Updated: May 21, 2020
As always, THANK YOU to the 85 athletes who filled out the survey. We really appreciate your feedback, and we wish you all, and everyone else, the best in all of your OCR training and racing!
This article has a lot in it. It's really for the training nerds, and those who really want to learn more about training for OCR and what that means for other athletes. We asked more questions than in our OCR Shoes and GPS Watches articles because we wanted a much more in-depth look at the training people are doing to prepare for races. At the very end of this article we've pulled all the averages for the answers given to provide a concise picture of what an OCR athlete's training looks like.
Without further ado, here we go.
QUESTION 1: How many miles do you run per week on average?
Without sounding like doubters, we were surprised (pleasantly) to see how many people were running above the 15 mile per week mark. While it's not NECESSARY to run that many miles per week to prepare for a Sprint, it would be pretty important for a Super, and very important for a Beast. Really, your weekly mileage should directly correlate to your race goal. If you just want to walk/jog a 5K OCR with your friends and have a fun time, you won't have to put in many miles per week; though you absolutely should put in some miles each week in preparation. For those wanting to run a long course in a competitive wave, you'll obviously have to average significantly higher weekly mileage. All in all, these were some pretty encouraging numbers!
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QUESTION 2: On average, how many days do you run each week?
We were not in the LEAST BIT surprised by these results; except for the people who answered "0 Days". No, many coaches and programs talk about running 3 days per week as a good number. Usually people will space the days out so it's a Mon, Wed, Fri type schedule and they have time to recover between or do weight training on the other days. It's a good structure overall. We just hope that the athletes running 30+ miles per week are falling into the 5ish days per week category and not the 3 days per week range. Spreading the training load out is very important for proper recovery; especially for athletes with less/smaller training backgrounds.
QUESTION 3: When you run, is it mostly outside, on the treadmill, or a mix of both?
Quick note: it is very likely that one of our surveyed athletes messed around with their answers as we have several questions where a person listed that they don't run at all, but on this one, everyone said they do some running...psh, throwing off our data. Oh well!
We're very happy to see that most people are getting the majority of their running outside. Hopefully a lot of it is on trails where they can better prepare for the types of terrain most OCRs are run on. It's also great news that the number of people running on a pretty even mix of treadmill and natural terrain is pretty high. We don't hate treadmills. Not at all! We simply recommend, whenever possible, that people get outside and, also when possible, on trails for their running training.
QUESTION 4: Please select all other forms of cardio that you participate in at least 2x per month.
This is another exciting, positive bit of data. It's phenomenal that athletes are participating in several different types of cardiovascular activity! We were especially happy to see Rowing, Hiking, and Cycling so high on the list. Rowing is a great full-body exercise that is extremely easy to change variables on (power, resistance, speed) and has very little impact on the joints. Cycling is also perfect for building endurance in the legs and for recovery. It's also another great option for very low/virtually no joint impact. Hiking is of course a sport-specific skill to OCR, so it's great to see a lot of athletes participating in it. Swimming was pretty low on the list which is one we wish could be higher. We get it though; gyms with pools can be expensive, and summer doesn't last forever. However, whenever you have a chance to swim, we recommend taking the opportunity. It's fantastic for getting your whole body involved in movement with no impact on your joints. It's also great recovery work.
QUESTION 5: How many strength sessions do you do per week on average? (Strength sessions were defined, for the purpose of the survey, as workouts with additional weight added to body weight).
Firstly, and we don't care who we're offending here, to the persons who are doing 7 sessions of strength training on average each week, you should not do that. Unless the sessions are very short or use very light loads, or you are full-time athletes who can sleep like a bear, eat cleaner than a Dyson vacuum cleaner, and have fantastic genetics, you are very likely hurting your strength gains by your efforts; no matter how commendable they are. To the 6 athletes who aren't doing any strength training on average each week, you need to stop that...or, start it? You should start doing some weight training is what we're saying. Even if you are just a pure running (which OCR athletes are very much not) doing even 1-2 days of strength training per week can yield extremely positive results. The good news is that the majority of athletes fell in the 2-4 days per week, which is just about perfect (depending on your goals).
QUESTION 6: Do you put an emphasis on grip strength training at least 1x per week?
