All About The Goal

Earlier this month I posted a short promo video announcing that I have joined the campaign to end polio. (Read on for another video with more detail.) This project is a partnering with the Rotary Club of Middletown, California—one intended to raise funds and awareness to finish the “Last Mile” to eradicating this horrible disease.

Please join us: donate at End Polio Now. #polioslastmile

Very few runners have the wherewithal to win a marathon, an ultramarathon, or a long stage race—I applaud and marvel at those who do. For those of us without that ability, and using a bit of self-reflection, well, we must determine what it is that we expect from our performance. That process is easy for me because I am goal oriented and steadfastly stick to my goals until they are accomplished, or they no longer make sense.

Come late November of this year, I plan to run the 155-mile Marathon des Sables Peru. This event will be held—for the first time—in the Ica desert, 200 miles south of Lima, the capital of Peru. The Ica is know for two things: It is the driest place on earth—receiving less than one inch of rain per year—and it is considered the most beautiful desert in the Americas.

In 2014, I ran the Marathon des Sables in Morocco and finished in the top 20 percent of the field. I had been shooting for a position in the top 300 out of the nearly 1,200 runners that year and finished in 214th place. Needless to say, I was pleased with my result.

Marathon Des Sables Morocco, 2014

So what is my goal for Marathon des Sables Peru? The field is limited to 500 runners for this inaugural race in Peru, and I am aiming to finish in the top 20 percent, or top one hundred positions. And, it just so happens that the race organizers have told me how to do that. On the race website there are suggested training programs for various finishing groups: just finish in time; finish mid-pack; finish top one hundred; and, be in the front runners.

Marathon Des Sables Morocco, 2014

From the official MDS website (portions in italics added for clarity):

“To make it to the Top 100, you have to be able to maintain an average speed of around 7.5 km/h (4.66 mph) for 250 km (155 miles) (not including the ‘Solidarité MDS’, charity stage). The Top 100 is achievable for good sportsmen and women used to Ultra Trails, IRONMAN triathlons or 100-km, 62-mile or 24-hour events. The secret to making it to the Top 100 lies in two words: ‘regularity’ and ‘lack of injury’ (OK, four words!).

Your training priorities: at least five running sessions per week, with a typical Ultra Trail training session combining basic endurance, fartlek and speed work. Don’t forget to squeeze two to three shock weekends into your preparation (another long event such as an Ultra Trail or an IRONMAN triathlon will do for a shock weekend, but be careful not to give it your all).

For an added challenge: do a ‘dry run’ a month before the MDS in a shorter stage race (two to three days for up to 100 km, 62 miles) and a few home training sessions on a treadmill or in a sauna (or in a closed, heated room while wearing a sweater, which amounts to the same thing) during the month preceding the MDS. Be careful to stay hydrated!”

Marathon Des Sables Morocco, 2014

Marathon Des Sables Morocco, 2014

Reflecting on this program from the MDS organization, my training regimen includes training six days per week running at a 5 to 6 miles per hour pace with a backpack that I’ll add weight to over the months ahead. I add to this regimen: speed work, hill repeats, a visit to the gym for some weight training, and rest—lots of rest. Oh, and refueling.

Sounds like fun, yeah?

Please join us: donate at End Polio Now. #polioslastmile

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