What did previous runners say???

Well it is now only 4 days, 22 hours, 11 minutes, ? seconds and counting – oh god its drawing closer and I am scarily calm.  Is it the calm before the storm?  Well we’ll soon see.

I thought you guys would find it interesting yo see what previous MDS runners to say about the race . . .

Name: Gordon Barrie12510725_10153207786621861_1501170662_o

When did you complete the Marathon des Sables? 2005

What was your background in running?     I started running in 1st year at school (Madras College in St Andrews) and joined Fife AC. I now run for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers (since 1991). I have competed over various
distances on the track, cross country and road.
What made you sign up?   I was in danger of drifting away from the sport
and wanted a fresh challenge. Plus, I had seen the MdS on the TV and in
Runner’s World and thought it looked amazing (and it was!).
What was/ is your best memory of being out in the Sahara?    Running
through the desert on the long stage in the middle of the night was
fantastic. There was nobody else around, it was nice and cool and the
stars in the night sky were amazing!
What was/ is your worst memory of the race?     Waking up on the morning of
the long stage (about 50 miles!) and being sick with nerves. I honestly
though I was going to quit at the first checkpoint that day. Then I
looked at the guy lying next to me in the tent, who looked worse than I
felt! He kept going and I was immediately motivated again. I never
looked back after that. In a race like the MdS, everybody has highs and
lows, you just have to keep focussed on the goal. Plus, everybody
encourages one another. There’s a real bond between the runners.
How long did you have or take to train for the race?     I was running
anyway but specific training for the MdS was probably 5 or 6 months,
with the bulk of it in the last 12 weeks. Back to back 20+ milers at the
weekends!
What is the one thing you would have changed about your training?   I
would have done some upper body strengthening and carried a pack more
often in training.
What is the one piece of knowledge or recommendation you wished you had
had going out there?   Make sure you like all the food that you’re
carrying. I discovered that I should have taken more savoury stuff. I
found the sweet food unpalatable in the heat!

Name: Keith Anderson

 When did you completethe Marathon des Sables? 2009

What was yourbackground in running?   No background prior to entering the event
in 2007. Was formerly a rugby player.

What made you signup?   Had seen Ben Fogles documentary a few years before which
was the first awareness of the event. I was looking for a challenge and wanted
to prove that the ordinary person can achieve anything.

What was/ is your best memory of being out in the Sahara?
Difficult. In short the camaraderie and “journey” everyone shared. Personally,
on the long day I suffered sickness bug and almost retired at the first
checkpoint. I got medical assistance for extreme dehydration 7 x 1/2 litre bags
of saline and glucose via a drip, after which I got up and walked the next 66
miles non stop. That episode was “my mds”.

What was/ is yourworst memory of the race?    Sickness bug which swept the
campsite on day 2.

How long did you have or take to train for the race?   2 years building from 10
km up to ultra distance races as long as 64 miles.

 What is the one thing you would have changed about your training?
You don’t need to train for 2 years. 6 months should be long enough. However my
experience was in 2 stages. The journey to the start line which comprised of 2
years of fundraising and training which was an amazing time, and then there was
the race itself. The more training you do the more you get to know your body’s
limitations.

What is the one piece of knowledge or recommendation you wished you had had
 going out there?
I researched every element of the race to an extreme level and so I had all the
info I needed and there was no real surprises which gave me confidence in my
abilities. The best piece of advice that I had was to never withdraw yourself
from the race, get a medical assessment and let them withdraw you. You’ll be
surprised how much you can achieve even when you think you are done.
Also, never share anything with fellow participants, that’s not being selfish
it’s self preservation as bugs transmit very very easily so no sharing
water/food/cutlery/etc.

 

Name:  Lucja Leonard1902795_10152441613959924_4052712739759365014_n

When did you complete the MDS?    I did my first one in 2014, now up for my 2nd.

What was your background in running?   I took up running to lose weight about 8 years ago, hated running or any sport growing up, I was a size 18, weighing 98kg when I started with a walk/jog routine and next thing you know…..I’m running MdS (ha ha not quite, it did take quite some time but it was pretty quick considering my history) First marathon in 2011, first ultra 2013.

