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Sahara Race Blogs

View All Posts From : Riitta Hanninen

Stage 1

30th April 2017 01:39 AM[(GMT+01:00) West Central Africa]

I’m supposed to go and drain a blister, but ended up to the cybertent – this is more fun. So Day 1 went well.

The highlights were:


#1 Waking up at 6m to the sound of the 4x4 fleet heading out to the course. Was soooo nice to turn and keep sleeping!

#2 OMG how nice it is just to lay in the tent feet up having finished the day! No work or duties. Such luxury.

But yes the course is beautiful and had fun company and good conversation so that first 38k went quite quickly. I shuffled most of the way and walked a bit where it got soft and pointless to ‘run’. That confirms that the foot was pretty good – lets hope it will last this way. Actually before leaving the hotel, I gave my running shoes a good beat up: a bit of hair dryer and then smashing with a gold ball. As violent that was it seemed to help a little too.

At the finish line Scott from tent 4 and I pulled out our socks to investigate any damage. It was like Christmas. “Look look what I got. “ Scott got no presents luckily. I got one bloody blister but luckily only one.

Anyway its still early days. Let’s hope tomorrow goes well, for everyone in the field. No one pulled out today and everyone was pretty quick in.

Tomorrow is 39k and we head towards the coast. Past a diamond mine that has opened their operations again so if you see me as inactive I have gone digging.


THANK YOU all for the lovely messages. It means a lot to read them. I may not write emails back as the cybertime is limited but I will keep updating the blog.

Love you all.



Comments: Total (1) comments

Andrew Espin

Posted On: 01 May 2017 06:01 AM

Hey! Well done on day one!! Love your spirit and attitude to this, keep up the positives, I am sure you are going to fly through this week!!!! Best of luck for stage two will be following online!! Andrew
Last Preparations And Start Line Decision

27th April 2017 09:27 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

I have just arrived in beautiful Namibia, in Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast where the 4 Deserts is keeping base. It’s good to be back!

Lots have happened in a short period of time. It was only until the last weekend when I had to admit to myself that doing the race may not be a good idea.  For those who have followed and encouraged me for the last 4 months I thought it would be good to explain, which I’ll do in the end of this blog. Uncertainty aside I have been preparing like everyone else. The last training run was on Saturday and then started packing.

The Art of Packing

Packing for a 4 Deserts race is an art itself and as much as it can be daunting to see how heavy your pack may get, it's also quite fun. It’s amazing how quickly you know how many grams each item weights and how much energy anything edible has. Although I’ve done many many mandatory equipment check for others, packing your own gear is always different. We all know what the mandatory gear is but I find entertaining is what extra people bring – more on that below.

  1. Mandatory Gear

Here it is, all laid out expect food.  To answer one of the most common questions: Yes it’s all mandatory – really. But actually much of this stuff you’ll wear so what’s in the pack is not that heavy. Pick as light gear as you can. 

  1. Food

Food I packed separately into daily packs, Day 1, Day 2 etc to make it easy for those who check it but more importantly find and manage it myself when tired. Food items weight easily most, but the good thing is that you eat your way towards a lighter backpack. I ended up making my own breakfasts of muesli, fruits, mild powder etc. Freeze dried for evening and in between: snacks, bars and energy / electrolyte powders for the course, noodles and recovery shake for arrival at camp and a big freeze dried meal for evening.  Around 2200-2300 kcal per day so a little extra. (2000 is required per day). 

The challenge with the recent developments is I was no longer sure how much I’m able to run. The longer you spend on the course the more snacks you need and less food at camp. One of the “advantages” of this job is that I’ve become quite good at cracking a packet of noodles open and eating them dry. Yum - All the things you learn! This “back to basics power bar” works OK if the day on the course looks to be longer.


