GODZone 2020 What’s the plan!
This article was originally published in http://www.sportzhub.com/
07/04/2020 – Written by Nathan Fa’avae
Got a plan for GODzone mid the COVID-19 lockdown? Multiple world champion Nathan Fa’avae walks us through his ideas & training plan.
19th-28th November, Rotorua
What’s the plan?
With the current Covid-19 situation upon us who knows how the rest of the year will play out, I certainly have no idea, but what I do have right now is some spare time. At this stage (April 7th), I don’t know if GODZone will happen or not, I’m sure it will, I certainly hope so as that’ll mean New Zealand has the situation under control, or at least the country is moving with less restrictions.
Let’s assume it is and that the New Zealand adventure racing community has something significant to look forward to later this year, a grand adventure to be part of or to follow.
Over the past few months I have had a number of GODZone entrants and teams approach me for advice or coaching. I said to them that it’s to soon to be looking at training and coaching but that I’d write a ‘blog’ and share it publicly, then closer to the event if they wanted my guidance to get in touch.
Traditionally the event has always been late summer or autumn. This is the ideal time for kiwi racers as everyone has had an active summer, long days, sunshine, warm water, everyone is vibrant and healthy. Most people have used other events as build up to the big one. What struck me is that with the race now in late spring, in November, many people have been unsure how to train and prepare. I know a few teams did quite a bit of training over summer and while I’m sure they enjoyed it, especially now we’re on lockdown, in reality that training will largely have little benefit come November, any skills you improved though will be keepers.
Some history, Southern Traverse was typically in November and for the most part, it was in the deep south. This meant that the weather for the race could be a mixed bag. Okay, New Zealand weather is always a mixed bag, but I’ve raced the Southern Traverse in every imaginable South Island weather condition, sweltering heat to freezing cold southerly snow storms. The weather in Rotorua in November will be more temperate and I suspect quite pleasant for racing.
So you’re doing GODZone in 7-months time. What should you be doing now?
Short answer, very little. While in lockdown it’s limiting to what you can do and you don’t need to do anything in terms of training anyway. Some daily activity for basic fundamental health is important, 30-60 minutes each day, walking, running, biking, whatever you can do. This is more about staying healthy than training for anything.
My general rule with coaching is that I don’t design training programmes any longer than 16-weeks. This aligns to my philosophy about adventure and lifestyle. Adventure Racing is a dynamic and transitional sport. It requires flexibility and the ability to change, adapt and adjust. Having a rigid and structured training programme for a sport that is the polar opposite is an oxymoron of sorts. My experience of adventure racing is you spend most of the race walking while dealing with curve balls and limiting damage. Your ability to think fast and find solutions is key.
Therefore, the person who has prepared by being an adventurer will prevail over the person who has trained with a power metre, in target heart rate zones on an indoor trainer. The essence of training is to prepare your body for what it can expect in the event, adventure racing is an outdoor event in the elements, your training needs to mirror that.
It’s important to remember that adventure racing is ultra endurance. You don’t need to peak like someone in a shorter event, like a marathon for example. For an adventure race, what is important is that you are fit, strong and healthy. Provided you plan your training and recovery that you peak sometime in late November, you’ll be just fine.
Being ultra endurance, the risk of over-training is less as you don’t need to train much in high heart rate zones. Many years ago I was a competitive mountain bike racer, I qualified for the 1996 Olympic Games. In my mountain biking days we spent much of our training in high heart rate zones, intervals, time trails and stacks of racing. It was really easy to ‘cook all your beans’ (overtrain) and timing your peak to arrive on race day was an art form. It was common to under perform as you’d get to a race without adequate recovery. I can recall a few times when I’d pre ride a World Cup course a few days out from the main event and feel on fire, only a few days later to feel flat with dead legs come race day, or the other way around. My point is that timing was everything.
When I moved from mountain biking to multisport and then to adventure racing, it felt simple to ensure I was ready come race day. For starters the races were so much longer that you could have a bad patch and your day wasn’t necessarily over, compared to a two-hour mountain bike race. For adventure racing, you don’t need to arrive at the event with a perfectly timed peak, you just need to peak sometime during the event week and you’ll do just fine. With multisport and even furthermore with adventure racing, there are so many other components that contribute to success that physical fitness is just one of the pillars required.
In this piece I’ll address what I think the key things are and share my thoughts on them. I wanted to focus on the top 5-things but after much internal debate, I think there are 6-things. I’ll leave training to last as that will take up the most space.
- race strategy
- training / skills
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