The adventure racing craze is sweeping the nation and a myriad of new races are being organized from coast to coast. Increases in participation have been linked to the natural cross-over for cyclists,runners and water-sport aficionados, but I believe the true allure of this demanding activity lies within the individual who is forced to realize his or her limits and push through them -- all while contributing to a team.
This team dynamic offers endurance athletes used to the solitude of triathlon or marathon the chance to work together as cohesive unit compensating for individual strengths and weaknesses. This creates an opportunity for individuals to emerge as leaders within certain areas of the race and responsibilities are delegated accordingly. Often, teams designate a captain and a navigator who've proven they can perform those tasks despite challenges such as sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. Capitalizing on these strengths keeps a team organized and on track during the onset of fatigue.
I asked my friend Barrie Adsett, navigator for San Diego-based Team Equinox, what he considers to be the key to adventure racing. He explained, "In adventure racing, reading a map and knowing how to navigate are maybe more important than being a strong or fast athlete. No matter how fast you go, if you go the wrong way you are just further away from where you are meant to be, that much quicker."
Team captain Steve Moore commented, "Equinox has proven many times that brains beats pure brawn." Adsett added, "In the hare-and-tortoise fashion, going an optimal route is better than zipping everywhere but getting nowhere." Kristine Gillis, the sole female member of the co-ed team, recommends practicing with orienteering clubs and regional adventure racing groups.
Saturday morning is supposed to be a 20-mile training run according to my over the counter training regiment for the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Instead, I will up the ante and attempt my first ultramarathon. My decision to run the Lake Hodges50K has been inspired in part by the many endurance athletes that I learn about everyday here at Active.com. My other source of motivation comes from my lack of experience at such high mileage. In fact, leading up to this point, I have never logged a run greater than 18 miles. The decision to go even farther is not made in haste; it is based on careful research into ultra events. I've formulated a game plan that will take me to the finish line without risking my health for the race in June.
First and foremost, I have already run the entire race course in sections. I can visualize my approach while maintaining a psychological edge when the going gets tough. Secondly, my goal to cross the finish line within an eight-hour limit requires a pace that is faster than 15 minutes per mile. This is easily achieved by utilizing the keystone of this plan; the 5-to-1 ratio. After each five minute interval of running, I will walk for one minute and repeat this method for the five or more hours that it takes to cross the finish line, all the while conserving energy for later in the race by avoiding running up steep hills.
This race will also serve as a test of my in-race nutrition. I will finally be able to experience the stress on my gastrointestinal system (GI), while ingesting water and endurance fuel for a prolonged period of time. I'll have a water bottle strapped to each hand. The first bottle will contain plain water which I will refill at the seven aid stations throughout the race. The second water bottle will be a highly concentrated blend of two endurance formulas containing a 7-to-1 carbohydrate-to-soy protein ratio. This fuel also contains all the necessary electrolytes and calories, allowing me to travel without any other fuel. At the 16.2-mile aid station, friends will bring my drop bag containing fresh running socks, shirt, hat, sunscreen, Aleve and more endurance fuel for the remaining 15 miles of the course.
My nine weeks of conditioning, experience on the race course, in-race nutrition plan, support crew and will to succeed should be all I need to achieve my goal of finishing the ultramarathon. I hope to better understand how my body will react during the stress of prolonged activity and high mileage. I will then apply this knowledge and make the necessary adjustments to both my training regimen and my in-race nutrition to handle the intensity of a faster pace during the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in nine weeks. Check back on Monday for a recap of this event and find out how it all plays out.
I recognized that I hit the first plateau in my 18-week training program when my training and nutrition regimen were dialed-in but my leg strength seemed to be deteriorating instead of building. In need of either cross-training or performance-enhancingexercises to counter this common stage, I came across the following article which helped me get my training back on track.
This featured article is for the runner,triathlete or adventure racer looking to develop the strength of their stride without logging additional miles or hitting the gym. These simple exercises will benefit both sprinters and ultra-distance runners alike, and can be performed in the comfort of the home. Read the following story to learn four exercises to increase your running speed.