The above is all mandatory so the photos aren’t going to vary that much from anyone else’s. But what could be interesting is what extra goes into the pack.  Obviously as little as possible but some comforts are useful, see from 1-5, in this order:

  1. Camping mattress (good nights sleep certainly doesn’t harm and this adds quite a bit of warmth against the cold ground)
  2. Some extra energy (over that 2000 kcal as that’s a bare minimum, spirits tend to be higher when your stomach isn’t growling)
  3. COFFEE  / TEA
  4. Poles (They really help to keep going if injuries occur. And with poles your legs may not give up as quickly).
  5. Camp shoes (It’s just nice to give your feet a break and take your running shoes off. Normal people would bring light weight sandals (“free” hotel slippers seem to be by far the most popular as they weigh nothing) but crocks are my back-up insurance for the course. They are bulky – but light weight. In fact some people have finished the whole race in crocks!

    And here are the not so necessary “fun” additions that I’m considering:
  6. Music / pod casts – to keep you sane when you start hearing voices. And for entertainment in general!
  7. Watch – for general motivation, or to know how slow I am
  8. Melatonin – self-explanatory and doesn’t weight much. I sleep very well in tents, another skill learned in the job, but sometimes it’s good to have a little extra to sleep thought the aches. Also a few extra meds.
  9. Eye Covers + ear plugs – Feather light and helps sleep especially if you are in a snoring tent
  10. Golf ball wtf!  – I’m expecting plantar issues but it’s a handy massage ball to tackle whatever area – this one is a cheap corporate give away so it’s not even heavy. Great tip from Olivia Chiu.
  11. Stretch band – for recovery – and to tie the crocks around my backpack so two reasons to bring it

When you write this all down it ends up being a long list – This doesn’t weight more than 1.-1.5 kg extra but let’s see what actually goes in on the start day??

Start Line Decision

Now…on to the hot topic: to start or not to start? I could explain this for hours but or say it in two words: Shit happens. The below picture describes perhaps best what going on - this time:

So yes ironically knees are now fine but it’s the ball of the right foot that is not. Having super high arch feet, the second thing that hits the ground after heel is the joint of the first metatarsal. So all pressure goes to that small area…for each and every 250,000 steps of this race. This is nothing new but usually I don't have this issue until the first 50-100kms of any race. At the moment I can do about 15km before it starts. And this final week the foot has just been quite sore.

I’ve had to go through a few pairs of shoes and orthotics recently to find the right pair and as my feet are ergonomically a mess, I suppose all this has aggravated them too much. If it was just the pain that could be managed but having rheumatoid arthritis any damage I do I have to live with it after the race. So the outlook at the moment is that I may not start, or if I start it’s quite likely that I won’t finish. It’s a decision I need to make in the next couple of days.

I have prepared a bag with little arts and crafts items. Shoe sole material, cushioning etc. So it’s going to be a creative day of trying to make things a little better! Tomorrow I will head for a little stroll and will then make my decision. What ever it is, it will be the right decision.  If it’s not this race, there will be other races.

After all the training and being fit and strong otherwise this is SUPER GUTTING. But it’s a FOOT race after all. Besides work this is pretty much the only thing I’ve managed to think for the last couple of weeks. Then again they say that the sun will still rise the next day? Hmmm.. This will be a great race regardless and if I won’t run past checkpoints, I’ll be there to support everyone else.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Heather J

Posted On: 27 Apr 2017 13:56 PM

Riitta, You are so strong in mind and body. But sometimes tough decisions need to be made. Whatever decision you make will be the right decision. And at the end of the day...these learning lessons will just help you to prepare for your next race...whatever this outcome!

