What do you do on a weekend with no obstacle course races? Go out and train for an obstacle course race of course! Our Phil went to take part in the first of the Nut's Challenge's organised training sessions. There are a couple more sessions coming up this year, so have a read to see if it takes your fancy...
Whilst I hate to start on such a dull note, a weather report is needed to kick this report off for reasons that will become clear shortly…
The morning was slightly chilly with a bit of rain in the air but, to be honest, compared to other recent weather we’ve been having it really wasn’t that bad, which is why I was so surprised when we were told by Wayne that 10 people had signed up to this training day, yet only 2 – fellow Mudstacle member Steve and I – actually turned up! If these other 8 who had signed up are meant to be running any distance of the Nuts Challenge in March, yet they skip the training because it was under 5 degrees it does cast aspersions on whether they’re actually nuts enough! (Told you there was a reason for the weather report)
The morning started off with some circuit training to warm up – a selection of exercises were laid out (kettlebells, sprint/crawls, dips, press-ups, barrel press etc), but as we were so few in number we could choose which ones would be most beneficial to us so we chose to spend some time on some monstrously heavy battleropes and a pull-your-body-up-from-seated-using-a-strap-attached-to-a-tree exercise (it probably has a shorter name), which both helped with upper-body strength. We also did a Tabata routine, which is doing 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds rest repeatedly for 5 mins which did a great job of getting our heart rates really pounding.
We then moved on to the bit that we were both really there for – Michael the PT took us over to the main central part of the Nuts course where all of the big obstacles are and took us slowly through each of them – explaining the very best techniques to tackle each obstacle safely and quickly. This was incredibly valuable. I’ve done a fair few obstacle races this year, but each time you get to an obstacle, you tackle it as best you can then you’re running on to the next one without a second thought. The opportunity to stop, evaluate, have a go then go back and do it again as many times as you want was priceless. Especially having an ex-forces PT standing next to you to advise on the methods the army teaches was amazing.
We spent a good amount of time on the tyre wall climb, firemens poles and rope swings, really nailing the techniques down. I found it equally useful though to look at the more straightforward obstacles like the tyre scrambles and low walls and have a few goes on them. Michael kept on pointing out to us that just as many if not more injuries happen on the low walls and fences as do on the big obstacles because people don’t concentrate as much.
The highlight for me was learning a technique that I’ve watched many OCRers do but never had the bottle to try on a race… The somersault over the top of a cargo net! Great skill to learn but not the sort of thing you’d just try by yourself on a run – it definitely makes the cargo net descent quicker and easier.
After we’d done all of the obstacles slowly, we refuelled and ran the central section twice through including all of the obstacles we’d practised and a few of the water sections (river included). It was great putting all of the techniques together one after the other and especially so after going through the cold water to see how that affected the muscles. It’s easy to forget just how much of a full body work-out the Nuts course is and a top tip for those (like me and Steve) who've done the Summer but not the Winter race: the water is already really cold and it will be getting much colder! I strongly recommend cold water acclimatisation as part of your training regimes.
The morning was less of a bootcamp style fitness training session like the Judgement Day training days and much more devoted to really examining the theory, techniques and tactics of obstacle racing. As I'm still a relative new boy being in my first year of OCRs I found this invaluable and would highly recommend it to anyone.
There really isn’t a better place to get the practise in than on what is undoubtedly one of the best courses in the country – especially when overseen by a military trained trainer.
There are two more organised training sessions coming up – December 8th and December 22nd – check out the Nuts website for details: www.thenutschallenge.co.uk/training