I had half a year to prepare and I wanted to use this time.
Running as the basis for your first OCR race
The word ” obstacle course ” already tells you that OCR is basically a running event, so running forms the basis of the required OCR skills. At this point I have good news for you. No matter whether you are a short, medium or long distance runner, you will find an OCR race that suits you. The distances in this sport start at around 5 kilometers and around 20 to 30 obstacles (short distance) and offer a full range of route lengths, route characteristics and number of obstacles up to the ultra distance.
As described, I started with a short distance and recommend you to start with it. You can try to your heart’s content and you will be challenged, but not overwhelmed. As a reader of this blog, you are almost certainly able to run a short distance by now.
Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that OCR not only requires aerobic endurance when running. You will walk unpaved roads, weights on your shoulders will make it difficult for you to walk, you will sometimes have to wade through water and mud and with a high degree of security you will have to climb a mountain in the south of the nation. Your body will quickly get into the anaerobic zone and that is what you should exercise.
I recommend that you move your running training to unpaved roads and make it as varied as possible. Your body has to get used to encountering bumps, jumping over roots and undergrowth, you have to crouch at hanging branches while running, and walking on mud and through puddles will become normal for you. Your body learns that variety while running is not a problem.
Use your weekends to go running in the mountains. In addition to the excellent training of anaerobic endurance, a day of trail running is like a short vacation for me, a little everyday adventure. It clears my head and gives me strength and motivation.
Interrupt your usual endurance runs by integrating functional exercises . If you walk past a bench in the park, use it for triceps dips, a playground for pull-ups, a meadow for burpees or sit-ups. You can do lunges, squats and pushups anywhere.
Run OCR? Trainer Uwe Kauntz will tell you how to optimally prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.
With such running breaks you simulate the interruptions in running caused by obstacles during an OCR race and get your body used to different challenges and pulse frequencies. Your goal should be to be able to maintain your running level despite interruptions. This won’t be easy for you at first, but it’s worth it.
Strength and coordination training
With the tips already described, you are well prepared for your first OCR run. Now we take care of your competence on the obstacles. The challenge lies in the variety of obstacles. You need strength to pull yourself up on a wooden wall, the grip strength so that you can shimmy from one side to the other on a hanging rig, the balance to master a slackline, the stability to transport a sandbag on your shoulders and the coordination and that Target water to hit a bale of straw with a spear. See these obstacles as examples of many more challenges that await you.
For you, this means that you should do strength and coordination training at least twice a week during your preparation time for an OCR race. You will notice the first successes very quickly and notice that the increase in strength and endurance also has a positive effect on your running training.
I am a fan of functional exercises with my own body weight . Compared to training with weights, these exercises have the advantage that you can do them anywhere and the risk of injury is significantly lower.
You don’t need a complicated series of exercises to get fit. Use exercises that you have mastered and can do cleanly. Lunges, squats, crunches, superman, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups or burpees are examples of well-known functional exercises that you can use excellently for OCR preparation. If you can train with a partner or in a group, then I strongly advise you to do so. Together you train more consistently and with a lot more fun.
If you are putting together a training plan, then I advise you to do two rounds per exercise with a lot of repetitions. I advise you to do pull-ups on a regular basis, because they allow you to effortlessly pull up your body weight whenever you need it.
If pull-ups are still too demanding for you, use a supportive elastic band that you can wrap around the bar and then step into. This absorbs part of your weight and makes it easier for you to pull up.
Another way you can learn pull-ups is to train them passively at the beginning. Passive means that the exercise starts at the top of the pull-up bar by holding your weight briefly in the bend and then lowering it slowly and in a guided manner. You will soon notice that you are increasing your strength from week to week and you will soon be ready for your first real pull-up. As useful as this exercise is. Don’t let that put you off. I couldn’t do a pull-up before I did my first OCR race and I still crossed the finish line. Take courage!
Griffkraft – The specialty in OCR
An OCR race will challenge your grip strength, i.e. the flexor and extensor of your forearms. Many obstacles will check whether the force in your hands can hold your body weight or carry it from A to B. Climbing up a rope, shackling on bars and rings, pulling chains and ropes or gripping heavy tires requires grip strength. Your fingers and forearms will be put under heavy strain. So you have to train your grip strength systematically.
My favorite exercise for training grip strength is the deadhang. The exercise is very simple and you don’t need any previous experience. You hang on a pull-up bar, tense your shoulders and hold your body weight as long as possible without touching the floor. I mostly train three sets, with the first set being the longest, and then each subsequent set is a few seconds shorter. An example: I start with 60 seconds, then the second round lasts 50 seconds after a break, the third 40 seconds. Easy? Yes. But still very effective.
Another very effective exercise is the “Farmers Walk”. You grab a dumbbell with each hand and walk up and down with it. Very soon you will notice that your fingers are losing their strength and that your grip threatens to open. And that’s exactly what you fight against with all your might. If you don’t have any dumbbells at hand, just fill two sports bags or old suitcases with weights and use the handles for your training.
Of course, you can also combine the two exercises wonderfully. For example, you could hang on the deadhang for 40 seconds, dismount and then walk for another 40 seconds on the Farmers Walk. But don’t overdo it, because experience has shown that the forearm muscles are not well developed in most people. However, your grip strength will get stronger from week to week.
Soon you will be able to maintain your body weight safely and for a long time.
Coordination and balance training
While endurance and strength training demands a lot of effort, coordination and balance training is really fun. First of all, I can recommend that you use your everyday life for effective coordination and balance training.
Brushing your teeth on one leg with your eyes closed, backing up the stairs, balancing on stones while walking, playing on the slackline with the children, jumping over a park bench to the side, the examples are limitless. If you try again like a child, then you train your body and have fun doing it. I have already put a smile on the face of many observers when I “played” in public again. I never had the feeling of being laughed at.
But of course you can also use high ropes courses, trampoline parks or bouldering halls to train your coordination and balance.
Run OCR? Trainer Uwe Kauntz will tell you how to optimally prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.Run OCR? Trainer Uwe Kauntz will tell you how to optimally prepare for your first Obstacle Course Race.
You will see how many valuable life moments you will experience through these unfamiliar activities.
I recommend that to you with full conviction
Through OCR I rediscovered my curiosity. Too often we look for a meaning in new ventures and then forego it because we can’t see it right away. As a result, we miss out on valuable experiences that would otherwise give us even more quality of life and great everyday adventures.
Every OCR race is different and I can tell enthusiastically about every single one of my over a hundred OCR short-term adventures, because all of them are burned into my memory. I am and will remain a runner, but I don’t want to miss the OCR adventures.
So if you’ve always wanted to do something that you’ve always postponed because of any doubts, then use this article and take the next, concrete step. Register for your dream race, reserve the accommodation in the city you have always wanted to see, register for your sailing license or look for a partner to cross the Alps. Once you have a clear, timed goal, there’s no going back.
You will never regret what you have done, but always what you lacked the courage or the consistency for.
With this in mind, I wish you the courage to make the right decisions and the perseverance to implement them. The result is called a “full life”.