Hulda Thorey

Posted On: 29 Apr 2017 11:57 AM

Riitta, we will be watching you and supporting from here. Even if you walk, at least you notice the landscape more. I hope your body copes well and am sure you will meet so many interesting people on the way too. Love from us all. x

Megan Stewart

Posted On: 29 Apr 2017 22:40 PM

hey there, good luck lovely lady, hard decisions to make but you will never succeed if you don't start anything....its the experience that moves you, as it has done me - and you were a big part of that !!!hope you have some awesome sounds and great treats on your journey....and please hugs to all of my desert family, I am there in spirit - look at the moon xxxxxxxxxxx
Toothpicks, Donkeys, Challenges And Backpack Tips

24th March 2017 03:02 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

9 weeks into training! I have really enjoyed it and it’s been great to have a training goal (I'm not just saying that because I work for the company :D). I’m sure this applies to many others: It’s not just about the race but about the journey getting there. Besides experiencing the race and the desert adventure, for most of us it’s a reason for keeping in shape, having structure to life, leaving the office on time etc.

I'm not that busy organising races yet, so I’ve been training generally six times per week, 2-3 cross training sessions and 3-4 running / hiking sessions, and at least one rest day. Pretty much as what I typed in to my training plan (the previous blog).  Cross training has been mainly circuit training / strength sessions and the runs / hikes have consisted of shorter week day runs, including beach sprints which, as odd as it sounds, I quite enjoy.  On the weekends I’ve been doing back to back days with about 50k total distance. Sometimes more, some times less. The long ones bore me out but I’ve been lucky to have friends to join at least for some part.

So I felt like I was getting a good base and started thinking about transforming myself into being a donkey (= carrying heavier backpack).


If didn’t quite go like that. My knees started to disagree.

That’s not a surprise. As I told earlier in my blog, I have a rheumatoid (joint) arthritis and it has flared up as a result of training. I have had this pretty much all my life, and no kidding… running for extended periods of time doesn’t go well with arthritis! I have run ultras and stage races in the past but there’s always a chance that my body decides otherwise. If I was sensible I would be grateful for the fact that I can run 10-15 km. Not aim for 250km. So here we are. Knees are swelling, even my hands are swelling. Great.

How do you get rid of knee ache?

  1. By tooth pick

In Finland we have a saying (which actually refers to headache but knee is also OK). If your knee is aching, put a tooth pick under your toe nail and kick a wall. Preferably really hard. And just like that you won’t have knee ache anymore!

  1. Beer

As much as beer is great for recovery it also fixes pain. At least until the next morning. However both of these options have rather short term effects and as you can guess are not official 4 Deserts advice!


I see three options:

  • 1. Keep doing what I do and probably won’t get to the start line.
  • 2. Stop training to get my knees healthy again and try to show up “fresh” and just try my luck.
  • 3. Give the knees some recovery time, medicate and when ready ease back to training very carefully. And see what happens…

I’m quite competitive with myself when it comes to sport and a bit of “do it well or don’t it at all” character so it’s hard to stay motivated … but I’ll try to be a bigger person.  It’s hard to know what will happen but I’ll try option 3.

So here’s what I did this week:

  • I took a week off training (daunting as I don’t have that many training weeks altogether)
  • Used that time for rehab (more stretching, recovery work with thera-band, lots of foam rolling)
  • Altered my training plan*
  • Got on medication and start thinking about cortisone shots (this is more specific for my condition, not necessarily for everyone else).

*Brilliant Olivia Chiu, a good friend and a 4 Deserts competitor who also happens to be a great physio!! helped with Plan B: More careful and focused strength work and weekends sessions as knees allow. Reduce running. No more long back to back weekends! My request: Replace it with biking and paddling to keep up cardio – and for mental health.

I’ve also got great tips from Hong Kong based podiatrist Brock Healy, who is a star when it comes to finding an ideal running shoe for your foot type.


Many 4 Deserts competitors battle with injuries or a fear of getting injured at some point. It’s important to respect rest days (the number of them depends on your fitness level and plan). If it looks like an injury is looming, stop doing what you are doing and consult a physio or a sports physician, preferably someone who understands ultras.

While it’s never recommended to start a race being injured, issues can occur. If you are training alone and feeling stressed and worried, the main thing to remember is that you are not alone. When you join a 4 Deserts race you will have so much support. Camaraderie in these races is indescribable. It’s incredible how much extra strength you find from yourself with the support of others! This morning I saw a quote from an ex-navy seal which I thought was apt: when you think you've reached your limit, you have just about reached 40%.

