Thursday, May 1, 2014

Part 2 - Skill Related Fitness and Adventure Racing

To follow on form Part 1....As mentioned 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!

There are 11 Components of fitness which can be divided into two areas:- Part 1 outlined Health Related Fitness  including Body Composition, Cardio-respiratory Fitness, Flexibility, Muscular Endurance, Muscular Strength.

This section focuses on  and Skill Related Fitness - Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, Power, Reaction Time, Speed) 

Skill Related Fitness 

Skill related fitness components are the components of fitness that we can use to get that edge over our competitors, or when combined with health related fitness components improve our performance or enable us to be efficient at the disciplines and skills of adventure racing.  Most of these can complement functional strength activities and can be incorporated into existing sessions.

This can be developed through HITT training (High Intensity Interval Training) and has its place in adventure racing. You should try to include at least one speed session per week, but this does not have to be across each discipline. Speed work can be included when doing drills technique work and should have long periods of rest in between intervals to allow for optimal recovery. Participating in short adventure races are also great for developing speed as you only spend a small amount of time on each discipline, thus maximizing your speed.

Explosive strength, a combination of strength and speed. Incorporating activities that are dynamic and explosive helps to improve power.  You develop this naturally when mountain biking (as when you need that little bust of energy to get through a technical short, sharp climb) , running (coasteering/rock hopping is a form of plyometrics) and  paddling (paddling out through a breaking wave, explosive starts from a stationary position) and can be incorporated into skills /technique sessions (jumping, skipping, hopping, bounding using body weight / extra resistance)

The key to good technique in all disciplines – running, mountain biking and paddling and is achieved through developing good core strength and functional strength. Resistance activities that use your own body weight and require your body to move through a range of motions whilst moving from conditions of more stability to less stability help you to recruit your core first and then secondary stability muscles, improving technique and balance. 

Another key to good form and technique in the disciplines of Adventure Racing, as without this you will lose power, and momentum and end up using far more energy than you really need to. Drills can be practiced on the bike, paddling as well as running, and should be incorporated into your weekly sessions, whether they be during a warm up or at the end of a session. Vision has a lot to do with co-ordination as well, so making sure you are looking in the right place at the right time is always a handy tip!

Agility & Reaction Time
In adventure racing this is the ability to change direction quickly and make quick decisions fast and take evasive action. We develop these skills naturally running off track, mountain biking  technical single track, and paddling in moving water, climbing and  rock hopping . We learn to react and adapt to the conditions we are faced with, so breaking the skills down and testing yourself in challenging environments is a great way to improve agility and reaction time and will ultimately improve performance.

So the bottom line is you don’t have to spend hours in a gym getting fit for adventure racing. By getting out and being adventurous with your training you can develop all areas of fitness, and be prepared for anything that may be thrown at you. So if you don’t do adventure racing already, what a great way to develop your fitness and the bonus is that you are in fresh air, using your own energy to power equipment you are using, you experience beautiful locations and your training becomes a journey and not a chore!