The first phase of my preparations focused on getting additional security regarding training plan, equipment and nutrition. I also wanted clarity as early as possible on how and when to get to the meeting point in Ouarzazate. In order to guarantee all this, I attached great importance to networking with previous participants in the Marathon des Sables. I am very impressed by the willingness to share my personal experiences. In the end, it is all about the many small details that give you the certainty of having done everything in advance for the success of the project.
I decided for a personal coaching by an experienced ultra runner, who has also been to the desert several times. The cooperation has started well and the expectations for an additional motivation boost have been fully fulfilled.
Last Saturday I did a first formtest. With a run around Lake Neuchâtel, the largest lake in Switzerland, I set myself a relatively challenging task. The first part of the course was very difficult to run and the risk of injury on the slippery and deep terrain was correspondingly high. Actually 96 km were planned, but after 50 km I decided to finish the race. My tendon in my left back thigh, which was torn at the beginning of this year, started to hurt a bit and I simply didn't want to risk anything. Everything was half as bad, it was just a precaution.
Now I'm looking forward to winter and the training in the snow, a good preparation for running in the sand.
Another week of preparation lays behind me and it was also characterized by the recovery from my long effort on the penultimate Saturday. That's why there were also some cycling workouts on my Home Trainer. Another focus of the week was foot gymnastics as well as extensive stretching and working with the Blackroll. The latter is a very good prophylaxis to prevent from any fasciae problems.
Extensive mountain trainings are scheduled for the end of this week, hopefully there will still be some snow left, as running on it is excellent to preparing for sand.
The last training week consisted of a balanced mix of running and cycling units. Especially on the weekend in the mountains it went very well for me. The view of the snow-covered mountains fully compensated for the strain of the ascent. The focus on basic endurance in the first weeks seems to pay off.
In the meantime I have completed the first four weeks of my training plan. In addition to an average distance of almost 60 km per week, there were also indoor cycling sessions on the agenda. In addition, I have meanwhile found great pleasure in the foot gymnastics exercises and the TRX strength training.
Last weekend I did mountain training again. It was very unusual that there was practically no snow at over 2000 meters above sea level. Since I had planned an extensive running training anyway, this was fortunately no real problem for me. The weather showed its best side, as the photos below show.
With regard to the procurement of the necessary equipment I also made some progress. I have set myself the goal of achieving final clarity on the material by the end of the year. I feel that I am on the right track at the moment.
Two more training weeks are over, in which I am very satisfied with my total mileage of 140 km. Regular bodyweight and stretching exercises should also help me to minimize the risk of injury. I experience particularly the intensive treating of the fasciae with the Blackroll. A very effective tool that I can recommend to every runner.
At the moment I am planning a training week at the end of February 2017 with conditions that should come as close as possible to those of the Marathon des Sables. At the moment it looks like I will combine this with an already planned trip to the USA and the evaluation of possible locations is in progress.
Meanwhile I have also decided on competition food. I will rely heavily on the products of Expedition Foods and will now intensively test respective tolerability in the coming weeks.
As expected, the Christmas week was somewhat demanding in terms of time planning. To spend as much time as possible with my family was my main goal and therefore the training was pushed back a bit for once in terms of prioritization.
However, I still managed to complete more than 8 1/2 hours of training and I am still on target with regard to preparation. My mileage in the last four weeks was 262 km, plus 107 km Indoor Cycling. I also tried hard to keep to the stretching and strength exercises given by my coach.
But the last days were also a time of reflection. 2016 was an eventful year that made me think at certain points. Our world seems to be on a potentially trend-setting course. A constant positive look forward helps me personally to gain the energy and strength for my future challenges. The Marathon des Sables 2017 is undoubtedly one such event.
Meanwhile the starting list has been published and I will start with the number 455. There will be a total of 23 Swiss participants at the starting line, which will result in three complete Swiss tents, as each will be allocated according to nationality.
A fantastic training week in the mountains lies behind me. Unfortunately there was no snow, but as a runnerI was clearly happy about it. I have never experienced that at this time one can move on completely snow-free paths at over 2000 meters above seal level and it was really fun. On Wednesday a good friend came to visit me and we were together on our way for almost three hours.
The week was very intense and it totaled almost 13 hours of sport activities at the end. The focus was of course on running, 79 km and almost 3500 meters in altitude are pretty good numbers for me. But also three detailed stretching sequences including Blackroll were on the agenda, both elements which form now an integral part of my training plan.
My everyday business life led me to beautiful Lisbon last week, where I was able to perform an unforgettable evening training under a bright blue sky and with pleasant temperatures. Following a large part of the historic tram line 28, I passed the ancient Bairro Alto and Alfama districts. Memories of our family holiday week in Lisbon some years ago came back!
But also the rest of the week was very positive. I'm still on track, feel good and have been spared any injuries so far. Now, of course, I very much hope that it will stay that way.
Regarding material, my list is gradually being completed. With most utensils, which I haven't bought yet, I know meanwhile at least which model it should be. The contacts I have made with former MDS participants prove to be extremely valuable and indispensable.
