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Adventure Race Training: Week 6

Michael underlines the importance of balance in all facets of training.

There's just one month to go to the big race at Citifield on May 9! It’s an interesting journey. Emotionally, as I mentioned last week, the real test is keeping it sane. There is a lot of time for many people to get freaked out about this race. The same can be said of any race. I know many people who freak themselves out in August while prepping for the NYC Marathon when the race itself doesn’t actually take place until November. For many, I think the stress is part and parcel of the entire experience. There has to be a bit of stress to get fired up to train and compete. No stress and the fear is that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t taking it seriously enough. And with that casual attitude, you’re going to crash and burn.

First off, if you are training, there is no crash and burn. I tell those marathon people that there is so much adrenaline when you get out there that there are very few options to simply running. If you’ve kept an even-only-slightly intelligent training, schedule, you will be fine. You will probably not win, but then it is only your first race. You’ll have ample opportunity to win in the second, third and so on...

The real goal is finishing strong and happy—you’re welcome to define “happy’ under your own terms. For me, “happy” means that I am going to have some fun and some laughs during the race. It isn’t brain surgery. Actually, it’s recreation. I want to enjoy myself and enjoy the event with my teammates. Some of it will no doubt be miserable, but that’s the fun part of the first time at any event. But I want to experience it with a mindset that will allow me to say at the end, “that was great. Now how do I make it even better next time?”

One of my favorite goals is waking up the next morning pain-free. Honestly, if I wake up and creak as I get out of bed, I’m usually not thinking “wow that was great. Let’s do that again.” So I try very hard to balance my workouts during the pre-race build up. It is like the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang—two equal, intertwined and complementary forces that balance each other. So when there is a certain amount of force, there needs to be a certain amount of relaxation to keep the body balanced. Now, relaxation doesn’t mean crashing on the sofa at the end of a long workout. I mean active relaxation. For example, I meditate twice a day, stretch several times a day and focus my Pilates workout on more flexibility-oriented exercises than strength-oriented. I would love to be able to get to a regular yoga class, but with my schedule, it is close to impossible. 

And that’s the point. You have to fit the proper elements of your training into your schedule. If you only have three hours a week, you can’t spend all three hours doing cardio or you’ll find that you are horribly out of balance and that’s when you will get injured. Balance is the key to success. Find where you are falling short and focus more energy on those areas.

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