Trail to AfricanX: The importance of cross training
Building up to the event on 17 March 2017, Trail Hub will have a monthly feature on the team, the training, the kit, and life while training for the 2017 AfricanX.
This first installment features an overview of the event, training involved and why cross training should form part of your training routine.
What is AfricanX?
Born in 2009, the event has become a must-do event for trail enthusiasts. From a modest 120 teams in the inaugural event, the AfricanX Trailrun has grown rapidly and is now capped at 400 teams of two. Now based at the historic Houw Hoek Inn, after four years in Kleinmond, the AfricanX Trailrun takes runners on a challenging three-day adventure through some of the most immaculate terrain in the country. The team format adds to the experience, with runners having to carefully approach each day with a sound strategy. It’s not just for hardcore trail bunnies, though. Road runners will enjoy some sections of the route that are fast and flat, but remember – a rugged climb is never far off.
Event Fast Facts:
Date: 17 – 19 March 2017
Venue: Houw Hoek Inn, Grabouw
Stage 1: 36km
Stage 2: 34km
Stage 3: 22km
Pre-Entries Open: 13 March 2016
Pre-Entries Close: 26 February 2017
The AfricanX, being a multiday event, will take body and mind to the limit which means both need to be prepared to go the distance and also recover effectively after each day, so you are ready for the following days’ distance and terrain.
Remaining injury free for the duration of the training and the event often comes down to how you manage your training. Body conditioning and strength work will prepare you for the daily race distances over varying terrain. By training consecutive days you condition the body for the race but there is still so much more to be done and this is where cross training should come into your training program.
Why cross training?
Cross training holds an array of benefits for runners and should be considered as important as your long training runs.
Injury Prevention – Running by its nature is hard on the body, so including cycling or swimming you can build and increase your fitness levels while decreasing the impact stresses on your body.
Injury Rehabilitation – For most runners, it’s not if but when an injury occurs, so using another sport to maintain fitness while you can’t run will keep your demons at bay.
Motivation – Often training for a single discipline sport can be monotonous and starts to play with your headspace, by changing your routine and including one or even two other sports keeps you motivated.
Muscle recruitment – As the body becomes tired over long distances muscle groups will begin to collapse and call on other less utilised muscle groups for support, the correct cross training will ensure that these other muscle groups are fit, strong and ready to be used.
Strength - In my training for the 2017 AfricanX, I have included cycling, swimming, and indoor rowing into my routine to boost fitness and strength. Swimming and indoor rowing form part of a strength program which will be covered in the November “Trail to AfricanX” article.
Building up to race day
Race day means different things to everyone and each of us reacts differently, very often nerves play a big part in how the head and body performs on the day. Condition yourself by participating in races regularly, this will help you adapt to race day stresses so including a number of races in a program is important, in my training plan I have included a few local Cape Town races such as The Gun Run 21km, Redhill Marathon, Bay to Bay 30km along with a few shorter trail races. In addition to running, I also include a few cycle race races such as the Wines2Whales mountain bike race and XTerra Grabouw.
As with any training for an endurance sport, consistency is key so cross training needs to be maintained through to race day where maximum benefit is realised.