Thursday, March 6, 2014

Training for Adventure Racing

  Fitness & Functional Strength - Part 1

Wild Women AR -  Stand Up Paddle 

Adventure racing for most Australians involves traditionally 3 sports combined with navigation. These include Trekking, Mountain Biking, and Kayaking. If you look at Adventure Races all over the world it's not uncommon to find that other activities are often embedded in events, some of these may replace traditional disciplines, or become additional disciplines. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself signing up for an event which include one or some of the following:- white water rafting, canoeing, abseiling, climbing / ascending / rappelling, canyoning, shooting, horse-riding, inline skating/roller-skating, snow shoeing, surfing , stand up paddle boarding, or anything that the race director can dream up that will challenge athletes both physically and mentally.

In line Skating - common in European AR Events

During training many athletes just tend to focus on the traditional disciplines of adventure racing so why not consider incorporating some of these additional activities into your sessions just for a bit of fun or use these in recovery sessions from time to time throughout the season. You just never know when you might need these skills along with your navigation practice!

Physical Challenge - Mark Webber Challenge

Another way to ensure that you are in a position to handle whatever may be thrown at you in adventure racing is to be physically fit. So what are the physical requirements of our sport and what is functional strength training for adventure racing? There are 11 Components of Fitness which can be divided into two areas:- Health Related Fitness (Body Composition,  Fitness, Flexibility, Muscular Endurance, Muscular Strength) and Skill Related Fitness (Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, Power, Reaction Time, Speed)

Health Related Fitness

So talking, adventure racing, these are the health related fitness components and some information about why they are important for us to incorporate into our training:-

Body composition 

Basically you need to work towards having a strong muscular body. You don’t want to be too lean as your body often can’t get enough fuel from what you eat in a long race, so having a bit in reserve does not hurt. Therefore you need to eat a well-balanced natural diet, and don’t skimp on good fats and protein, as you will need it for racing and recovery.

Godzone:- Pre-Event Meal - Girls on Top NZ

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

We develop this through aerobic and anaerobic training. It is important to balance your sessions and include variety in intensities and duration, so you are developing /maintaining an aerobic base, increasing /maintaining your aerobic threshold, and including some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to push your anaerobic threshold higher. We develop cardiorespiratory fitness through biking, paddling, and running/trekking and swimming, or any prolonged low-moderate intensity activity.   

Long aerobic paddle - great for cardiorespiratory fitness


This is vital for injury prevention and joint mobility, which will ultimately enhance your performance. There is a lot of debate as to when is best to incorporate stretching into your session, but basically you are better off to stretch after there is some blood in the muscles, so after an aerobic warm up. There is a place for both static and dynamic stretches, so don’t be afraid to use both them, however know your strengths/weaknesses, tight/supple areas and be aware of imbalances. Stretching, post training/post race, can be very beneficial as well, so when you are standing around chatting after a session, have a little stretch.

Stretching before a run drills session at the beach!

Muscular Endurance

This is probably one of the most important components of fitness required for Adventure Racing as everything we do is repetitive and ongoing and our muscles just need to keep going. We develop muscular endurance when we are doing or cardiorespiratory training, so we don’t really need to have a specific session for this in our training. However be aware that muscular endurance is developed through aerobic training sessions, such as long bike rides, paddles, treks/run and  because these movements are repetitive and ongoing,  being flexible , having the correct technique and holding good form is an important factor to consider, so you always should have a focus for your sessions.

Middle Lookout - Muscular endurance helps get you to the top!

 Muscular Strength

In adventure racing we need to be strong to enable us to get through an event, we need this muscular strength to run up and down hills, climb and scale the side of a steep mountain, ride up hills, hike a bike, paddle into a strong head wind or against a strong current, carry our boats, bikes, packs and anything else that a race director decides. Basically we need to be strong through a variety of activities or ranges of motion which is referred to as functional strength. So incorporating functional strength activities into your sessions can really pay off as there is a focus on the development of core strength through range of motion.

Hike a bike - great for strength development!

Part 2 Skill Related Fitness and Adventure Racing - coming soon!

(Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, Power, Reaction Time, Speed)

Adventure Racing - be prepared for anything!

By getting out and being adventurous with your training you can develop not only health related fitness, but you will be prepared for anything that may be thrown at you.