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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Thinking about the Formula
26-May-2014 03:15:27 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

As the Madagascar countdown now hits double figures (97 days to go), I have started to think about all the things that are going to be important to my success. 1) The right gear - My attic is full of gear from the past five ultras. Key for me is the lightest weight stuff possible. That means the lightest sleeping bag, perhaps no sleeping mat (saves a few hundred grams) and not too many clothes. I have raced with some pretty famous and wealthy co-competitors, and I can tell you it’s no fashion catwalk out there, especially day three onwards. I try to take two “costumes” - one to run in, and one to sleep in. I then change them daily and repeat. For the day, it’s important to cover up as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn. 2) My food - It’s all about maximum bang for buck in terms of calories to weight I have to carry. As I’m trying to be frugal on weight, I’ll be hammering my calories to 2,000 per day maximum. For seven days that’s 14,000 calories. I’ll be throwing together a spreadsheet soon on this and will share it. The key thing for me is finding things that I actually like to eat. I’ll be avoiding processed gels and artificial things as much as possible. 3) What sort of miles I’m logging - The key is quality, not quantity. Although given my leisurely approach to training for this event so far (for the last 4 weeks I’ve logged a mere one short run a week), quantity should probably be on the agenda too. It’s important to simulate the possible terrain. I like to find cross-country trails, as opposed to smooth roads. This allows me to test jumping over rocks and tree roots, and forces me to concentrate (which has the added advantage of switching my mind off of other things). 4) Mental strength - I’m not afraid to admit that this year has been a demanding one on all fronts. I am full steam ahead on both work and personal projects, and I am constantly realising that my success is about adopting the right mental strengthening techniques. I’m putting a renewed focus into better mindfulness techniques and daily journaling. I’m trying to read more, and I’m listening to useful podcasts (easy when running). If you haven’t listened to Peter Sage’s Passion and Purpose podcast, I recommend it. I’m also reading Spartan Up! by Joe De Sena, a ‘Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life.’ I also enjoyed Episode 2 on The Tim Ferriss Show when he interviews Joshua Waitzkin, internationally renowned child prodigy chess player. Thanks Matt B for these suggestions, as they were well worth it. 5) Physical strength - Aaron and I have been doing some good workouts. Nothing too crazy, but we have been focusing a bit more on the legs. I don’t actually enjoy legwork, as I feel like my legs generally get a decent enough work out during my daily life. I prefer upper body exercises. I do need to try to be consistent though, as with travel, it’s easy to muck up momentum.
A Remarkably Uneventful Week Three
19-May-2014 06:00:31 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

A short update, as I tick off week three of training for Madagascar, and head into week four. I say ‘short,’ as I really haven’t done very much at all during week three, in training terms. With 104 days before my un-trained feet need to clock 250km in the desert, it really is high time I got serious about my training. I clocked up three gym sessions last week (which wasn’t bad) and just 7km in the jungle. Maybe I should have booked a holiday to Madagascar instead. I have invested too much now to pull out of this - hotels, flights and the entry fee. The culprit, for my poor training, is my full ‘life’ schedule. Part of the reason I’ve signed up to do this ultra is to force myself to ‘take time out.’ Nothing like scaring yourself senseless, with a big goal, to get you motivated, right? I seem to be spending an awful lot of time talking to people about the race, and recounting stories of past feats and blister pain. But I’m not a guest lecturer on desert running - I’m actually doing another desert ultra-marathon in under fourth months. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Let’s hope things get moving this week in week four.
111 days until the Madagascar ultra-marathon
12-May-2014 06:25:45 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

