A common question among first-time participants is often posed; “given that spring has only just barely arrived, how on earth am I going to get ready for Storm the Trent in the next 7 weeks?” Here is some general advice for how to prepare for the big day:
Fact - the majority of racers will be getting into a canoe or kayak for the first time this season at Storm the Trent. It’s true, given the mid-May timeframe, it’s usually not feasible to get any quality practice on the water before Race Day, and most racers will be relying heavily on their previous season’s paddle experience. Realistically, your best bet for an optimal paddle is core strength training. Unbeknown to most, your core plays an equally important role as arm & shoulder strength in powering your paddle stroke. You can also consider using kayak paddles, which are generally faster and more forgiving in a race setting.
That’s pretty much it on the prep for the paddle – feeling better yet?
Training for the trekking sections is not all about trying to be the fastest runners in the field. Far more important is getting out as a group to practice moving at whatever pace you think your whole team can sustain for the posted distances, whether it be a walk, fast-hike or run. This is because of the fundamental rule of team-based racing - teams must remain together at all times during the race, which is to say a team’s pace is only as fast as that of the slowest member. While competitive teams may run the full trek, it is far more common to see teams power-hiking along trails. One captain has even admitted to hiking all of the trek sections, except for when the team is in the vicinity of checkpoints, where photographers are often stationed!
If we could offer one piece of advice for the trek, it would be not to focus on mileage, but rather to get out to local parks or conservation areas and practice some basic map reading while hiking or jogging. Fit teams can lose a lot of time out on course by moving too quickly, not paying attention to key junctions or features, having to double-back, and covering unnecessary kilometres. In adventure racing, it’s not always the fastest team that gets the win!
Finally, we do recommend that racers definitely get out for some biking - building up to a distance close to that which will be traveled on Race Day. You have 7 weeks to train so why not start with 10-15km on the weekend, and then add some distance every week until the race. Any biking will do, whether it be spinning, urban, rail trails, singletrack or country roads. And if at all possible, try to ride up some good-sized hills to test your gears (and your legs!) Race Director Sean Roper has been known to throw a few climbs into the course here and there, and a wee bit of practice may help minimize the expletives while slogging your bike up that final hill.