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5 Simple Ways to Prepare for Your First Obstacle Course Race

Uncategorized Jul 27, 2018

Millions of participants ... 60+ countriesOlympic-sport status?

Betcha didn’t know we’re talking about Obstacle Course Racing...

The three-letter acronym, OCR, has quickly gone from obscure to iconic as brands like Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash have transformed into household names.

Whether you’ve been aboard the bandwagon since the sport passed 1-million participants in 2011 (and its subsequent boom), or are brand new to the mud, sweat, and tears, you need to prepare properly before jumping into the fun.   

After all, there’s no way your current lifestyle has you ready to take on fire, cargo nets, twisting monkey bars, and “Electroshock Therapy.”

While some of the obstacles might sound like they’ve been plucked from horror films, OCR is an equal-opportunity event stealing the hearts of a melting pot of participants.  

Weekend warriors, desk jockeys, runners, swimmers, moms, dads, teens, and nearly every 20- and 30-something in the U.S. can be considered an OCR “competitor.” Heck, even marathoners and 5K’ers have jumped ship to trade pounding pavement for climbing, jumping, and crawling.

The thrill of the unique obstacles, the intoxicating sense of camaraderie, and the high-energy, party-like atmosphere that comes with OCR is something everyone should experience.

So, if you weren’t already convinced, you are now :).

If you’re ready to commit to your first race, claim your spot in our Ultimate OCR Prep Program right now and we’ll cover your registration for the perfect beginner course.

Keep scrolling for a crash course on OCR, including our 5 expert-approved strategies that will get you prepared to crush your first race.

5 Proven Ways to Safely Prepare for Your First OCR

Let’s dive in. Preparation is the key to success — and survival — when it comes to OCR. Here’s what you need to know from our team of OCR experts:

1. Focus on the Right Fuel

We’re not suggesting you jump into a ridiculous diet, but you do need to fill your tank with the proper fuel to avoid passing out halfway through your first race (been there, done that :)).

The process starts now!

As race day approaches, making drastic changes to your diet can shock your body … in the worst way possible. So, you need to start practicing healthy habits immediately.

Increase your lean protein intake, sub sugary and salty snacks for fiber-rich foods, cut down on simple carbs and sugar, and watch your portion sizes.

Colorful plates of veggies, lean protein sources like turkey, chicken, and fish, healthy fats like avocado and nuts, and complex carb sources like sweet potato and oatmeal should make up the majority of your meals.

As race day approaches, increase your electrolytes with yogurt, broccoli, tomatoes, and coconut water.

These extra electrolytes will help prevent cramping, speed up recovery, and give your body a heaping dose of sustained energy.

Finally, when race morning arrives, down your fiber and protein-rich favorites from above to keep you feeling full without weighing you down. You want your body to have something it’s been used to digesting a few hours before start time.

2. Get Guzzlin’!

Up to 75% of Americans are dehydrated … and you can’t afford to be one of them on race day.

So, you (yes, you) need to drink more water … right now!

Like your nutrition, you can’t wait until the night before the race to begin hydrating.

As you increase your training (something we’ll cover next), you’ll sweat more. That sweat takes water and valuable nutrients with it. So, you need to ensure your body is properly hydrated before and after exercise.

If you kick up your training and don’t increase your water intake, you’re sacrificing performance and your health.

The truth is even slight dehydration can impact your training and keep you from finishing your first race.

Rather than discussing the laundry list of problems that come along with dehydration (some are downright scary), grab a water bottle and drink at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water daily.

As you hit race week, guzzle even more water. And when race day rolls around, have a bottle in hand (one of our 15 race-day essentials), stop at every water station, and cheers your competitors!

3. Set Some Baseline Goals.

Use your OCR registration as the ultimate motivation to take care of your body.

Set some goals. In fact, one important part is done for you: The race date won’t change, so you have a firm deadline to achieve what you lay out.

For first-timers, your best bet is to set some baseline health and fitness goals.

Here are a few fitness-focused examples:

  • Work out a minimum of 3 days per week now until race day.
  • Lose 5 pounds and pack on some muscle.
  • Or, identify a few exercises and plan to set new PR’s at the gym.

You can then tack on some nutrition goals to help you stick to the suggestions from our first two OCR-prep strategies.

Here are some nutrition-related ideas:

  • Treat yourself to only one cheat meal per week.
  • Eliminate all processed food five days per week.
  • Or, start small and remove sugar from your morning coffee.

You get the idea: Leverage your commitment to race day as a way to set some healthy goals.

The best part? All of these goals will benefit you when you hit the starting line.

4. Fine-Tune Your Workouts With Race-Ready Exercises.

Don’t wait until the week of the race to start hitting the gym — unless you want to be an OCR horror story.

Despite what you might think, these events are not reserved for elite athletes and massive bodybuilders, but they do require a foundation of strength and endurance to complete.

The good news? You don’t need to hit the gym everyday, pump iron, and run on a treadmill until your legs feel like they’ll fall off to get race ready.

In fact, you shouldn’t do any of those things :). This 9-Exercise OCR Cheatsheet is proof of that.

Hop into a workout routine that emphasizes circuit training so you can get a blend of cardio and strength work in a fast-pace atmosphere. This will start building a foundation conducive to racing.

Add in some longer runs and extended cardio work, and of course, practice movements that mimic what you can expect on race day.

Some of our favorite OCR-inspired exercises include Army crawls and bear crawls, pull-ups and chin-ups, and skater jumps and broad jumps to prepare you for the crawling, climbing, and jumping you can expect with every course.

If you have access to specialized, race-ready equipment like we do here at Journey 333, rope climbing, tire flipping, sandbag carrying and ladder agility drills will pay huge dividends on race day.

Finally, work on your mobility and flexibility. You’ll need to be nimble to make it through several of the most common obstacles.

5. Run Your Own Race.

It’s a fantastic feeling to take on your first OCR and experience the cool camaraderie the event brings out in all of us.

But you can’t let others impact you. This is your race. So, treat it like so.


  • Go at a pace that you are comfortable with.
  • Feel free to walk and rest as needed.
  • Watch and learn from others as they take on obstacles.
  • Have fun :).


There are no expectations with OCR. There’s no magic time you must beat. And there’s no one sitting from the sidelines judging your every move.

These events are popular because they’re fun. So enjoy. Our guess is you’re gonna be hooked!

Extra Resources for Your First OCR

As you get ready for your first OCR, keep the following in mind: Treat food as fuel, stay hydrated, set goals, fine-tune your workouts, and prepare to run your own race.

If you need more help prepping, check out our Ultimate OCR Prep Program designed for first-time competitors like you.

If you’re nervous about committing or simply want expert coaching and access to OCR-specific training tools (those rope climbs will getcha!), the Ultimate OCR Prep Program is for you.

Claim your spot in our Ultimate OCR Prep Program right now and we’ll get you registered for your first race FREE of charge. Plus, we’ll arm you with the confidence, strength, endurance, energy, and support to be fearless when you step up to the start line.

Check out all of the details and claim your spot here :).


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