Training Report — How do you train for a four day race?

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Olof and Whitney Hedberg with Denise Mast at the top of Cerro Pedernal


A common question adventure racers get is “how do you train for a multi-day race?” There are probably as many different answers to this as there are adventure racers — here are a few ideas from Team NYARA.

Team NYARA members Whitney and Olof Hedberg escaped the brutal winter in the Northeast and spent their winter training in the sunshine of the Southwest. Here they talk a bit about their training strategy and share a couple of their sessions as they prepare for Untamed New England this summer.

Untamed New England is a 4 day race and, for us, 4 days is a pretty long time to do anything. So our training revolves around a few different elements: developing strength and flexibility; skills training and getting in some long days.





Strength and Flexibility:

We focus on plyometric strength training — lots of jumps and dynamic strength moves.

For flexibility we practice yoga at least once a week.

Skills Training:

In four words: Bushwack and climb stuff.

Some recent skills-building adventures have included:

Hiking/Scrambling the Rabbit Ears in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Length: ~ 5miles (90% bushw
Start elevation: ~5650 ft
Peak: 8130 ft
Vertical: ~2480 ft
Difficulty: Mostly 3rd class with 2 shorter (~20ft) 4th class sections
Time: ~8 hours with breaks

Hiking/Scrambling Cerro Pedernal in Northern New Mexico

Length: ~ 6.5miles (40% bushwacking)
Start elevation: unknown(maybe 8,000 ft)
Peak: 9,862 ft
Vertical: ~1,800
Difficulty: 3rd class for two short sections
Time: ~4 hours with a lunch break on top

We also take full advantage of La Luz — a trail that starts in Albuquerque and goes to the top of the Sandia Mountains. The 9 mile (oneway) trail gains more than 3,000 and is mostly runable. The best part is it has some awesome scrambling and bushwacking objectives that you can access from the trail — including one of our favorites, The Thumb.

All of these trips involved route finding, bushwacking through some pretty gnarly desert — think cactus, lots and lots of cactus — and scrambling up things. The more time you spend outside exploring, the easier it becomes. Most important, you have to do things that are both fun and challenging.

Long Days:

You have to make your training fun and challenging so for our long days we often use ski mountaineering — Say what?

Ski Mountaineering trips are seriously good AR training, even though most races include little to no skiing. Typical backcountry trips take 8 hours and include miles of skinning or boot packing, downhill skiing and occasionally some climbing. Skinning and booting up mountains are great for overall fitness while hauling skis on your back helps prepare your back and shoulders for carrying a backpack full of AR gear for four days. Route finding and strategy choices are common when you are out in the mountains and especially with ski mountaineering — navigating variable snow conditions, avalanche risk/safety and varying ability levels. A couple of our recent trips include Heaven’s Hill in Santa Fe, NM and Mount Daly outside Marble, CO.

We are spending the month of April hanging out in Leadville, CO and racking up lots of loooooong ski days (and strong legs). Not to mention getting in some high altitude training — the town of Leadville sits at over 10,000 ft in elevation. We will keep you posted on our progress.



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