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Adventure Racing Training for Women

Adventure Racing Training for Women

by Lara Dunn via Sportsister.com…
Getting Started – Adventure Racing

You can’t have failed to notice the rise in popularity of adventure racing events in recent years. Here’s Sportsister’s guide to get you started in these multi-sport events that will see you running, biking, paddling and more.

What’s it all about?

Adventure racing is essentially a multi-sport race, involving a minimum of trail running and mountain biking and also usually flatwater canoeing or kayaking.

Any number of additional activities can be involved, depending on the individual race format, with races sometimes including zip wires, abseils, canyoning, via ferratas, inline skating or rafting, and sometimes even more esoteric challenges.

Races vary in length from a few hours to several days, and can be either over linear courses or more open countryside based orienteering style events. Course based races usually revolve around timing, whereas orienteering style events often use checkpoints with different scores, meaning a team has to make their own decisions about time cut offs/penalties vs possible scores.

Adventure races can either be run as an individual, or in mixed or single sex teams or pairs, with team spirit and camaraderie often being one of the more enjoyable aspects of the sport. Most appealing though is the combination of a physical challenge and a stunning outdoor location.

Do I need to be very fit or have any particular skills?

All adventure races require a level of general fitness, especially if you’re going to enjoy the experience. While shorter events obviously involve shorter distances and duration and can be less intimidating, they can also take on more of a ‘sprint’ character.

Longer races obviously require more stamina, but can also feel more relaxed. As long as you can run for a reasonable distance and are fairly happy on a mountain bike you should be fine to give a race a try. Canoeing skills are a bonus but safe sit-on style boats are the norm, meaning even those with minimal experience can have a try.

Races can be linear, needing no navigational skills, or checkpoint based and more like orienteering, requiring confidence with a map and compass. Do some investigating and you should find something that will suit your skills and goals.

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How to train

The best way to train for an adventure race is to make sure you’re comfortable in the primary disciplines, so get out running and riding as far and for as long as you can. It’s also useful to spend one session a week doing one directly after the other, to mimic the race format. This will encourage your muscles to cope better with the transition between bike and foot.

Navigation practice is crucial if you’re doing a checkpoint based event, and training regularly with your team mates is a good idea if you want to avoid race day team malfunctions.

What equipment do I need?

The key to enjoying adventure racing in the long term is to fine tune your kit, to make events as comfortable as they can be and transitions as quick as possible. Clothing wise, lightly padded specialist triathlon shorts can be a good option for running and riding based races, with ¾ length tights over the top if it’s a chilly day. A highly wicking base layer top is crucial, and you’ll need a windproof shell too for descents and stops.

For winter races, warm gloves, a hat, a super lightweight packable waterproof jacket and even a warm gilet should all be considered. Choose running shoes that will be able to cope with copious mud as well as prolonged tarmac sections.

You can ride with flat pedals or just change shoes at the transition point if you use SPDs. A lightweight front suspension mountain bike is ideal, preferably with a rotating map board for it. Nearly all events involving kayaks or canoes will provide a boat.

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Where can I do it?

Adventure Racing has taken off massively in recent years, with various race series offering events in different geographical areas. The north and south east are slightly better served than the west, but if you’re willing to travel a little, most are easily reached without too much hassle.

Races tend to be centred around national parks or scenic countryside areas. For the more ambitious, there are constantly races taking place around the world, including throughout the Alps, North America and Australia and New Zealand. Many of these overseas challenges are for really experienced (and sponsored/wealthy) racers only.

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