In 3 Years, Mike Ferguson has Gone from OCR Noob to an Elite on the World Stage


Today I’m going over the fire and through the mud with elite Obstacle Course Racer Mike Ferguson.

Mike Ferguson

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.

Mike Ferguson on the Top of the Podium

Mike Ferguson on the Top of the Podium

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.

Sound familiar?

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

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.

Mike Ferguson with his Game Face On

Mike Ferguson with his Game Face On

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?


Talking OCRs & competitive eating (What???) with elite racer Mike Ferguson. #runchat #spartan Click To Tweet

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you connect with Mike on Instagram!

As Always, I’d Love to Know What Stood Out to You From this Episode! Let Me Know Your Takeaway in the Comments Below!

 Want to Support the Continued Growth & Production of the Show?

Check out the support page for ideas and suggestions of ways you can help me grow the show. And remember, not all support involves money. Some of the best ways you can show your support are 100% free.

Subscribe to the Show

Never miss another episode of the Diz Runs With podcast by subscribing to the show, and for my fellow Apple fans out there, it’s never been easier now that the podcast app is native on the new operating system. iPhone/iPod/iPad users click here. Android users click here. SoundCloud users click here.

Please Give Me Some Feedback!

Take the 6 question listener survey to help me shape the future of this podcast.

Register for a Free Race Training Plan

Every month, I’m giving away a FREE training plan for the race of your choice. For details/information, and to sign up, just click here.

Join The Tribe!

There’s always room for more members of the tribe! Both the Facebook group and the email group provide opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else. The Facebook group is still small, but it is a great way to connect with fellow runners and foster community amongst like minded individuals. The email group is THE way to stay up to date about future guests on the show, as well as getting some other freebies and offers that aren’t available to anyone else. If you’ve got questions about either/both, just let me know!

2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.