Today I’m going over the fire and through the mud with elite Obstacle Course Racer Mike Ferguson.
Prepare for the Unknown
Clearly there are many differences between competing in an OCR event and a standard road or trail race.
Outside of the obstacles, the biggest difference is not knowing the distance of the race.
For the events that Mike runs, he doesn’t know at the start of the race how far he is going to have to go on any particular day. At the start of the race, he will have a window where he knows that the finish line will be somewhere between 7 and 10 miles (as an example).
If you’re just in the race to run it, that’s one thing. But for a guy like Mike that is trying to win every event he enters, this unknown can be an issue.
How do you pace yourself properly for a race when you don’t know how far you’ll have to run?
Mike says he goes into each race prepared for the race being on the longer end of the distance window. And then if the race happens to be a bit shorter, he just kicks even harder at the end.
Pure Runner to OCR Specialist
Mike is one of “those guys” for whom running comes pretty easily.
As he got into competing in OCRs, he has had to really work on his upper body strength.
Heavy carries were the events that he really struggled with until he gained some upper body strength. Grip strength is another area that Mike has worked on.
As his strength continues to improve, he continues to get better and better at obstacle course racing.
The Benefit of a Coach
In 2016, Mike started working with a coach. And it’s no coincidence that 2016 was Mike’s breakthrough year.
Not only does having a coach take the guess work out of what workouts to do, but Mike pointed to the value of a coach telling him to take enough time to rest/recover between hard workouts.
Remember, whether you’re an elite or a not, your recovery after hard workouts is every bit as important as the workout itself.
Failing to allow your body to recovery completely decreases the effectiveness of said workout.
Today’s Episode is Sponsored By: Health IQ
Spartan World Championships
Each of the last two years, Mike has competed in the Spartan World Championships.
Two years ago, he placed 40th. This year, he placed 27th.
Clearly, Mike isn’t out of place competing with the best OCR athletes in the world.
The World Championships are difficult, no question. But what Mike found the most difficult about the World Championships wasn’t the distance or the obstacles but the elevation.
For an athlete that trains in the mid-west, competing at elevation (last two were in Tahoe) really impacts the race.
Want to Try an OCR?
If you want to give running an OCR event a shot, Mike recommends working on building your strength.
Maintaining your speed as a runner is important, but if you don’t have your grip strength/upper body strength up to par you’ll be in trouble.
Adding CrossFit, rock climbing, or other workouts that emphasize your upper body will definitely aid you as an OCR athlete.
If crawling through mud, climbing over things, and jumping over fire sounds fun, GO FOR IT!
I mean, why not?
If you haven’t done so already, make sure you connect with Mike on Instagram!
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