What event riders can learn from F1 drivers

  • Turning up at a motorsport training session at Silverstone in early March might not be part of an eventer’s normal pre-season preparations. But after New Zealander Lizzie Brown, 25, had been put through her paces by former Formula 1 star Mark Webber (above), it didn’t seem like such an odd idea after all…

    Similarities between eventing and Formula 1

    1. Time of year
    Both sports gets underway in March and run until late autumn (October/November).

    2. 3 days of sport
    “During a 3-day event I have to prepare myself and my horses to perform at peak level at different times of the day, spread over 3 days,” says Lizzie, who won Boekelo 3-star last year.

    “What I discovered at Silverstone is that a racing driver may only focus on one car, but they have to deliver during pre-race testing on the Friday, aim for pole position on Saturday and go for victory on Sunday. How you prepare for that is critical for success,” she adds.

    Lizzie Brown with members of the Porsche Human Performance team at Silverstone

    3. Fitness is key
    “Fitness is important for any athlete and you realise that in some ways, a driver and rider are not the primary importance — it is the car and the horse,” says Lizzie. “But being able to perform at your peak is absolutely essential to get the most out of what’s underneath you.”

    Unlike riders, drivers sit in one place for long periods of time, but for both sportsmen core strength and endurance is essential. “The course focused on what drivers can do without gyms, so that there’s no excuse for them not train,” Lizzie tells H&H. “And it’s helpful for us to have ideas about how to train at events with limited space and time.”

    Lizzie was more than a match for the boys in the bike test

    4. Having the right attitude
    “Like eventing, motorsport is high risk,” says Lizzie. “In the training we looked at how you can come back from a big crash, and Mark emphasised that you have to analyse what went wrong, put it to the back of your mind and then move on, building up your experience and confidence again.”

    Lizzie tests her reactions on the Batak machine

    5. Preparations
    Running a Formula 1 car comes with a hefty price tag — which means drivers spend minimal time in them during training. The focus is on fitness outside the car. “The drivers were surprised to hear that we can easily spend 6 hours a day riding,” says Lizzie.

    “Increasingly there is an awareness that we need to put more emphasis on fitness [out of the saddle] as well — Jock Paget has really raised the bar there. Eventing at the top level has got so competitive that fitness is becoming increasingly important [to give you the edge].”

    6. The day of the event
    Every sportsman is unique when it comes to dealing with the pressures of competition day. “But there is the same focus with both sports of getting in the right zone,” Lizzie adds. “One of the drivers used juggling as his technique!”

    Visit www.lizziebrowneventing.com

    Formulate a fitness plan for your horse

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