Since reading the book Primal Endurance last year I had really been following the training principals in that book…most of my workouts have been long slow aerobic workouts, with a couple of periods of intensity mixed in so often I have followed these principals to great success completing my first Trifecta and then helping me kickstart the healing process from my overtraining issues. I basically trained by feeling for most of the time mixing in a couple runs, some strength work, Yoga, and an OCR specific workout each week. However at this point I decided I needed to step up my training game and throw something different at my body to elicit new training adaptations. As we know obstacle course racing is not just one long slow aerobic effort. No matter how you look at OCR, whether it is a short race or an ultra-endurance length race there are periods of anaerobic activity that you can’t avoid. Yes there are some races on mountains but even if the course was perfectly flat you still need to carry heavy things, lift yourself over walls, pass various upper body and grip strength obstacles (ie rigs), and flip heavy things (has anyone tried to flip that Yokohama tire at a Spartan Race before?!!?!). No matter how you look at it you are going to be anaerobic during a race not only from the intensity of running but the obstacles as well. Primal Endurance, in my opinion, is great for athletic events where your training can be adapted to be completely aerobic all the time, things like running, biking, swimming. However telling an OCR racer to train aerobically all the time is kind of like telling a hockey player to keep all their training aerobic. You can train for OCR aerobically a majority of the time. You can set aside a few weeks to do aerobic base training (and I think that is a good idea), but we need to train to carry buckets, jump over walls, climb ropes and those are just going to be anaerobic.
For this reason I have decided to mix my weekly training with intensity and aerobic work. I decided to try the training plans at obstaclecourse.training These training plans are designed by Ryan Atkins, Matt Murphy, and Jonathan Albon, need I say more? Well I will 🙂 They have different types of plans, plans for training for 5k distances all the way up to ultra distances. They even have plans where you can get one on one coaching from Ryan, Matt, or Jonathan. For me personally, I selected the Frontier plan which included their Advanced (for Beast distance events) and Ultra (ultra distance events) plans together because at some point I want to do and Ultra distance event.
I am only 3 weeks in to the Advanced Plan, but I have really enjoyed the training so far. The plans follow a general pattern of 2 intensity days, a strength day, 1 or 2 recovery run days, a mobility day, and a long run day. I like this mix of training because it perfectly reflects the modalities of an OCR race. In addition there are some nice bonuses as well. There are two grip strength workouts you can incorporate into your plan, as well as a ton of educational videos covering everything from running form to nutrition. It is really a well rounded training plan. You also get access to a private Facebook group to answer any questions you might have and get support from others following the plans. My only complaint is that I have run into some technical issues. Basically they release the workouts week by week and I have not been getting the workouts at the beginning of the week. However, their technical support has been spot on and responsive.
After the first 3 weeks I can certainly say the Advanced Plan is kicking my ass. Ask me to go long and slow every day and I don’t have a problem with it. Ask me to do a 10k time trial on the track and I want to DIE! This is just due to how I was training, I think I was favoring the long slow stuff to much and not training my anaerobic side enough. I just finished week 3 and I ran 6 times this week, amassing 32.7 miles. Not too impressive for some but I have not been at that number and frequency in a while so it feels good to do that. Here was this week’s two intensity sessions
12x400m efforts with 5 burpees in between each 400m effort plus 1x200m to finish. This session adds up to 5km total. This is a non-stop session.
7 x 2:30 hill repeats.
Recover jog down. No rest at bottom, straight into next repeat.
Both of these kicked my ass but I feel like I am getting more comfortable when running above my aerobic threshold. If you are an obstacle course racer and looking to switch up your training I highly suggest you check out these training plans. So far they have been spot on.