Running for OCR Athletes: Part 1
Running: The Foundation of every Obstacle Course Race.
You should develop a strong base of running and continue to improve your speed throughout your OCR training. There is no substitute for the fitness found through running. Running is raw. There is no mechanical advantage, you can’t coast, and you don’t need special equipment to do it. There is skill involved.
Running is a skill!
Yes, Running is a skill. If you have any old injuries or aches and pains related to running I suggest you consult a healthcare provider to be sure you can train. It’s a good idea for anyone that is just starting out running again or that have minor issues with running to consult a running coach to work on the skill side. There are several methods for improving the mechanics of running. I believe they are worth the extra work. Good running form can make the difference between lifetime running success and a short running career plagued by pain, injury and illness. A few of the most common running form coaching methods are:
All of these methods teach very similar form with slightly different twists. There is do-it-yourself information available but nothing replaces a good coach to help you with drills and exercises to address the specific quirks of your stride.
New to Running?
If you don’t have any experience running then I suggest you work with a “Couch to 5k” training plan from Cool Running or Hal Higdon as they have been around forever and have established a great progression to 5k over about 2 months. You’ll have ample opportunity to fit your other training into the rest days and running days to build strength and skills that are essential to Obstacle Course Racing.
If you’ve been running for a while at various distances you will want to continue running a few days a week. I firmly believe that to maintain a minimum level of running fitness you will need at least 2 runs each week, one short and faster (think 5k or 10k pace) and one longer run (especially if you plan to compete at 10k or greater distances). To continue improving your speed and endurance you will need to add a few of things into your running. The typical pattern for runners is to train runs with 3 different goals.
- Speedwork - Short intervals to improve your turnover and top speed.
- Tempo runs - Medium distance 2 -10 miles at a fast pace also called a Lactate Threshold Run. Basically you are running as fast as you can without crossing the threshold into anaerobic sprinting. Getting comfortably uncomfortable. Running on the edge builds your endurance.
- Long Slow Distance - Training for time on your feet. Going for 1-2 hours for a 5-10k, 2-4 hours for a half marathon or longer race. This type of running builds your ability to keep going when you’re tired.
Increasing the volume of running you do in blocks forces your body to adapt. At a maximum increase your distance by 20% each week in one of your runs. Your training volume and intensity should also be adjusted depending on how close you are to your target race.
Speedwork can involve:
Sprint intervals 6x400meter sprint intervals (200 to 400m walk for rest)
Long Sprints 4-6x800m sprint intervals with timed rest periods of 2-4 minutes.
Hill Sprints 4-6x hill of 100 to 200m hill sprints with walk back down or timed rest.
All kinds of combinations of sprints with warm ups and cool down runs as well as cross training.
Tempo Runs are middle distance runs at a pace that is moderately uncomfortable. You should be able to barely maintain this pace. There are all kinds of guidelines for this but I am a fan of running with people that are faster than you so you can constantly push the envelope. You can use the perceived exertion scale as well. Over time you will learn what this feels like when you are running at the right pace. Fartleks or fun sprints in the middle of a tempo run help you learn and push the pace that is right for you to keep making progress.
Long Slow Distance is a run at a comfortable pace for a long period of time. Part of the reason for this is to temper your connective tissues to become more resilient as you spend more time on your feet.
- Make sure you have a plan to make progress.
- Make sure you listen to your body and rest when you need to.
- You can work on cross training as part of your run training for greater efficiency.
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