Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw is less than four weeks away. Unless you are a pro and followed your training program to the millisecond, you might be like many age group athletes, in damage control regarding your preparation. So, where should the focus be?
The main concern regarding Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw happens to be a thorn in almost every triathlete’s foot, and that is the 90% probability of a non-wetsuit swim. Unless you are a very proficient swimmer, bouyancy goes out the door, and dragging legs enter the stage. Other than spending dollars on swimming lessons that won’t change your overall swimming style much in one month, what can you do to prepare yourself? If you are not doing it already, one solution is to kick as many lengths in the pool as you can. At least 12 lengths, four times per week, together with everything else you do in the pool. It will firm up your core and, if not making you faster, slightly reduce the feeling of dragging a sandbag on race day. A skin suit definitely also helps. It streamlines the body in terms of surface flow and core stability, but at quite a cost. If you ever considered begging, borrowing or stealing anything, a skinsuit is a good reason for doing it right now.
As far as biking goes, the MTB course of Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw is as technical as it can get. The infamous Rock Garden specifically, tips the scale towards two definites: either you walk it (partially at least), or you ride it. Walking parts of it is not shameful or harmful. Ryan Sandes walked it everytime he did Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw and still finished up top. Better to be safe than sorry in this case. If you intend to ride the rock garden, or any other super technical section, make sure you can ride it. In this month, go find the most rock-filled technical sections you can get. The Canaries in Jonkershoek, especially the old ones, are good choices. They are super rocky right now. Hone your skils descending rocky single track. Teach yourself only to look where you want to ride. Avoid looking where you don’t want to ride. (That is where the bike will go!) Pick your line with conviction and stick to it. Don’t second guess your choice, and focus on your landing or finishing point. Also, keep your weight back at all costs when going down rocky drops. Don’t try to peek over the handle bars to see what is under the front wheel. You will end up there. The more you ride technical single track, the better you will get, and one month is definitely enough to boost your confidence and skill. No need to postpone it. The rest of the course depends on your overall fitness, climbing ability, nutrition, timeous gear shifting and all other basics that will make your bike go fast. Achieving aerobic fitness requires effort, but getting technical skills can be enjoyable. The Totalsports XTERRA course opens up a week before race day. It is awesome just as a ride, so go there and have fun!
The run starts off easily, but as soon as you cross the river shortly into the run, the relentless climbing starts. When you think it is over, it is not. This part takes all your will-power to keep running and taxes your calves, achilles tendons and quads to the max. If you are a podium chaser or need to establish your alpha dog status, this is where you can break your opponent. All you need to do is train to climb. Lots of it. An elite athlete lost out on 3rd place two years ago due to a pulled achilles, and we are no better. True story: if you are used to hill training, get the steepest jeep track you can find and spend at least two 20 minute climbs a week on it for the next three weeks. On the opposite side of the spectrum: if you are not accustomed to climbing, tempo runs with slight elevation are advisable. You don’t want to induce tender spots in your leg muscles at this stage that might lead to injury. Manage the climbs on race day carefully, even with walking, and make up the seconds you lost on the superbly fast parts down the mountain. Your staying power over the beach section could also pull you back in contention. Superb aerobic fitness has never let anyone down. In the next four weeks you can still up that factor a lot. Bank it.
Enjoy your training for Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw and see you on race day in good health and positive spirits!
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