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Big Steps, Long Strides: A Complete Guide to Running the Marathon des Sables Paperback – 7 Apr 2016
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About the Author
Why would anyone in their right mind want to run 155 miles in 7 days across the Sahara Desert? This book describes one woman's journey and explains, step-by-step, how you too, can complete the toughest foot race on earth. As a teenager growing up in the U.K. Nisha was exercise-averse and avoided breaking a sweat at all costs. Having moved from Wales to London in her twenties, she joined the gym with the aim of losing weight, but became bored rigid; exercise was a means to an end. As she strived to achieve the more traditional goals of settling down, graduating university and maintaining a successful career, it took a point of personal crisis for her to re-evaluate the way she was living her life. What started with a few short runs grew into a love of testing personal boundaries, eventually leading her to conquer the Marathon des Sables. Nisha is living proof that a little determination can go a long way in this race we call life.
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I should at this stage declare my hand, I have been involved with the Marathon des Sables for around 11 years in different functions and as such I have seen many try and try and fail in meeting their expectations on the event. It is those who do not make the finish line on the first attempt who interest me the most, because they almost all know why they did not succeed and invariably come back and blitz the course with relative ease. Here is the spoiler alert - Nisha in her first attempt was one of those who in spite of gritted determination, did not make it to the end - and realised that a lot of this was down to planning, understanding the task, preparation and training allowing her to go back and comfortably succeed the second time round.
The second (larger) half of the book is a pure "How to succeed in the MdS" It outlines every kit, nutrition, training, hydration, clothing and navigational challenge with top tips and recommendations to suit all ambitions. What really comes out in this book is the benefit of preparation - from trialling all your food and kit properly before your feet touch the sand to the mental and physical preparation that make the "toughest footrace in the world" achievable for anybody. Even the checklist for "Testing your readiness" which should be compulsory for anyone signing up for this is pure genius as it lays out in really simple language what is ahead of you on the journey to the start line and beyond.
This book doesn't pull any punches, it is as honest as it is simple, providing nicely packaged "how to's" on every feature of long distance multi-day running, it isn't prescriptive or dogmatic - it just challenges you to consider and plan all aspects of the event systematically - even down to giving you check lists for preparation, planning and packing. Now having read it, I cannot believe that this book hasn't been written before.
My favourite quote from the book is "Don't wait for the perfect time, because it doesn't exist, your time is now" ..... the quote should also apply to you reading this book. Best of luck with the Marathon Des Sables , it is the most extraordinary event that will redefine you as a person.
It is extremely well written, gripping in parts, there's some accounts I won't be telling my wife about, she'll only worry, but overall , it's a great story of one woman's adventure that has rung a bell with anyone contemplating the desert run. The second part of the book acts as a great reference point for practical matters. Again, well written, layed out, and ultimately, as we're not undertaking this event lightly, this is so confidently written that you'd feel foolish not to heed Nisha's advice. Well done.
This book contains meticulous information about pretty much all aspects one has to consider when thinking of participating to the MdS. I mean, really everything, including training plans and injury prevention/management. It is in my bookshelf now, ready to be used when I'll be ready to go for it.
It's a handy guide with the correct amount of info for me and plenty of additional references to get you started. Lots of great pointers from her & other successful finishers. All in all a fantastic find pitched at my level (neither beginner nor professional).
I bought an extra copy for my oppo who I'm training with...thanks lass you're inspiring.