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OCR Off-Season Training Like A Pro

The end of the year is an important time for OCR athletes, it heralds the beginning of “Off-Season”. After seeing this phrase thrown around on social media, I wanted to find out more about what the best in the business do when the competition season ends. I spoke to some of our Pro OCR friends, to find out how they handle off-season, what it actually is, and what it means for them.

Rebecca Hammond

Copyright OCR Photography

What does off-season look like for you?

My last event of 2019 was the Spartan Fenway Stadium Sprint, and my first one of 2020 will be Hyrox Chicago.

This year off-season happened while visiting my family in CA. A typical day would be to wake up, have breakfast, hang out, have lunch, hang out, have dinner, hang out, go to sleep. Anything but working out. A casual hike if the group was doing that but otherwise, pretty restful/relaxing. During this time I take 2 weeks off training.

Off-season is crucial. My mind and body need the break, after two weeks off I start up again with short runs every other day and some lifting mixed in.

2020 Goals

I haven’t fully decided on my goals for 2020 yet, but most likely the Spartan USNS races + Spartan noram, and World Championship races.

Jon Albon

Jon Albon, DryRobe

What does off-season look like for you?

The Mountain Running World Championships was my last event of 2019, I’m still working on my 2020 season, but skyrace des matheysins looks likely.

Usually I take two weeks where I do absolutely no training. During this time I usually get sick, this year I also used this downtime to get a wisdom tooth out. My normal day would look like…Lounge around, be sick, do admin, plan the next year, maybe stretch or take a sauna.

Off-Season is very important for me. This period of nothing allows my body to fully recover and almost feel normal again. It also reminds me why I love to train as it’s pretty boring.

After these two weeks or when it gets snowy, I start to train again. During the winter or ‘training season’, I spend the majority of my time skiing. This could be anywhere from an hour on cross country skis to 10 hours on touring skis. I also keep up the climbing or bouldering with at least two sessions a week. Usually, I would start up some sort of leg and core strength routine too.

Once I start training again my routine is pretty much; Wake up. Check the weather. Eat. Ski. Eat. Climb. Eat. Sleep.

Training season is just as important. Taking the time to simply exercise because you love to move as opposed to get fitter for races keeps me sane. This is also the time of year I do most training to build a big base for the competitive season.

In February I would usually start with about 5km running a week and up it a bit gradually to ease my calves back into the pounding. I have learned that by feel is the best way to do this, making the muscles a bit stiff but not too much before recovering them and repeating the process.

2020 Goals

My 2020 season isn’t yet finalized, but I hope to do a full skyrunning season, Ourea Xtrem, and Championship obstacle races.

Leon Kofoed

Leon Kofoed, Sabertooth OCRWC 2019

What does off-season look like for you?

My last A-race of 2019 was the OCRWC. Straight after the OCREC I had my eyes set on London, especially the 3k which I felt was finally within my grasp! I had an OK build-up and a great performance which has lead to a ton of motivation which I’m utilizing this winter. Also winning the Mix Team relay was a dream come true, yay!

I’m taking a long off-season training block. 4 months, actually, following a classic Arthur Lydiard setup but still including a few races – just like runners do XC running in the winter. After those 4 months of base training, I will start an interesting spring build-up 🙂

My training and therefore daily schedule vary from day-to-day. A typical Thursday, for example, includes a 60-90 minute strength session in the morning and a tempo run in the evening. Besides the training I also teach in the university on Thursdays which takes quite a bit of time, but it’s good fun and I like not being broke all the time. Evenings I often catch myself working on my training business or some other OCR related stuff, but I’m getting better at pulling the plug and enjoying time with my family, girlfriend, or friends.

I started running quite late in life and I know what I’m missing to get better on the OCR scene. So this off-season is super, super important to me – it might the first one where I’m 100% aware of what I’m doing and also why. I have a lot of faith in the process that Nikolaj Dam and I are going through together right now.

I had 1 week fully off after the OCRWC and 3-4 sloppy weeks of doing whatever I could, which wasn’t much. Now I’ve been building up for December, which will lead to 2 big months of training before breaking into a pre-season process. I still do stuff and am currently on Gran Canaria to race the Bestial Race and I also competed in a Ninja competition. But mentally it’s all for fun, which I think is super important.

2020 Goals

I am yet to figure out which race will be my first important race in 2020. Maybe the Danish Reborn event in April or another of the fun races I’m planning to do. When all comes to all, the spring will probably host only 2 big goals for me: Winning my 3rd title at the OCREC Short Course. I plan to do plenty of races, but most as build-ups for Italy.

Alright, lets’ get to it:

  1. OCREC Short Course, Mix Team Relay and Ninja, Italy
  2. FISO World OCR Short, Mix team and Ninja in Sochi, Russia
  3. OCRWC Short, Mix team and Ninja in Stratton, USA
  4. Spartan World Champs, TBC
  5. Winning the Reborn OCR “series”
  6. Crushing the competition at Red Bull All In

Nikolaj Dam

Nikolaj Dam OCRWC 2019

What does off-season look like for you?

The last competition in 2019 is 14th of December at Red Bull All In, Oberstdorff, Germany.My first competition in 2020 will be Spartan Race Valmorel, France. I see that as a winter prep to see where my fitness is at, and test cold weather racing.

This year I took 1.5 weeks completely off training in November to get physically and mentally rested. Then starting out with really easy training with a small training volume and slowly increasing intensity and volume through the winter months.

I do several activities in the off-season, so the days vary a lot. Normally I have a morning running session or strength session. This off-season I have been trying to do other activities like hiking, soccer and/or throwing activities like handball or AMR football to work on precision and eye-hand co-ordination. So I do train, I just try to do it less specific and remember to have fun and do more social activities and training than I do in the main season where I do a lot more specific training.

It’s really important to “restart” your physical capabilities and mental approach to your training. It gives time to rethink your setup and see what can be improved and changed to improve the setup.

I don’t see off-season as completely off training I just do other stuff to do make it more fun and interesting and be aware of I should be able physical and mental increase volume and intensity through the next couple of months.

2020 Goals

My goals for 2020 are:

  1. OCR European Champs, Italy in June
  2. The FISO World Championships in Sochi Russia in September
  3. After that I will go all-in for the OCRWC in Stratton, USA

Thibault Debusschere

Thibault Debusschere OCRWC 2019

What does off-season look like for you?

My last competition of this year is the Redbull ALL IN 14 December, this is in the German snowy Alps.

I almost never take completely off-season to do nothing, two weeks with maximum 2 training session’s that’s enough off-season for me.

One thing I keep doing, for example, is climbing twice a week in the winter months. The most important thing is to let your body heal and after that get used to make a lot of distance every month again and again, those are more slow and long training.

Once we get closer (3/2 months) to big races like the European or World Championships I begin to work more at my speed again.

A typical off-season day for me can be literally anything, climbing, looking movies/series, make time for my family and girlfriend (but she already gets a lot of my time haha!), cleaning my home/car, work in the garden, etc..

2020 Goals

My first competitive OCR in 2020 will be on 5 January in Belgium, War race 20km, but if we’re talking about big competition it will be the OCR series, 7 March in Furstenau (Germany).

My goals for next year are a bit the same as the past few years:

  1. Finals OCR series
  2. European championship
  3. OCR World Championships (USA)
  4. FISO World Championship (Sochi)

All the rest is a competitive training to get ready.

-Francesca Chiorando

Francesca is an avid obstacle course racer, TV host, and blogger at Mud Is My Makeup. Follow her Instagram at @MudIsMyMakeUp and @FranChiorando.

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