Staying Injury Free During An OCR
Reducing injuries is actually why I got into coaching and training people to run obstacle races. Back in 2010 every race I ran I saw way too many injuries that were entirely avoidable. If the racer was just shown a few basic rules and techniques to keep in mind during the race they could have avoided these injuries. The main factors in the injuries that I saw were overconfidence, lack of knowledge or training, general awareness, and fatigue.
This is where training even a short time for the race can impart a great awareness of your body and surroundings during the race. When our heart rate passes 120 bpm we start to develop tunnel vision and lose the higher cognitive abilities (IE good judgement and depth perception) that help keep us safe. In longer races this is important to understand as you may not be going fast but your heart rate may be up due to elevation climbing or short bursts of anaerobic activity (obstacles) as well as fatigue setting in.
The most common injuries that I have witnessed and heard stories about have to do with the ankles and knees. Most were obtained while tripping on uneven terrain or dropping off of a wall or high object. Unfortunately, most weekend racers do not spend enough time developing flexible and strong hips, ankles or feet. As well as not having enough upper body strength to climb down/off of a tall obstacle. They usually have no problem getting up but are either fatigued by the effort it took to scale the obstacle or lack the knowledge/awareness of how to get off the obstacle. This usually results in them hanging and jumping/falling off into the mud which could be hiding rocks/debris and cause a sprained ankle or in one case I personally witnessed a person dislocating a knee coming off the very first wall.
Here are my top 5 tips to reduce injuries at your Race:
- Slow down and stop before an obstacle
- 5 easy breathes to lower your heart rate is all you need to save you from an injury or receiving 30 burpees
- Take a few seconds to LOOK and ASSESS the obstacle.
- Sometimes the adrenaline is pumping and we think we can do more than we can under the circumstances. Take a few seconds to develop a strategy and then go.
- Choose the most efficient way over/under/through with the least amount of energy spent.
- Sometimes 30 burpees is the better, more efficient choice
- There may be an obstacle with a shorter line, less mud and more fun. If you are in tunnel vision mode you will not see it.
- Look before you land.
- Check the ground/mud before you get in or drop off an obstacle. Mud/water can hide rocks and roots.
- Stop on top of the walls, nets, and ropes and look down. Be aware of others actions that might affect your own.
- Have food and water with you
- Being hungry and dehydrated will lead to poor choices
- Even for short races have a backup plan to replenish carbohydrate and water sources just in case, for example a rapid change in weather.
- BONUS Tips!!!!
- Always have a battle buddy! A friend that will stick with you the whole race and help you if you do get injured.
- Don’t let your ego run away from you. Unless you are in the elite heat, racing for $$ you are there to challenge yourself and have fun. Balance the Risk vs Reward vs Fun factors.