Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Interview on how Pilates helps Chi as an Adventure Racer
1. How long has it been since you started adventure racing (AR)?
I started in November 2019 - just longer than two years ago.
2. How did you find AR?
I had just finished racing the World Championships triathlon in Nice and as I crossed the finish line I felt like I had finished a chapter in my life. I was in search of something more, something different. I just wasn't quite sure what that was. I had remembered that one of my clients had done AR and spoke to him about getting into the race community. He put me in touch with Brian Gardener who I have had the privilege of racing with a couple times.
3. What was your first race and how did it go?
My first race was the Drakensberg 120. It was more hours than I had raced on my feet and I was going through the night which was also a first for me. I was told I was “in it to win it” and that I would be “hanging on for dear life”. We managed to get 3rd place.
4. Coming from a triathlon background, how does AR compare?
Sho… similar in that it is multidisciplinary but otherwise it is more different. You are typically in a team of 4, and navigating your way under technical terrain. There are seldom too many paths so there is lots of bundu bashing which makes it feel slower although you are often at a threshold. Events can go on for days at a time.
5. What have been your strengths and weaknesses within AR and how have you worked on these?
My strength is probably that I am passionate and enthusiastic about AR and racing. I try to always be positive. I am also determined and very little will stop me from achieving a goal once I have put my heart and mind to it. My weaknesses are my inexperience, and everything technical-related. I am slow on the bike and trekking over uneven terrain. I also struggle with eczema and so this is a daily battle, let alone when I am racing.
6. We know Pilates has helped you with your training. How has it done this?
Pilates works on the stability and mobility of the whole body. It has given me stronger and longer muscles that can fire optimally through their full range. My core has gotten stronger which allows my limbs to move independently. Pilates is typically known to move through exercise with a prominent stretch element - I have found that incorporating just a little more static and dynamic stretching into my classes has significantly improved my alignment, posture, and it inevitably leaves me feeling more mobile, pain-free, and prevents injury.
7. How many hours a week of Pilates do you typically get in your body and how many hours a week would you recommend for an active sports go-er?
I am fortunate enough to get 7+ hours of Pilates in my body a week. 2-3 sessions a week for one month and you will feel a difference in the body.
8. What exercises do you specifically do for AR?
Besides working on the disciplines I will do on race day (trekking, running, riding, paddling, etc) as well as gym strengthening sessions, I do my own Pilates to work on stability, balance, mobility, strengthening, lengthening, and proprioception. I work through the Block system so each body group is addressed. My body is quite good at talking to me so I have learned what to do when.
9. What are the advantages of Pilates when it comes to adventure racing?
I would say the single biggest advantage is being self-aware and what is in balance and not. It gives me an opportunity to make changes within my body sooner rather than later. Body conditioning means that the recruitment of muscles should fire efficiently, with harmony, and in the correct movement patterns which also means less compensation causing less injury in the body. Pilates has a big focus on breathing, this inevitability helps expand the lungs when at the threshold.
10. What is your next AR?
I will be racing my biggest race yet, doing Expedition Africa Lesotho which is 500km with about 10 000m+ of climbing.