Training for Red Bull Defiance

2 days, 6 Stages, 154 km, 4,000 m+ elevation gain

Red Bull defiance has fast become a bucket list events for kiwi endurance nuts. The event takes place in the stunning Wanaka region and incorporates much of the areas natural resources, including the ridgeline traverse of Mt Alpha and Mt Roy.

Training for an event like Red Bull defiance takes a little more than your average endurance event. Although it doesn’t take on the same distance as an Ironman, it will be equally as demanding.

Get one of our Red Bull Defiance Training Plans today!

Consistency is key

By far the most crucial aspect of any endurance event is aerobic conditioning. The fundamental question of endurance is how long you can go without breaking down? For many people, this is an entirely different principle to the train fast and hard approach to team sports.

When we’re talking endurance, consistency is the name of the game – twelve weeks of training five days a week is going to do more for you than two weeks of training every day followed by one week on the couch hating yourself for missing training because you’re tired or injured.

Training is a juggling act of not getting injured while still training enough to get through the race. If you cannot consistently train week in, week out, for at least ten weeks before your race, you will struggle to induce enough chronic fatigue in your muscles. Without this deep fatigue, your training adaptations will only be good enough for 5-6 hrs total.

Train easy, race easy.

Not even professional athletes can train hard every day. The secret to maintaining a consistent level of training is to do most of it easy. Easy training allows your body to adapt to the physical stress of exercise, and as a result, will enable you to train more often without injury or burnout. Heart rate monitors are an excellent tool for helping you monitor your effort. Most of your training should be done in zone 2. An easy way to calculate your zone 2 is to use the following formula;

180 minus your age.

Example: 180 – 40 yrs = 140 beats per minute (bpm)

Plus and minus 5 from your number to get your zone 2

140 bpm – 5 = 135 bpm

140 bpm + 5 = 145 bpm

Zone 2 = 135 bpm – 145 bpm

When, what, and how?

The majority of defiance is made up of mountain biking and running, and these two disciplines should represent the majority of your training. Kayaking is only a small contributor to defiance, and although it shouldn’t be forgotten altogether, it can be pushed quite far down the priority list.

Your training should target three main areas;

  • Consistency
  • Hills
  • Simulating race environment


First and foremost start training with an achievable weekly goal. Once you’ve put together a few weeks of consistency, you can begin to add additional mileage, duration, and/or intensity.


Everyone enjoys a nice looking strava upload, but you’re going to have to forget the average speed and weekly distance metrics for a few weeks. With over 4000 m of elevation to deal with, you’re going to want to be very comfortable going up and down hills.

Simulate your race environment

An often neglected area of preparing for an event is simulating the race environment in training. During defiance you will be training with a partner, carrying your food and water, and exercising for long durations on back-to-back days in the middle of summer.

Some important aspects to consider integrating into training are;

  • Nutrition and hydration
  • Running before and after mountain biking
  • Training with your partner; who’s stronger at what?
  • Completing “big weekends” to simulate the 2 day demands of defiance

It’s as simple as that! If you and your partner can incorporate the above principles into your training plan, you should be ready to race. If you need more help putting together a training plan you can get in contact with us directly or purchase one of our Red Bull defiance pre-made plans from trainingpeaks.

Get one of our Red Bull Defiance Training Plans today!