I’m filing these blog entries every Monday. It’s now 111 days until the Madagascar ultra-marathon - 16 weeks. I am supposed to have just finished my second week of training. What a train-wreck this week has been. It’s been so off the rails that I almost don’t want to blog about it!. The problem started when I got back from a business trip from New York last Sunday and continued with poor planning for the week ahead. Lesson #1. Get organised and plan ahead. Straight off the plane, I clocked up 10km in the jungle at Bukit Timah in Singapore. Great start I thought, despite feeling tired, hopefully laid the foundation for a productive week of training for the week ahead. I used Run Keeper to record my distance and was impressed with this simple app. I’ll log all my runs on this. Monday morning I woke at 1am, due to jet lag from the New York trip. I still managed to make it into the gym 12 hours later and clocked a decent work out. That would be the case twice more during the week, logging a total of three gym sessions. I’m often surprised how well I train when tired. In fact mental stress tends to adversely affect my training more than physical stress, which is something I have also found in ultra-running. Aaron arranged for some body fat-testing at the gym, which we intend to do monthly, so we can keep track of the effects of the ultra-training. That went fine and 10% was decent, considering I haven’t been totally strict on my diet. I’m off my best measurement though which was 8.6% last year. Naturally I have now set myself the target of doing the impossible: dropping body fat while eating like a horse to keep weight on while I train. So all was good until Monday afternoon. My maid left for the Philippines for three weeks. Poor me I hear you muttering (not). With a busy life, I’m reliant on her to “run” the house and all that goes with it. Simultaneously work went off the dial with one of the busiest weeks in a long time. And one of my dogs got sick requiring close attention all week, which was a slight complication as my schedule was packed beyond the brim. We all deal with curveballs and I should have handled mine better. Perhaps from a lot of recent travel, my mental energy was low. Suddenly with my diet and routine out the window, and my schedule over-packed, the wheels literally fell off everything. I got over-tired, stressed and really didn’t clock many miles at all. Apart from a 3km run with the dogs on Tuesday morning, the only other physical activity other than my gym sessions, was a bit of walking during various spare moments of the week. I just didn’t have the energy to run, partly because my diet wasn’t well planned. I didn’t exactly eat junk, but I don’t feel I got enough calories in. I probably did drop body fat though, inadvertently. I had five units of alcohol during the week. Three of these were on Friday night and ironically, due to my intense week, those two wines and a vodka resulted in a bad hangover on Saturday morning. I was astonished at my lack of stamina, but it was a tell tale sign that I need to reign it all in and look after my body better. So I will bulldoze last week and focus on three learnings for the week ahead. 1. Plan ahead with my schedule, in all aspects of life, better 2. Get organised with my diet so I eat enough 3. Use friends to commit to training sessions
Standing Start to Madagascar Ultramarathon in 4 months
01-May-2014 06:22:44 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Eight years ago in 2006, I became one of the first 15 people to cross the windiest, driest, hottest and coldest deserts in Racing the Planet’s 1000km Four Desert Series. Consisting of 250km multi-stage (6 day) runs across the Atacama Desert (Chile), Gobi Desert (China), Sahara Desert (Egypt) and Last Desert (Antarctica). I decided to do one 250km more in 2009 in Namibia. The runs involved being totally self sufficient (i.e. carrying all gear and food) and lugging about 7kg in a backpack, with the only assistance being given being 9 litres of water a day and a spot in a crowded tent with 7 other competitors. When I completed the Four Deserts in 2006, I was 30 and at the peak of my fitness. I travelled less, worked for someone else and really had no cares in the world. I didn’t go the gym and didn’t really think that much about diet. I felt pretty invincible. Impulsively, three weeks ago, I’ve decided its time to run another one. I’m not one to over-think or over prepare for my goals and also think there is no time like the present. So on 31 August, I’ll tackle my sixth challenge, being 250km across Madagascar (www.4deserts.com/beyond/madagascar) Small problem: come 2014 I’m no longer so invincible nor as aerobically fit. Right now I’d struggle to run more than 10km. If I was to walk more than 20km I imagine I’d end up with blisters. And I feel mentally tired from the last six years of working hard at my many business projects and can actually feel manifesting in physical tiredness. An ultra-marathon seems a crazy solution to re-charge one’s energy levels, but its the chain-reaction of life changes and new perspective that getting organised to tackle something like this, that I hope will do the trick. Its good to know though that I have sustained a productive, four times a week regime at the gym since 2011 and always eat a pretty sensible diet. So there’s my slightly shaky base to launch off for a 250km ultra-marathon in 4 months. My goals in tackling Madagascar are as follows: 1) I haven’t got much spare time in my schedule for training over the next four months, so I’ll be happy with 2-3 runs/hikes of 6-8km during weekdays and I’ll dedicate time one day on a weekend to a longer hike/run which will progressively grow to 50km 2) I can’t change much in work lifestyle around constant travel and the associate effects on sleep deprivation, but I will cut back on stimulants (coffee in afternoon, emails in evening) to try to rest better 3) Be smart on strength training and diet. Aaron Rolley from IFC Personal Training help me monitor fat and muscle gain/loss and will oversee my strength/diet progress 4) Erase the chance of bad blisters (I got them in all 5 deserts I’ve tackled) I really need to get to the bottom of this problem 5) Launch and profile The Tommy Lim Charity Trust (TLCT). Tommy, a disabled employee of mine, sadly passed away this year. I will run this race in his honour and and champion TLCT to liberate disabled employees to take up creative physical pursuits to improve their quality of life. I’ve had first hand experience seeing the benefit of this, through some of ChapmanCG’s employees and results have been amazing. To follow the weekly march towards Madagascar, in 4 months, PM me and I’ll add you to the Matt-Madgascar-Madness FB group. Or you can follow it via this blog.
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MATT CHAPMAN
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014

Hometown
Singapore

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CEO

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MATT CHAPMAN
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 competitor

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

Hometown
Singapore

Profession
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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