An Interview With Michael Cohen

 

Obstacle Race Magazine Interview with Michael Cohen
Carl Wibberley of  Obstacle Racing Magazine
Interview with Michael Cohen
Issue 1
February 2014

 

Professional training in the world of obstacle racing is very new and a continuous subject as seen with some Facebook chatter, so here are a few questions posed to Coach Michael.

ORM
Do you need to have training if you are entering an obstacle race?

COACH MICHAEL
Any contender can enter a race trained or not. So the answer is NO.

ORM
So why provide obstacle race specific training?

COACH MICHAEL
Contenders are starting to wise up to the fact that OCR’ing is challenging and down right dangerous when you have not got the basic skills to be safe, competent and confident. As a racer I know myself how many contenders injure themselves, because they are not versed at just dealing with the terrain and weather, let alone technical obstacles.

ORM
You say safety, what do you mean?

COACH MICHAEL
The primary safety skill I teach all my trainees is how to jump, land, crawl, climb, mud run and bog traverse. Most importantly safety rolls & falls, not just on mats in the gym, but out on the rutted and rooted terrain. With all the event organisers turning up the difficulty level you can’t just assume you can deal with it.

ORM
What do you mean just deal with it?

COACH MICHAEL
Every slip, or poor judgement decision leaves contenders vulnerable. It is not like there are safety mats under the obstacles or clear water pools that you can see what obstructions are perilously beneath. Not forgetting when you are fatigued then anything can happen and it might not be your instigation. It could be one 2,000 other contenders that cause you to fall.

natural_running

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORM
What can the more seasoned racer get out of training?

COACH MICHAEL
There is an assumption that a lot of seasoned racer know what they need to do as far as training when it comes to running and going to the gym. For sure fitness training will get them through. However, contenders decide to seek out obstacle race training because they want to optimise their racing. You see a lot get by being a good runner. However when it comes to agility, balance, carrying, lifting, throwing, jumping, climbing (all functional movements) they are penalised.

ORM
Does this mean a lot of contenders are under performing?

COACH MICHAEL
Simply YES. At a recent training camp I had elite & seasoned racers unable to effectively climb or traverse a rope, or even do leg raise exercises or monkey bars. It is about teaching contenders good foundation techniques that they can progressively develop through practice and experience. In short training isn’t just about fitness.

ORM
What do you mean?

COACH MICHAEL
Fitness is just one aspect. It is important to find a coach that will teach a trainee about their body, how it communicates, connectivity and flow. Its about functionality rather than specialised exercises, sets and reps. Once you are out on the OCR course it is all about the unknown and unknowable in regard to the terrain, weather, obstacles and the 0,000’s of contenders around you.

ORM
So how do you train for the unknown?

COACH MICHAEL
For starters contenders need to also include in their training some simulated racing environment training outdoors, such as in the forest. Then you get to experience the seasons, weather, the undulating terrain, the natural obstructions, hazards and obstacles. That’s for starters. Then you have the wild aspects to training such as lifting logs. And if you practice lifting using lots of different stances, hand grips and hand domination, then you start to develop your muscles in a multilateral way. This enables you to deal with the unknown and adapt to the obstacles and changing terrain with confidence and in control.

ORM
What would you say is the most important training skill for up and coming races.

COACH MICHAEL
Cold Water & Cold Weather Acclimatisation Training is no.1 on the list. You would not believe how many races suffered with hypothermia in last years winter races even in March this year. So many contenders minds and body go in to shock when they have not adjusted their body’s thermostat and mental perception of being in such a frigid environment that they will be exposed to over the winter. Even elite racers suffered with hypothermia, because they were under trained and incorrectly kitted out.

To get your free weekly Lake Water Temperature Alert send an email to info@wildforestgym.com and in the subject line insert ‘ORM Lake Water Temperature Alert’

 

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