The Quad is a tough event requiring serious training and careful preparation. The full route includes a 0.8 mile swim, 15 mile hill walk or run, 7 mile kayak followed by 34 miles on a bike through the Scottish Highlands requires some thought as to how you can best prepare yourself for the challenge. Below is some advice to get you started.
- Build up your swimming progressively over 3 months. Start off slowly and build up to 1,500 metres (or 60 lengths of a 25 metre pool) before the event.
- Try using Kick Boards and Pull Buoys to build up the arm and leg strength.
- Open water swimming, in a full length wetsuit, is very different to swimming in a pool and we strongly encourage you to get some experience before the event.
- Find out where you can join open water swim coaching sessions where you will learn how to adapt your technique for open water.
- Choosing the correct shoes is vital. Of all the items of kit you buy, your shoes are the most important. If incorrectly fitted they are the most likely to cause injury and prevent you training or competing. For this section of the event fell or trail shoes are best. Walking boots are fine, but they will slow you down, although they may have good ankle support.
- Over the 6 months before the event go for walks or runs outdoors, incorporating hills and rough terrain, at least three times each week. Make one walk/run each week a ‘long’ walk/run and build up the distance slowly, adding one mile each week. Walk or run with friends so that you can support and encourage each other.
- Practice walking and running downhill (as well as uphill) as you need to adapt your muscles to the downhill to prevent muscle damage on the downhill sections of the Mountain phase. During the event you should be taking advantage of the downhill sections so conditioning your legs in training will benefit you immensely.
- Always stretch after your walks or runs. Stretching will reduce your likelihood of injury, increase recovery rate and muscle/tendon strains. Do not stretch cold muscles.
- All participants paddle Malibu Two sit-on-top kayaks for the kayak phase. They are compact, lightweight and stable. We prefer our rescue boats not to be too busy on event day!
- The best way to train for the kayaking phase would be to kayak at least once a week for three months prior to the event, however, that will not be possible for many people, so you need to build your upper body, core muscles and endurance.
- Body weight and core exercises such as Inverted Row, Chin Ups, Russian Twist and Plank are a great way to strengthen your core and upper body muscles and to build endurance for the kayak phase.
- There is no substitute for getting out in the fresh air on your bike so try to cycle as much as possible. Try to use your bike for your commute or daily errands as well as going on long rides when possible.
- Make sure that your bicycle is fitted correctly for you, with the seat at the correct height and handlebars adjusted to fit you. This will ensure that you are cycling efficiently and help avoid injury.
- Wear cycle shorts to reduce rubbing and chaffing, ensure your helmet fits and is comfortable, and familiarize yourself with how to repair a puncture.
- We recommend you put in some ‘brick’ sessions during the latter weeks of your training. This means going for a long walk/run and then cycling 20 to 30 miles in the same training session. Practice taking on nutrition and water while walking/running and cycling.
- Feet - toughen your feet by walking as much as possible. Trim toenails and use foot powder. Walk about at home in bare feet as much as possible.
- Socks - Smart wool or Teko socks are recommended. Change your socks regularly. It is important to keep your feet as dry as possible.
- Footwear - fell running shoes with good grip or light gortex type boots. Make sure they fit, are well broken in and allow for foot expansion.
- Blisters - If you feel a potential blister forming, stop and deal with it there and then. Puncture the blister with a pinprick, drain and apply compeed or similar dressing.
- Rubbing - Wear lycra cycle shorts and use Vaseline to prevent chaffing.
- Stretching - Warm up before stretching and stretch both during and after walking. Remember to stretch down after the event.
- Hydration - Drink regularly. Use the Camelback/ Platypus water container. Mix energy drinks with water. Drink plenty of tea, soup, water and eat plenty of fruit. The key to getting through endurance events is nutrition – train with the foods you will use at the event.
- Dehydration symptoms - beware of symptoms: thirst, not going to the loo, dark coloured urine and minor headaches.
- Hyponatremia - A potentially fatal condition, resulting primarily from drinking too much fluid and not replacing the sodium (salt) lost by sweat. Symptoms are very similar to those of dehydration but your urination becomes frequent and your urine is clear-coloured. Monitor your fluid intake and remember that you must eat to keep up your salt and mineral levels. Drink isotonic drinks containing electrolytes as well as water.
- Temperature - Maintain a constant body temperature and prevent your body from overheating by continuously adjusting your clothing. Zip tops make this easier. Use a hat - you lose 30% of heat through your head and it saves time changing other layers!
- Check points - Keep stops at checkpoints to a maximum of 20 minutes or your muscles will begin to seize-up.