Training Smarter for Spring Trek Sydney
Spring Trek Sydney is a spectacular 18km or 30km course that takes in some of the most scenic views in the Sydney area and is designed to offer you an incredible team experience. The rugged trail is however also very challenging and needs to be taken seriously as there is over 1,546m of elevation!
To truly enjoy the whole experience offered by Spring Trek Sydney, you really do need to train properly. Unfortunately, juggling a busy life often leaves many people under-prepared for endurance events that they sign up for. Lacking time, most people either go for some ad hoc walks or attend a mix of classes at the gym, but doing unplanned workouts that aren't tailored towards the trekking environment won't give you the results that you're after.
To train smarter for Spring Trek Sydney you'll want to take advantage of a combination of the following three key training principles:
1. ensure your training is specifically tailored towards the trekking environment;
2. harness the amazing power of interval training; and
3. follow a progressive, periodised schedule that carefully builds up your fitness to the necessary level without risk of injury.
Following these 3 key principles will lead to enhanced results and will help you truly enjoy the whole Spring Trek experience!
Principle 1 - Make your training specific to the trekking environment
There are many excellent forms of cardio training, from swimming and running to rowing and cycling, and mixing up activities keeps workouts interesting and forces your body to continually adapt. It is important to note, however, that many of the changes that occur within the body during exercise are specific to the exercise program that is being used. What this means is that changes that occur when you're swimming in a pool, or boxing against a bag do not necessarily help you walk up a steep hill on Spring Trek Sydney!
The most effective way to train for Spring Trek Sydney is to try to copy the environment that you'll actually be in as closely as possible. Spring Trek Sydney involves around 6 to 10 hours of trekking over rugged terrain, so your training program will ideally include lots of walking, some hill work and longer weekend sessions on the actual trail breaking in your trekking shoes/boots. Get used to carrying a small day pack and wearing the clothes that you'll be using on the actual day.
If you're really limited by time or don’t have access to an ideal outdoor walking environment then there are other good options to consider. These include:
2 walking on a treadmill (changing the inclination to simulate hills);
5 the step machine; and
6 the elliptical or cross trainer.
Remember however that the closer you can copy the trekking environment with your training, the better your results! If you're struggling to get out and train then opt to use this sample trekking circuit at home.
Principle 2 - Harness the power of interval training
Leisurely walking on the flat for 30 minutes is beneficial for your health and is a great way to reduce stress levels. Conducting every training session for Spring Trek Sydney like this is not, however, going to lead to fast or vast improvements in your endurance levels! By the same token, pushing yourself impatiently at a constant high intensity will lead to poor results and possibly exhaustion and injury.
You need to select a level of exercise that benefits your body and does not cause damage - exercise is a form of physical stress and if you're already under a lot of negative stress from your lifestyle, are lacking in energy or not feeling well then putting more stress on your system will just break you down further.
Research has shown that interval training is an effective way to train and it involves much less wear and tear on the body than standard moderate intensity training.
Interval training involves alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with easy recoveries. The theory is that by breaking an exercise session into multiple short intense efforts, more total work can be achieved than in one longer intense effort. For instance, a study that compared 20 minutes of high intensity interval training (a 30-second sprint followed by a 4-minute rest, repeated 5 times) with 90 to 120 minutes of training in the Target Heart Rate Zone (60-85% of Maximum Heart Rate), showed that subjects gained the same improvement in oxygen utilisation from both programs. What's amazing is that the 20-minute program only required about 2 minutes and 30 seconds of actual work!
There's no single accepted formula for the ratio of intense exercise to recovery, but the high-intensity phase should be long and strenuous enough that you're out of breath, typically 30 seconds to 3 minutes of exercise at high intensity, with 30 seconds to 5 minutes of rest. If you're of average fitness and under typical stresses of the modern living then you shouldn’t go above 80-85% Maximum Heart Rate (a strong effort). Recovery periods should not last long enough for heart rate to return to resting rate.
Three sample interval training sessions are set out below. Remember to warm up and cool down before and after interval training with some fast walking or jogging.
4 x 800 metres of hard exercise with easy walk/jog between each hard burst. Add one 800 metres per week up to a maximum of 8
4 x 400-600 metres of hard exercise up a hill with easy walk back down between. Add one extra hill per week up to a maximum of 8
2 minutes of hard exercise followed by 2 minutes of easy exercise. Repeat 5 - 10 times
Take part in a maximum of 2 interval sessions each week so that you don’t overly stress the body.
Principle 3 - Follow a periodised program
Your endurance training for Spring Trek Sydney should gradually increase throughout your program to ensure that you continue to improve your fitness with minimal risk of injury. This process is called periodisation. Include a long walking session each week (preferably with your team mates and on the Spring Trek Sydney trail) and gradually increase this session until it approaches the actual time that you'll be walking on the day (6-7 hours is a great target to aim for!).
One popular method of periodisation is to increase the total time of your exercise over 3 weeks and then significantly decrease the time on the 4th week. Training with these "unloading" segments allows for recovery from the 3 preceding weeks - this lets your body absorb the training, reducing the chances of fatigue and giving excellent results.
On a larger scale, you could divide your Spring Trek Sydney training program into 4 phases - General Conditioning (weeks 1-4), Specific Conditioning (weeks 5-10), Peak (weeks 11-12) and Taper (week 13-14).
The General Conditioning Phase is an important time to lay down aerobic foundations. The emphasis is on endurance training and training volume progressively increases with "unloading" segments.
The Specific Conditioning Phase progresses your fitness level from aerobic work to faster forms of training. Training should now include more hills for increased strength and stamina. It's important not to overdo it at this point and if you're tired, you should perform plenty of passive (i.e. rest) and active (e.g. easy swims, stretching) recovery.
The Peak Phase is the time to reach your maximum distances.
Finally, the Taper Phase is designed to help you mentally and physically prepare for Spring Trek Sydney. Too much work in this period can adversely affect your performance during the trek.
Below is a sample program for Spring Trek Sydney designed for someone with average fitness.
If you can’t stick to the schedule then take advantage of any chance you can to move. Leave the car at home and walk to the shops, climb up stairs rather than using the lift, carry those extra bags of shopping and chase your children around the park. Opportunities to use your body surround you and if you struggle to make time for a structured workout then this is how you should seek to train.
A final piece of advice in respect of your training program is to keep your workouts interesting - exercise with a friend or train in a new area. After all, the most effective training program that there is is the one that you will actually do!