Adventure Racing is a cross-disciplined sport that includes maneuvering through the wilderness on a course (without GPS) performing various physical activities such as: mountain biking, canoeing, rappelling, trekking, skiing, climbing, white water rafting, etc. Each race is different and includes various disciplines, which makes training a very grueling and specific task.
There are several different lengths of races: spring, 12-hour, 24-hour, multi-day and expedition. An Adventure Race can be done solo; however, most races include a two to five person team in which phases of the race will be completed by one to many of the team members. Just finishing the course is a massive accomplishment and a testament to the team.
In order to ensure you can successfully complete an Adventure Race, it is important that you have training plan designed to prepare you mentally and physically for the race of your life.
Type of Training
The first thing you will need to determine is what goal you have for your race. If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you solely focus on finishing the race. Work on your endurance, learn the ins and outs of each discipline so that you perform them properly, make sure you have the proper skills to survive and ensure you are mentally prepared to endure this grueling race.
If you have already done a couple of Adventure Races, you may want set up your training plan so that you are training more often. For beginners, you should be training at least three days a week, intermediate racers need to be training at least four to six days a week, while advanced racers should be training every single day. Do not neglect navigation because this can and will cost you a lot of time. Spend time learning the ropes of navigation and/or reevaluating how you have performed during past races. This is one of the most important aspects of a race.
There are three phases of training: base, build/peak and taper. Base training is all low intensity workouts to start building or increasing your endurance and physical fitness. The best exercises to do are anaerobic workouts which cause you to breathe really hard. These workouts will increase your body’s overall efficiency. Build/Peak training will focus on speed training to improve speed and resistance training to improve strength. Taper is the last phase of training and typically lasts about a week. This week is used to fully recover before the big day. Use this time to fuel your body with the proper nutrients and relax your muscles before the big race.
Physical endurance is one of the most important pieces of Adventure Racing. If you cannot make it from point A to point B, then you will not finish the race. If your race is less than twelve hours, make sure that you can run a half marathon with relative ease and if your race is longer than twelve hours, make sure you can run a marathon with relative ease. Although you do not have to be the best athlete on the course, it is important that you have a nice endurance base to keep you moving along. Base training will help ensure that you are properly prepared for this test.
Base Training (10 Weeks)
During base training, a beginner should spend at least one to two hours each week training on each discipline. This means you should spend a total of four to six hours running, biking, trekking, etc. depending on the race you will be competing in. An intermediate racer should spend six to twelve hours total training each week and an advanced racer should spend twelve to twenty four hours each week training.
Base training will introduce you to each discipline and the skills you will need to complete them. As you become more comfortable with each discipline, it is important that you build on the skills and techniques that you have learned and incorporate that with endurance by adding time and/or distance. You must be able to do these disciplines for an extended period of time, so you need to be comfortable with all aspects. Right now focus on mastering the discipline, not your speed. Take things slow and steady until you are ready for the build/peak Phase which typically takes five weeks.
Build/Peak Training (5 Weeks)
During the build/peak phase of training you will be focusing on furthering your endurance and start to incorporate some speed and resistance training. Now that you have the right techniques down, incorporate some speed drills in with each discipline to start increasing your overall pace. Resistance training should be added a few times a week to start increasing your overall physical strength.
To incorporate some speed, continue to work out three to four days a week, four to six days a week, or every single day of the week in this phase. However, for example, one day of the week incorporate a tempo work out where you will perform a discipline for a set duration where you will perform the exercise for five minutes easy and one minute hard. One day of the week try adding in shorter durations of workouts at higher intensity paces. Also, as stated above a nice strength training plan twice a week or more will help improve your overall strength and capability to keep moving during a grueling Adventure Race. Make sure your resistance training includes your entire body, especially your core.
Taper (1 Week)
Tapering is an essential part of preparing for any race. You must recover and allow your body to fully rebuild and refocus before you jump into an intense race such as an Adventure Race. Tapering should last at last approximately one week. Make sure you are refueling your body with the right nutrients, so that you have the right amount of energy come race day.
Training is now officially over and it is race day! Use everything that you learned during your training, take things slow and stay positive. Crossing the finish line will be one of the most cherished moments in your life. Enjoy the race and enjoy the moment! You deserve it!