Feels very personal and of essence
Dirt in your skirt, ladies and gents, is an award winning blog run by OCR athlete and a Wonder Woman herself – Margaret Schlachter. Rather than praising how good her resources and race reflections are, today we’re bringing you another book for your brain muscle and this is Margaret’s book titled Obstacle Race Training.
Having read a sizeable amount of books on obstacle racing by this point, I’ve become used to a certain writing format that they all exhibit. The books on this topic usually read like a template: it starts with the author’s personal story of life change, continues with their life of racing, and sets out their training routines with info on how you can adapt them to your routine. Margaret’s book is structured similarly, however it has a lot of golden nuggets of its own. As such it will be an irreplaceable manual for beginners whilst also giving value to the advanced athlete.
Let’s dive deeper and discuss some of the things you can find in this book.
The book is presented as a subset of stories with photos of Margaret kicking ass on different obstacles. Photos speak louder than words, right? Not only does this make the message of the book that much stronger, but the whole book also feels very personal and of essence. Especially for those people who have already been through similar struggles themselves.
Margaret kicks the book off talking about the roots of OCR as a sport, then moving onto the various types of runs, how to start racing and choose your race, how to get over specific obstacles, how to build good nutrition habits, and then she goes straight into training. If you are a beginner, this is already enough information for you to decide to pick this book up. However, if you’re a more advanced athlete, read on, because the second part of the book is even more exciting.
The 3 golden nuggets for me were:
- Race day experience stories
Don’t know about you, but I have a soft spot for transformation stories of how people changed their lives or improved them drastically. Importantly, I’m not narrowing this down just to those who were in a ditch which they then got out of to achieve heaps. Rather, I’d include those who simply persevered in what they thought was impossible for them to do. In fact, our editor Helena is one of the latter, who discovered the sport and used the winner effect to achieve more in other parts of her life. Crucially, Margaret features genuine experiences in her book. This includes marriages falling apart and how personal shortcomings and the society can be gruesome to some. Most importantly, it showcases how doing something extraordinarily yet natural can inspire one to do more and to do better.
- After race blues aka the ‘Crash’ and how to deal with it
The ‘crash’ isn’t a very popular topic in any endurance racing sports, but it is one of the most interesting. You know the feeling I’m talking about? Dealing with the peak of emotions and joy after you’ve overcome an intense challenge that is an obstacle race, to then have to come back to your routine and daily life.
Some races are undoubtedly life-changing. I myself never understood how people do go back to their 9-5 jobs after having finished something like the Death Race. How would you be able to abstain and in a way compress that temporary Superman/Wonder Woman feeling? Knowing that another race might not come until the following month or maybe even not until the next season. Here Margaret gives some tips for how to make the best of the post-race high, how to ease into the not-so-exciting routine elements, such as taking care of your body etc. I’ve found all of these useful and would add just one more: taking a day or two off work to have some buffer time after a race works wonders. I use this time not only to recover physically, but also mentally, setting sights on my next race and adjusting training goals.
- Recovery stretching drills
Before I got into training in a serious way (this was years before I was certified as a coach), I thought that there was no way to ease the soreness after a tough physical experience. Your body just feels damaged. I was either ‘ok’ or in pain for days till I was ‘ok’ again. Those were the days when everyone was blindly pushing their body to the limit and not allowing (or helping) it to properly recover. If pain is something you’re still struggling with, in this book you’ll find awesome stretching drills. It’s a very simple set of moves for fascial and lactic acid releases all done dynamically (rather than for example whilst lying down on a mat). They’re similar to warmups for running and drills, yet they’re tailored for recovery.
- How to build a multi-purpose obstacle rig
If you are into crafts and DIY, then this is the part of the book you’ll be most excited by. Using simple instruction, Margaret goes through the process of turning her garden into a training centre. She provides a list of supplies and easy steps to help anyone build a monster 8-foot wall meets pull-up bar meets hay stack target for spear training (see the picture below). The rig is all you would need to prepare for any race. Add off-road runs to this and you won’t need any gym membership.
The best part is, that all 3 of the golden nuggets which I found very useful are part of many more smaller essays featured in the appendix as well as throughout the book. So I am more than sure that, no matter your reading tastes or personality, this book will be a good addition to your brain muscle library.