Profile of a RockDoc OCR Athlete
My name is Brenda Rowland and I am a 32 year old OCR racer from Red Deer, Alberta. I am a mom of 3 who wears many hats (but not actual hats because they just don't look good on me) and I was not athletic before I found OC. It has been a complete life change for me and my family! I have an awesome group around me here.
Q: What is OCR?
OCR is Obstacle Course Racing. It's basically like an adult playground spread out over anywhere from 5-23+km. There are many different styles of OCR - for example, Mud Hero and Tough Mudder are wetter courses, Spartan Races always have one or two water obstacles (pits, river crossings etc.), and XWarrior (specific to Alberta) is a dry race - so no water obstacles.
Q: What got you into OCR?
I was not into many organized sports growing up. I played volleyball because it seemed like the sport with the least running. In my mid 20s, I had gained a lot of weight after my second child. Long story short, I found an awesome bootcamp that ignited a training smolder in me. A few years later, I was on a run with a friend who suggested a Spartan Race. It sounded crazy! He sent me a video and I was completely intimidated. He signed up as a personal challenge to himself. I thought that was really amazing, so we formed a team with my sister for our first-ever Obstacle Course Race in Red Deer, Alberta. We finished our Spartan Sprint (usual distance of 5-7km, roughly 20 obstacles) in 2.5 hours and after the fire jump, I promised myself I was going back next year lighter and faster. I was hooked!
Q: What distances do you prefer and why?
I enjoy them all. I finished my first Spartan Trifecta last year, which is one of each of their 3 main distances Sprint, Super (10+km) and Beast (21+km) and can't honestly say I have a favourite! I also completed XWarrior's Titan Stadium (as many laps of their 5ish km course as you can in 6 hours) and that was a unique challenge as well. Gives you a lot of chances at obstacles you may not have seen before or may have failed the last lap through.
Q: What does the training look like?
OCR is a lot of running and bodyweight bearing. You need to be able to train running distances between 5 and 20km. I try to run 2-3x per week around the beginning of the season and at least once per week mid- season. Sometimes that is combined with obstacle training involving monkey bars, squats, lunges, clean and press, pull-ups, grip strength and farmer's carries. We do a lot of sandbag hills and rucking and weight vest training.
Q: How does OCR challenge your fitness?
Competitive OCR pushes me to stay on top of my fitness. I attend local trail runs and road races, as well as continue to work on my upper body strength. OCR is often run on trail, so I need to make sure I stay mobile and injury free.
Q: Any OCR injuries?
Personally - no! But some that can occur include little things like small scratches from branches and rope burns, to hand rips, sprained ankles, and pulled/dislocated shoulders or knees.
Q: How do you deal with injuries on the course, between races?
Race volunteers are amazing as course marshalls. They often have radios, so if a racer gets injured in any severe way, they can radio the base for assistance. Some people pack tape in small backpacks or waterpacks in the case of hand rips.
Between races,I and many racers I am acquainted with here in Red Deer go to a co-operative clinic that provides chiropractors (who are also avid racers!), massage, personal training, psychology, and kinesiology and more. They are awesome!
For myself, I will be using my knowledge from my 2 RockTape certifications to assist in my own recovery this season - looking forward to that!!
Q: How many races a year do you do?
Last year, I competed in 3 and ran 5 altogether. This year, I am on deck to run 10 competitive OCR and 4 road/trail races.
Q: What's the OCR community like, especially amongst female competitors?
The OCR community is awesome! I have met some of my closest friends within this pool of slightly crazy people (for reference, we completely sold out an XWarrior race within hours of release with absolutely no details about it!). We are supportive, often carpooling to events and sharing accommodations and training together.
Competition is competition. We are not always our best toward others when we strive to beat them! Some people prefer to think of the race as their own and aren't concerned with other racers running which makes the dynamic of the race a lot more relaxed. Competitive and Elite racers are focused, strong, and passionate about OCR. The amount of female racers often outnumbers male racers, and sometimes it can get clique-y. All in all, we just love the sport, and our dedication shows.
Q: What's your favourite aspect about OCR?
Crushing personal goals. I love the training leading up to the race, but that post-race high of whether or not I challenged myself or did my best or hit the podium is what we all chase.
Q: Any training tips and tricks that you're willing to share?
Hang off of everything. Run some, and then some more. Work on lower body mobility and upper body strength. And hang off more things. Occasionally do pull-ups on those things. And also, safely lift awkward and heavy things (tires, posts, trees, rocks, humans, etc.).
Q: What's up next in your OCR schedule?
I am slated to attend a Spartan Beast and a Sprint in Montana, which will be my first time! I am running with several friends, so it will be an awesome time!