How Climbing Helps Me Run Obstacle Races Stronger And Confident

I ran my first obstacle race or OCR this year and my first ocr in over a year last month. If there’s 2 things I took away from it was 1, climbing gives you an edge in ocrs and 2, if you want something done, do it yourself as you’re the only one 99% of the time who’ll rescue you.

I didn’t train for this ocr, The Maori Race. Previously I’d upped my gym training which is a bit of everything: functional, all directions, HITT, bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, suspension training, ‘animal’ movement and nearer the time working on my burpees. Everything but machines! I signed up last minute and I haven’t been up on my burpees either. Usually it’s 30 ‘Crossfit’ chest touches the floor burpees for every obstacle you can’t do. Most months they’re in my workouts, but only 3 x 10. Ever since I started indoor bouldering and climbing ocrs have kinda fallen by the wayside. Getting to the locations is another reason. I could hire a car, but the sign up fees seem to increase every year making it expensive. Knowing how tired I’ll be afterwards or injured like 2 years ago  completing the course on a twisted ankle, I prefer not to drive myself there. 

Basically all I did for training was my usual own workouts, Tone It Up Studio Tone Up workouts and climbing. I couldn’t believe the difference climbing made! The last ocr I did was the same course and I had noticed a difference last year from climbing. This year I was amazed at the difference. I was stronger overall in the obstacles, the wall’s weren’t an issue, climbing up and over no problems. The upside down monkey bars were easier than last year. That’s not to say I didn’t have help on some obstacles. The container climb, I had a knee up. I didn’t do the swimming pool wall drop. I said to the volunteer I can climb up it no probs, but I’m too scared to jump off into the swimming pool. She was cool as long as I climbed up. I’m not the best swimmer and I knew I’d probably freak out and and land wrong. I was able to enter the pool from the side and wade across. Climbing hasn’t got rid of all my hesitant fear. The rope climb I got 1/2 up (the one obstacle I’ve never trained for), the Olympic rings with moving bars to my surprise I aced. Climbing helped so much with hand eye coordination, upper body strength, hand grips, confidence to do it. All of the walls I didn’t need help, even on the last one, which brings me to 99% of the time the only person who can rescue you is you. The other 1% is emergencies. You know the kind I’m talking about. 

The final obstacle was the big wall. I usually have help with the 6ft, 7ft, 8ft walls. In Spartan Races for sure help, as there’s not always a step located on the side of the wall so far up for the girls (guys on some races can’t use the step. Maybe they can now). If there’s the step I can usually do it, if it’s 6ft. I can’t run and jump to get a start. That I do know. I think this one was around 8ft. A girl was going to help me up to the step, but I knew I could get that far and keep my balance pulling myself up using the side of the wall. She disappeared as I looked for her to maybe help me with the next bit. That’s one thing I like about ocrs everybody helps each other, You give help, others help you back, even if it’s words of encouragement or a tip. The wall was now as high as my hands stretched up just touching the top of the wall. I looked around for someone to help me. No. All the guys were helping each other or pulling themselves up. Same with the girls. I think I spent a minute looking around. Fu*k it, I’ll go on my own. I noticed one of the planks now about mid thigh was jutting out every so slightly. Not thinking I could use it, I managed to pull myself up and then use that tiny 3mm sticking out as a foot hold climb over. I do that every week climbing! Okay a bigger hold, but I trusted my feet pulling myself up! I rescued myself!

Reflecting after the race I for once felt proud of myself. I do the pulling up over things, trusting myself, trusting my feet 3 times a week climbing! I probably could have done the swimming pool wall drop. I’m not the most confident person and I don’t allow my own pats on my back often. I usually run ocrs on my own which can be kinda daunting. Others are running in groups, they look big and strong, they shout, get into the atmosphere. I’m shy. I was picked last at sports even by my ‘friends’ so I never really expect much from myself at sports, even climbing. If I don’t get the route, no worries, I’m not beating myself up over it. I’ll try again, get it eventually or not. Ocr’s you can’t try again, you only have 1 opportunity per obstacle. I still expect people to laugh at me if I can’t do them like I couldn’t throw or hit the ball. It’s the shy one’s you have to watch right?! The next ocr I’ll for sure be eating my words climbing and running’s all you need and only you can rescue yourself unless it’s an emergency, you know the kind I’m talking about.

Climbing hasn’t help with posing. Still can’t pose for shit. 

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