Rory Coleman, a professional running coach and ultra-athlete, is training Sir Ranulph Fiennes to run the Marathon des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth, to raise money for Marie Curie. Rory has run the Marathon des Sables 11 times and is doing it again in 2015. He’s telling us all about the race, covering the highs and lows, and everything in between.
I didn’t set out to run 900 marathons, set Guinness World Records or run across continents; all I knew on 5 January 1994 was that I needed to go for a run.
Aged 31, I’d gotten myself into a real mess, both physically and psychologically. I’d started to hate the person looking back at me in the mirror. That’s what happens when you become addicted to alcohol and nicotine instead of facing up to your problems. It’s an all-too-familiar situation that lots of people find themselves in nowadays, but going out on that first fledgling run was my first step to recovery and turned into my salvation. I managed to run just 100 metres that night before my lungs felt like they were going to explode and I collapsed on the pavement and had to walk home.
How I started out
My ‘running kit’ consisted of my work clothes and leather work shoes that hid my new running regime quite nicely from my neighbours. It kept me warm on the dark January evenings too. I wouldn’t recommend my meagre diet of only 500kcals though. It meant my weight quickly went from 15 stone to 12 stone in just a month, which is dangerously fast. What did happen though is that my 100 metres became 200, then 400 and I was soon able to run further and further distances until, in just three months, I ran a half-marathon quite comfortably in under two hours.
How you can get started
This became the foundation of a new life for me. I now recommend to all my clients before they start their journey to fitness to go for a full body MOT at their local GP surgery to make sure that there aren’t any unknown medical conditions. Then I make them go to their local running shop to get properly fitted with a good pair of training shoes that offer good support and cushioning for the task ahead.
In my defence, my first runs were actually the best way to start – a first week of simple jogging distances out and back from your own front door is a great way of building up the miles. As your confidence builds, you’ll soon be able to run or walk five kilometres and join in with something like a free parkrun event in a local park. They’re held every Saturday morning. The speed of all these runs should literally be a slow jog, slow enough to hold a conversation but fast enough to build up a sweat. The biggest mistake I see is people trying to become an Olympic marathon runner overnight and they soon become disheartened, injured or simply give up before they get to see the benefits of their efforts.
Keeping your motivation
Running makes you feel better and you’ll look better too. You’ll be amazed at what you can do and where it’ll take you. Having a great cause to run for, like Sir Ranulph has with his Marathon des Sables challenge for Marie Curie, helps keep the concentration and motivation going.
Hopefully you’ll be glad that you started running and will enjoy the journey it provides. If you’re not sure where to start, then please contact me and I’ll be only too glad to help you reach your fitness goal.
Today, I’m off to the Marathon des Sables to run with Sir Ranulph and help him achieve his fundraising challenge in the desert. Not bad considering 20 years ago I could only run 100 metres.
Enjoying our Marathon des Sables blogs? Take a look at our previous blogs: The most memorable years of the Marathon des Sables, Essential kit for the Marathon des Sables, The dangers of the Marathon des Sables, What it’s like to train Sir Ranulph Fiennes and What it's like to run the Marathon des Sables.