Has this year sparked the ambitions of an adventure race?

It will certainly be a year to remember. Despite all the economic downturn and social distancing, many people have alternatively found inspiration from the great outdoors. It’s advanced to the point that various individuals have found something within themselves they thought was never there! Those who were always in the pre-contemplation stage of getting fit or ever joining a gym are now talking about seeing more of the Irish landscape and signing up for their first fitness challenge or adventure race!…. So 2020 has brought a lot of good for completely different reasons.

People who needed encouragement or a source of motivation have not needed to be encouraged this time around. What happened? Did the hustle and bustle of the inner city and commuting change that frame of mind? Has a little bit of boredom sparked wisdom for some and not others? No matter what the reason is, it’s great to see everyone getting involved in walking, swimming, hiking and taking it to the next level as they begin to run and cycle their favourite routes.

This summer has displayed great weather for getting out there and focusing on your cardiovascular health and fitness. Whether you’re a beginner or a well-seasoned athlete, today we’re going to give a little summary about how you can start to make measurable goals about training for a fitness event in Ireland. After that, we’ll provide some information on some great fitness adventures that are scheduled for later in the year and leading into 2021.

Dedicating yourself to a challenge helps set measurable goals for your fitness ambitions and supports the hard-working entrepreneurs who do a great job putting these events on every year.

What’s a great way to prepare for my first fitness challenge as a beginner?

Finding your first steps

If you’ve taken to the outdoors and started walking, hiking or even jogging then you’re already on the right track!

Feeling apprehensive or nervous about getting started?… then take your time.

Start with having a 6 week Goal. Start with brisk walking, before advancing to hillwalking or hiking and eventually running.

For the first 2 weeks, start with walking continuously at a manageable speed on a flat surface for 30 minutes. Try doing this 3-4 times the first week. In the second week, advance to walking continuously on the same course for 45 minutes. Again 3-4 times per week. Only making a slight adjustment to the duration of your cardiovascular activity. This should start to expand your aerobic capacity.

Now that’s accomplished, let’s take a look at the next two weeks as we look to get all the muscles in the lower extremities active. Making an easy adjustment, start with walking continuously at a manageable speed on an elevated surface for 30 minutes in the first week, 3-4 times per week. Advance to walking continuously on the same course for 45 minutes in the second week, 3-4 times per week. Now that we have made these improvements, we have conditioned our body to start running!

For the last two weeks, start to jog continuously at a manageable speed on a flat surface for 20-25 minutes in the first week. Try doing this 2-3 times per week. If it feels better to run on grass than pavement, then choose a local park or football field that is nice and even. Running on grass can be a good option, in the beginning, to avoid injury if experiencing any pain or tightness in the muscles of your lower body. In the second week, advance to jogging at a slow or steady speed on a slightly elevated surface for 20-25 minutes, 3-4 times per week. And there we have it, you’re all set and on your way!

Taking it from here, you can start to prepare for your first adventure race. Add levels of variations to your workout program. By complementing flat and elevated surfaces on your jog, you can start to fluctuate your heart rate and condition your cardiovascular fitness for an adventure race. When comfortable, start to increase the intensity of your running circuits by approaching more elevated climbs.

The same approach can be taken if preparing for the cycling stage of an event. You can tackle the same 6 week program on your bike and add steeper elevations you can manage in comparison to your running routes.

Being prepared

Being prepared means preventing injury and performing to your best advantage. Firstly, you will want to invest in the right gear. Let’s start from the bottom up. Starting off, it is essential that you get a good pair of running shoes. Proper runners provide substantial cushioning to support the midsole of the foot. They also offer arch support. Getting yourself a good pair of trainers will help prevent injury and improve sports performance. When shoes are well fitted for the athletes’ needs, they reduce the risk of overuse injuries and joint pain. Second, to running shoes, running socks are very beneficial. Running socks are great for wicking sweat and letting your feet breathe easy. This prevents cramp, overheating, and avoids infection or irritation when running for more extensive periods of time. Same goes for your shorts and t-shirt! Choose fitness wear that is easy breathable and can wick sweat on the upper body too. Allow yourself to rid sweat and keep as cool as possible during your run, so you don’t become overheated and dehydrated. And on that note, try to drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially a few hours before your run. Minimise diuretics such as tea and coffee as much as possible.

Strength and Conditioning

When tackling your first adventure race, you’ll want to have a good level of cardiovascular fitness, but you’ll also want to be agile and well-conditioned for any obstacles that lie ahead. Obstacles can even be as simple as tackling a few sharp bending hills, a steep wall climb, or climbing your way through a mountain that proves to be a little complex. Many adventure races are triathlons. But many of them are also obstacle courses. These courses tend to be much shorter in duration and can suit first-time adventure enthusiasts. It is particularly important to train your core and the muscles in the lower half of your body such as the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. This is to avoid overuse injuries and protect your body during performance from any blunt trauma. Great exercises for targeting all these muscles in different movement patterns are:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Planks
  • Glute Bridges

It is also essential to stretch and foam roll after each session. Static stretching directly after running helps to improve your flexibility, which allows your joints to move through their range of motion more freely and with less effort. This reduces tightness, enhances running ability and therefore reduces injury. It also increases blood flow to the needed areas. Foam rolling is also great for delivering the same effect after your workout.