Spring is here and athletes are emerging from confines of the gym much like spring flowers from the darkness of winter. Soon, scores of brightly colored spandex outfits will sprout along the streets as the sun washes away pale memories of treadmill and bike-trainer workouts. As exciting as it is to trade the smell of chlorine for the freshness of open-water swims, this transition is known for leaving overly eager athletes high and dry. It is important that we respect the vulnerability of our bodies during this adjustment period. Conduct your own Preseason Check-up and be sure to keep yourself on track toward your fitness goals.
As per Part I, "Saturday morning is supposed to be a 20 mile training run according to my over-the-counter training regiment for the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Instead, I will be upping the ante and attempting my first ultramarathon." Click here to read Part I of II
With temperatures nearing to 80 degrees, my 31.2-mile endeavor on Saturday was nothing short of epic. The first 16.2 miles were quick and maybe a bit too ambitious for never having completed a training run greater than 18 miles. Perhaps it was the beautiful singletrack on the north shore of Lake Hodges or maybe even fear of being eaten by the legendary lake monster "Hodgee" that propelled me to complete the western leg of the course in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
Upon leaving the drop-bag station at mile 16.2, temperatures had already climbed 20 degrees since the start of the race at 7:30 a.m. I could feel electrolytes being sucked from my cells as the sun baked the San Pasqual Valley. My ration of electrolyte replacement capsules was depleted and they had materialized as a coating of salt on my skin. By mile 22, I began to experience muscle contractions in my quadriceps and calf muscles. Fortunately, this was the beginning of Raptor Ridge, where I would be forced to walk because of the acute elevation gain. Once I reached the summit, my plan of making up time on the downhill was thwarted by full-on cramps in my quads and calves. Instead of racing down the back of the ridge and into the flats, I was forced to employ my original run and walk ratio. Thus, my 10-minute-per-mile pace deteriorated to 15 minutes per mile during the final leg of the journey.
My projected finishing time of six hours was right on as I crossed the finish line in 6:15. I learned a few lessons that will lead to a stronger marathon in June as well as better preparedness for future ultra endeavors.
First and foremost, my gastrointestinal system(GI) handled the predominantly liquid diet without complication. My fuel of choice did seem to lack the calorie content that my body craved during such high output. Thankfully, the aid stations were fully stocked with fruit, cookies, pretzels, PB&J sandwiches and potatoes. One pleasant surprise for me was the container of chopped potatoes served alongside a large bowl of salt. This was new for me and proved very important as my salt levels were nearly depleted. I made sure to ingest a handful of salt at each of these aid stations. For my next race, I will carry a full supply of electrolyte capsules. This will be a major preventative measure to ensure that I do not experience the effects of electrolyte depletion. With this measure in place, I could maintain a 10-minute pace and finish in less than six hours. This will also prove effective during the high heat and intensity of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on June 3.
I have now ventured to the other side of 26.2 and enjoyed the scenery. Perhaps it was the moderate pace that provided more time to appreciate the local lore or maybe it was the solitude of the trail. What I am sure of is a feeling of satisfaction for achieving a goal that I once considered out of reach.
NBA superstar LeBron James has recently purchased an undisclosed ownership stake in The Cannondale Bicycle Corporation. The privately held company has worked with James before; providing bicycles for the James Family Foundation's annual "King for Kids Bike-a-thon" in Akron, Ohio. This charity bike ride event in James' hometown benefits children and single mothers. The bike that was custom built for the 6 foot 8 inch Cleveland Cavaliers forward was later incorporated into James' off season cross-training workout routine. James often rides 2 to 3 hours at a time during his sessions in the saddle.
To become an internationally recognized NBA superstar like LeBron James or a sub-2:10 marathoner, it is quite obvious that an athlete must train within their discipline. The very best athletes also recognize cross-training as an important component in avoiding injury from repetitive strain or overuse.
I use rock climbing as my cross-training activity. I find that the combination of long and stretchy core power and stability movements without impact is a great compliment to the high pavement-pounding mileage I log each week. Plus, the required upper body strength and endurance helps maintain my muscle mass.
Whether you are looking to excel within your sport or you are more interested in maintaining a high level of overall fitness, cross-training will keep you healthy and motivated.
