The next and single most asked question is ‘How the hell do you train for that?’
I’ve answered this many ways and the final version I have settled on is ‘its hard!’
I cast my mind back to June 2014 and I am standing in a field in Grasmere, Cumbria having completed the WWTW Cumbrian challenge. This was allegedly 30km but by the state of my legs and feet it felt nearer 40km, taking in such deliciously named reference points as Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags and the famous ‘Bad Step’.
I am discussing my MdS participation with Ed Parker, co-founder of the charity and he gives me a blunt assessment: ‘You need to lose at least a stone !’
I look down guiltily at my cider based energy drink and give this a moment’s thought before making my excuses to grab a ‘recovery burger’ from the nearby van.
Fast forward to January 2015 – I am a heaving sweaty mess as I fall off the bike in the gym. Part two of the ‘Power Hour’, the suggested training programme from Rose Kingscote ( WWTW runner who completed MdS 2014, raising nearly £20,000 for WWTW), completed. The notes that accompany this simply state that you should ‘make your eyes bleed’. I am nearly there!
5 mornings a week in the gym and running at weekends have become the norm. I am now on nodding terms with other Sunday morning runners and dog walkers and my initial fat boy shuffle has (in my mind at least) turned into a slightly more graceful gait! My ipod has a playlist including the obligatory Highway to Hell and , for personal reference ‘Lip Up Fatty’!
I have come to the conclusion that I own far too much lycra than is healthy for a forty something man. My kit follows me everywhere on any holiday or business trip; running in a gym in a Dallas hotel or in more pleasant surroundings around Lake Zurich.
Following a series of goals from a simple half marathon through to longer distances, I have managed 70 miles of run/walk/stagger from London to Folkestone as part of the ‘Walking Home for Christmas’ campaign, testing out kit in slightly cooler conditions than those we are likely to face in the Sahara.
Then was Pilgrims Challenge at the end of January – a 2 day cross country event of around 70 miles along the North Downs Way which we completed alongside Sir Ran Fiennes!
As with the many men and women who the charity supports there are no short cuts and the thought of their struggles and the bravery they have shown is plenty enough to keep me going on long runs and inspire me when the 5am alarm sounds.
So I will continue to train hard, we leave in a month and it is for a great cause.