Gloves, the Pain Cave and the Rising Level of Talent in OCR
Three years ago, I did a Savage Race and was impressed with the level of difficulty of their grip obstacles. This past weekend I jumped into a Savage Blitz – the 5k version of their standard course and found a bunch of new obstacles and the same level of gip-challenge I remember so fondly! I was also struck by three things; one, you should know because it might help you race more successfully, one you know intimately well if you’ve ever raced your heart-out, and one you’re likely realizing if you’ve raced over the past few years.
The first “race more successfully” item has to do with the use of gloves on course. A few days before the Blitz, I crashed my mountain bike on a hard-packed dirt trail and ripped-up my back, shoulder, arm and hands. If you’ve ever OCR’d scraped-up, you know it’s uncomfortable, but if your hands are part of the carnage, it gets real, real quick. I decided to wear gloves for the first time ever from start to finish and I’m so happy I did. Even though sustained grip holds stung like a b!+@h, the gloves made it bearable. And the added grip…oh, that’s where the real magic happened. I have grip strength. I can monkey bar, rig, olympus, and beater without issue, but when you take that baseline ability and add rubber-coated, tight-fitting, quick-drying gloves to it, it kinda feels like cheating. So, if you’re running a wet course or just want a little grip advantage, you might experiment with a pair of grippers. For now, races that pay for top spots like Spartan, NORAM, OCRWC, Terrain Race, Savage Race, Conquer the Gauntlet and those that don’t like Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash, Green Beret Challenge and Bonefrog allow you use gloves on course (most require you finish with everything you started with).
My second takeaway is a reminder of the level of discomfort…okay, let’s call it pain, that you must be willing to endure if you want to compete. And when I say compete, it doesn’t matter if you’re going for an overall podium or just trying to finish before the person next to you or under a certain time. If you are pushing yourself to your maximum heart-rate or close to it at any point during the race, you know what pain is…and if you’re revisiting that place multiple times and for extended periods, well, you clearly have your priorities in order. LOL.
The final thing I’m taking with me is a clearer realization of the level of skill across the entire sport of Obstacle Course Racing. This is my seventh year racing and I’ve competed in 60+ races and have won 20+ from Spartan’s 800 meter olympic short course to the 12+ mile Beast distance and across several brands. And although I’ve now seen a few years into my 40s and am coming back from a real f=@&*r of an injury, I know my training times compared to what they were 3 years ago and where I was in relation to everyone else that toed the line – the short story is that I’m not too far off what I was at my peak. And, what I can say, unequivocally, is that everyone’s gotten really damn good! The level of competition continues to rise across all brands and there is just simply no safe haven any more to sneak-in and grab an overall win or a podium, no matter the brand or where you’re racing, especially if there’s a bit of prize money on the line.
I love the sport of obstacle racing and am all-in for helping do whatever I can to help it grow, while continuing to visit the pain cave in training in the hopes that I can stay somewhere in the conversation with the phenomenal athletes that are training their assess-off to shave a few minutes or seconds off their times and climb one or two more spots on the leaderboard.
What I Used to Race: EndurElite Supplements, PerformElite, SustainElite, Virus Intl Gear, VJ Shoes, Caterpy Laces, Secret Gloves 🙂
Tags: Savage Race, Spartan Race, OCR, Obstacle Course Racing, Grip Strength, Gloves, Monkey Bars, OCR Training, Virus Gear, EndurElite, VJ Shoes, Caterpy Laces, FitLincMedia, ObstacleEdge
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