Adventure races are popping up everywhere, giving weekend warriors the chance to break out of the every day and challenge themselves in some friendly competition, a test of strength and grit, and usually a healthy dose of mud and smack-talk. If you’ve been thinking about trying an adventure race, it’s important to train your body, mind, and spirit before showing up at the starting line. Here's how:
Adventure races are adventurous because they challenge several types of fitness. A running regimen and weight program might be great for maintaining your health, but an obstacle course will require skills from a wide variety of activities. To cross train, simply vary your workout from day to day. For example, if you run on Mondays, bike on Tuesdays, then swim on Wednesdays, and maybe even rollerblade on Thursdays! The point is to shake it up and get more variety and a greater scope of muscle fatigue in each workout.
FOCUS ON FUNCTION
Before you launch into an adventure race training program, get to know the race you’re interested in completing. What will be the tasks? You may be doing a combination of climbing, running, sprinting, jumping, biking, and navigating with a compass. Tailor your workouts for the race you are training for and mimic the race course whenever possible. A trip to a playground or nearby hiking trail may offer new challenges if you are willing to get creative!
TRY A BRICK WORKOUT
A brick workout is traditionally used by triathletes and combines two workouts into one: biking immediately followed by running. The goal is to build endurance, train your body to adapt quickly to a new exercise, and to decrease the amount of time transitioning from one leg of the race to the next during the event. However, you don’t have to be a triathlete or stick to these exercises to use a brick workout in your training. The key is to plan ahead what activities you are going to do back-to-back so you can minimize lag between as much as possible. This may require laying out your gear ahead of time, placing water bottles along your route, and anticipating obstacles you will face along the way. After the workout is complete, make notes of what worked and what didn't so your next brick workout is more successful.
TRAIN IN YOUR GEAR
Part of any successful race is properly preparing yourself for the conditions you will experience on race day. To avoid surprises, schedule a few workouts in which you create as much of a race-day experience as you can. If possible, visit the race site and train on the terrain you will face, wear the clothes you plan to have on during the race, and carry any backpacks and other gear you will have on race day. The more mentally and physically prepared you are for the actual event, the more successful you will be more fun you will have!
CREATE A COMMUNITY AND HAVE FUN
Most cities have a vibrant athletic community that welcomes first-timers and at times even has special training groups just for new adventurers. Check with your local track club and inquire about training programs, ask the race director about any other first-timers who may be looking for a training partner, or put a team together in your local gym.