What made you sign-up?   I’d watched a documentary about it on TV and was gob smacked by the sheer challenge.

and then return again . . . and again?    My first MdS was a real eye opener, a real kick in the guts every day I was out there to say you are not as fit as you thought you were and I found it brutally difficult and although I finished I was personally disappointed with my result so even though on the finish line I vowed I would not be back….whilst I was watching my husband compete in it again last year (2015) and he did super amazing (32nd overall!) I just got so excited I had signed up before he had even finished the last stage!  I am really keen to go back and run it better and stronger.  I am fitter, lighter, stronger and wiser than last time so that has to help right?

What was/is the best memory of being out in the Sahara desert?    The total isolation, I love that feeling of being away from everything that is routine to my normal daily life in a stunningly beautiful place whilst pushing my body and mind to the limit.  It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

What was/ is your worst memory of being in the Sahara?    The heat & the sand!

How long did you have to or take to train for the race the first time round and then thereafter or have you been keeping fit doing other races in between?   I was marathon/ultra fit, or at least I thought I was (it’s all relevant) already so my training kicked off in the December of 2013 so a good 4 months of solid training with a mixture of training and a few races in between to keep me focussed.  Christmas is always a hard time though so that was a blip in the schedule.  In hindsight I can see now that I overtrained, I was so focussed on my weekly mileage rather than the quality of my training, and spent too many hours running ‘junk’ mileage and too much running with my bag instead of focussing on quality sessions and including strength work into it.  After MdS I remember it took at least a month for my body to recover, I recall feeling like I wanted to run about a week after and about 1/2mile in I just stopped and was totally exhausted, the mind wanted but the body couldn’t.  It really takes a lot out of you.

10153771_10152441614489924_1331766896319222961_nThis time around my training has been all about quality sessions, getting in my key sessions each week – strength, flexibility, speed, hills, tempo, long back to back runs and most importantly – rest!  I have only just had a run with my bag and only plan on about 4 runs with my bag fully weighted, and I will start heat chamber sessions and Bikram yoga 2 weeks out from the race.

What is the one thing you would have changed about your training?   Sometimes less is more.

What is the one piece of knowledge or recommendation you wished you had had before going out there the first time (if you can remember)?    It is probably really obvious and it does sound stupid but I wish I had realised how damn hot and sandy it was going to be, nothing prepares you for the furnace that is the Sahara and no one can explain it to you.

Did you change things massively year on year?    More in my training approach, a few tweaks to nutrition, especially for during the race, the first year I took lots of nuts and bars to eat whilst ‘running’ and found them impossible to stomach, so this time I am going for gels and liquid energy (like Hammer Perpeteum and Torq energy sachets to add to my water) and save the chewable stuff for back in camp.

Here are Lucja’s own blogs: MDS Preparation 2014 and Post-event – please do check them out.

 

Thank you for reading folks, I really do appreciate everyones support and words of motivation.  Big thank you to Gordon, Keith and Lucja for answering these questions for my blog but also for answering my incessant questions and fielding my worries.

 

I am raising money for a small local mental health charity – Dundee Association for Mental Health – DAMH – they are a wonderful Dundee based charity who do fantastic work to help local people.  As someone who understands the need for this kind of invaluable suppo12687943_10205375836827795_8892240053623715467_nrt, both personally and professionally, I aim to do my very best out there in Morroco.

I will be taking on my biggest challenge to date,
if you would like to donate to the charity and sponsor myself you can do so here – Sponsor Page – Thank you

Follow me from your comfortable seat 😉 – Here is a link you can go to to follow me on a ‘live’ basis but if you wish you can also send good luck messages to keep my spirits raised during the event!    I am runner number . . .  1013 (#scary)

Sponsor Profile: Lift the Bar: Education & Support for Personal Trainers

The latest sponsor for my that I would like to introduce you all to is Lift the Bar, they are an education and mentoring group  who will simply rock your world as a personal trainer.  They really do bring community to a position that can create the feeling of isolation.  Particularly if you are used to working for someone else.

