A highly effective way to maximize your race day performance is to know what the course entails and tailor your workouts to match. Strenuous steeps, countless corners, wavy waters, sandy sprints, and cramp inducing climbs all require different types of strength and fitness and you can fine tune those leading into the event. You’ll also have a mental advantage over your competition if you know that you have trained for the exact features you’ll be battling on during competition. By creating specific swim, bike, and run workouts you’ll ensure that you are both physically and mentally ready long before race day arrives.
With the help of pro triathletes Joseph Miller (PHL) and Lizzie Orchard (NZL), and event organizers Sunrise Events, we’ve put together an in-depth course preview and created three workouts that will help you prepare for XTERRA Danao, Cebu. If you aren’t doing that specific event, you can still use the following workouts for a course similar to Danao, Cebu. Take note of the aspects of the course Joseph talks about and how the workouts fit specifically target those.
The Course Preview
The Swim: Battling Currents
One of the most difficult parts about swimming through heavy current is the mental beating you’ll take. Stroke after stroke after stroke, it can feel like you’re going nowhere and mental fatigue will set in. Here is a swim set that may not be the most exciting at first glance, but will help you tough out those savage swim conditions.
- 400 easy swim. Mix in some non-free style stroke.
- 2x 100 steady swim. These should be at a moderate pace. Rest: 10
- 4×50 build. Over each 50, build to fast pace. Rest :10
- 2x 500-800. Beginner swimmers do 500, advanced swimmers do 800. These two swims will be at race pace with a 25 (or 14 strokes) acceleration thrown in. Be aware of your speed/pace before the acceleration, during, and after. Ask yourself if this is the fastest pace you can hold for the portion of swim you care currently doing? Can you change speed/pace here without falling apart afterwards? Holding a high pace for that long will be a struggle, but throwing in those accelerations will help you break the monotony and stay focused. Make sure to return to race pace after your acceleration. You can use this trick in your race day swim as well. Just make sure to not slow down to much after you back off the acceleration. Rest 1 minute between swims.
- 4x 200 Descending. These 200’s are continuous swims where each 50 gets faster than the previous one. The goal of this set is to ensure that as you get more fatigued, you don’t slow down or back off the pace. Rest :20 between 200’s. The paces should be:
- 50 moderate
- 50 hard
- 50 race pace
- 50 all out
- 200 easy. Don’t cut this short. Proper warm down helps your body shift from “workout mode” to “recovery mode”.
Winner of three Asia Pacific XTERRA events in 2016, Lizzie Orchard knows a thing or two about how to prepare for specific courses and then crush it on race day. Here is a short but sweet mountain bike workout that can also be done on the training or (gasp) road bike/trainer to help you prepare for XTERRA Danao, Cebu. Aim to do this workout 9-10 days out from the event.
- 5 minutes easy spin
- 5 minutes tempo -1 gear at 100rpm
- 3 minutes tempo -1 gear at 105rpm
- 8 second sprint
- 5 minutes tempo gear at 100rpm
- 3 minutes tempo gear at 105rpm
- 8 second sprint
- 2 minutes tempo +1 gear 100rpm
- 8 second sprint
- 3 minutes rest
- 2x [4x 2 minutes hard riding at 100rpm]. 2 minutes rest between reps and 5 minutes recovery between sets. These short hard efforts will prepare you for those tough hills that Joseph talked about in the video.
- 10 minutes easy roll at 90rpm. Don’t skip the warm down. This will help flush your legs before you hop off.
If you go uphill, you can usually count on going downhill too. To prepare you for a run course like XTERRA Danao, Cebu, we’ve put together a workout to get you up the hill quickly and back down as well. CAUTION: Running quickly downhill can be dangerous. Don’t run outside of your abilities otherwise you may get hurt.
- 15 – 20 minutes easy running
- 4x 30 second builds uphill. Walk back down for recovery.
To prepare your legs for both uphill and downhill running, we’ll do repeats of both. As mentioned before, be careful running downhill at full speed. Stay within your limits.
- 2x 1 minute uphill hard. The pace should be faster than race pace, but not an all out sprint.
- 1x 30 second downhill hard. This will pound your quads and prepare your body for the impact of going downhill on tired legs.
- Repeat the 3 reps above two more times (9 efforts in total).
- 1x 2 minute uphill race pace. Your legs should be very tired by this point, so hit and hold your race pace up the hill. This will be the part of the workout you can think back to during your race and remember that you’re prepared for this type of struggle. Build the physical and mental strength here, so you that you know you’ll have it on race day.
- 10 minutes easy jogging. Keep it very easy jogging, but don’t walk.
Bonus: Be Ready to Beat the Heat
Here are a few tips from Lizzie to help you cope with racing in the heat:
- Set yourself up with lots of fluid in the lead up days, and during the race.
- Use the days before the race to get your body used to the heat. Turning off that air-con means it will be less of a shock to your body.
- Take it easy for a few days once you get there, travel and heat are double stress on your body, same goes for altitude.
For more tips and tricks to help you beat the heat, check on the image below
A pro triathlete from New Zealand, Lizzie has raced across the globe. Unfortunately the beginning of her 2017 season has been plagued with injury, but she is bouncing back quickly.
A pro triathlete from The Philippines, Joseph is well known to all on the Asia-Pacific Tour. He’ll be toeing the line at XTERRA Danao, Cebu on April 23rd.