Preparing for an endurance event

Are you preparing for an endurance event? Here our top five tips for you…

If you’ve been inspired by the recent Half Ironman and Ultramarathons taking place in the WA’s south west in recent months you may be looking to sign up for a challenge of your own. We are so lucky in WA to have so many fantastic events for running, triathlon, cycling and swimming with the beautiful landscape with which we are blessed. Endurance events are a wonderful way to set a personal challenge, get fit, maintain consistent training and perhaps become part of a new community of like-minded people.

Our physios have competed in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon endurance events and would love to pass on some of our top tips when it comes to preparing for events such as these.

Set realistic goals

While it’s great to challenge yourself, it is equally important to assess your current level of fitness and then choose a demanding yet achievable event. This could mean that your first ever triathlon may not be Ironman Kona but rather a sprint distance which will still provide you with a new challenge, a goal to consistently train for and a race you can enjoy without injuring yourself.

Give yourself plenty of time to build up

For long endurance events you should allow yourself a solid 4-5 months targeted training program. This doesn’t include time to build your base fitness, so if you are picking a type of event you haven’t done before we recommend a 6 month window to allow both increase in base fitness (like pre-season) followed by a 16-20 week specific training program. While this may seem like a large time investment, it greatly reduces your chance of injury, allows a gradual build in training and also allows some wiggle room for the odd hiccup when life, injury or illness pops up.

Have a plan

Having a specific training program is crucial for an endurance event. This will keep you on track and prepare you for the race. It also allows you to track your training volumes, account for changes in routine and allows you to schedule in high volume weeks, recovery and cross training.

Train the way you play

If you are doing a trail run, make sure you have practiced running on the trails. If you are doing triathlon, practice transitioning from swimming to cycling, and cycling to running. If you are open water swimming, do some sessions in the ocean. Your longer training runs are a great opportunity to practice your pre-race and in-race nutrition and hydration. It is important that we expose ourselves to the conditions we will encounter on race day. This helps to prepare us physically and mentally and to minimise surprises on race day!

You don’t need to go the whole distance in training

Despite temptation, there isn’t usually a need to complete the full distance in training before a long endurance race.  Training your body consistently and gradually to get to within 80% of a marathon for example is often enough. The percentage of the distance that you’ll need to reach in training will vary dependant on sport, distance, training history, injury profile etc. To work this out it is useful to consult a coach, your physio or a training guide.

Remember time and planning will give you the best chance of reaching your goal. While completing your race is an amazing feat, people often describe it as just the cherry on top. Preparing for an endurance event, and preparing well is the real achievement!

Good luck with your training!