The constant discussion around Marathon des Sables has been partly useful, partly stress-inducing, and in the final countdown it has intensified dramatically. Inevitably this leaves you questioning whether you should have done more training, splashed out on heat chamber sessions or even joined one of the many ‘expert’ training camps are constantly in the back of your mind.
You then look at what you have to pack and compare with your peers on Facebook. They’re taking how many gels? What are they doing in terms of airport security? Will half a roll of loo paper be sufficient? So many questions to answer.
At this stage, it’s like a waiting game especially since you’re not training half as much as before. The self-inflicted tapering phase coupled with a flow of constant dialogue on social media can leave you in a constant flux of nervous energy. So how do you go about dealing with it?
I don’t exactly know but here are five things stopping me from pulling my hair out as I wait to start the adventure of a lifetime.
1. Task lists
Even at this stage I have a task list as long as the eye can see but there’s no point in trying to get them all done in one go. There are also ‘necessary’ tasks to ‘nice-to-have’ so I have prioritised them and at the beginning of each day I set myself a maximum of three tasks from this list to complete. This can range from the simplest of things such as booking a pre-MdS massage to more technical rehearsals to ensure I can actually set up that tiny Esbit stove. While it may not dispel the nerves completely, by ploughing through my tasks at least I feel a little more settled towards #mygoal.
My weekly mileage may have dropped significantly but I’m still trying to do some cardio mixed up with yoga. Enter the concept to change your fitness routine – ClassPass. Now as tempted as I am to try every class available, (there are 100s to choose from), I need to be sensible. Thankfully, classes of my current fitness squeeze Project Fit can be reserved in a jiffy as can various forms of hot yoga all over London. Mixing up my training through ClassPass has made the past few weeks way more enjoyable.
3. Shorter races
So my distances have decreased as per the plan but the lure of the Vitality North London Half and Reading Half Marathon were simply too much. Over the past two weeks, I have focused my energy on these and used one for speed and the other to at least look like a hardcore athlete. I carried a 6kg rucksack around Reading and pushed myself to do a 1:43:37 half. I will be running closer to my longer training runs’ speed at MdS and also plan to walk the tougher parts but challenging myself in a different way during shorter distances has kept me motivated and my spirits up.
4. Body care
As well as my daily dose of Berocca, I’ve also trying to calm my body and mind with activbod’s mind over matter – a hard balm stick containing a mix of revitalising essential oils which really clear your nose when you’re feeling blocked up by all the London smog. Then I have four tiny rescue salve tins (15ml) from purepotions on my desk at work just in case I need to smooth over chapped lips (lavender salve), bruises and tired legs (arnica salve), spots (tea tree salve) or cuts and grazes (calendula and comfrey salve). It’s all about looking after myself right now and having these little products by my side certainly offer me the chance to do that.
5. Time out
As much as I sometimes hate having to take a step back and switch my focus to something other than running like choosing tiles for the kitchen floor, I know that I need to. I liken it to when you’ve lost your keys and you spend half an hour searching for them, give up and go and do something else, only to find they were right in front of you in the first place. Time out of the Marathon des Sables, having a day out with the boyf at the weekend or settling down to watch Peaky Blinders on Blinkbox instead of obsessing over the enormity of the challenge that is the Marathon des Sables means I can approach however I prepare for it with a fresher and healthier attitude.
How do you taper for a race? What’s your attitude towards winding down before a big adventure? Let me know below.