Tag Archives: Intensive care foundation

Not long now…..

In a weeks time the adventure which has taken over my life for the last year will begin!! clockTime has passed so quickly since I pressed the enter button last May. The training is mostly done – only two more training sessions in the heat chamber and a few saunas left!

Last Friday was the first session in the heat chamber. There are two treadmills in the chamber so we ran in pairs. John and I first with Fiona and Simon following straight afterwards. John and I have followed the suggested sessions from Mark Hetherington at the University f Leeds and so far so good.

1st session. 40 degrees centigrade. 20% humidity. Basic running gear only (no desert kit). 20 minutes steady run 1% wpid-img_337808566563912.jpeggradient. 10 minutes walk 6% gradient and repeat. The third rep we cut short to 15 and 5 in the interest of time. It had taken us a while to get set up. We had a thermometer in one ear and a pulse monitor on the other and  retro sweat band to hold it all in place. We were weighed before and after, as were our drinks. Our temperature, heart rate and speed/gradient were recorded every 5 minutes. I felt in safe hands. Total time on feet 80 minutes. No ill effects and feeling confident. To pass the time running in the big white box we watched the clock and our core temperatures like it was a competition to see who could stay coolest longest. I think JB won by 0.3 degrees!

Saturday we did 2 hours outdoors with 8kg back packs with 1 hour of that as hill reps over the trig point on Baildon moor. wpid-20150322_102945.jpgSunday was my last run outside and it was a stunning morning. Emma joined us for a Baildon Boundary Way recce for me to point out all the marshal spots (I usually organise the marshals for this fab race but it clashes with this running in the desert – Emma has kindly taken over!!).

Tuesday brought session 2 in the heat chamber. This time I wore my legionaries hat, race shoes and gaiters and a pack with 1kg and wpid-20150326_094213.jpgwater.  Same session – 40 degrees centigrade. 20% humidity. 20 minutes steady run 1% gradient. 10 minutes walk 6% gradient and repeat – this time 3 times. A full 90 minute session. At the end of the second walk I felt really hot! (even though my temp was lower than JB’s today!). Wearing the back pack was like having a little coat on! Slightly concerned I cautiously started the final run. Within minutes I felt fine again. 30 minutes later the session was done and confidence rising. Studying the results with interest I learned that my sweat rate (with a pack on) is 1.3 litres/hour. My heart rate settles about 166 after an hour in the heat. The walk breaks bring it back down slightly. Returning home I checked my garmin stats regarding my heart rate on training runs (I have been more interested in miles and time than heart rate in training). Average heart rate for my runs in the last 6 months 163bpm. So in conclusion my body isn’t stressing that much in the heat chamber (good news!)

Heat chamber session 3. Same set up but this time with 5kg in the backpack. We actually walked 1km/hr slower on the uphill walks this time. This worked really well, with my heart rate dropping 25 bpm during this time. By the end of the session I felt even better than the last one. I am again looking forward to the next session which will be with more weight in my pack and for 2 hours……

The last couple of weeks have seen a reduction in my training volume. The upside of this (aside from more recovery time) is that I have been able to catch up with some of my wonderful friends. Without the support of so many of my friends and my family, my preparation for marathon des sables would have been very different. I even have some mementos to take to the desert with me (weighing less that 1g each they are allowed in the bag and will no doubt make me smile!)wpid-20150325_193309-1.jpg wpid-20150325_193325-1.jpg

Friends, colleagues and family have all helped with fundraising too. We raised £240 in 2 hours at a cake bake last week. Incredible and the cakes donated to were so delicious! (no wonder I haven’t quite reached the race weight I might have liked!). Easter bunnies and lots of chocolate donated by my mum in law are being raffled (draw next week) and they have been so popular. Thank you to Nuffield Health at Shipley for the membership to help me in the final stages of acclimatisation by using the sauna. Beta Climbing designs have been super helpful this week in handling a mini MDS emergency when the buckle on my pack got broken. My mum was a star as always taking a day out to collect the bag from me and take it to Sheffield to get it sorted…..I await its safe return as I type.

I continue to be overwhelmed by sponsorship donations from so many different people. The messages I have received in cards, emails and on just giving are all really special to me. Thank you all. I have had a few little cries too! When I have said bye to friends who I won’t see till I am back, hugs have been a bit longer and stronger than usual, reminding me of just how epic this adventure is going to be!

