Most people aren’t born into adventure sports. Well except skyrunner Killian Jornet who grew up in the Pyrenees and who runs up Mount Blanc for fun. You might be sporty – having played team sports like basketball, football, hurling, rugby, soccer, etc. over the years. Or maybe you took up running as a way to keep fit and get some fresh air.
Here are my tips for people making the transition to adventure racing:
Road runners: the big differences are the undulating and off camber terrain, the higher concentration levels as well as the distinct skills of ascending and descending. If you’re used to running at a controlled pace on a straight road, well off road your heart rate and pace will vary. Get out on the trails to practice – when climbing try increase your foot strike (cadence) to small quick steps, look upwards and relax the body. Same advice for downhill – don’t try brake, just try keep your back straight, chin up and fast cadence. Trust the hill!
Cyclists: hills are nothing new to you, so you’ll love the Gap of Dunloe ascent as well as the Muckross descent from Molls Gap. What might be new is the condition of some of the roads – be prepared for bumps and even a tiny bit of off road near Torc. Also practice cycling immediately after a mountain run – your legs will feel heavy.
Triathletes: yay, no swimming! So leave the wetsuit at home. TT bikes mightn’t prove as useful here on the twisty roads and steep hills. Think about changing your pedals to flats, otherwise you’ll be changing in/out of bike shoes 3 times.
Walkers/hikers: so 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, as those climbs will be tough if you don’t.
Team sports: 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 that counts for zilch. 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.
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 run, looking back over Lough Leane from the top, then savour the moment and don’t worry too much. Some people take it too seriously, like me! There’s always next year to get competitive…
By David Power