Obstacle course racing (OCR) has some unique challenges in that you have to train all sorts of different systems. You need to be a good runner but you also need power, strength, mobility, a soul crushing grip and ability to flush lactate. Its a lot to try and manage and I wanted to get a little more serious and come up with a concrete plan of attack. I also wanted to periodize my training plan instead of trying to throw the kitchen sink at me every week. Basically I would concentrate on different things at different times of the year instead of trying to train everything at once and getting no where except maybe back into an overtrained state. Unfortunately my aerobic base training didn't go quite as planned. I stopped lifting weights and doing any intervals on 5/31/2017 and then I got about 2 and 1/2 months of just aerobic base training in before I had to take that 5 weeks off.
In that 2 1/2 months my MAF pace didn't really improve much which was a little disappointing. If you don't remember what MAF is read my post on aerobic training but essentially this was my pace at a target HR of 136 (180-age). Below are all my 4 mile MAF tests to track my progress.
The more I learn about Aerobic base building the more I discover that it takes a long time. The last recommendation I heard was 30-38 weeks of base building, this was directed at a strict endurance athlete (so just running). To muddy the data a bit there seems to be a strong correlation to outside temperature and my pace so I'm not entirely sure if I achieved much. You do need patience in this kind of training but I've ran out it and what little muscle I had was disappearing fast. By the time September rolled around I was ready to get back on the weights and put in some off season strength training. So I have a strength block planned from here until Xmas.
For this block I'm using the MAPS Performance program by the Mind Pump guys.
If you are into resistance training I really like the programming of these guys. They also have a really good podcast and I like that they are trying to dispel many of the common myths around training and the supplement industry. So I'm going to do their MAPS Performance program for the first 3 months. There are 4 phases to the plan, Raw Strength, Reactive Strength, Explosive Strength & Durability. So during this strength phase I'll be changing programming every 3 weeks. I will be modifying the program in that I will only lift twice a week instead of 3 days. I don't want to overdo it plus I'll still be doing MAF running in between to maintain the little aerobic training I've gained.
This will take me to Xmas break where I'll take a week off.
After Xmas I will move to more OCR focused workouts. The running workouts will ramp up and will include lots of different running workouts not just MAF. This training plan is taken directly from the book "The Essentials of Obstacle Course Racing" by David Magida. This is the only decent Obstacle Course specific training book I have found so far. It is also a good starting spot for somebody who is just starting in OCR.
The training plan from the book is 3 months, with 3 phases. Foundation, Endurance and Power. I'll have 6 months from Jan to Jun so I haven't quite decided how I'm going to extend the training plan yet but I'll make that decision at the end of this year.
Obviously nothing is set in stone and its very important for me to modify or adjust workouts to my schedule and more importantly on how my body feels and even take an unplanned rest day if necessary. I'm a bit type A in that respect and I need to get better at listening to my body. I also have to face the fact I am getting up in age and I just don't recover as well anymore. The first week was a perfect example. I did my first weight session on 9/26/2017 and it had been almost 3 months since I had touched a weight. The results were predictable, I did the full workout and I was very sore for 3 to 4 days. I did however cancel the weight workout on 9/29/2017 and replaced it with an easy swim (more like a 5 min dip) and a sauna session instead, so progress I guess.
Finally there are no real mobility sessions in my plan but I will continue to do my gymnastic stretching program in the evenings along with plenty of foam rolling of sore spots.
If you want to get serious about your results in whatever event you are competing in it is essential to have a good plan. Even if you're not competing and just trying to stay healthy and active I think we all still want to improve and make the most of our time. Have you plateaued in your workouts? It might be time for a change. When time available is such a big factor you want every minute you do have to be used wisely. I think its also essential to document every training session to judge progress. Honestly if you're really serious I think a coach is probably worth it. However you're looking at probably $200-$300 a month for a decent coach who is going to do custom programming for you. Also if you have access to a good trainer that can pay dividends also. On the other hand finding a good one can be a bit of crap shoot. If you're in Indianapolis I can recommend this guy. Finally you can pay for a training site, here are some well respected OCR sites.
Leader Board Fit
I know coming up with my own training plan is not optimal but I enjoy the process and lets be honest I'm not winning anything. We'll see where it gets me in July.
My Training Plan
Book - The Essentials of Obstacle Course Racing
Mind Pump Podcast
Nerd Fitness - How to hire a good personal trainer
Sam Woodworth - Indianapolis Trainer
Gymnastic Bodies - Stretching Program
Spartan Race - 2018 Indiana Sprint
OCR Training Site - Yancy Camp
OCR Training Site - Leader Board Fit