Andrew van Rensburg's Expert Advise
The X-Berg…… It’s an interesting and tough challenge, from plotting your routes to climbing and descending the beautiful mountains in front of you…..but it’s also a lot of fun for a true trail runner!
The route will change from year to year, but the preparation needed will be very similar. You will need to be fit to take on this race, so probably a good 10 to 12 week block of focused training. Distance wise, you should probably get between 60 and 80km per week in, but really its more important to get a long day on your feet in on the weekends, probably 4 to 5 hrs on some technical terrain. Secondly, in a race with this much ascending and descending, strength work will be imperative…. So squats, lunges and stair repeats will put you in a good place come race day. Lastly, brush up on your route plotting and navigation….. The incorrect route choice can make your race a bit longer than you would like.
Training for X-Berg when living in an area that has predominantly flat ground is challenging but do-able.
There are 2 aspects to prepare:
1 - Strength
Lots of bio-mechanically correct leg strength exercises likes static wall squats, single leg squats, lunges and single leg balance to name a few.
2 - Speed of recovery
Do plenty stairs and stair repeats, hill repeats with limited time to recover, as this will get your body using energy more efficiently and enable your body to recover quicker in the race after an exertion like climbing a steep part of a mountain.
Lastly..... keep a good mental space as coming from a flat area you do not get to enjoy the beauty and isolation that the mountains of the Drakensberg can offer.
Equipment wise, the usual equipment list for an ultra-distance trail run would be advised, that will obviously include waterproof jackets, lights and warm clothes amongst others. But importantly do not forget some medical supplies like strapping, tablets for nausea and stomach issues, as well as some anti-cramp tablets. The Drakensberg Mountains are beautiful and great fun, but also tough and unforgiving, so prepare accordingly.
Most of all don’t forget that we are really lucky to have such an event with such awesome areas to run/bike/fly in. Some of the best trail running you will find in South Africa lies in those mountains…. So go find the trails and enjoy them!
Andrew van Rensburg (http://www.sportandwellness.co.za/Physiotherapy.aspx)