How to start training for adventure racing

Similar to a triathlon but with more off-road focus, adventure racing is considered far superior to both The Amazing Race and triathlon. Essentially a team sport, adventure racing combines a number of events or disciplines that typically comprise running or hiking, paddling, kayaking or canoeing and biking. There are no course markings but you can’t go around without a map, as well as instructions. You need to find your way to different checkpoints using not just your limbs but your brains as well. How do you make sure you don’t end up simply following a dotted line from start to finish?

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Prepare yourself physically

Although this is the least important component of training for an adventure race especially for a novice participant, it can still have pretty much an influence over how well you perform in the event. You need to eat smaller quality meals 2 to 3 days or 48 to 72 hours before the day of the race. By ‘quality meals’, we mean healthy ones. However, any racer needs to remember that proper nutrition is not just a race thing. It’s an everyday thing. Each meal should comprise all the three essential macronutrients that include fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Your body uses these as fuel. Consider having 30 percent fats, 30 percent protein and 40 percent carbs calories. In addition, remember that even with an imperfect diet, you will easily notice the effects of eating and drinking cleanly during the week prior to race day.

Conditioning your body is also important. Although adventure racing is far from being a physical sport principally, not all racers are fantastic athletes. Oftentimes, those with the skills and knowledge end up ranking higher than awesome athletes who try the sport. Ultimately, it’s the team that can find the most suitable route from checkpoint to checkpoint who do better. If you can navigate yourself through the myriads of challenges along the way even if you don’t move extremely fast, you should do well in a race.

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For the trekking and running you have to do, you simply need to be able to hike comfortably at a fast walking pace for at least 6 or 7 miles. Mountain biking entails riding comfortably 20 to 25 miles without taking plenty of breaks, so at least 11 or 12 average mph should be enough. You should be able to do one or two paddle trips for 5 miles or so before you go on the race.

Prepare yourself intellectually/mentally

One of the most important aspects of training for an adventure race is the mental preparation you need to do. Have the right mindset. This starts with simply being aware of what adventure racing is about. Even seasoned triathletes would be surprised to know that not all information is readily available until the race begins. Embracing the adventure aspect of the sport will ensure that you thoroughly enjoy the experience. You will not know the distance you will be covering nor the order of the events you will be doing, which only drives the excitement even further.

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Adventure racing is exploration at its best. Take what comes, deal with it and don’t stop moving on. Challenges are in store for your team, but let this heighten the adventure factor more greatly. Stay sharp mentally and don’t let frustration get the better part of you. This ensures less mistakes along the way. Before the race begins, accept that mistakes will be made and you may even lose your way or not even finish the entire course. The chances of winning are slim indeed, but that should not stop you from having fun.

Prepare your racing skills

Developing your skill set for adventure racing is not a one-time endeavor. Most often, it’s a lifelong process. Even the most seasoned adventure racers always find more room for improvement. Technical skills are barely developed in beginner racers. That being said, before attempting to race, you need to determine if you are good at navigating. If not, leave it to the team member who genuinely is. However, it pays to know basic orienteering skills too. Be prepared for some technical biking, which may or may not be part of the race. This may involve knowing how to quickly fix a flat tire or do other basic bike repairs. You also need to be able to steer a boat to the desired direction, aside from knowing how to do basic rappelling.