Training For An Adventure Race
by Greg Hill (OUTLAST Adventure Racing)

The key to being successful in your training program is planning ahead of time and achieving little goals month after month. As race day approaches, you should also consider modifying your general training for more event specific training that matches what you will be expecting to do in your future races. Here are some tips.

4-6 Months Prior to Race Day - BACK TO SHAPE

Your training program should be based on building up your endurance. No matter what type of activity you choose

(biking, jogging, swimming, squash) the most important thing you need to do is try and train for at least an hour at a time. Your activity should keep your heart rate at approximately 60% to 75% of itıs maximum beats per minute (typically 140 to 160 bts/min).
Preferably, you should be training a minimum of 3 times a week. Depending on your fitness level, training more often can give you quicker results, although make sure that you don't overload your system and that you save sufficient time for your body to recuperate.

During this period, it is also time to think about the logistical aspect of the race. The more you wait, the less time there will be for your training during the crucial period.

This can also be considered as your first step into your mental training as you will probably encounter some logistical distractions (ie: getting a team together, finding proper equipment, approaching sponsors, etc..).

Furthermore, 4-5 months before the race is also the perfect period to meet with your new teammates, get to know each other better and start working together as a team. Meeting everyone for the first time at the race may not be the perfect option (but is sometimes unavoidable!) If there are some adjustments to be made, it's best to make them sooner than later.

Even though you won't know exactly what you will be going through until a couple of hours before the race, you should already know the disciplines of the race. Your training program should include those disciplines, i.e. biking, trail running, orienteering, rapelling and paddling.

Endurance training should compromise the majority of your training during this period, although, including interval training will push your capacities and limits a little further.

Every now and then during your training, you should include intervals in which your heart rate will reach approximately 75 to 90% of itıs maximum (165 to 185 bts/min). The ratio you should use is 1:2, for example 30 seconds at high intensity followed by 60 seconds of medium intensity.
In order to be more efficient, always try to do a minimum of 3 consecutive repetitions of intervals, preceded and followed by an endurance training period.

This period is also the perfect time to get familiar with all disciplines and the specific related equipment. Again, trying a new discipline for the first time at the race can be really stressful and may cause unwanted anxiety or pressure for all of your team that is certainly not necessary!!

There aren't any races out there today that will allow you to try rappelling or traversing for the first time at a race. Take knowledge from experienced people, try different kinds of equipment, bring new situations and problems to solve; this can easily be your second step into mental training.
2 Months Prior - TEST YOUR LIMITS

Your training program should be based, at this point, on the disciplines of your future race. All training sessions should start with good endurance training, but intervals will also be very important to push your limits. Try to train as if you were in racing conditions; go out and train on real terrain. In fact, training in a gym is not sufficient at this point.

You need to recreate the same situations that you will encounter during the race (ie: mountain biking and road biking, trail running and not running on a treadmill, rapelling off a real cliff and not in a gym, etc..). This is so that your body will be trained to deal with different situations rather than simply the stable and safe environment provided by the gym.

You will also benefit from working out some stabilizing muscles in your body that are difficult to train in a gym; for example trail running will workout muscles related to the supination/pronation (side movements) of the ankle rather than only the muscles related to the flexion/extension.

Alright people, let's get real; time for serious matters.

Adventure racing has nothing to do with going out on a little fun trip with some friends over a week-end. You will be challenged a little further than that and you will encounter many distractions during the course.

One of the key motivation killers for a team out on a course is getting lost. A good exercise is to bring your team out in the middle of nowhere and find your way out. Always leave a second option in case of failure of the first one. This way, you will learn a lot about decision making with you teammates and their personal reactions in tough situations.

Tip for the competitive teams: if you want to build up your mental capacities to the highest level, check out the weather channel; when the forecast announces the worst weather on earth, this is when you want to start thinking about going out to train!!! When your out in terrible weather doing difficult training and you and your team can still smile, nothing will stop you!  
1 Month Prior - CRUCIAL PERIOD

Training should continue without over-doing it as you don't want your body to be completely drained before the race. Endurance training will still be the most important thing at this point. You want your body to maintain the shape it has gained during the training season. Make sure you sleep well and enough to encourage recuperation and that your nutritional intake will ensure a good and balanced energy level.

Time to go out and have fun with your teammates and be certain to enjoy the time you spend together.

Finally, prepare the last minute details and make sure you arrive at the race with the biggest smile on your face ;-) !!!

For further information on training or comments contact:
Greg Hill
Co-Founder/Race Director
OUTLAST Adventure Racing