Immune system - taper
Don’t forget to build in a bit of rest in the final week or two before the start line. Any fitness that you hope to build in the last couple of weeks is simply too late. Do only as much as you need in order to calm your fizzing brain and sleep at night.
You should be into or at least have an idea of your training plan by now. As with our horses any kind of marathon training requires Base Fitness. It’s your core strength and endurance, that long accumulation of steady state activity, that will keep you together at the end of a hard few days of riding. You need some muscle bulk for the physical onslaught of the Derby, but mostly you need marathon-type endurance and aerobic capacity. Remember muscle weighs heavy and needs more oxygenated blood to remain efficient. Like training the endurance horse, you need a combination of building and stretching the muscles whilst pushing the CV system in order to remain constantly in an aerobic zone.
To really hone your fitness you're going to have to challenge your body, and you should put back in what you take out with a decent recovery product.
There are some great ones out there but TORQ are pretty proven in alot of fields including with Endurance Riders, There are some awesome flavours and the Recovery is a definite must to try. Most of my endurance clients swear by this stuff, and the faster you recover the more serious sessions you can pack in pre-Derby. You might as well start the Derby in the shape of your life and these products will give you a huge push in that direction by allowing you to bank hard sessions, recover well and do it all over again. Talk to them nicely and I am sure you'll get a deal. If not Torq, find something that works for YOU - use it , try it and be sure what you bring to Mongolia is your magic!
There are three areas of training we should look at: Physical, Mental and Health
Time in the saddle is king. Ride as many different horses as you can, have 2 – 3 stirrup holes as “normal”, this will really help to relieve the pressure on your knees, ankles and hips as the miles clip on. Even if you do already ride lots please do try different stirrup lengths – this is different! Practise miles of trot & miles of canter. At trot keep changing those rising diagonal and at canter rise 3 and sit 3, as posting in both trot and canter will help to prepare your muscles both legs and core for the endless, wonderful days on the Steppe! Also, usefully, it will help to build up those glutes which will provide your natural seat saver = YOUR BUM!
Get into the habit of stretching pre & post every time you ride – if it’s habitual you’ll still do it on the Steppe even when absolutely pooped!
Rowing, running etc will all help with endurance fitness & the weight management. Try out power plate training for those of you who have most of their fittening time in the gym – it’s a fantastic way of targeting muscle engagement from your core to really engaging all those little buggers around the knees which will in turn take the pressure from the joints.
If you are needing to lose pounds to make weight for the Derby I can't stress enough how important it is to lose weight safely and slowly, and reach your target weight in good time rather than starve for the last 10 days pre-race. The strain on your immune system if you are wobbly and dehydrated on the start line (we've seen it happen) is just too much. – Loose it now not in July!
Look after yourselves; think about what you need in order to stay well on this huge adventure. Veggies? Remember it’s goat garnished with sheep or sheep garnished with goat, served on a base of white flour, either in noodle or fried pastry form, with a good dollop of dairy on the side! Very few vegetables SO how are you going to survive keep strong & ride day after day.... oh and only carry 5 kilos? Electrolytes, protein powders etc will all be useful but work out what works for you and how much you need (it’s all part of your 5kgs)! If you run brilliantly on tea and noodles, either or both with mutton, you can bring 5kgs of anything you like, but if you need a hit of vitamin C in the morning....you'll need to carry some pills.
Make it habitual to drink lots when working out – again when you’re brain dead, the sun is beating down and you’ve ridden 100 miles you need to drink because it’s habit, just part of the plan. You really need to automate these care-taking procedures now and build good habits or you'll be running on empty by kilometre 200.
Challenge yourselves! This will be a fantastic adventure but will stretch you like no other and there will be times that it will be your mental bloody-mindedness not your physical fitness that will get you over the next hurdle, onto the next horse or out of the nice warm lovely ger at 6am! So just add a mental challenge or two into your training schedule, even if this is just an 'all-winds, all-weathers' mantra - never skip a session because you don't fancy what you see out of the window.
A final thought. Don’t treat your body too much like a temple in training, the Derby will require the drinking of pretty serious Vodka, fermented mares milk as well as identifiable and unidentifiable foodstuff. Too pure and your body may just not cope, so go ahead with the Perfect Training Programme; pies and pull-ups.
Help yourself to hard workouts followed by a few pints, pie and chips and a sing song, and you’ll be heading for the Perfect Derby Day!