Top 10 tips for starting out in adventure racing
Invaluable advice for novice adventure racers
Adventure racing is a great way of getting your body fit and healthy through fun and frantic exercise. Below are 10 tips for novice adventure racers so that you won’t make the same mistakes that many other beginners before you have made.
Above all, remember to pace yourself. It is very tempting to go ‘flat out’ in the first part of an adventure race but don’t forget you’ve still got some distance ahead of you so conserve your energy!
Get tips from the adventure racing experts
There are many comprehensive guide books to adventure racing which include training tips, how to prepare mentally as well as physically, advice for the different disciplines involved, and race nutrition advice. As well as books, adventure races are enjoying increasing exposure in magazines and on television and useful race tips can be gleaned from interviews with race experts.
Attend an adventure racing training camp or clinic
The time and money invested in a race clinic will be more than worth it. Several companies offer day or weekend courses where race experts will teach you everything you need to know from orienteering, nutrition and race planning to kayaking down white water rapids! The course will culminate by putting all you have learned to the test, in a race.
Practice bike navigation
No matter how good you are at navigating on foot with a map and compass, take some time to practice map reading and navigating whilst on your bike before entering a race. The increased speed initially makes map reading trickier. A top race tip is to go ‘flat out’ between checkpoints for maximum speed but when you are within 200m of your next checkpoint ease off the speed so you can start your search for the checkpoint … rather than speeding past it and losing valuable time and points!
Bike map board
As well as practicing your bike navigation another top tip is to fit a handlebar mounted ‘map board’ to your bike to hold your map whilst on the move. Map boards can be purchased, or are very easy to create using a bit of stiff board, a few tough elastic bands, some cable ties and some DIY!
Train carefully for adventure races
Training is the key to success and the more time you dedicate to training, the higher your chances of success will be. In particular pay attention to your weakest skills and focus on improving these.
Practice for adventure races
As well as physical training such as running and swimming, take some time to get to grips with the more mundane but equally vital aspects of a race. Transition stages (changing from one discipline to another) often require changes of clothing and kit. Vital time is often won or lost in the transition phases of a race so take some time to make your transitions as quick as possible!
Plan your adventure race correctly
In any adventure racing event, time is given to every team or entrant to plan the race after all the checkpoint details have been given out. A big mistake made by many novice racers is to rush off into the race, but it is worth spending a little extra time at this vital planning phase as it will make the race go far more smoothly for you. Listen carefully to the pre-race briefing so you don’t miss vital information on race rules, out of bounds areas (private land or farmland), re-supply points, checkpoint locations then plan your race accordingly.
Nutrition for adventure racers
Just as important as training for an event is eating properly. Prior to your race eat the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins in a low fat diet. For races, food needs to be lightweight but packed with energy. High energy bars and gels are ideal for shorter races but not the tastiest or most nutritious option and over a multi-day event you still need to consume a balanced diet.
Water for adventure races
One of the keys to successful adventure racing is to keep the weight of your kit low and one of the biggest burdens to all racers is good old H20. For multi-day races consider carrying a small, lightweight (but efficient) water purifier. It is worth checking the availability of water sources on your race route before committing to relying on a purifier! On the subject of water, for anything other than short, one day events, try to obtain the majority of your liquid intake from pure water and do not rely on ‘energy drinks’.
First aid for adventure racers
A basic knowledge of first aid is vital to race team members, but first aid training has obvious useful benefits for everyday occurrences whether at work or at home. Take the time and a little money to invest in a course. One of the most important aspects of adventure race first aid training is being able to recognize symptoms in a team mate and treat them before they become a serious concern. Prevention is always much better than cure!