While battling this I’ve had to remind myself that my problems are relative to others. While I think of my inflamed knees, I also think of Camel (Kam Hung) Fung, a Hong Kong based competitor who is training for the Gobi March 2017. He’s an amputee.   

All of us will be challenged by something. It wouldn’t be great if it was easy.


Let’s move on from one first world problem to another: which backpack? The two most important equipment items are backpack and shoes. I’m still deciding on between two (or more!) shoe models ....

...So I’m not going to cover that yet! Hope the below helps anyone who’s deciding on the pack.

Training with the backpack:

The Sahara Race, just like any other 4 Deserts is a self-supported race. Admittedly wanting to carry a 7-9kg backpack over 250 kms is not the first thing one dreams about, but there’s a sense of satisfaction in the idea of living out of your backpack for the week. This was Mary’s idea for the races when she started the race series 15 years ago. Back to basics, to push your physical and mental limits.

There’s a fine line how much training with a pack you want to do.  It’s good to get used the weight and you can also use the pack to do your strength training exercises. However it’s not recommended to do all your training with a heavy pack as that can lead to an injury. But carry it enough to get stronger and used to it – there’s not much shopping around the Skeleton Coast, if you find that your pack gives you chaffing in the middle of the race (!).

Choosing a pack – a session in the park:

I was going to write more about this but remembered then that we have this expert article that lays out the essential considerations when choosing a pack.

To start with I identified the models that I thought could work. I asked friends around who already had backpacks from past stage races and borrowed them for a trial session. I ended up with OMM 25, OMM 32 and Osprey Talon 33.  I packed a few bags of rice and a couple of towels, plus the bottle holders and bottles with water to make this resample race packing as much as possible.

Off to a nearby park. I strapped the first pack on and went for a short run. I came back, switched the load quickly to the second backpack and did the same run. Came back, changed to the third backpack and did the run. This worked well as I could feel the difference easily with quick switching – and the park staff was amused.

Here’s what I thought:

Osprey Talon:
The pack is a bit longer so you can really tighten it around your waist. However it was bouncing around my shoulders and I couldn’t make it tighter. Works nicely for a hiker or someone with broad shoulders but not for me.  (Consequently it say it’s men’s model). This pack is also a bit heavier but it has a proper frame and netting against your back.

OMM 25:
The pack is pretty snug and it’s easy to tighten so it doesn’t shake around too much. The straps are soft and cushioned but for me they go over my trapezius so I felt the weight quite a bit on the side of the neck/ traps. All in all thought very comfortable. And lots of pockets for equipment you need to access easily.

OMM 32:  
Basically the same design as OMM 25 but the back part of the backpack is a bit longer. Works equally and generally better for taller people.  Both OMMs are very lightweight.

I continued the trial at the RacingThePlanet store another day (yes, brought my rice and some cat sand as weight). I added a few more packs for comparison:

Raidlight Runner Light 30:
Comfortable pack but the lower part of it is larger so the bottom part can get quite heavy and bulky. Lots of pockets so a practical design. I know many people who love this pack but I opt to not to use it for myself.

WAA Ultra Equipment:
This is only a 20L backpack but it comes with an extra front pouch (that could also be worn at the back). Also quite a comfortable design but unless you are very strict with your packing, you will run out of space. Because of the snug size, this pack is a favorite to many experienced ultra runners.   

Inov 8 Racepac 25:
Had the most comfortable fitting around my shoulders and I really wanted to get this one! But when I started running with the pack bounced against my upper back between the shoulder blades a bit too much. I thought my lungs would not be happy about that after 40km.   

So which pack? I think I will go for the OMM. I’ll have a couple more runs with the 25 and 32 to make the final decision on the size. (Thank you Lene Larsen for lending yours!)