5 great adventure races that you can train for over the next 12 months

If you have been keeping active during the summer, you’re probably wondering what fitness challenge lies ahead for you – how long is the challenge, what does it entail, when is it taking place? Let’s take a look at some fun and exciting fitness events in Ireland that are just around the corner.

Tough Mudder

Where does it take place?

Tough Mudder Ireland is hosted each year at Loughcrew House and Gardens in Co. Meath.

When is it on next?

Tough Mudder is next scheduled for Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th, July 2021.

What To Expect

Tough Mudder requires a team effort. This course is engineered for teamwork specifically. The objective of this course is that you must start and finish together. The obstacles will require the help of a teammate, as they pull you through mud pits, help you over walls and encourage you as you crawl through the bunkers. It’s not far to run to your next objective, but the slippy surface and mud weighing you down will truly test your fitness levels. A very fun course that has a reputable name worldwide. A brilliant social atmosphere. Tough Mudder hosts its classic 5km and 10km events, amongst other options. These courses are adequate for beginners partaking in their first adventure race.

Quest Glendalough

Where does it take place?

Quest Glendalough takes place at the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Glendalough Valley.

When is it on next?

The next Quest Glendalough adventure is scheduled for October 31st, 2020.

What To Expect

Welcome to Glendalough. Home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland when considering tall vast greenery and monastic history…. as well as challenging running and cycling trails. Quest really go out of their way with this event to set up multiple courses to suit beginners and well-seasoned endurance racers. There are three options – challenge (21km), sport (43km) and expert (59km). If you have been doing your elevation training, Glendalough is a nice test. The hills are challenging but in shorter spells. Most running trails averaging 5km in length throughout the course. The cycling routes are also considered to be short. Despite tackling some tough climbs, the longest route will tend to average 20km in length. This challenge should be considered if looking to take on your first fitness event.

Gaelforce West

Where does it take place?

The Gaelforce West event starts at Glassilaun beach in Connemara, Galway. From here, all the participants make their way along the coastline towards Killary Fjord. Crossing the water by kayak, the group run, cycle and mountain climb until they meet their final destination at Westport.

When is it on next?

The Gaelforce West event is next scheduled for September 5th, 2020.

What To Expect

Gaelforce is quite a long but manageable race for beginners and intermediate athletes. Although the course is 67km long, first time adventure racers find they can complete the course when competing at a moderate pace first time out. The course starts with a run from the beach and advances into some short hills. Eventually, this evens out on some flat surface before approaching the kayak event. This can give a lot of relief before setting out again on foot before meeting the cycling event. The true test comes when approaching hills on your bike at Croagh Patrick and then climbing to the top of the summit of the mountain. Making your way back down, the last stretch home becomes a lot easier as the Westport locals cheer you on near the finish line.

Shamrock Adventure Race

Where does it take place?

The Shamrock Adventure Race takes place at the Barrow Valley, Co. Kilkenny and Blackstairs Mountains in Wexford.

When is it on next?

The next scheduled event for Shamrock Adventure Race is July 25th, 2021.

What To Expect

Gaelforce is quite a long but manageable race for beginners and intermediate athletes. Although the course is 67km long, first-time adventure racers find they complete the course when exerting themselves at a moderate pace through the stages of the event. The course starts with a run from the beach and advances into some short hills. Eventually, this evens out on some flat surface before approaching the kayak event. This stage of the event can give some relief before setting out on foot again before meeting the cycling event. The true test comes when climbing Croagh Patrick. Making your way down, the last stretch home becomes a lot easier as the Westport locals cheer you on near the finish line.


Where does it take place?

FEARmanagh, or FEAR as its participants call it, takes place in the beautiful South West of Co.Fermanagh.

Situated amongst lakes, hills and amazing forestry, this course is a great event again for first-timers and intermediates.

The race starts at the small town of Derrygonnelly. Advancing through Knockmore, you’ll eventually encounter the forest fire road. During this scenic route, you’ll see the lakes and mountains of Sligo in the background. As you turn back in the direction from where you came, you’ll soon approach the Cliffs of Magho where you can see across the lake into Donegal. After that, you will journey home to your starting point.

When is it on next?

FEARmanagh has been schedule for September 25th, 2021

What To Expect

Long Race (74km)

FEARmanagh is a triathlon event that consists of a long event and a short event. This event is great for beginners as it offers consistency within its course layout of short trails. Most running and cycling trails range from 1km-10km, with most running trails averaging at 2km in distance. The longest cycling trail you’ll face if taking the long race is 30km. This is a course that offers plenty of flats, sweeps and descends to compliment some of its steep climbs. The variation in terrain makes it very suitable for beginners. The short and long events should be considered for first-time adventure racers

If you are interested in more information about Adventure Races In Ireland, please visit AnywhereFitness.ie. Ben and his team are more than happy to answer any questions that relate to personal training advice or preparing for a sport-specific event.