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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Less than 50 Days and Counting…
04-Aug-2014 01:37:20 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

I’m back on my blog, after a four week workload-induced absence. Less than 50 days remain until I’m running across the wilds of Madagascar. If I hadn’t paid up for my flight and entry fee, I would be tempted to abort. But it’s not an option: I’ll still compete in the 250km run, even if my fitness is going to be a long way from past levels, when I did the other five deserts.

Am I prepared?

Absolutely not. The last four weeks I’ve been distracted with travel and just haven’t had the energy or the time to train. I’m snapping out of it though, as with seven weeks left to train, time is of the essence. On the plus side, I think not training too much has rested my body. I have kept up four gym sessions a week, and I’ve done some good cross training, like cycling and hiking; so I haven’t been totally sedentary. I’ve averaged two runs a week since June, covering a mere 20km on average in total. I was really pleased yesterday though. I decided to just hammer it and see what happened to my body. I logged 22km with a 5kg pack with three fellow Singapore based runners. I felt surprisingly good.

What’s the plan

I’m focused on sticking to the knitting from here on in, and logging four runs a week. With such a dramatic rise likely in my miles, I need to be careful and make sure I don’t injure myself. I’ll get regular massages and be religious about my stretching. I’ll do all my runs with at least 5-6kg in my pack, to quickly strengthen my legs. Thankfully my body is in good shape strength-wise, as I’ve been consistent with the gym for the past few years.

Importantly, now is the time to get organised with food and equipment. When it comes to food, I’m going for all natural with no additives. This is usually the way I eat, anyway. When I did my last desert run in Namibia in 2009, I fuelled myself with gels and other artificial things. That’s changed now. I’m quietly impressed with the amount of natural race food out there.

What’s worrying you now?

Thankfully not too much. I don’t stress out about the enormity of doing one of these races. No, I haven’t trained enough, and yes it’ll probably hurt. But I also remember that success in these races is about strong mental willpower, good planning and the right equipment. I’ll rely on these areas, and then hope that my suboptimal fitness carries me through. Walking fast is as important as running, as is making sure you keep moving and not loitering at checkpoints during the race. And I thank you for reading my blog, but I don’t read many other blogs. I find too many people make the whole thing sound too hard-core, and it’s easy to get scared by people logging wild miles. Focus on yourself, I say, and remember it’s about quality miles, not the quantity of miles.

Any advice for first timers?

Apart from some of the points I’ve made above, I think it’s important not to take too much equipment, and definitely don’t pack too much food. If your pack is over 8kg, get help from someone who knows what to take and what not to take. Some of the key pearls of wisdom I would offer, having done five of these buggers in the past are:

1. You CAN do without an inflatable sleeping mat, if you want to save 300-400 grams. Take a small rubber mat (some packs have these inside) and place it under the bottom of your back. The first night is hard on the ground, but you get used to it. If you like comfort, take a ThermoRest, but you will pay the weight penalty.

2. You won’t eat as much as you think - especially at breakfast, and even more so, during the race. Whatever you are training with (gels, bars, etc.), take half of it. I know that sounds risky, but you’ll appreciate the weight saving. 2000-2200 odd calories is enough to get you through each day. You’ll need more for the long day (day five), but remember these calories also last you for two days.

3. Try to get the lightest of everything with your equipment. Keep a spreadsheet, buy a set of electronic kitchen scales and weigh everything. Don’t overpack things in plastic bags. I once emptied someone’s pack of 1kg of plastic, in Namibia! With food, try to decant your food into as minimal wrappings as possible. Those freeze dried bags can have the edges trimmed off them – the little things can make a difference.

4. Don’t panic about buying all the equipment. It can be overwhelming at first, but most of what you need is now on the ‘Racing the Planet’ site. You can spend crazy amounts of money buying the best, but I really don’t think you do better in the race because of it. I’m no longer caught up in the fashion element of having the best.

1 COMMENTS

Sam F

Posted: 04-Aug-2014 01:26:31 AM

Less than 50 days? Don't you mean less than 30!

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MATT CHAPMAN
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014

Hometown
Singapore

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CEO

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MATT CHAPMAN
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Entrepreneur with interests predominantly in the recruitment sector and secondary interests in farming and hospitality.

Hometown
Singapore

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CEO

Why are you competing?
To re-sync my personal and work balance. Ironic
that it takes entering an ultra marathon to get
myself focused on this!

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