Operation Desert Fun: start prep

So I’ve signed up for this desert ultramarathon thing. I’ve stopped feeling physically sick (yes, I actually did for about two days). I’ve got over an initial wobble after a few people told me I probably couldn’t do it (I’ve chosen to ignore that).

Now what?

Probably should do some prep. And training. Yes, that’s not a bad idea.

How do you train for this?

Honestly, I have no idea. In simple terms from the brief research I’ve done so far the advice mainly seems to be to: run lots. And walk. Mainly anything that gets the miles in my legs and time on my feet.

There are a couple of important points to remember:

  1. I won’t be running all 260km. No, a large percentage will be walked. The main thing will be to maintain a consistent, steady pace.
  2. I will never have to run 260km in training, far from it in fact. It’s likely the most I will do in any one go is around 45km.

Makes it sound a bit more achieveable doesn’t it?

It’s not just all about the training. The way I see it there are four main things to think about:

Training | Nutrition | Kit/equipment | Self care


I’ve yet to put a proper training plan together – but I’m getting some help with this to have something I can start when I get back from New Zealand. Mainly though it will just have some goals of distance and timed runs each week (progressing steadily). Now, to someone who doesn’t like planning and prefers to be spontaneous this is probably going to be quite difficult. But, this is all part of the challenge.

To keep it more interesting though, I have come up with a cunning plan! I’m going to call it the £2 Training Plan. Basically, the premise is that I’d like to try and raise more awareness and money for charity again, however I don’t want to just ask people to donate cash as they did that last last year when I biked the Carretera Austral in Chile. So, I figured I am only going to make people part with their cash if they get something out of it – which will also help me a) get out and train and b) make/keep it fun. So, when I sort my training plan out I am going to try and turn some of the sessions into something that other people would like to join in with (because let’s face it, no one really wants to join in a 15 mile training plod around town, do they? That doesn’t exactly scream fun). If people do want to join me, all I ask is that they pay £2 (less than a fancy coffee) which will go straight to charity. Hopefully that seems fair.

What’s that I hear you shout? “Great idea? Sounds good? What KIND of fun things Pappity-pap?” WELL. Take your pick. (Disclaimer: you may not deem all of the below to be fun)

  • Fancy dress run
  • Treasure hunt run
  • Litter pick run
  • Sightseeing runs (new places)
  • Yorkshire 3 Peaks (twice – run and/or hike)
  • Cheltenham circular
  • Pen Y Fan / Fan Dance
  • Cotswold Way (all of it)
  • Intervals & hill repeats
  • Run long (around 5% increase each week)
  • Strength (BMF, weights class at gym)
  • Races – half & full marathons
  • Rat Race Dirty Weekend (20 miles, 200 obstacles)
  • Cotswold 24 hour relay run – possible solo entry
  • Hiking anywhere and everywhere
  • Cycling (FUN and good cross training)

Basically, anything that keeps me on my feet and legs moving and distances or times to fit in with the plan. In any weather. The more fun the better. Any ideas welcome!


I also intend to always wear a tutu and fairy wings when I train. Then if anyone spots me they can be reminded of how mental I am what I am doing and shove a £1 in the pot or tell someone about NMO-UK Research and what they do.  Today I went out as a ninja but I’ve decided it’s not quite the same.


I’ll post more details once I’ve got my plan sorted and get some dates in for some events – so if you fancy joining me on anything let me know! I’ll be creating events in the PapsLife facebook group so become a member if you’re not already.

I’m also going to be looking into trying to train a bit in a heat chamber nearer the time (apparently you only need to heat aclimatise a month or so before you go, so no point in doing it yet). In absence of sorting that out, I will just run in the middle of the day in the English summer. That should do it.


I’ll admit, this is an area I really don’t know much about. I do know more than I did a few years ago through some of the long distance bike rides I’ve done but I suspect that’s very different fuelling to running. I learnt the hard way with that by doing all my bike training with not much food and wondering why I felt like shit after about 4 hours of cycling, and then overdosing on protein bars while doing London to Paris 24 hr and having to disappear into the woods a number of times and cycling the last 50 miles with agonising stomach cramps.

So for this, I’m going to try to do a bit more research to avoid collapsing or any desert-toilet mishaps, and work out how I can still EAT ALL THE FOOD.


Apparently this is super important. I need the right kit. Lightweight and stuff that does the job, and does the job well. I need to research this a hell of a lot, and soon, because it’s important to train in the same kit as you will race in. I am scared as hell of the one thing that all sports people are also scared of: CHAFING. Urgh, Saying the word just makes me feel sore. Helen told me about a particularly bad chafing incident in one of her jungle races. Scared. There is a possibility I will just be running head to toe in Vaseline. Not sure how wise that is.


Any tips/products/kit to use (or ones to avoid), send them my way!

Self care

So, kit food and training sorted, I’ll be hopping and skipping my way through the summer, following the training plan and basically DOING A SHIT LOAD OF STUFF.

It’ll be a pretty punishing schedule, so I’ve also added the category of Self care (you know, nice stuff to make sure I’m being kind to myself and helping my body not to get injured or pissed off at me). Consisting of:

  • Regular sports massages
  • Foam roller every other day (I’m still a bit scared of this but I WILL make myself do it. Alternatively if anyone wants to come over and do it to me I will pay with cake)
  • Yoga (I have a mat. And a book. But not so bendy body. Still, I’ll try.)
  • Healthy food
  • No Less booze
  • Good quality sleep (aka no minimal late nights)
  • Learn how to strap feet and treat blisters (this is mega important with the sand and mileage apparently)
  • Fun with friends (I’m not going to become a hermit. Have you SEEN Cheltenham in the summer? Picnics in the park, lush beer gardens and weekend BBQs. <happy sigh>)


So, there we go. Sounds pretty simple really. I’ve kind of started already in that I’ve made sure I’m running more than I have been, and most of my time in New Zealand will be spent walking so it’s not all lost, but I’ll get my arse into gear properly in May when I get back.

Now, in the meantime, where’s that beer?

Published by Paps

I love running, writing, travel and adventure. I'll give anything a go once, and am always up for a laugh.

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