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A bit of a change

The last couple of weeks have brought some variation to my training. In addition to my usual off road moor runs I have enjoyed some long road runs home from work, a beach and dune run and running with a much heavier pack – although I didn’t enjoy the latter much and cycling.

Work hard, run home

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So road running is not really my thing but after struggling to motivate myself out into the freezing cold after returning to a warm home following a long day at work I decided it best to cut out that step! The next day I changed straight into my running gear, filled my pack with all my work gear and set off running home. As many people have pointed out to me (and I already realised!) work to home is all up hill. I chose a ‘scenic’ even hillier route and feeling like forrest gump off I trotted home. Nearly 13 miles. Lots of busy road crossings. 2.5 hours. Training done for the day. The following week I did it twice. This week will bring it again.
What took me slightly by surprise on these runs has been my ability to zone out and take my mind elsewhere – a skill which I’m sure will serve me well in the desert! With most of my running being shared with the company of great friends or being off road and concentrating on the next step I haven’t experienced this complete zone out for a while.

Beach run

Woah – sand dunes make your legs burn! Especially with 6kg in your back pack – but this is nothing compared to miles of dunes with up to 10kg on your back which I will be experiencing soon. All said though I loved my day at the beach (Druridge bay) made even better by the company of my two oldest and bestest friends, one with her beautiful newborn son. Part of my beach running involved dune reps back to my friends who soon sent me on the next rep!! Lovely food and a good catch up followed. Fantastic day. I learnt some valuable lessons about how to ascend and descend dunes, how it feels to have sand in your shoes and a but about how sand moves. All this sounds really obvious but you think about things in a different light when you are heading to the Sahara for a week. It has helped me decide on sock choice (injinji toes socks with my usual running socks on top), shoe size (with the double socks and knowing my feet swell I am going for a UK size bigger for my race shoe) and also encouraged me to add some steep hill reps in the coming weeks training.
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Pack weight

I have become perfectly happy with 5kg in my pack for long hilly runs. An increase to 7.5kg was a shock (especially as I thought I only had 6kg until l got home and weighed it properly!). At no point was I going to abort my 15 mile run but I was much slower than usual and forced to walk most of the climbs. I am confident that I will soon become accustomed to the heavier weight as I did with 5kg.
I also find it mildly entertaining to fill my pack with bags of muesli and rice to get the weight up.
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Food

In an attempt to get the best calories per gram for food I actually like I have a spreadsheet to add the information to. This also includes macronutrient content so that I can try and have enough carbohydrate during the day and fill up on protein and fat at night. Dehydrated foods seem the best option. John, Simon and I got together and had an MDS picnic (whilst watching Genis’ webinar) to try a few. We tried four. For me – two were ok, even pretty nice – one was unpleasant but edible and the fourth just revolting!! I love my food and will eat most things but am at my fussiest when I am tired. So it is going to be really important for me psychologically to know that I’m going to eat food I like at the end of each day in the desert. While it is expensive to keep trying these dehydrated foods I need to find another that I like. I have sorted my snacks though. 9bar! I love them! The peanut ones are 290kcal for 50g weight and they taste like food not just energy goo. I am also taking some pumpkin bars (250kcal/50g) and the breakfast bars. Twiglets, jelly beans, granola, allsports desert survival formula and pot noodle will constitute the rest of my food in the desert.

Cycling

Riding my bike has been on the back burner with run training taking priority. The last few weeks have been me on my bike more often, mostly for active travel. I have really enjoyed it. It is in addition to my runs but I feel like it has taken pressure off running somehow.

MDS dreams

Scorpions, being hungry, being stuck on a treadmill going nowhere….are featuring in my dreams during the last week! I can tell the event is getting closer…..

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How many miles?

Many people have asked me what the format is for the Marathon des Sables – is it a marathon every day? Sort of…..The exact distance and route for this years Marathon des Sables is not announced until we (the competitors) arrive in the desert. To give you an idea, this is what the 2014 race looked like:

  • Day 1 – 34km (21.3 miles)
  • Day 2 – 41km (25.6 miles)
  • Day 3 – 37.5km (23.4 miles)
  • Day 4 – 81.5km  (50.9 miles)
  • Day 5 – rest day (but only once I have finished day 4 – which could be during this day!)
  • Day 6 – 42.2km (26.4 miles)
  • Day 7 – charity walk (!) Back to the bus 7.7 km (4.8 miles)

Total 152.4 miles!!!

