Running from Shadows

My Marathon des Sables . . . and beyond

Training & kit packing: finished

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Second-best ever Parkrun last Saturday on the icy ground: 23m2s for the 5k/3.1 miles, just 8s off my PB scored a couple of weeks beforehand. Last week’s running was otherwise a little light because of a week-long stomach bug/food poisoning . . . still, losing 5lb/2.2kg in a few days all helps!

The 6.25 mile treadmill session wasn’t light, though surprisingly easier than the previous week’s 3 mile similar effort: wearing a woolly hat, face- and neck-covering buff, long-sleeved Helly Hansen, merino wool top plus a showerproof long-sleeved jacket for over an hour on the treadmill in a warm gym was, erm, sweaty and very warm! Add Sunday’s hour long sweating session sat in a 45C Turkish baths and that’s my heat acclimatisation. Not enough! Once I’m in Phnom Penh I’ll take a couple of short runs just to show how underprepared for the heat and humidity I really am!

Despite the recent illnesses this training schedule has seen lots of improvements in speed and weight loss: since June, when my current training schedule started and which has now come to an end, just shy of 28lbs (2 stone) or 12.7kg has melted away. The key now is keeping it off for the remaining days until Stage 1 of the Ancient Khmer Path starts on Sunday 29 November, and hopefully lose a couple more in the meantime.

I’ll be burning off far more calories than I will consume during race week: my calories spreadsheet shows I’m taking a total of 14,810 to cover 140 miles or so yet my previous running stats say I’ll easily burn at least 18,500 from the running alone. Add in a normal day’s calorie expenditure and I’ll finish this race as I have the others: famished, and several pounds lighter. The post-race hotel buffet will be taking a serious hammering . . .

Finally, the packing . . . finished late last night. Happens every time: I have grand plans of being very organised and getting everything packed and finished well before time but little errors creep in . . . like realising I was packing my week’s worth of race kit including food into my trusty OMM 20 litre rucksack when I should have been packing it into my trusty OMM 32 litre rucksack. Thought it was a bit tight . . .

Still, it’s all done: all my food, sleeping bag (probably won’t need it), pillow (a luxury item!), compulsory kit, electrolytes, etc. etc. all squeezed into one 32 litre rucksack which is coming onto the plane with me along with my oversized running shoes (oversized because of the serious amount of swelling that will happen in 35C and 95% humidity running).

Some last minute kit choices: my luxurious (note: this is all relative . . . because it’s not luxurious, really) Thermarest springy mat to sleep on had to be ditched to save space and so my Thermarest Neo X-Lite mat is coming with me. Groan: a third of the size but it’s like sleeping on a giant crisp packet as it crinkles and rustles on any movement.

Running top? A 75 gramme special which, once I’m fully sweating, is like wearing a soaked bin bag and clings to the skin just like a bin bag. Lovely. But it’s light! It also becomes a rather fetching see-through number, being 100% polyester. Unfortunately, technical fabrics haven’t really developed superbly for hot and humid conditions and cotton is a massive no-no.

Running shorts? Just one pair for the week.

In fact, as with previous races, that’s the summary for kit: just one of pretty much everything.

I will stink at the finish . . .

Time to wrap up . . . to check on race progress click here and to check race stage results click here.

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