If you’re planning (or envisioning) to run an obstacle course race in the near future, you have to decide on a preparation plan. There are countless plans and strategies out there but I want to focus specifically on examining if the Movnat method could improve your overall preparation and what are some of the benefits it can bring you.
Preparing for an OCR but keeping training general enough
One factor in deciding on your preparation plan will be to decide on how specific you want to get. If you are looking to compete at the elite level, then you’ll need to practice the obstacles, etc… This will be a large investment in terms of time and efforts. On the other hand, if you’re looking to have fun while also trying to improve your performance, you will want to prepare by using a training method you can do without too much constraints, but which will improve your performance significantly enough on the specialized skills you’ll need during the race. Movnat falls in this category squarely.
Mental preparation: Movnat improves your Mental Toughness
Obstacle course races are first and foremost endurance events. And like with all endurance challenges, mental capabilities are critical in pushing your limits, pushing through the pain and just continuing until the finish line without quitting. Mental Toughness is the mental state and capability you need to develop to achieve this. It combines being focused on a goal (finishing the race in the least time possible), being incredibly persistent (no quitting until you’re done) and resilient in the face of negative surprises (failing an obstacle, developing a minor ailment but pushing through).
Movnat is incredibly good at improving Mental Toughness. I explain why in details in this post. That is the first advantage of practicing Movnat: you start to gain a mental edge over everyone else.
The mother of all obstacle courses: Navy Seals BUD/S selection
During the famous grueling 6 months training and selection phase for US Navy Seals candidates, they have to complete timed runs on the BUD/S obstacle course. The video below shown below is of an instructor progressing through the course.
As you can see, the Movnat skills of crawling, jumping, balancing, climbing, landing, etc. are all essential in the completion of this obstacle course. Few other general fitness methods can develop these capabilities in a similar way. It’s no wonder then that Erwan Le Corre, the founder of Movnat, was brought in to train Navy Seals. This is from the addendum to Erwan’s book, The Practice of Natural Movement:
I once had the privilege to train several members of the Navy Special Warfare Command (Navy SEALS). One of the most intimidating obstacles of their obstacle course is called the “Dirty Name” for a reason: Novice trainees often fail to pass it or hurt themselves while they try, so they insult the obstacle with dirty names out of anger and frustration.
The obstacle is made of three elephantine horizontal bars set a few feet apart and at increasing height. You would have to be a very powerful jumper to be able to jump from one to the other and stay on your feet. Most people who pass it successfully do so by jumping from one bar to land on the next in a Forearm Hang, which is less than optimum and has great potential for injury. (As a matter of fact, some people break ribs this way.) Usually, when you end up in that position, you just let go, jump down, and try again. I was able to show the team the Pop-Up technique as an effective way to get back on top of the bar from the Forearm Hang position without having to climb down and re-attempt the whole obstacle. It was a welcome implementation of a MovNat technique to their training, which is highly demanding in practical physical competence.
If Movnat techniques can help Navy Seals improve their time and performance during their selection and training phase, they can help you perform better during your Spartan, Toughmudder, etc. races.
How Movnat helps you prepare?
The Movnat website has an excellent explainer on how Movnat assist you in your plans to prepare for an OCR:
The movement skills required to move through an obstacle course are precisely the movement techniques we teach.
Practical, adaptable, complex movements are the core principles of MovNat, and they are the core requirements for success on an obstacle course. Strength and conditioning only get you so far, what you need to really succeed is movement ability to get the most out of your physical preparedness.
We don’t just teach how to get over the wall, we teach you how to do so with efficiency. When you move efficiently, you preserve energy for other parts of the race. This is the key.
The unpredictable nature of these courses is where MovNat training takes center stage – by training moving with technique through changing environments, participants become adept at quickly and intuitively accessing and solving new obstacles. Its about complex and adaptable movement for highest levels of performance and success.
But the team at Movnat hasn’t just put time and effort in explaining why Movnat is fantastic. Eric Brown, one of the team instructors, has also published a long and detailed article, along with video tutorials, on using Natural Movement For Obstacle Course Racing . If you’re on your way to prepare for an OCR, this is gold. Please go read it! It’s also no coincidence that Eric is a former Navy Seal and Seal Instructor that oversaw the selection and training of seals candidate. When he talks about obstacle courses, you know he’s practiced and instructed on the one used to select future Navy Seals.