If you’re taking part in this year’s Obstacle Course Racing World Championships, chances are you’re pretty competent on obstacles and have put in a fair amount of training (unless you’re a turn-up-on-the-day-and-hope-for-the-best kinda gal like me).
This isn’t an article on how to train, you know how to do that. This is advice on how to keep that all-coveted band on the day, and avoid the DNF list.
Food is fuel. It’s that simple. Without it, we cannot perform correctly. It’s also an absolute minefield and something that many of us struggle with. You need to know both the science and your own body.
A great resource is the OCR Nutrition Coach, Melissa Boufounos, who has documented the top mistakes OCR athletes make with nutrition that sabotage their performance, along with lots of other helpful advice.
Make sure you are fueling right in the days leading up to the event, the morning of, during, and after. Make use of nutrition out on course like Hammer Nutrition Hammer Gels (but never litter, unless you want to be DNF’d!), every athlete is different, but you want to be taking gels before you need them, without overloading your stomach. You should be taking them around every 45-60 minutes as a rule of thumb, and try to have them with water when you can to speed up absorption. And most importantly… never try a new gel on race day! Test it first.
Get your kit right
My only ever DNF was due to hypothermia, and it may or may not have been a championship race at the same place where the 2018 and 2019 OCRWC took place. I thought I was well prepared, but I wasn’t. It was my first event with mandatory completion and I spent 45 minutes at a rig, getting wetter with each attempt until a marshal pulled me off shivering and sent me packing.
A bit too much cold can wreck your grip, fatigue in burnt-out arms means that an obstacle you can usually boss is just that little bit tougher, so be prepared for the worst. When you try and retry and obstacle, you can spend long periods standing still. Add in wind chill factor and you’re asking for trouble. Check out our top tips for wet weather kit here, and the top items every racer should have in their kit.
Also coming under kit is your shoes, without the right shoes, you will fail before you’ve started. You need more grip than you could ever use to give you traction on those slip walls and to keep you moving forward through thick mud. My favorite is the inov-8 G-series.
Rest & Prioritize
Whether it’s one or five races you’re attempting over the weekend, you need to rest, especially if you’re traveling from abroad. Jet lag is no joke. Even if you’re more local, we all have day to day lives and the OCRWC is a beautiful interlude in those, but we need to be prepared and switch our minds into competition mode. Yes, you are there to have fun but don’t party hard all weekend if you want to keep your band.
Whether it’s a good meal and an early night, or a long soak in the bath, make sure you take full advantage of the downtime between events.
If you are doing more than one event, know which one you most want to succeed in. There’s no point in tearing up your hands in the 3K if the 15k is where you want to triumph. Leave enough in the tank for your A-race, and don’t burn yourself out before you get there.
Take your time
We’re not talking about winning here, we’re talking about keeping your band. When you approach an obstacle, do so with calm. Take a breath. You don’t need to be jumping onto that obstacle. You do get more than one chance, unlike at some events, but you don’t need to be taking those chances. The more times you attempt an obstacle, the more likely you are to fail, and the more fatigued you will become.
Even obstacles I know I can do with my eyes closed, I’ll always take a moment to give myself the greatest chance. Be mindful of other athletes, but don’t rush unnecessarily for them at your sacrifice.
Approach an obstacle, take a breath, compose yourself, and tackle it head-on.
Some obstacles you’ll never have had a chance to try out, but hopefully, you’ll have seen videos, and other athletes crushing them in person, so you’ll have an idea of techniques.
Know your own strengths, choose your technique, and commit. Be powerful and efficient, and believe in yourself. Never fear, never falter. Keep moving forward. You can always push that little bit harder than you believe you can. Remember, the distance to the end is so much closer than starting from the beginning. Don’t give up.
Most of all smile, and enjoy it. Make the most of your experience, and whatever happens know how much you achieved just by being there. We believe in you!
For more tips on how to keep your band from the Obstacle Man, click here!