Q: A mate and I are starting out adventure racing and loving it. We are however very uninformed and I would like to know if there is any websites or places I can go to to find a proper training programme.
[Lisa] There’s no one-size-fits-all for adventure racing. You need to be comfortable and competent in all disciplines – run, bike, paddle and navigation. Then again, it all depends what distance events you’re wanting to do etc. 10 year old children (or less) can handle a short sprint race.
I always think that the best place to start is to get running fit. Two benefits: conditioning your feet to having time spent on them (VERY IMPORTANT) and it is the best way to improve cardio fitness. Depending on where you are, my first step recommendation is to get your hands on a 10km running programme (available online – check out Runner’s World website – local and US). If you’re already running 10km comfortably, go for a 21km programme (usually three months in duration).
That will give you a super foundation for everything. Also get on your bike regularly and participate in mountain bike races.
Paddling is usually the third discipline to be acquired. Again, it all depends where you are and what races you’re doing. If you’re entering the short sprint races (25-35km), you do not need any paddling skills. If you’re moving up into 100km+ races, it really is worthwhile getting in some paddling basics. Even if stable craft are provided by an event, at least you’ll have a foundation in paddle technique and conditioned upper body.
Navigation is probably the most important but most neglected discipline. Go to orienteering events to practice skills – with the benefit of cross-terrain and trail running included. Events in SA on www.orienteering.co.za.
There’s no one size fits all for AR. Just like people run Comrades in 5h30 and 12h00; same in AR. The fitter you (and your teammates) are, the faster you can go. Being less fit than the pros doesn’t mean you can’t finish and have a wonderful race.
Best of all, keep entering AR events. By jumping into events you’ll discover weaknesses to work on and then you just build from there.