Tuesday 21 November 2017

Pick the right team, train and plan - this is the route to endurance test success

Planning is a key factor in endurance training
Planning is a key factor in endurance training

Karl Henry

I AM thinking of registering with some friends for a tough charity endurance race and was wondering if you had any advice, to get us over the line safely?

Karl Henry replies: WHAT a great way to get fit and raise some money for charity too! There are so many events to choose from and you will bond, improve your health and have fun, even though it will certainly be tough fun.

This event will really test every part of you and, by working in a team, it can become easier or harder. Here are some of my top tips to help ensure you get the most out of it:

1) Choose your team carefully - Endurance events test a team's ability like nothing else. You may think you know someone but 18 hours into a gruelling event in the rain, going up a mountain, can put serious strain on people. When planning your team, aim to balance the strengths and weaknesses so you have all round strengths. There should be only one real leader; it is the leader's job to make crucial decisions, should they need to be made. While it may sound harsh, it is so important as the fewer voices you have, the easier it is to get through the tough times, which there certainly will be at some stage.

2) Train together for at least four long endurance sessions on similar terrain - Now that you have your team, you need to ensure you do at least some of the long training sessions together, on terrain similar to that of the event, and increasing the amount of time/distance for each session. Get used to the group dynamic and also push the group as the sessions get tougher.

3) Don't wear anything new on the day - Now that you have done the training, so many people buy shiny new boots/runners and clothing for the event itself. This is one of the worst problems I see, as all the new gear will do is cause chafing, blisters and skin problems, as you haven't used that gear before.

At one 1OOk race I was at, after 20 km a whole team was using gaffer tape to control blisters due to their new socks and runners.

4) Have a proper nutrition plan prepared in advance - This tends to be the second problem people have. My advice would be to make an appointment with a nutritionist and get a plan built specifically for the team and the event, but here are some general guidelines:

•  Carb load the day before with 3-4g of carbs 'kg bodyweight

•  Add in some salt the day before too, especially if the forecast is for warm weather

• Never drink sugary drinks and eat sugary foods at the same time as they counter balance each other. Water and sugary foods will work much better.

•  Aim to be drinking at least 500ml per hour

•  Aim to eat at least 300 cals per hour

•  Only use caffine when you have to as the effects aren't that long lasting

•  Know the warning signs of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hypothermia (low body temperature) as you may experience these within the team

•  Have a medical kit that is fully stocked and someone who knows how to use it

• Plan your race in advance in terms of time and distance plans. A team with a plan will run rings around a team without one

• Know when to stop - How far is your team willing to go in terms of pushing yourselves? If a member of your team sprains an ankle, what will you do? Don't be afraid to discuss it with the team. I have had to make the decision in some endurance races to stop and not finish, as I knew the next stop was A&E. I made a decision that I wasn't willing to risk serious medical issues.

Some people are willing to take the risk, are you?


Email your questions to karlhenry@independent.ie

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