By InnerFight founder Marcus Smith This story may seem like a strange one, when I finished my first marathon in 2010 I said "That is a boxed ticked, don't really need to do another." Sitting having dinner a few weeks later a guy I was eating with told me that completing a marathon is good but Marathon Des Sables is the ultimate as is suggested by its tag line "The Toughest Race on Earth". I knew nothing about MDS at this stage but soon found out and was in owe of it. As 2013 approached I got an urge to run another marathon and I did in January. I knew that would not be my last, it was way too much fun to leave it at that. There was more left in the engine. Not long after I completed my second marathon a client sent me his personal account of completing the MDS almost ten years ago. It was a gripping read, I loved it from start to finish, it was inspirational, motivational and before I had finished the detailed summary of his journey across the Sahara I had made a decision that I would complete it. I just had to. I immediatly hopped on their site only to learn that entry for 2014 was closed but I could "pre register" for 2015, so I did, but I did not only for myself, I sneakily entered the details of two of my friends. It was not long before they contacted me and asked what was going on. The explanation was simple, it was game on, we were doing it. A week later my all be it practical joke was reused on me when one of the friends told me we would run the TransOmania in 2014 "just as a warm up" so we could prepare ourselves for MDS the following year, so we could get a feeling of what it may be like. "Genius" I thought! But what is TransOmania? Well this video sums it up pretty well: And there you have it. In January 2014 Ben, Martin and I will run 300km self supported across Oman proudly sponsored by 4trust aiming to finish the race within a time cap of 100 hours. In self supported, as it implies you carry all that you need for the entire run with the exception of water which is given at checkpoints every 20km. Your food, medical supplies, sleeping bag and clothing are all in your backpack. There are camps set up at 60km-85km intervals but essentially the race is a free run, you get from the start to the end as fast as you can, how you do that is up to you. It will be quite the journey! But what does the training look like you may ask? That's a great question and there are few different answers to it:
- Nutrition: This is the key. We are carrying all of our food supplies for the entire race in our back pack. It is a very careful calculation to ensure that A we have enough calories but at the same time B that we are not going too fast or getting too hot, if we do and by doing so burn too many then we are in danger as we may run out of calories to eat. In a race like this the nutrition equation is key.
- Equipment: From all the research we have done and people we have spoken to, foot care is number one, look after your feet and you are already winning. That has been a main focus for us so far in getting the right footwear. Aside from that our back packs in which we will carry all of our equipment are a huge factor. We are and continue to test these and a number of small pieces of equipment that will make a huge difference during the race.
- Time on our feet: During the race we will be on our feet some days for the entire day, 18-20 hours and it is this the you need your body to adapt to. I have simulated this on two fronts. Firstly be ensuring that I move 20,000 steps per day minimum which is around 15km. This is just on a normal day, not a day with runs in it. I have also made some changes such as getting a stand up work station rather than a sit down desk, if I can walk or run somewhere not matter how long or far then I do so. You have to get your body used to being upright as much as possible.
- Training: This is last for a reason, the reason being is that not matter how much training you do, if you don't get the above points dialed in you risk not making the cut of. Training wise we continue to do a lot of strength work, we must be strong, have strong legs to carry us the distance. Of course there is a fair share of running involved, as much high intensity threshold running as possible and then one long run per week. This section of preparation is the least of our worries.