Endurance racing in cottage country: guidance from the Cottage Coach

Most people probably don’t associate cottaging’s laid back lifestyle with exhausting endurance racing events like marathons, ultra-runs, and Ironman races. But, for many, the beautiful scenery, challenging terrain, and quiet nature of cottage country makes it the perfect place to take on intense swims, bike rides, and runs.

Taking on any of these endurance racing competitions might sound a little daunting, so we spoke with Cottage Coach Adam Holman for some guidance. Holman is currently training for the gruelling Mont-Tremblant Ironman, an intense event made up of a 3.8-km swim, 180-km bike ride, and a 42.2-km run (for perspective, 42.2-km is the distance of a full marathon). Holman says cottage country is the perfect place to compete and train at all three sports. Training at the cottage has a lot of perks. Sometimes, instead of driving, he’ll take a six hour bike ride up to his cottage to get some heavy training done on his cottage commute. He appreciates having to worry far less about road traffic at the cottage than he does in the city. “I’d rather watch out for a deer than watch out for a car,” he says.

Holman competed in his first half Ironman last summer in Huntsville, Ont., and his training regime for the Mont-Tremblant Ironman started this past January. It’s the quiet time swimming in open water that he’s come to especially cherish. “It’s probably one of my favourite of the three sports now, because you fall into this pattern with your breathing—you just get into this zone,” he says. “I love it, and I’m sure a lot of people that swim in open water will say the same thing.”

The key to staying on top of his training at the cottage is getting an early start to the day, says Holman. He’ll finish a swim before the sun is up—sometimes that’s as early as 5 a.m—often with a friend in the water paddling alongside him for safety. From there, he’ll often go right into a bike ride and then a run. “I’ve always been a morning person, which helps,” he says. “Training just cuts into my fishing time now.”

Adam Holman and his son show off their triathlon medals.
Photo by Adam Holman

Holman recently took on the Barrie triathlon, racing in the sprint distance (750-m swim, 20-km bike ride, and 5-km run). His son also competed in Barrie, completing his first triathlon in the “Kids of Steel” race. “This year has been big for him in the water—we taught him how to swim without a life jacket or a puddle jumper,” he says. “He loves wearing the goggles and the cap with me.”

This will be Holman’s first Ironman and running it at Mont-Tremblant is especially exciting, he says. The incredibly hilly terrain of the ski resort will be challenging, but Holman’s excited to take in the scenery of the course, which he’s heard is world class. He’s also excited to see the spectacle of the race and to watch Mont-Tremblant come alive in support of the racers. “They do it up so big, and the whole village just gets around this event,” he says. “I think this year will just be amazing.”

For those who are curious about getting into endurance racing, Holman’s suggestion is to start slow—most events have options for shorter race distances if you’re just looking to test the waters. Most of all, remember to stay focused on having fun, says Holman. Being able to swim, bike, and run in cottage country is so amazing and beautiful,” he says. “The sights and sounds, getting out early, or going for a night jog—all those things make it perfect.”

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