How to Train for OCR (Obstacle Course Racing), Marathons, and Triathlons

Before you start training for a significant distance or endurance race, such as a marathon or triathlon, it is critical to understand the best training techniques. While the best coaching and training comes from one-on-one sessions with our HOT FIT coaches in NYC, we hope that this article will help you get excited about your first (or 100th!) race and provides tips on how to train effectively.  


How to Train for OCR (Obstacle Course Race) 

Running an obstacle course event is much different and traditionally requires a more balanced approach to training than a marathon or triathlon. Whether you are a recreational or competitive OCR participant, you should take preparation seriously for a successful OCR. 

Here are four starter tips for preparing for your OCR event.

  •  Choose an OCR event in the NYC area.

There are many OCR event options with different obstacles and challenges. Some top favorite events include:

  • Spartan Race
  • Savage Race
  • Tough Mudder
  • City Challenge (NYC)
  • Rugged Maniac

If you are from the New York City area, check to see which events are offered around the region, and sign up for your choice. If you plan to travel to an OCR event, you may have more options. Knowing which type of event you are training for will help you finetune your OCR training strategy.

  •  Have a balanced OCR training routine.

OCR events require more than just cardiovascular health. You will need superior core strength, grip-ability, and upper body strength to overcome the obstacles in your course. Circuit training workouts that incorporate weight training can be a good choice.

  •  Nutrition is key.

For your body to perform at its highest level on race day, you should start prepping as far in advance as possible by feeding it with healthy, balanced food. For race day, you should plan to consume healthy proteins and carbs to refuel your body of lost energy. Hydration will also be critical to your success – you should start drinking water early in the day and continue throughout the race.

  •  Wear appropriate clothing – and train in them before race day.

To get the best performance out of your gear, you will want to train in it before race day. Good shoes are a must, especially for courses with rocky terrain. Choose clothing that can dry quickly (critical for wet and muddy OCR courses) and won’t weigh you down when wet.

Training for a Marathon in NYC

Before deciding to run a marathon, you should make sure you have the time and commitment to put into training. Training will take upwards of 10 hours per week for 12-16 weeks before the marathon. If your life does not allow for this increase in dedicated time to running, running a marathon may not be a good fit for you.

You should also consider the wear and tear on your body from this kind of event. Are you physically able to handle the challenge? We hope you are. Our HOT FIT coaches can help you evaluate your current schedule and physical fitness to provide feedback on your choice for an obstacle course race.

If you are committed to putting in the time and effort for marathon training, here are four tips to get you started in the right direction.

  •  Choose a training program.

A beginner runner will train differently than an experienced runner. You will need a program that works with your schedule and allows you to complete the training in time for your race. Choose a flexible training plan that will enable you to train for 4-5 days minimum. If you are unsure what type of training schedule fits you best, talk to one of our HOT FIT coaches for a customized workout plan to get you in shape to run your marathon.

  •  Slowly increase your runs over time.

Increase your endurance by increasing your long runs by not more than 10% per week. Any more than this can contribute to fatigue and injuries. It may be tempting to run the whole thing sooner than your training program allows, but it will hurt, not help you as you progress.

  •  Strengthen your body.

Whether you’ve run multiple marathons in the past or are trying for your first, running 26.2 miles requires more than just cardio endurance. Working weight training into your schedule can help increase muscle, which can help keep your joints in place. Long-distance running requires a great deal of endurance, and a strong core will help you compete at your best.

  •  Improve your mental game.

An appropriate training regimen will help to relieve stress and improve your outlook as the race approaches. In addition, knowing your body can take the pounding and working hard to reach your goal can motivate and encourage you. If you are located in the NYC area, we also recommend sessions with one of our coaches. HOT FIT coaches can help you stay in the game on hard days and provide a support system for your training.

Training for a Triathlon in the NYC area

Unlike an OCR event, triathlons involve swimming, biking, and running over various distances. Triathlons range from sprints (a total of 16 miles) to Ironman events over 140 miles long. If this is your first triathlon, you may want to start with a sprint before diving into the more extended events.

Training for a triathlon means you essentially will have to train for three events at once. Your training should be balanced, so you do well in all three phases of the event. Here are three tips to get you going.

  •  Understand your fitness goals.

Ask yourself why you are competing in a triathlon. These races can be a great step up for an active lifestyle, really pushing the limits of your endurance. If this is your first event, what do you seek to accomplish in your training and race? Understanding your personal motivation behind the choice to run a triathlon can help you zone in on the best training method.

  •  Get good gear.

Triathlons require specialized gear because of the variety of events involved. You will want a wetsuit for swimming, goggles that fit properly, running shoes, and a bike. We recommend choosing a bike based on comfort and feel for novice bikers, while experienced runners will likely need a bike that caters to serious aerodynamics and speed. Understanding basic bike maintenance can also help you avoid costly downtime during your triathlon. 

  •  Take rest days.

Don’t underestimate the importance of rest days. While you are pushing yourself through grueling workouts, it can be tempting to skip rest days in favor of more gym or running time. However, our bodies need a chance to rest and recover, especially after long and intense workouts. The high-paced New York City lifestyle may make rest days sound like a cop-out, but they are critical to success. You don’t have to sit on the couch to rest, though – try lower intensity workouts, stretch sessions, yoga, and massage to keep your body going and rebuilding at the same time.

Whatever your reasons for running an OCR event, marathon, or triathlon, we are here to support you. If you have specific questions on your event or would like a customized training plan to meet your needs, contact HOT FIT or reach out to one of our coaches, and they will be happy to help.

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