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Hoplite Guide to OCR Training -

Jan 12, 2018 1 comment
Hoplite Guide to OCR Training -

Hoplite-Outfitters Guide to OCR Training

OMG the lessons I’ve learned from OCR training, coaching, and racing for the last 5 years. The inspiration for this guide came from the trials and revelations of my first Spartan Race. This is the (short) story of how it all started...


It was about 3 miles (it felt like 30) into my first Spartan Race. I was wet and muddy, scraped-up and bloodied. I was tired in more ways than I had ever experienced before.

I found myself dangling 15 feet up a 20 foot rope climb over a chest deep mud hole. without an ounce of strength left. I had suddenly forgotten everything I knew about climbing a rope. Dreading another 30 burpee penalty I clung desperately to the rope trying to hold it between my feet, squeezing it with my knees. I used every ounce of strength I had left just to hold on.

My grip failed and I slid down the rope into the muddy water.

I was dejected, barely able to crawl out of the mud hole. As I struggled through another set of 30 penalty burpees I couldn’t help wondering “What the F@&k happened!?”.

This race was supposed to be an affirmation of the changes in my training and I had failed. Part of me wanted to quit right there!

I crawled onto dry land contemplating whether to quit or to start another 30 burpee penalty. 

Another racer, and another, and another, lined up beside me to do their penalty burpees. We raggedly grunted words of encouragement and support to each other. These simple words of support, and shared willingness to suffer to reach a goal, steeled my resolve.

We all completed the penalty, worked through the last few obstacles and finally battled our way across the finish line (when Spartan Race had you run “the gauntlet” at the finish line).  


Later that day I vowed never to let the course beat me like that again! The memory of those failures sparked a fire inside me that still burns today.


I had been running trail races and ultramarathons for 10 years before hearing about the Spartan Race. I’ve run marathons on roads and trails, 50 to 100k in the desert and the mountains. Years ago, I missed out on the lottery for Western States and The HardRock 100. I’d pondered attempting the Barkley Marathon. I read about The Death Race (created by the guys that created Spartan Race) and given it serious thought. I knew I needed something to challenge myself in new ways. Several local races in Oregon by XDog Events challenged my ideas of trail running, obstacle racing, and introduced me to adventure racing.


Rewind back to a couple of months before my first Spartan Race. I thought I had it all figured out, I would train for and run a Spartan Sprint as a test. I’d then use that as a springboard to start planning for those bigger challenges. My OCR training went on without a real plan. I added a little strength work into my running. I was thinking, if I can run 26 or 50 or 60 miles, then I can run a Spartan Sprint. It’s only 3 or 4 miles with a bunch of fun obstacles mixed in. The obstacles would break up the running!

That first Spartan Sprint kicked my ass, challenged my ideas of fitness, made me rethink my training, and lit a new fire in me.


From that day forward I have lived the OCR lifestyle. I have embraced Spartan ideals and my life is richer for it. Over more than 5 years I’ve incorporated those ideals into my medical practice, coaching, and community outreach encouraging others to reach for their highest potential.

I have developed  and honed methods for training, racing, and coaching others, building the strength and skills necessary to be successful in Obstacle Course Racing.I work on my own fitness every day. I coach others help them reach their athletic potential and change their lives through the same principles and in the light of that same fire.


This Multipart (I don’t know how many parts there will be) series will incorporate many of the pieces you will need to fit together to be successful in Obstacle Course Racing.

Through your training and accomplishments I hope you will find greater purpose in achieving fitness, overcoming challenges, and embracing the OCR Lifestyle, The Spartan Life or some iteration of this rich and valuable exploration of your limits and the value of your health and fitness. As you go through this journey I sincerely hope that you will realize how few limitations you have and powerful you truly are.


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1 comment


  • Looking forward to reading our blog

    Al Ansley on

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