On my way to track practice on Tuesday night, I was in bumper to bumper traffic and decided to place a call to my closest childhood friend who still lives on the east coast. He is a former college football player who used to weigh 260lbs. Now, 6'3", 210 pounds and less than a month away from the Boston Marathon, Johnny has found a new passion; running. Although he and his girlfriend did not qualify for the race, they still plan to run the course after the main group of participants is underway. The two of them have found this training to be a great way to spend time together and work towards accomplishing a formidable life goal. When I asked him how their long run went this past Saturday, he told me that the 15 miles went alright, but he was completely spent and was close to failure by the end of his run. He felt as though he wouldn't be able to go on after that 15. I then asked him about what he ate, drank and ingested during his run. It turns out, he ran for 2 hours and 10 minutes in 60 degree temperatures without consuming any energy fuel, or water at the very least. Wondering why his muscles felt sore and his joints ached, I said to him, "Johnny, what I'm about to tell you is going to change your life."
I explained that running is just one of the elements in the equation of marathon. I used the example that when I run at my threshold, I burn 1,100 calories per hour. At this rate, I would have burned well over 2000 calories* *during that training run. I stressed that a well thought out nutrition plan must accompany his training plan in order to successfully reach the finish line.
Yesterday, he called me from a specialty running shop in Boston and listed off the range of endurance fuels that they had in stock. He checked out of the store with a water bottle with a hand strap, a variety of drink mixes, and a dozen energy gels. By sampling different varieties and flavors to use over the course of the next few weeks, he'll be able to see what will work best for his race. It's often said that one should not introduce something new to their training plan at this late of a stage. In this case, no matter what he chooses to go with at this point, he will be better off than he was before. I suggested that he keeps track of which fuels taste good, provide the most energy, and do not upset his stomach. Once the magic combination has been discovered, stock up and stick with it through training and on race day.
The lesson here is what is consumed before, during and after training and events is crucial for an athlete to unlock their potential. When it comes time to fuel during either training or an event, the 60 to 90 minutes of glycogen energy stores in your body will start you off on the right path. It is crucial to begin consuming calories, carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain your optimal performance level well before these stores run out. If not properly fueled, you will experience "the wall" and risk the dreaded, "DNF" (Did Not Finish). To prevent this common mistake, remember to practice in training what you will use during an event. It's important not to try something completely new during the race because your body may not react correctly. Make sure you are in tune with how you feel at these important times. These fuels absorb very quickly and should make a noticeable difference within minutes.
The Fartlek method is an age old running method that has been helping athletes progress for the past 50 years. Fartlek is a Swedish term for "speed play", and is a training method consisting of a series of sprints within your normal length run. These sprints are short bursts, usually 30 seconds in duration that occur as little as five times within a beginner?s 45 minute workout.
First, focus on a stationary object in the distance, like a tree or telephone pole, and then increasing your pace to somewhere about 70% to 90% of your maximum speed until you reach that landmark. At this point, you should return to your original pace as your heart rate and lactic acid levels restore themselves and recover for the next sprint. After about 5 to 8 minutes, you should be ready to begin your second burst. Once you begin to become stronger and fit, you can add up to an additional 5 sprint intervals to your workout.
This technique has proven to be very useful for a wide variety of strength and endurance athletes. By listening to your body, you decide how far, how fast and how long you will increase your intensity all the while continuing within the parameters of your normal workout routine.
[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/03/23/sunset.jpg]Today is Friday and for the Weekend Warrior; tomorrow will mark another crucial training day. Often the longest in terms of mileage and duration, the Saturday training session takes endurance athletes to the next level. To get the most from these workouts, it is important to prevent the busy work week and weekday training regiment from taking too large of a toll on energy stores and motivation. Friday evening activities can make or break a Weekend Warrior’s Saturday performance so ample rest and nourishment are fundamental elements to a well calculated plan. A wholesome and well-balanced feast, perhaps as a host or in company of other Weekend Warriors may even produce leftovers for the entire weekend. A neatly organized pile of synthetic fibers, energy gels, sunglasses and fully charged mp3 player and fresh playlist will eagerly greet you, following your full REM slumber. Don’t forget to set the alarm - Rise and Shine!
(Photo provided by Toby Guillette / photographer Toby Guillette)
Dr. Roger Smith, D.C., is a chiropractor at Indigo Chiropractic in Scottsdale, Ariz. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Curt Blakeney is a freelance writer based in Arizona. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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