Some Training Tips for your next Survival Run in Nicaragua, by Fuego y Agua Regional Director Ben Slow.
Ben Slow (also known as Benito Despacio) owns and operates Cafe Campestre and Finca Campestre, an organic restaurant and permaculture farm on Isla de Ometepe. His background is in competitive rock climbing and cycling, but in 2014 he placed 2nd to Nick Hollon in the Fuego y Agua Survival Run. Now he is working with Fuego y Agua Events as the Regional Director for Latin America and designing the Survival Run course for 2015.
His extensive experience with living and training on the island, as well as his experiences designing the 2015 course inspired him to write these Training Tips for Survival Run 2015.
I've had a number of requests over the last few months asking about training advice for the Ometepe Survival Run 2015.
I'm not going to be specific but think it would be helpful to give some parameters and general guidance for everyone.
Suffice to say, given there are 2 volcanoes and the course is 80km+ long ('+'!!) and there's a 30+ hour cut off and 10+ seriously challenging obstacles, you're going to need to have your running/hiking endurance down if you're going to last the distance and reach the cut offs.
The volcano's are both brutal and all FYA events thus far have featured lengthy, heavy uphill carries with awkward objects.
We have featured a variety of climbing challenges, most of which people struggle with, so coming with some climbing skills can only help and save vital time/energy.
Be strong in the upper body generally, but make sure you can handle your own body weight comfortably, weight training doesn't make many friends here. (You can leave the big guns in the gym, they're not going to impress 'you' as 'you' haul that extra 20+ pounds of extra muscle up a volcano with a 50+ pound load. And your kit).
The swimming challenge really nailed people at the get go last year (2014).
The event is on an island in a lake.
It is called "Fuego y AGUA".
So come prepared for some swimming I'd say - and not from your local pool. Get in some real water.
Its called a "Survival Run" so "Survival" skills/experience are going to help;
Be familiar with lashing and knots and rope.
Know how to use a survival bag.
Know how to use a knife well.
Be practised with an axe/saw/machete/heavy manual tools.
Know how to carry heavy loads.
Know about water safety (both potable and lifesaving).
These skills could save your life or someone else's on the course. I'm not kidding.
Look at the videos.
Ask other competitors where they felt their training could have been better for last year and/or the year before.
From my experience a big difference in people was endurance and speed over distance, especially when weight and fatigue were factored in.
I made my training as realistic as possible. I trained specifically before the event with 40+ pound hill carries on the volcano for 2 hours at a time leading up to the event. Day AND night.
I ran between 80 - 100 km per week on hilly trails.
I swam a lot.
I did lots of bodyweight exercise.
There were Burpees...
I had a dedicated programme and recorded my progress like a casino accountant.
I really zoned in on my nutrition.
I also had a solid history of survival techniques and applicable local experience which all factored into my performance.
But Nick Hollon's speed over distance and his ability to deal with the merciless hills was what separated us at the finish. So endurance distance training is huge. And 3 of the 4 finishers had already proved their distance endurance credentials before.
Sweat. And sweat like you mean it!!!
It will be hot for most people for the race. Do whatever you can to adjust to hot training. Go to hot yoga. Train with heavy clothing and a hat. Sweat!!!
Finally, as physically fit as you get these races are massively psychological. Ultimately its your mental attitude that will determine if you're a finisher - or a failure
Hope that helps in some way. Contact me if you have questions at ben(at)fuegoyagua.org