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The 2015 route will not be the same but the format will likely be similar. Now you can all share the miles with me! My race number is 0414. Once the race starts you will be able to track me online (I will send all the details round again before I leave).

A couple of people have said that they would like to sponsor me by the mile for the Intensive Care Foundation. Just Giving cannot process this on their site – they can only take payment at the time of the sponsorship pledge. If anyone would like to pledge per mile, you could comment on this blog post and then donate via http://www.justgiving.com/michellemorris-mds when I complete the event. This way you can experience every mile with me from your pockets!

Please pledge your donation in the ‘Leave your reply’ box below.

Some suggestions:

  • 1p per mile = £1.50
  • 5p per mile = £7.50
  • 10p per mile = £15.00
  • 20p per mile = £30.00
  • 50p per mile = £75.00

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February 13, 2015 · 8:56 pm

Snow is like sand….right?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year all.

It’s been a busy few weeks of running…and eating….and socialising! I am feeling happy with how my training and preparation is going despite some recent over indulgence!!

Is it all going according to plan?

I revisited my plan in my previous blog post. Some of it is exactly on track. Some elements haven’t happened – but I have learnt some things about myself and understand why. I am typically running 30-40 miles a week, sometimes more. I go to hot yoga weekly. Sometimes I swim or cycle but neither of these happen regularly! I have realised that running tires me out much more than cycling or swimming and as such I sleep more.
My plan to lose weight has been slow but I am a couple of kg less so it is going the right way.

Training milestones

In training I have done some long runs Saturday followed by another Sunday. It feels good. Most of my training is with MDS buddy John. The long miles pass much quicker when chatting.

We ran out first Ultramarathon at the beginning of the month. Frostbite30…..although the name is deceiving when the route is 34 miles! It lived up to its name in other respects though. It was freezing. Nidderdale was white with frost and it made for beautiful scenery for running. Having not run over 27 miles before this was unknown territory. The route was off road and hilly. The plan was to walk the ups and run the rest. Like clockwork it went until the last 6 miles when we bored of walking and ran strongly to the finish. It couldn’t have gone better and we felt very pleased with ourselves. Better still, the next day I got up (and after some good stretching) ran the first winter league cross country for my club. Only 4 miles but the legs worked well carrying me through the mud and up the hills well. I was slow down hill but that was partly in my head as I feared my legs would give way!

We squeezed in a lovely relaxing weekend break in Budapest before Christmas, with lots of spa time and fantastic food. There was still time to run though. My boyfriend James even came out to keep me company. As he is someone who doesn’t usually run, this was really special. While not a runner, he is fit and encouraged me to “smash it” round a 5km track in the middle of our run!

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Over Christmas my aim was to run everyday. This included a Christmas day parkrun. It was lovely to see so many of my running friends. Getting beaten by James was even good as I love that we were out running together. I was very lucky and Santa brought me desert food and foot cream!

The Chevin chase was boxing day – a 7 mile trail race. A lovely route with the main climb like something from the Tour de France – so deep with spectators.

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Racing with olympians is always exciting too, with Alistair Brownlee taking the win, closely followed by brother Jonny.

The 27th brought an epic 28.5 miles round a variation of the Haworth Hobble. wpid-20141227_102011.jpgEpic as at times we were thigh deep in snow! Snow is like sand…right? Trudging through the snow must be good training for sand??

The landscape is so different when covered in snow and I was pleased my running buddy Chris knew the way well! We got back just as the sun went down. Stunning views over the Yorkshire hills.

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My last run of 2014 has been the Auld Lang Syne fell race at Penistone Hill, organised by Dave and Eileen Woodhead. A fantastic, muddy/snowy/slippery race, again with Olympians heading up the field and full of all kinds of fancy dress – my favourite being emu on stilts!

What’s next?

Order kit!
Plan the desert menu!
Add some regular gym strength sessions
Increase the pack weight
Loose a couple more kg
Stay well ☺

Thank you and Happy New Year

The fundraising for the Intensive Care Foundation is going amazingly. Thank you all so much for your kind donations. I have been really touched and quite emotional by it all.

An especially big thank you to Joe and Simon who made me a wonderful fundraising video, which not only does a great job of explaining why I am running for the Intensive care Foundation, but also of showing off our Yorkshire countryside. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here:

I wish you all a fantastic, healthy and adventure filled 2015!

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