Extreme endurance races attract a growing group of endurance fanatics, athletes who absolutely crave near impossible challenges set a backdrop of some of nature’s most unforgiving environments. A classic example is the grueling Marathon des Sables which drags runners across 149 miles of hot Sahara Desert sands in southern Morocco.
Who in their right mind would sign up for a tortuous and life-threatening experience and call it a ‘challenge’ to be sought after for the fun (or the pain) of it all. Well, the fact is that there are a lot of people who are interested in pushing their personal limits beyond what a normal person would accept as typical exercise. The challenge is exactly the fact that nothing compares with it.
And the phenomenon isn’t just for racers. Once low-profile, now some races have waiting lists and lotteries, and garner the support of corporate sponsors. As expected for these grueling treks, training for these high-endurance races is much more difficult than preparing for your run of the mill marathon.
Extreme endurance races tests a person’s mettle like no other. Indeed, the most satisfaction in finishing an extreme endurance race comes from confronting one’s own physical and mental limits. The human body is capable of doing some amazing things, and nothing will drive that point home better than an extreme endurance race.
This is in quite sharp contrast to the somnolent life most lead where a real world challenge might be to lose a large amount of body weight and the extreme part is the weight loss injections – the easy way to counteract the years of a life lived sloth-like. No folks, the extreme endurance race is where the edge meets sharp, and the thrill is built into the stress while surviving to fight on another day. Those who have it know the mindset well.
One important factor in training for an extreme endurance race is to establish base miles. The concept here is to emulate conditions similar to the race, and then put in a lot of miles in this activity. The more you put yourself through the paces of traversing those base miles, the more efficient you become doing it.
Any endurance athlete’s primary goal is to develop a strong heart that efficiently pumps blood, along with training muscles to better utilize oxygen and fat stores. It can take years of training to achieve peak efficiency, so this goal should be worked towards gradually, which translates to committing to several hundred of miles to a specific workout regimen each month.
It’s all about discovering your own physical limits, then trying to surpass them. Visit Part 2 of this series for more training tips.