A couple of reminders for backpack shopping:

  • Priorities: Comfortable fit, easy to tighten and no shaking (especially runners). Easy to access pockets for your gels, sun screen, electrolytes etc.
  • Exploit your friends first – if they have a pack that could work, take it for a training run.
  • To try how it fits, you must fill it up to at least 6.5kg, which is the minimum weight of your race pack. If the pack is lighter than that it’s likely going to shake more, and doesn’t give you a realistic idea on how it will be.
  • When selecting at a store: ask the staff to give you some heavy and bulky items to put in the pack. Or bring your own rice, cat sand, water bottles etc.  Don’t be embarrassed about running around the store with the pack. The chances are you will end up with a pack you like – during the race as well – while keeping the store staff entertained!
  • Take your chosen backpack to your long training runs to get the much needed feedback. If it causes issues during your training, consider another pack.

That’s it for now. Hope this helps any of you who are preparing for the Sahara Race, Gobi March, Atacama Crossing, Patagonia 2017 or any other stage race. 

Comments: Total (1) comments

Hannes Smit

Posted On: 06 Apr 2017 19:55 PM

Hi Riitta Any news on your knees? Are you well?
Settling Into Training

22nd February 2017 10:07 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So…. A few weeks have passed since I signed up to “race” 250-km in Namibia. No more requests to join the volunteer team but a few have requested to do my mandatory equipment check. CP Captain Tony Brammer has promised it’s going to be thorough – I better not show up with patches wrong way around or with a small whistle!

I’m happy to report that training has started to take some sort of shape. When you change sports or start it all over again, it always takes a while to get into the routine and start liking it. But I think it’s gradually sinking in. My legs have got use to it: a 15k run no longer hurts my hips or muscles the next day and the couple of times I’ve gone paddling, I haven’t been able to keep up with others, so as annoying it is, it must be a good thing! 

I think I had a highlight of my training this week. It was early morning and I ran from the south side of Hong Kong island, over the hills and then along a flat Bowen Road that overlooks the city centre. I was overtaken by a woman. Crap how annoying! I blamed the big backpack that I was testing and didn’t like. Another woman goes past. Now this is really annoying. So I speeded up a bit and passed them, but towards the end the other woman passes me again. We got to the end of Bowen together where she turns around to go back and shows her PREGNANT belly! And it wasn’t a small bump. It was a proper at least 5-6 months pregnant bump that looked like it should slow you down. I should probably look at my pace again!  But good on her!

Friends Are the Best & Worst

I’m lucky to have a few 4 Deserts veterans living in my neighborhood. As much as I value their tips, I (secretly) think they get satisfaction of telling me what to do  J  But so far we are still friends.

Here’s a few:

Lene Larsen – Atacama Crossing 2015, Gobi March 2015 and The Last Deserts 2016:
“Don’t forget to run in the sand – it makes your ankles strong”.

Andrew Strachan – Gobi March 2008, RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009, Iceland 2013
“Fix yourself a standing desk. You’ll find your legs and back tired first but you’ll be much better prepared for being on your feet.”  
“Don’t train too much. You’ll be fine with a couple of times a week!” [This is my personal favorite!]

Ali Chaudhry – RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009, Australia 2010, Nepal 2011, Iceland 2013, Madagascar 2014, Atacama Crossing 2015, Gobi March 2016, The Last Desert 2016
“Put lubricant everywhere. I mean EVERYwhere!” [Ali developed a rather personalised walking style for ignoring his own advice in Iceland 2013.]

Jo Eades – RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009, Australia 2010, Gobi March 2014
“When I did Namibia, the best training, besides a few runs on the beach, was tackling the twins [these are 400 meter peaks in Hong Kong]. They’ll get you strong for dunes and step training helps when you’re sliding backwards in the sand.

Ross Eathorn, Personal Trainer – Sahara Race 2009, Atacama Crossing 2012

“Everyone’s different - what works for one may not work for another person but it’s good to have some kind of a structure in training.”

