Mile 44: Is OCR Burnout Real?

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Let me start by making an opinion statement. If you’re a person who loves spending time in the gym and views OCR as a lifestyle rather than a hobby then OCR burnout probably doesn’t mean anything to you. Most of these people finish a race on Saturday and race again on Sunday if it’s a two day event. Some people even run multiple laps in one day. I recently saw that someone did five laps at the NJ Rugged Maniac all in one day. These people live and breathe OCR. If you’re one of them and reading this article then you might not understand my point.

I’m speaking directly to the people who do these races for fun on the weekends. You know, the weekend warriors, a team of friends, open athletes and etc. These people fill the wave times after the elites and professionals every weekend. Without them the attendance at the races wouldn’t be nearly as high and possibly the sport not as popular. Races like Tough Mudder, Spartan, Savage and Warrior Dash rely on this group of people to grow the sport each year. So what would happen if suddenly all these people got burned out? Would this sport slowly decrease that one day it becomes known as fad? I’m really curious to know the answers to these questions. Unfortunately, for me, these questions cannot be answered at this time. At each event I’ve been to this whole season there have been thousands of people in attendance and event organizers are offering two day events and adding more locations constantly. So for the time being OCR burnout doesn’t seem to be an issue among the masses.

I completed my first OCR in 2012. Since one wasn’t enough I added an additional race in 2013, then completed six in 2014. In 2015 I only did five and realized that decreasing only caused me to want to complete more. For the 2016 season I nearly tripled my registrations (13 total). With only four races left in the season I came to conclusion I overdid it. I registered for too many races and stacked them into a short period of time. Maybe only doing one or two races a month spread out over a five to six month period or slowly increasing events per year instead of tripling it would’ve helped. Either way I’ve officially reached the point of OCR burnout.

I started doing OCR because it was something different and fun. Instead of lifting weights and running on the treadmill at the gym I wanted to do an entire course that worked out those same muscles. It’s not every day I get to throw a spear, zipline over water, traverse a rope upside down or slide down a giant slide. All of those obstacles are extremely fun. However, once I started doing obstacles over and over again they lost their appeal. I’m not saying they got boring, but the excitement and anticipation slowly decreased. Think of your favorite dish from a restaurant that you can’t go to everyday. Then suddenly you get to go more frequently and have the same dish. After awhile that dish won’t mean as much to you. This is how I’m currently viewing OCR right now. However, there are ways to combat OCR burnout.


Try Different Races – each year there are new OCR’s popping up all over the country. Some are local races, that are relatively unknown, and others are more popular. I know next year I plan on adding some new races to my calendar that are replacing some races I did twice this year. I have to keep the line-up fresh!

Try Different Locations – I enjoy the PA Warrior Dash, but I’ll be honest it’s become a dull race. Next year if they offer a Warrior Dash in another location that is close I’d more inclined to register for that instead.

Decrease/Increase Events – I already know that next year I’ll be registering for less races. Maybe if I decrease it enough I’ll want increase the events in 2018. This has already proved to work for me since I increased this year after decreasing last year.

Do It With New People – Do you have a friend or friends that’s expressed interest in a race, but hasn’t committed fully? If so, get them to sign up and do it with them. Even if it’s a low level race or one you constantly do it could give you a whole new experience. You’ll always remember your first time so why not make it a good time for your friend(s). I have a few friends like this and plan on pestering them until they commit.

For me OCR burnout is real. I couldn’t imagine not doing a race, but I also want to get back to the feeling of excitement and enjoyment. Hopefully by trying some of the solutions mentioned above I can find those feelings again. If you’ve experience burnout in OCR or anything else in life (another sport or hobby) I’d be interested in hearing your solutions and what you did to find it fun and exciting again.

In my next mile I’ll talk about mental preparation towards both endurance and short time events. This is something I wish I spent more time on prior to each race.

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