How to Make the Transition from Other Sports to Adventure Racing
Most people aren’t born into adventure sports. You might be sporty – having played team sports like basketball, football, hurling, rugby, soccer, etc. over the years. Or maybe you took up running or cycling as a way to keep fit, get outdoors and get some fresh air. If you’ve thought about adventure racing before but have yet to commit to it, here are some tips that might help you transition to a very worthwhile alternative.
The big differences are the undulating and off-camber terrain, the higher concentration levels as well as the distinct skills of ascending and descending. You may be used to running at a controlled pace on a straight road; in adventure racing, you’re predominantly off-road and your heart rate and pace will vary. Get out on the trails to practice – when climbing try increasing your foot strike (cadence) to small quick steps, look upwards and relax the body. Same advice for downhill – don’t try to brake, just try to keep your back straight, chin up and fast cadence. Trust the hill and your feet!
Hills are nothing new to you, so you’ll be well able for the undulating terrain of Quest adventure races. What might be new is the condition of some of the roads – be prepared for bumps and even a tiny bit of off-road on some courses. Road bikes are the recommended type of bicycle to use. Also, practice cycling immediately after a mountain run – your legs will feel heavy but getting your transition right will help overall on event day.
Yay, no swimming! So, you can leave the wet suit at home. TT bikes won’t prove as useful here on the twisty roads and steep hills and they are not permitted on our events for safety reasons. Think about changing your pedals to flats if you want to avoid having to change your shoes 2/3 times but this is really up to the individual. The kayak will prove a welcome relief when compared to a swim – you might even stay completely dry!
You won’t get lost with your navigational skills, or go hungry with your well-packed picnic backpack! However, practice jogging up some hills and also think about spending some time in the saddle (bike as opposed to horse!), as those climbs will be tough on your legs without some training.
If you’ve chased balls around a pitch or court, you might be great at sprints over 10m, as well as catching a ball or rebuffing a challenge, but alas, that won’t make a huge difference on an adventure race route. But if you’re keen and fit you’re already on the road. This is an endurance event, so managing energy levels is key, so try longer runs/cycles. Also practice eating/drinking during the race – it’s a long day out there on the Expert routes particularly. The good news is it’s like you’re on one big team as there’s great camaraderie amongst adventure racers.
None of the above
If this is your first event, well done for signing up! Go out and enjoy the day. If you prefer the mountain runs, savour the moment and the beautiful views and don’t worry too much. Some people take it too seriously! There’s always next year to get competitive…