It’s great to be able to absorb their experience and views, and just talk about training in general. It makes it more interesting and there’s always something you haven’t thought about.


Despite Ross’ advice, I decided not to opt for a personal trainer so I can keep living in my dream world (ha!), but I’ve begged and begged and managed to find friends to do some of my training sessions with, and identified a couple of training groups to make this all it as fun as possible.

Measures and figures:

I don’t use a GPS watch that much but I think it’s good to record some mile stones along the way.  Let’s say in the beginning, half way and towards the end.

Speed: I started by noting down the time of my first longer training session which was a combo of running and hiking. It was 3 hrs and I covered 18km with 600 meters of elevation gain and loss. It’s obviously not a flat run so I figured the hills compare to the soft sand and dunes in Namibia. So let’s say around 6km / hr will be my starting pace, which hopefully then equals then a medium / tired pace in Namibia. Although that could be a little optimistic with a heavy backpack.

Heart Rate: When I studied physiotherapy years back we did a lot of fitness testing. Since study times, I’ve used a heart rate monitor very little. I believe more in knowing your base HR levels (rest HR, max HR and the basic training levels, usually around 70/80/90%) and training based on how you feel. But of course it’s good to check those here and there. Just as speed, a heart rate is an indication of fitness level and it can be motivating to keep an eye on both.

During my first long run (and not having used a HR monitor for a long time) I noticed that during a 3-hour run, my heart rate was more or less 150. Whether it was uphill or downhill or flats, it stayed around that mark. Occasionally it reached 160 but didn’t go above it.

A good example comes from the 100km Trailwalker races that I completed in 2007-2009. Kobi Jansen who was our team’s captain used to insist on walking ALL uphills. Looking back, that was just the right thing and allowed all four of us finish the 100km-race, even that year when the temperatures were around 30C mark. Pacing is going to be the key in order to finish something as long as 250-km. 

But then again on shorter week day runs I think it’s good to really work on getting the heart rate up (and down). Nothing beats interval training, as awful as it can be.

Training Plan:    

After a couple of weeks “warm up” I drafter a training plan. In brief it’s about short but more intense training sessions on the week days to build strength and speed and then building up the distance on the weekends.

The Namib Desert is full of sand. It’s the oldest desert in the world so that’s obviously not going to change. That sand is going to slow everyone down and make it much tougher – and drive me mad.

Trails in Hong Kong are quite the opposite. Although it has some of the beautiful trails in the world (see yourself):

... the government here likes to pave trails. All most of the common trails are paved – where there is no pavement is where they ran out of concrete!

Why am I talking about pavement? Well it makes running much quicker. So as preparation (both mental and physical) I’ve decided to find awkward places to run from time to time. I’m lucky to have a few beaches around but for those who don’t have, it could be a swamp, snowy trail, soft forest track.

For those who live in hot countries, I think training in heat is also good. It makes your training runs slower but it builds up stamina. Whether the race is in hot or cold environment (for most part the course in Namibia is not particularly hot).

Below is what I came up with:





Strength training

1hr bootcamp / gym


Short Run / Intervals

6-13km / 1-2 hrs


Strength training

1hr bootcamp / gym


Short Run / (Intervals)

6-13km 1-2 hrs





Long Run

14km < / 3-4 hrs


Long Run

14km < / 3-4 hrs


+ Stretching in the evenings (although this is often replaced by snoring!).

