With the recent announcement of the 2018 OCRWC venue, a lot of British OCR enthusiasts are now eyeing up a race that is now much more accessible to us!
With that accessibility in mind – Andrew Wood would like to share a few things that he has learned from the last 2 years of going to the OCR World Championships, because he, and we can’t wait to see you all on the start line next year…
1. Understand your goal and make sure that it’s realistic
In picking a goal, you have to understand what it takes to achieve it. While that goal could be anything - it’s important to have realistic expectations of yourself. For many, that will be simply about keeping the wristband - for others it might be about a top 100 or top 50 in age cat performance, but whatever it is you should consider it carefully before thinking about point number 2.
Another task is to prioritise and focus on your best race. You have the option of the 3k and 15k individual races (or both). If you’re racing for a result, then you are always going to perform better if you only compete in that particular distance. I did both races this year and was able to enjoy both equally. I don’t doubt for one minute that I could have done better in the 15k if I hadn’t raced the 3k! Take Andy Waters for example - he chose to only race the 15k and got an awesome result (65th in Age Cat).
The principal thing I’ve learned here is that real progress is made by training consistently, over time. There are plenty of free/cheap running and strength programmes out there that can help set you on the right path. By all means look some up but you will need to understand that these can be very generic and may not necessarily be right for you and your goal. With this in mind it’s definitely worth speaking to a professional if you can afford it!
3. Don’t take on too much
It can be very tempting to plan all your training sessions and think “Yeah, I can totally manage that”. Last year, for example, I had planned to do 3 BMF sessions, 3 gym lifting sessions and 3 runs per week. As you might imagine, that went out the window halfway through week 1. So, my other half Jo helped me work out what my priorities were and how to fit them in.
I landed at 2 gym sessions, 2-3 runs and 2 BMF sessions per week, which also presented the psychological bonus of feeling great when you could do bonus workouts on top!!
4. Use AM and PM sessions for extra volume
Bit of a controversial one this one - I don’t know anyone (apart from me - yes I am weird) who enjoys training early in the morning. That said, whilst I don’t like running early, I have really taken to doing my lifting early in the morning and it gives me much more space to fit my training in during the week.
Another thing Jo found which worked well was doing classes first thing in the morning. They gave her the HIIT and conditioning aspect of her training and also helped her get her gym workouts in as she could just pop upstairs and do 30 minutes lifting without having to burn another 15 minutes warming up!
5. Go Bouldering
As far as I know, Jon Albon has been quoted several times as saying that he pretty much runs and goes bouldering/climbing. That alone sums up why you should do it. (It’s also seriously good fun AND has the added bonus of being indoors most of the time!
During the 2016 championships my hands got torn to shreds and I wound up finishing the race with them in a bloody mess. There were also a lot of people who had similar problems after the 3k this year and, if you’re not careful, torn hands can potentially ruin the best race weekend of the year.
A combination of bouldering, heavy barbell work and grip work in the gym as well as taking care of my calluses seemed to help a lot. My hands were very sore after this year, but luckily didn’t suffer from any blistering or tearing.
7. Eat a diet that matches with your goals
One of the things Jo helped me with was my diet. She got me eating a protein breakfast (BACON) every day, which, compared to the porridge and fruit I was having before, was a real revelation. The extra protein in my diet really helped my recovery and allowed me to increase my training without feeling crappy all the time.
It is also worth noting that if you’re going to do a strength programme - you should probably eat according to that goal. Again, it might be worth consulting a professional or at least doing some of your own research to find out what might suit you.
8. Do the right races to prepare yourself
Canada cost a lot - that’s a fact. Though it was an incredible holiday and race, it did mean there was very little room in the budget for any obstacle races this summer. In fact I think the last obstacle race we did before the Worlds was Judgement Day back in June!
We did find other races and things to do during the summer (if anyone says a vertical kilometre is a good idea ignore them they’re lying!), but we hadn’t had a great deal of actual racing time leading up to the champs. We both said we would have liked more time on obstacles, but we did too many other races to be able to execute a proper training plan.
Thinking about it - the minimum you’d want to taper for a Saturday race is Thursday and Friday, and if you do it properly you’ll probably be sore on the Sunday and Monday too. With my schedule set up as it was, I effectively lost out on 4 days training by doing a race. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had loads of fun this summer trying a few new things but I definitely think less racing is on the cards in the lead up to 2018.
9. Manage your recovery properly
My main point here is one which I was previously terrible for and I know a lot of other people are too: SLEEP.
I used to be a bed at 11.30 up at 6.30 kinda guy. Whilst this is still 7 hours sleep - if you’re getting up at 5.30 to be in the gym for 6am you can very quickly wind up losing out on sleep, which leads to feeling run down and not being able to handle as much training.
10. Enjoy yourself
I think this final point is most important. The OCR World Championships is a wonderful event - taking time to enjoy your surroundings and making a few new friends on the way with a big smile is a hugely important part of the whole experience. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey!