3 Tips for Pre-Race OCR Handcare


As an ultramarathoner, I am totally bound by my PreRace foot care routine. Having suffered from blisters, lost toe nails and dealt with hot spots… I have certainly learned the hardway when it comes to the meticulous pre-race preparation of my feet.

As an obstacle course racer, my hands don’t look much different from my feet. And I’ve found a similar strategy works.

1. About a week out, be extra careful not to wear shoes that will potentially rub or do anything else that might jeopardize the condition of your feet. Do the same with your hands. If they feel hot or sore, wear gloves. Also avoid anything that chews them up like hard ropes or sticky bars.

2. Trim nails and moisturize a few days out. You don’t want soft slickly moisturized feet going into a long race, but you especially don’t want soft slickly moisturized hands going into an obstacle race. If you need to apply moisturizer or oil (or sunscreen!) try to use gloves or wash it off but good. It makes you look like a totally creep-o but that’s better than looking like a total chump-o doing burpees at the monkey bars with suave hands.

3. Shave callases off. After I cut my toenails, I take one a callus razor and carefully shave all the calluses on my feet off. I do the same on my hands… and I haven’t torn a callus off post-shave since.

I like to do this after a hot bath when my skin is soft. I wouldn’t suggest doing this one the first time right before a race though. Try it a few times in training to make sure you’ve got it right.

As with feet you have to find something that works well for you and stick with it. You can probably finish a race with chewed down hands but you don’t have to!

I’d love to hear your tips – please comment below.

Is OCR what Marathon running was in the good old days?

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Years ago runners were considered masocistic lunatics who put themselves through senseless torture for reasons the mainstream simply could not understand.

Sound familiar?

I think obstacle course racing now occupies that realm… ad well, let’s just call it misunderstood.

In the 70s, all runners were hardcore. They ran through otherwise quiet, normal neighbourhoods in very short shorts doing something most people had never seen: running for the sake of it. It just wasn’t something people did. No one’s boss ran 10k for charity, no kids held signs for their moms tenth marathon finish. Nobody jogged to loose that last ten pounds.

And of course, no one really even knew how to train to run long distances… they were just out there gutting it out day after day. Every run.

Flash forward to the era of OCR. “You what? Electrocute yourself? Dive into icy water? Crawl in the mud and rocks under barb wire?”

Let’s face it. No one would do it for fitness or camaraderie alone. There is something else in us. Something most people don’t understand. The same thing those pioneer runners had in their blood: love of a kick-ass challenge and a unwavering desire to push their minds and body through hell.

Most elite races could easily be likened to a modern day Frank Shorter or Bill Rogers. I’m sure most of our neighbors have said similar things (or at very least given similar looks) about our training-induced behaviour… like running around the block at 5 am dragging a tire in very tight shorts.

And just like running in the 70s, there’s no “one” training plan. Mostly, we’re not even sure what we’re training for. Nowadays you can google a training plan to run 100 miles. You’ll get some variety, but the same guts in terms of periodized well-tested training.

Most OCR training plans involve bear crawls, pull-ups, burpees and other general strength exercises. But we also know strength alone isn’t going to cut it when it comes to making it over Everest alone, crossing Funky Monkey sans ice bath or traversing a balance beam without a burpee chaser. So we end up doing wacky arse stuff. And usually in the streets… in plain site of awestruck onlookers. Just like the good ol’ days of marathoning, eh?

I love being involved in a sport growing so strongly on the fringes of what people assumed humans were capable of. I have to say, when I first heard about this crazy new sport, my initial reaction was typical.

Is that even legal?