Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Preparing your headspace is as important as preparing your body

The best advice I can give newcomers to adventure racing is to plan and prepare. Planning, preparation and practice are the three P’s of adventure racing. So many people put all their time into training their body that they forget about the mindset that you need when tackling an adventure race. In adventure racing the fittest most talented athletes may not even make it past the first hurdle if they haven’t spent time thinking about team work and their mindset prior to the race.

Adventure racing is a sport full of surprises. Firstly the course is always a surprise – teams don’t find out where they are going or the distance of each leg of the race until the night before the start. Secondly, the terrain and weather are always a surprise. The weather can always throw a curve ball no matter how long your race is. Thirdly, your teammates and your equipment can throw in surprises from major gear failure to spectacular individual meltdowns. My advice is as a team you need to spend some time thinking, talking and planning for different scenarios. Expect the unexpected and have strategies to cope. What if someone gets a flat tyre? What if someone gets dehydrated? What if you get lost? What if someone gets a hot spot on their feet? What if someone is slow and holding the team up or if someone is always out in front putting pressure on others to go faster than they are comfortable with? What if you end up taking longer on the course than you planned? 

During an adventure race it is pretty much a given that you will be bush-bashing through thick bush, you will probably push or carry your bike at some point, you will get lost, some piece of equipment will break and you will want to sit down and cry somewhere along the way. However, it is how you deal with these challenges and how your team pulls together to overcome the lows that makes the sport of adventure racing so appealing. Overcoming the challenges thrown at you and dealing with physical and emotional pressure empowers you, and when you cross the finish line you will experience an incredible feeling of self- confidence and happiness
The trick with adventure racing is to enjoy the journey and the environment rather than focussing too much on the destination. Take what is thrown at you, embrace the highs and the lows and keep moving. Break the race up into stages and just focus on one thing at a time. I suggest you read a few blogs of adventure racing teams and get an insight into what they go through during a race. 

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