The Importance of Preparation

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Fifteen months ago I started running using the “Couch-to-5K” app on my iPhone. My endurance gradually increased over the months and my long runs were reaching around six miles by early spring. That’s when I decided to join a local running club and dove head-first into a half-marathon training program that was already in full swing. In fact, the half (13.1 miles) was scheduled for May 8, and I had started with the group only three weeks earlier. To make a long story short, I increased my mileage way faster than I should have (against the coach’s advice and my better judgment) and ended up with an injury that prevented me from running the race, which I had already paid for three weeks earlier. I was overzealous and impatient. While I knew I needed to prepare for that type of mileage, I let my ego get the better of me. Lesson learned.

Dressage-Today-Adriane-Alvord

While working on this month’s issue, the word “preparation” kept showing up, which made me think back to my lack thereof. Adriane Alvord, a dressage rider and obstacle-course racer (think Spartan races and Tough Mudders), talks about preparation being one of the key components of her success in races and her FEI competition and training. “Mistakes can happen, and I have learned that they are OK as long as we learn from them,” she says. “The worst thing to do is skip the preparation and just rush into something.” Read about Alvord’s journey in “Overcoming Training Hurdles” on p. 42.

We read about preparation again in Volker Brommann’s training feature, “The Why, When and How of Transitions,” on p. 32. Brommann says, “Because transitions shift weight to the hindquarters, they make the horse more maneuverable in preparation for a movement. In Third Level, for example, we have a medium walk, a shortened stride, a turn on the haunches and then medium walk again. You don’t get a score for that transition to the shortened stride, but it directly affects the success of the movement.” Brommann goes on to explain how to ride a proper transition and also offers exercises.

Later, in “Tips from Trainers Who Teach,” dressage rider and trainer Endel Ots discusses warm-up strategies for the show ring. He points out that days, months and even years of work go into preparing a horse for the show ring, but that the preparation shouldn’t stop when you arrive at the show. “Each hour between arriving at the show and your ride time can be used to help you achieve show-ring success,” he says. “Every action between your arrival and the warm-up ride affects your horse’s state of mind.” Read his tips on p. 26.

I hope this issue helps you prepare for your next ride.

Until next time...

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