A “couple” of notes:

  • The first couple of weeks I did just a few easy runs to get used to it again and had plenty of rest days.
  • If I had a year or even six month to prepare and train, this plan would be quite different and evolve more month after month. This plan is based on “see you at the start line in 3 months!”.
  • REST day/s are super important. My plan includes just one rest day but I trust that reality and my laziness will ensure that there will at times be more rest and missed trainings. Eeh, that’s just life. 
  • I included 2 strength training sessions – need to get the butt and core strong for the billions of steps, soft sand and heavy backpack. Adding distance and carrying a heavy backpack gets you injured, without a good foundation (strength training). Again if I had more time, I would start with more strength training but let’s hope this works.
  • Clarification on distance: Distance means nothing in Hong Kong. We have hundreds of peaks anywhere from 300-1000 meters so staring at distance is pretty pointless. If you’re running pace is 10 km / hr it can easily drop anywhere from 7-1 km/ hr when you start ascending and descending the hills.
  • short runs should include some sprinting. INTERVAL training is by far the best way to develop and build fitness. Running at the same pace and doing the same thing doesn’t do any good. The Tuesday run is usually short and planned to be higher intensity. Thursday run is all the way to the office so 13km so realistically there’s probably less springing involved.
  • The long runs on the weekend are around 3-4 hours. The long sessions also include walking. I don’t walk very much at all so that’s something I need to ‘practice’ to get a bit faster. My guess is that that’s what I end up doing quite a bit in Namibia, so the stronger walker I am, the quicker I’ll reach the camp. With that I was planning to introduce hiking poles pretty soon.
  • Warm ups and STRETCHING – so easy to ignore – Any training should start with a warm up and ends to stretching. In the first few weeks, the plan is to focus more on stretching. (I say that but let’s see if it happens).
  • REMINDER: This is my plan. It’s based on the aim of trying to get to camp for late lunch / early dinner just in time to wake up the leaders from their post lunch nap (sorry Ralph and Mo!), and to have some gossip time with tent mates. Training 2-3 times a week is also OK. It all depends on how much time you have from work, family and everyday life. Also train like you plan to race and race like you have trained. Depending on your goals a 2-3 hour run might mean 2-3 hike.

The “plan” is to change the plan. When I’ve followed this for 4-6 weeks, I’ll see how it all feels and make some modifications. The changes include:  

  • Backcpack: Doing some of the runs with a bigger backpack and adding weight gradually (5->12kgs). Actually backpack I’m going to introduce occasionally earlier.
  • Hiking poles: Take them with me on the weekends. I reckon they’ll be my best friends in the soft sand or when my legs start giving up. Poles allow to use upper body more so hopefully my legs won’t end up giving up.
  • Back-to-back training: Have a couple of good back-to-back weekends, or even 3-day slot. Do around 25km – 30km – 25km. This really helps to get your head and body ready and see how you recover. It’s not something you want to be doing all the time as the more you push, the greater the risk of injury is, but it’s a good wake-up call / confidence builder, as that’s exactly what the race is about. Back-to-back, 6 times!
  • 50km< Test: Include at least 1 x 50km or more training or a race (the latest I can do this is 4 weeks before the race to allow some time for recovery)
  • “Tapering”: Just as rest days, I believe in tapering. It means taking the last few 5-8 days or winding down your training to allow your body recover, get ready, and build up energy and fluid reserves.  

I presume all the above is going to suck at some point. If it happens, I will then take a day off and go to movies after work - or have fatty hamburgers and a few beers. Relaxing either way!

I think that’s it for now. I feel like at this point I still enjoy writing more than training. But as they say: “Do what I say, not what I do”.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Sam F

Posted On: 12 Feb 2017 07:26 AM

A great read Riitta - really interesting and useful. Nice to see you out at a local Hong Kong race today - in front of me of course!

Cynthis Fish

Posted On: 15 Mar 2017 02:41 AM

You might also want to practise getting your kit out at night (when you are viciously tired) then sleeping on the floor on your pad and sleeping bag, then putting the kit all back together again after a not enough sleep oh I'm too old for this tossing and turning and crinkling. The coordination of your fingers and brain in the early morning can be gruesome, so having practices the early morning packing makes that part of the day less stressful. Hint: when Sam sing her good morning, you should be drinking the last cup of warm whatever, putting on your socks, and figuring out the quickest route to the loo. Have fun fun fun!!!!