/ UNITED KINGDOM

Training
'Any idiot can run an ultra marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run the Marathon Des Sables .' – Anonymous

'Any idiot can run an ultra marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run the Marathon Des Sables .' – Anonymous

Preparation

You do not need to be an Olympian to complete the MdS.

We have entrants between 16 and 78 years old – but the common theme among those that finish and enjoy the event is PREPARATION.

And you must have realistic expectations of what you are undertaking.

 

While having good equipment will undeniably be an asset, do not think that equipment will substitute a great attitude, positive thinking and some proper training.

An elderly Indian gentleman who ran in 2009, completed all the stages wearing a tweed jacket, a jumper and carrying a plastic carrier bag and (what looked like) a school satchel.
His backpack was empty. While we certainly wouldn't advocate this attire, he approached each day with a fantastic attitude and had spent time training - thinking through what he would do. He broke each section down into 'bite-sized chunks' and he smiled, alot!

It is easy to obsess over equipment at the expense of other preparation.

The volume of jettisoned food, clothing and supplies at the end of the first day is a testament to the over attention kit gets.

 

It is worth listening to and reading about the experience of previous runners. This will give you an insight into what you can expect and help you avoid some of usual pitfalls.

There are forums that can help. However bear in mind that there are many apocryphal stories and rumours born out of little knowledge and a large amount of (healthy) trepidation.

The basics apply.

You need to know and understand how you will react under the environmental pressures.

There is a lot of individual choice here that you must exercise rather than blindly listen to other opinions.

You need a plan.

Is your ambition to complete the event or to go for a place? The strategies are very different and your approach should be adapted to whichever you adopt.

Will you be walking each section? Running? Sauntering?

How will you use each checkpoint – brief stop? Rest? Feed?

 
 

Follow a progressive training schedule.

Physical preparation should commence at least 3 to 5 months before the start of the race. 

For the long distance runner, weekly runs should average:

100 – 125 miles.

For more modest objectives, the goal should be:

30 – 50 miles per week. 

Increase your mileage progressively. 

We advise you to train as much as possible with a backpack weighing:

3 - 10kg

Increase the weight gradually. 

 

Pack and unpack your rucksack a number of times in advance until you know exactly where everything goes and to ensure you have the essentials.

The anti-venom pump you are required to have must be close at hand. 

A waist bag combined with a rucksack will help balance the load. 

Gradually get used to long outings by alternating endurance racing and walking fast.

Do not forget that training is the best and only way of improving your chances of completing the race and building up your stamina.

 

There is nothing more important than training before the race to ensure the highest condition of your feet DURING the race.

Your feet will carry your through the race if you take good care of them.

During the race, your feet will be subject to constant friction. 

Blister treatment at night is the 'daily routine' of the medical team at hand.

Because of the heat, your feet will swell and if your shoes are too tight you will be forced to drop out of the race through injury or trauma to your feet.

 

If you have NEVER run or if you are not used to training at least twice a week for several months, you may be well advised NOT to enter this particular event.

If, however, you are in good shape and play other sports and are highly motivated, then you should certainly consider entering.

The 1999 Marathon had 500 (many of them were women) entrants from 35 countries aged between 16-82 years of age and from all walks of life – many of these people had never even run a normal 26 mile marathon!

 

Hydration

How will you be monitoring your hydration?

This is probably the most critical and overlooked area and the one that can have the greatest impact on your comfort, health and performance. 

Read and understand the requirements you will have. Understand the salt intake and develop a routine for this.

Drink during your training – it is essential. 

Do not wait until you are in the middle of the Sahara to get used to drinking. 

You must drink what you need and when you need it! 

Remember that a competitor with the right mental approach and average fitness has a better chance of doing well than someone with great fitness and the wrong attitude.

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