Hands up – how many of you have specific goals in OCR? Improve your time, improve obstacle proficiency, qualify for OCRWC or the Euros?
With this in mind we should consider that sometimes the best way to reach our goal could be to take a step back, or that even, we don’t need to be chasing “goals” every time we tie up our inov-8s.
Confused? Let me explain.
1. Run with no pressure
I love OCR, obviously. But for me, there came a time when the constant competition became too much. When you are racing regularly, it becomes a constant battle, and very few of us are Elite athletes. Sometimes, you just put too much pressure on yourself and the fun dies.
So what happens when you ditch the pressure and run open wave? You can still push yourself if you want, you don’t have to walk, but there’s not the constant battle, the feeling of seeing some of your wave run ahead.
The wait for the results. It becomes about more than the result and how you placed against others. How do you run when you’re not chasing people down? Can you highlight anything you need to work on? Do you actually thrive on the competition?
2. Practice your skills
Running open wave gives you the unique opportunity to practice on obstacles. Of course, if the event is busy you can’t take time on an obstacle but often in the middle of the day it’s nigh on empty, and kindly marshals are happy for you to have a few attempts to work on your technique.
Sometimes success comes from knowing you can do something, and if you believe you will fail, you will. You can use this as an opportunity to overcome your nemesis when you are feeling more fresh, and without the pressure of a penalty affecting placement.
For most of us, finding specialist equipment to train on can be tough, so taking advantage of an obstacle mid-race, as long as you don’t disrupt anyone else’s experience, is just savvy training!
3. Reconnect with friends
You could sit outside in the sun, with a good coffee or glass of wine and talk with friends, or you could do it mid-race, with a sandbag at your back, and an incredible vista in front.
There’s something about conversations mid-race that just doesn’t happen in real life. Whether it’s the struggle you are both facing, the distraction of the effort, or the fact you are not actually looking at each other; I’ve found that some of the best, and deepest conversations I’ve had have been at an OCR. If you have problems you need to talk over, or a friend you’ve not spent much time with lately, taking it easy in an open wave is a perfect friend-date, and an excellent way to get that weight off your shoulders.
4. Rediscover the innocence
Most of us started OCR for fun and then moved onto competition. There’s no reason why we should always compete. The biggest smiles you see on course are those who are new to the sport, sliding around in the mud, laughing at their attempts, celebrating their successes. There is no pretense, there is no pressure, and no politics. There is just a fun day out, being ridiculous, and acting like big kids, which most of us agree, is one of the most wonderful things about OCR.
5. Support others
I attended OCRWC ’16 on a whim, and last minute signed up for the team event. I was massively out of shape, but I had a very cool team and we had lots of fun. One of the parts I remember well is at the final wall, as we all helped each other over the wall, amidst the throng of racers was the well-known face of OCR pro Hunter McIntyre was giving people a leg up, a high five, and general encouragement. I’m not sure if he realized how many spirits he lifted, and after a weekend of heavy racing he had no obligation to be there, but he was, out of choice, for others.
We might not be Hunter, but don’t underestimate the effect your effort can have on others. Giving a muddy hand, showing someone a technique, or running alongside them as they need a bit of encouragement is ultimate sportsmanship, and it’s this community that makes OCR so special.