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Norman Kelly lives in Killarney and is a very experienced racer. He believes preparation is key without going overboard.

I’ve been doing events of one type or other for more than 20 years. It’s a big part of my life as I train 6 days a week as well as doing events. I love the outdoors but I think it’s very worthwhile adding the gym to your training, you make strides in there that you don’t get from cycling and running alone.

My first love was cycling, then I moved to running, triathlons and on to adventure racing. When I look back now there was so few people doing any events when I started out. I still see the same few people that are out pounding the tracks constantly – we are very passionate with our sport and the feel-good factor it gives us. There’s been a big move to mass participation events in the past few years and it’s hard to say what the future holds but it’s positive to see so many people getting into their fitness and setting goals.
I’ve been doing the ‘Expert’ routes in Killarney the last few years. I train 6 times a week, usually two cycles, two runs and two gym sessions. Having a young family, I kinda have to jump at the opportunity to get out when I get it, the weekends are usually when I’ll do my long cycles and runs.

One thing I say to anyone who’s training for a long event is get in the gym. You may be able to run up a hill fast, but coming down is the challenge. In the gym, the priority is to work on your core and your gluts – squats, dead lifts, lunges, band work – they are all things that will strengthen your ability and improve your balance. Balance is hugely important and we all have varying natural abilities when it comes to balance so working on that will give you the skill to tackle those fast downhills. I would say 90% of us can’t activate the right muscles for that challenge so you have to work on it.

Many first-time adventure racers over think it, train too hard, get too obsessed with the equipment – you don’t need to, you just need to focus on participating and when you get stronger you can think about competing. Don’t take it too seriously as you can burn yourself out. If you injure yourself you’ll just be sat there wishing you could do anything. Recceing the course is great if you can do it, it will help you figure out what energy you’ll need on the day.

I’ve had my share of injuries over the years and I’ve learnt a lot from that. I suffer really badly from leg cramps on the kayak, it’s just one of those things but I’ve learned to treat it so I load up on magnesium 2/3 weeks before an event and up my intake of bananas/milk. It helps me but I still have to stop to stretch after the kayak which is a frustration but almost all of us have some individual challenge we have to contend with – with time and experience you learn how to do that.

Learn more about adventure racing and Quest here.