The generosity of this group kind of blew me away, to be honest, everyone’s kindness and support has.  Story for another day however.

Chris who runs LTB with a fantastic group of guys, really does listen, they all ‘GET IT’, been there, done it, got the t-shirt and if they haven’t they’ll find someone who has.  But that statement does the group no justice at all, they use that information and draw on the knowledge of specialists to really take you to that next level.

This not only exists in terms of specific business considerations but also supporting you. Mental health is one of those things that often personal trainers will talk freely about in terms of supporting clients to improve through physical activity BUT there is that fear that if we put it out there that we too may struggle we are seen as weak.  Here is where my challenge of doing the Marathon des Sables resonated, we believe deeply in supporting each other to be better and do better for others, mentally and physically.

If in doubt, got questions or just want a bit of a gander, give them a shout Lift the Bar– well worth the time and effort.  Enough of my chat, read on to really get a better description . . . .

 

Lift The Bar – A Personal Training Community

 

Most people become trainers because they had a positive personal experience with health and fitness and they wanted to share that with others, whilst hopefully making a decent living.

You get through your “qualification” and skip off into the sunset helping more lives than Mother Teresa, or maybe not.

More than with most industries, the fitness domain can often leave you confused as to what is actually right, or even good practice. It’s something the experts even like to argue loudly about over social media.

High fat is best.

High carb is best.

Squats are the best exercise.

Squats will ruin your knees.

And so it continues.

Then there’s the isolation. You’re a one (wo)man band. Working long hours often on your own or under the disdainful gaze of “the competition”, you know, the other trainers in your gym.

And what’s the result of this high stress, all consuming and often-convoluted vocation?

19 out of every 20 PT’s will be out of the industry within five years.

Let that sink in for a second. In a world with exponential rates of obesity trainers are struggling to make a living when they are needed now more than ever.

So what did we do?

 

We created Lift The Bar: Education and Support for Personal Trainers (LTB)

 

Predominantly based in the UK LTB is a community of over 350 personal trainers, facility owners and education providers with a range of expertise and experience.

So what unifies us?

The desire to improve the fitness industry, and in doing so, helping to positively impact the lives of thousands of people.

 So how does it work?

 Let’s first look at the education.

  • An online webinar library allowing you to learn from industry leaders on a range of topics. This is constantly being updated.
  • Seminars in a range of subjects held around the UK in which our members get to learn from experts from both the UK and abroad.
  • Internship Days. Get first hand experience how our successful trainers work down at LTB HQ in Bath or Edinburgh.
  • Regular Technique Days – A chance to ask questions, make mistakes and apply the information you are learning, all in the comfort of a non judgemental environment. It’s ok not to know stuff!
  • Business Days – Helping our members to provide some structure when it comes to growing their business.
  • Bi-weekly Skype calls with some of our mentors (complete members only).

 

I have to be honest, as good as the education is, I honestly don’t think it’s the best part of LTB. Why? The community and the support it provides.

 Lets check out the support.

 

  • Community- To those who are not part of LTB this can often seem a little strange but the sense of community is HUGE. It is what makes LTB, LTB! From a little pick me up if you have had a bad day, to other coaches providing you with their time all in the name of helping. It’s the best group of hard working and moral people I can say I have been a part of. Our members hold regular met ups with each other all over the country (for both work and play) and once you are welcomed into LTB, you are one of our own, no ego’s, no ulterior motives, just a fantastic community of coaches trying to be better (and doing it with a smile on their faces and possibly one too many drinks at the social event J).
  • Members Facebook Group– Imagine being able to pick the brains of over 350 fellow trainers. Well that’s what happens everyday in our closed FB group. Anything from where to get new flooring for your gym to asking for advice on a client with stubborn body fat. The Facebook group really has become the hub of our LTB community.
  • Accountability Service – Sometimes there is just so much to do it can cause paralysis by analysis. We take some of the stress away by getting our members to prioritise their weekly tasks then hold them accountable to them.

 

So there you go, a little glimpse into our LTB community.

 

If you would like to know more please visit our website at Lift the Bar or visit us on Facebook at Lift The Bar: Education and Support for Personal Trainers.

Gregg.

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