Just over six weeks to the Tri-Adventure Challenge… How will you spend them?
Whether you’re new to running or just back from the UTMB, fresh from buying your first bike or you’ve just finished the TRC, never picked up a compass or a GB Orienteer, the Tri-Adventure Challenge will need a little bit of training and a little bit of thought. Here are some ideas for the six weeks before the event:
T – 6 weeks
Think about gear before anything else. Have you got the right shoes, the right bike? If not, get online and do some research, pick a shoe and get along to the shop to try it on. Break them in gently, short runs at first. The same goes for the bike, and if you’re hiring from the event on the day then there’s no reason not to rent one out to give it a test around the race area in advance.
Next look at your current fitness: you need to be able to run and bike for the full race if you’re to be competitive, and if you’re to enjoy it. Aim to train little and often at first: short outings on foot and bike followed by lots of stretching. Give any muscle that feels tight or twinges a good rub, a hot bath and a bit of soap helps. Fit training around your life, not the other way round. You’re racing for fun however competitive you are.
T – 5 weeks
You’ve got the basic gear and you’re working on the basic fitness. Do you know the race area? If you can get down there with a 1:25k map and have a look, perfect. If not then there are 1:50k maps free online at websites like Bing. Buy a compass, learn how to use it. Set yourself a route you don’t know and run it, navigating on the move. The trick is to be familiar with the action: running and map-reading should be near-contemporaneous. Fit a map-board to your bike and practise using that too. There’s a shop-bought example by Zefal reviewed at GNJoutside, but many people bodge them or they can be bought from Tri-Adventure at any event. Why not try a local orienteering event? There’s a fixture list on British Orienteering and in my experience they are always friendly and well run.
T – 4 weeks
OK so your runs are easily an hour now, and you’re out a couple of times a week. You’ve been cycling fairly often and you’re holding off from whatever vices you need to avoid to feel fit. It’s time to add some longer training sessions into your schedule. A good four hours out on the bike, or two hours on foot will be beneficial if you ensure you stay fed, hydrated and don’t push anything too hard. At this stage it’s still a question of building up to the distance, so take it easy and build time on foot or wheels. Don’t worry so much about speed.
T – 3 weeks
This is your last week to get over any niggles without reducing your training too much. Listen to your body as you run or ride, take breaks to stretch or massage any sore points and if in doubt talk to a professional sports masseur or physiotherapist. You should be repeating the same level of exercise as the week before. Take similar care over your bike: oil, lubricant, maybe a quick service. There’s no point being fit as a fiddle if your bike won’t go the distance. Make sure you have the tools and know-how to fix a puncture and a broken chain; it could be a long walk on race day if not.
T – 2 weeks
By now you know the distance and duration of the race. You’ve been out on a few long rides and a few long runs and haven’t stopped the shorter training outings you started a month ago. You’re fit and you’ve got your gear together. Have you finalised your nutrition and hydration? This is the week to test out some of the products on offer. Thrive active has a great selection and there are articles all over the net on when and how to eat or drink in a race. It’s important to try products in context: an oat bar might taste great at room temperature at home, but be rock solid in the chill of race morning. Ditto hydration: what’s nice and sweet at home can be sticky and sickly when you’ve been running for a couple of hours.
T – 1 week
Any niggles? This is your last rest before the event, when you taper your training. No long sessions, keep it all under an hour and the runs either gentle, or even shorter than that. Make sure you’re still stretching and massaging to keep everything supple. Pack early. Be prepared. Write a kit list on Monday, start pulling it together on Tuesday. Come Thursday evening you’ll have remembered that piece of gear you’ve forgotten and be down the shops for it on Friday, rather than first thing before the race in a panic.
You’re ready for it. The distance, duration, nutrition and fitness are all wrapped up. You’re organised enough to have plenty of time to plan your route, and then some more to chat to the other competitors before the start. You’ll need to stay flexible, nothing ever works 100% to plan, but with six weeks of preparation you’ve done a lot to mitigate those risks. Good luck, go fast and enjoy it!
George Neville-Jones – Team Tri-Adventure