We have a few possibilities here. One: the 15 people who answered "no" or that they "never do grip specific work" have previously done tons of it and now have sufficient strength so they don't need to do it anymore (possible, but not the more likely) OR we have 15 people who are about 99% likely to fail a grip obstacle like Beater, Twirly Bird, Rope Climb, or any of the many others. The simple solution here is to START adding in at least 1 day of grip specific work. For everyone else, keep up the good work! If you are still failing obstacles, add in more grip work! If you've already done that, reach out to us at Trio Fitness OCR and we'll get you the grip training you need.
QUESTION 7: Where do you normally do the majority of your workouts?
Lots of people working out in gyms! We always encourage lots of outdoor training with our clients, but you may not be in a great place (geographically) for that type of thing, in which case, ABSOLUTELY hit the gym! It's also cool to see that there are a chunk of people working out at home. It can be very beneficial to have your fitness routine at home. For some people, it makes it feel like it's a more integral part of their lifestyle.
QUESTION 8: Have you seen the desired progress from your training since you began?
How Absolutely encouraging to see that the vast majority of athletes ARE seeing progress. Props to those who admitted that they've been slacking on their goals; it's important to acknowledge it. That being said, we hope they'll "get back on the horse" and get working toward their fitness goals. If you're an athlete seeing very slow progress, or struggling to maintain consistency, we highly encourage you to reach out and schedule a call with us. You'll find the call form on our home page at triofitnessocr.com. We'd love to help you reach your goals quickly and stay motivated along the way!
QUESTION 9: Have you experienced any chronic injuries from your racing/training? (Check all that apply)(Chronic being ones that either lasted more than 2 weeks, or that occurred 2 or more times in a single year)
The first number that popped out to us, especially considering how consistently the surveyed athletes run, was how FEW ankle sprains were noted. That's awesome! We just found it surprising. The top 4 offenders in this group are all a part of running/training for/participating in OCR and simply will happen to some people sometimes...sadly. Shoulders, if not properly strengthened, can become injured with excessive strain from hanging or lifting weights that aren't appropriate for an athlete's current strength. Foot and heel pain can occur for different reasons. It could be an issue with running form, or it could be that you're training/racing in shoes that should have been retired LONG ago. It could be overuse, or it could be some wild accident. No matter what, it's not surprising that it happens, but there are things that can be done to help prevent foot injuries. IT band and knee pain can both happen with overuse (compared to your current fitness level), poor running form, not enough lower body strength training, and more!
Developing proper structural strength in/around your shoulder joint will significantly decrease your injury potential. Building a strong lower body will help reduce stress/strain on your knees. Changing small things like your running cadence can be a factor in improving running form and reducing the impact on feet/heels. We aren't Physical Therapists or Rehab Specialists at Trio Fitness OCR. We're certified personal trainers and competitive OCR athletes who focus on pushing athletes to hit their goals, and on strengthening your weak spots to PREVENT injury from occurring in the first place. We call it Prehab.
A very bright spot on this question though was the fact that there are 25 people who seem to be injury-free thus far! That's AWESOME! We hope they stay that way!
QUESTION 10: What do you think is your biggest area of need in your training to reach your race-day goals?
We had a lot of different answers provided for this question, so we decided to go all-out and put together a video. Luke and I spent an hour going over the 11 "biggest areas of need" that people wrote in. If you're interested in learning about how you can beat the most common hurdles athletes are facing, give it a watch! *We apologize for any sound issues - technical difficulties abound*
BONUS! Below is how the average OCR athlete is training, along with the most common injuries associated with OCR and training for it.
The average OCR athlete:
Runs outside/outdoors 3 days each week for about 5-6 miles each time, for roughly 15-18 total weekly miles. They participate in rowing, hiking, and cycling/biking/spinning at least 2x each in an average month. They do 3.5 strength training sessions each week and make sure to include at least 1 day each week where they focus on grip strength work. A lot of their workouts are in the gym, but with a solid mix of at-home and outdoors as well. They have been seeing pretty solid results from their workouts in regards to reaching their goals. They have/or have had injuries to their shoulder(s), feet, or legs. Their biggest area of need is grip strength and upper body strength and they'd like to build up their endurance.
Trio Fitness OCR is the best place you can go for OCR coaching and training. We meet YOUR specific goals and needs. We don't do templates and we don't start you off at someone else's fitness level. Every workout is designed for you, the equipment you have access to, the amount of time you're able to commit, and to make you the best athlete you can be. You're always able to reach out to us with questions, thoughts, and feedback, and we want our athletes to learn as they train. Whether you are a beginner, or a seasoned participant in the sport, having experienced coaches will make you a better athlete. Head over to our Training Programs page and get signed up now.