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What Are the Best Adventure Race Training Tips?

Adventure racing may involve swimming.
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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2014
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Training for an adventure race begins with defining a goal, being aware of current fitness levels, and assessing strengths and weaknesses. With that information, racers can plan an adventure race training schedule based on how much time there is before the race and how much time each day is available for training. The first phase of adventure race training should be devoted to building up a good base cardiovascular fitness level. As the race becomes closer, racers should increase speed and intensity, mimicking conditions that will be in place during the race, such as training at night and incorporating hills into training. Developing superior navigational skills is also crucial for completing an adventure race successfully.

Adventure racing typically combines endurance racing in two or more disciplines with orienteering or navigating. Cross-country running, mountain biking, kayaking, swimming, or riding are common endurance activities during adventure racing, but other activities may be involved. Races may last from two to 24 hours or longer.

Due to the strenuous and varied nature of the activities, a strong aerobic base is necessary before starting training. Training should also incorporate strength and navigational skills. Typical training schedules last from 3 to 6 months before the racing event, depending on the difficulty level of the race.

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The first adventure race training phase typically lasts 2 to 5 months and is focused on developing endurance and working on weak areas. Training usually addresses each event in proportion to its length during the actual event. The exception would be to address weak areas. For example, if a racer is a strong runner but a weak swimmer, then more time should be devoted to swimming than running until proficiency is reached.

The second phase of training usually starts about 6 weeks before the adventure racing event. During this period, racers should build speed, endurance and make sure to train mimicking the conditions that they will face during the race. Racers may need to train at night, add hills, train when fatigued or cold, and train while wearing a heavy pack. If the racer will be using new gear during the race, this is the time to break it in.

Developing navigational or orienteering skills is very important during adventure race training. The fittest racer or team does not necessarily win the race; typically the winner is the one with the best navigational skills. Fitness does not matter if the racer does not know where she is going.

The week before the race, training tapers off and becomes very light to allow the body to refuel and gain strength for the event. The day before the adventure race, the racer should eat a well-balanced meal, stay hydrated, and sleep well the night before. Once the day of the race arrives, the racer should relax and enjoy the adventure race experience.

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