And again another training week has gone by like a flash. The almost Siberian temperatures in Switzerland made multi-layered clothing indispensable, but it was still a special experience to walk through the wonderful snow-covered landscapes. I consider the 79 km running distance to be a good value in view of the biting cold.
On Wednesday, we shot the little movie for the launch of the fundraising campaign with Plan International on the Limmat in Zurich. Thanks again to the film crew, you did a great job. Now I'm very excited to see how the whole thing starts. In the end I hope that a considerable amount will be raised for the benefit of Plan's water projects.
Meanwhile the organizer has also confirmed all my documents, so that actually only the medical certificate is pending, which can be issued at the earliest 30 days before the start of the race.
Time is moving on inexorably, with just over two months left for preparation. I am still very happy that I have decided on professional coaching. The gradual increase of the training scope as well as a good balance between running and strength exercises has proved to be very successful so far.
I spent the weekend together with my wife in the mountains and tested the MDS backpack which was delivered shortly before. It is important that I now gradually get used to the different special equipment in order to be able to prevent any possible problems.
IIn the last three weeks I was able to train very well, but now I should focus more on stretching exercises and working with the Blackroll. All in all, I feel very well on my way and think that I will be well prepared for the start on April 9th.
Last week I spent a few days on business in Buenos Aires and the climate change with trainings at over 35 degrees was a relevant test for my fitness level. I take the fact that I managed this change very well as a positive sign.
Now I have to procure the last missing components regarding material and test them as far as necessary and reasonable in a training run. Meanwhile I have also organized the journey to Morocco and am looking forward to spending the first night in my apartment with a dear friend in Marrakech.
Last week, I was able to use my business stay in the USA for some trainings in a slightly different environment. But I didn't expect that I would meet a temperature of more than minus 20° Celsius in Boston. So I moved my originally planned run along the Charles River - one of my absolute favourites - to the wind-protected inner city, but I also had to stop it after about 9 kilometres. It was simply too cold and I didn't want to take any health risks just before my desert adventure.
The temperatures were a bit more pleasant in Chicago and so I could use the time of sunrise in the early morning for two beautiful runs along the Lakeshore Trail. The photos below show impressively that it was worth it.
I am still very satisfied with the overall preparation. Both my training condition and the progress of the various material supplies are absolutely satisfactory. Now I have to build up the tension in the next weeks and nothing stands in the way of a successful completion of my adventure.
Two weeks to go! Slowly but surely the tingling in my stomach increases. Anticipation mixes with a healthy portion of respect, although the latter certainly also has its justification.
The last week I ran about 70 kilometers which is in the middle range regarding mileage. Now it is important to tune the body in the remaining time in the best possible way for the forthcoming event. In this so-called tapering phase the body gets time to recover from the training load of the past weeks. The process of supercompensation takes place and the performance capacity acquired during training increases again.
In the meantime, I have also completed the compulsory medical part. Checkup and ECG have fortunately led to unscrupulous results. I also performed the exercise ECG recommended for participants of my age.
The weekend was all about packing preparations. The various foods were neatly portioned, partially vacuumed and then packed in zip bags by days. I was a little insecure during the first packing attempt. My goal to store everything inside the backpack was not that easy to achieve and required a lot of creativity during the packing process. But finally everything went as planned, which led to a visibly more relaxed remaining Sunday.
I used the Sunday afternoon for the completion of the various lists. Packing list, food list with calorie proof, photos of the food labels, all this is indispensable to be able to travel to Morocco with a good feeling. And then I didn't let myself miss the opportunity to test my mobile cooking place live at least once.
Today I leave for Morocco, the road leads me via Marrakech to Ouarzazate, where I will get in the mood for my forthcoming adventure for a few days.
The trainings in the last days before my departure went very satisfying. Two long runs at a slow pace on the weekend gave me the certainty that I 'm well prepared for the Marathon des Sables.
However, the creation of the Race Pack did stress me a bit unexpectedly. Again, it wasn't that easy to put all the material into my backpack. In the end I was able to give the all-clear, everything is fine and I tried on all the racing clothes again.
I will use the time before the start in Morocco mainly for mental preparation. With anticipation and the certainty that I will achieve my goal, I thank everyone again for keeping their fingers crossed.
"Him who goes into the desert and returns is no longer the same," says a Bedouin proverb. What the many unbelievable impressions and moments during this year's Marathon des Sables have caused in myself, I will probably only be able to answer over time. I am quite simply grateful and consider it a great privilege that I have been able to implement this project positively and successfully. Many thanks again to everyone who has supported my fundraising campaign for the benefit of Plan International's water projects so far.
It is with great satisfaction that I look back to my fundraising campaign in favour of Plan International, which I linked to my participation in this year's Marathon des Sables. Yesterday evening, at the concluding magicMonday event at the Hiltl Pflanzbar in Zurich, around 100 guests were present when I experienced a great and emotional conclusion to my project together with the teams from Plan and Vives. Many thanks to everyone who supported my project and made the construction of a well in Ghana possible.