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Adventure Racing Training Tips

Goal Setting
Base Phase
Evaluation
Speed Phase
The Training Plan Taper Phase
Basic Skills
Race Phase

A Training Program is a set of goals that you design to prepare yourself for an event. The event is the ultimate goal, and the training program represents a series of smaller steps that lead up to the event. I subscribe to the theory that we need about 16 weeks of training to properly prepare for a race that is 24 hours long, or shorter. If you plan to do a race longer than 24 hours, then you should design a program that involves the entire year. Your training will also be affected by your personal goals. Do you want to THRIVE or SURVIVE. A training program should include four different phases; Base phase- skills and endurance; Speed phase- race specifics; Taper phase- recovery; Race phase- the event, gives you feedback on the effectiveness of your training.

Goal Setting

Besides race selection, goal setting is one of the most important topics you will need to decide about. Whether you choose to THRIVE or SURVIVE, your choice will affect how you will set up your training program in terms of volume and duration. It will also probably affect your current lifestyle. You will need to evaluate your current lifestyle and determine what changes, if any, you are willing to change.

Goal setting can be broken down into two parts; the first part is dreaming the goal, and the second part is planning the steps to get to the goal.

In dreaming the goal you have probably witnessed, in one way or another, an adventure race that has intrigued you. You have probably heard about the high numbers of participants that don't finish. This is a part of the challenge, and a big factor that might keep you from doing an adventure race is fear, or fear of failure. Your first goal should be to overcome your fear, and give yourself the opportunity to find out what you can do. You will not finish 100% of the events that you don't start. Once you believe you can do it, the journey will begin.

In planning the steps to get to your goal, start small and build up from there. The training plan is a series of steps that build on each other, leading up to the event. Everyone will need to design their own training plan. A plan has to take into consideration the starting fitness level of a person, their time available, and their ultimate goals.

I will give you some basic building blocks that you can stack up to create your own set of steps. To begin, you need to have a starting line, and evaluating your personal situation will show you where to start..

Evaluation

Some of the questions you should ask yourself are:

  • What do I want to do?
  • How do I want to do it?
  • How long do I have before the event?
  • How much time in the day do I have?
  • What skills do I have?
  • What skills will I need?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What is my current fitness level?

Answer these questions, and you will have an idea of where to begin. Try to include all your aspects; physical, mental, emotional, and mechanical.

The Training Plan - 16 weeks total

The whole idea of a training plan is to show your body what it is expected to during the event. You will practice the sports involved, and show your body the skills. Then you will show your body the duration and distances that you will be using those skills for. Then, you will strengthen your body, and work on speed. Eventually you will work your way into the race specifics, and show your body the environment and the terrain that will be encountered. At first a 16 week training plan might sound like a lot. It looks more doable when we break it down into smaller steps. These steps, or phases of the training plan are; Base phase- skills and endurance; Speed phase- race specifics; Taper phase- recovery; Race phase- the event, gives you feedback on the effectiveness of your training.

Base Phase - 10 weeks

The base phase is the beginning of your training. This is when you show your body the sport and the skills. In adventure racing, there are many skills needed. In a 16 week training plan, you should use the first 10 weeks for the base phase. So depending on your starting point, you may have more or less skills and technique to learn. You should adjust your plan accordingly. Give more time, if you need to learn more skills.

In the beginning of the base phase you should concentrate on learning the skills. As your technique improves, you can gradually build the distances and volume that you train with. The next part of the base phase is to build your endurance up to the distances that will be in your event. Here again, depending on your starting point, you may require more or less time to build up to the distances. Adjust your training plan accordingly. Remember that during this phase your pace should be easy. This phase is for endurance, you will build strength and speed in the next phase.

Speed Phase - 5 weeks

During the speed phase you will build upon the endurance and technique that you have developed in the base phase. In the beginning of this phase is when you show your body the resistance that will be involved in your event. This is also when you increase the pace of your training to show your body the speed of the event. Towards the end of this phase is when you incorporate the specifics into your training. If your event is in the hills, add some hill repeats. If it is in the sand, train in the sand; if it is at altitude, train at altitude. Remember to take steps, and build gradually.

Taper Phase - 1 week

The taper phase is for recovery. This is when you allow your body to rebuild it itself. Gradually drop off the distances, the resistances, and the volume. Taper off the training until just before the event. This also allows your body to refill its energy stores. Taper is about maintaining the gains you worked for in the base and speed phases.

With adventure races, there is usually travel involved. You will also need the time to pack and prepare gear. So the time you have in this final week will naturally be limited.

Race Phase

This is it! This is when and where all the hard work pays off. Remember, that if you believe it, you can do it. Take the time after the race to evaluate your performance. This will give you the feedback you need to create your next training plan. Work on your weaknesses, and build on your strengths. Use what works, and do something new for what doesn't. When you select your next event, start all over and make a new plan.

Contributed By: Jack Crawford

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