Redbull Defiance: Coming Up Fast

In early 2018, Ali and I raced as a team at Redbull Defiance: a 2 day multisport race in Wanaka, involving kayaking, mountain biking and running. It was a brutally tough race, in which I pushed myself out of my comfort zone over the 2 days, finding new levels of physical and mental strength I’d rarely felt before. This, along with the hill climbs, mountain tops and incredible views, captivated me, and when I crossed the finish line I thought, 'I want to do that again next year'. Luckily Ali was keen to give it another go aswell, and so here we are 4 weeks out from the 2019 race.

Training so far for me has been a little up and down. I don’t like going into a race feeling under-prepared, but injury has caused me to have to back off on the running, and as such there is an element of feeling off the mark. Don’t get me wrong, other aspects of my training have been great: cycling has gone well, paddling is coming along – having fallen out significantly less in the lead up this year, and my strength work in the gym has significantly improved.

I think, like most people, I’m not very good at having an injury. Initially I remained positive, went to physio and began my rehab. Being a physio myself, I knew that this had the potential to not be a quick fix, and I started to mope about feeling sorry for myself. However, I systematically did my rehab exercises and I started to see some small improvements, which I grasped with both hands in order to start some form of training that resembled running. Having a plan in place made me feel that perhaps all was not lost. But somewhere at the back of my mind wondering, is this going to be enough?

Instead of specifically running, I’ve worked at the process that goes into it, through strengthening of the muscles that will make my rehab effective. This has involved trying some weighted walks up some big hills, and who’d have thought 10kg could feel so heavy! I know that there are some long steady hill climbs in the race, and so I’ve been specific with my training in the sense that a good proportion of the run leg will be a fast walk up Mount Roy. However, I knew that I’d still need to get some speed in my legs for the downs and flatter sections, and so I’ve incorporated a cross trainer into my weekly session to mimic the leg turnover. As mind numbing as it’s been, it’s a compromise that may well help me in the long run, and a good way of getting the heart rate up. I think I’ve even enjoyed watching the red line go around the imaginary track on the screen…maybe.

In the next 2 weeks, the final touches are put to the training build, and then comes the taper. In the past I’ve just used a 1 week taper, but that has always left me feeling tired and heavy in the legs, and this isn’t the type of race where I want that to happen, especially not on the second day. So a 2 week taper will be what I go for, steadily easing off and then the rest. And the rest….you’d think that was the easy part.

Rest for me is a difficult one. I love the feeling I get when I exercise, and it’s good for my mind and soul. Perhaps it’s an obsession… so it’s always difficult to cut down on that. But I know it’s one of the important parts to the training, and I’ll have to trust that the lead up to the race has been enough and believe that my injury will not hinder our progress on race day.

I’m excited to get going now and see the mountains again.

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