Conquering the Sahara: Tips for Distance Running

Earlier this year Olympic gold-medalist rower Heather Stanning got in touch with DOGTAG to see if we could cover her for a new challenge, running 160 miles through the Sahara Desert in just six days. As a seasoned marathon runner with an impressive fitness record, we were delighted to be able to insure her adventure. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to find out more about her preparations and trip and she provided us with her tips for preparing for distance running.

Top Tips from Heather:

  1. Set Short-Term Goals: Training for any physical challenge is a long-term commitment. Keep yourself motivated by setting achievable short-term goals along the way. This could be increasing your weekly mileage, improving your pace, or conquering challenging terrains.
  2. Invest in Quality Footwear: Your choice of running shoes is crucial. Find trainers that suit your feet and running style. It’s worth spending time and money to get this right, as your comfort and performance depend on it.
  3. Train Long and Slow: Training isn’t about speed; it’s about endurance. Focus on building your mileage gradually at a comfortable pace. Many runners make the mistake of training too hard or fast—stay in the right zone for long-distance training.
  4. Incorporate Gym Work: Running long distances requires more than just pounding the pavement. Include strength and conditioning exercises in your routine to support your muscles and prevent injuries.
  5. Prioritise Recovery: Recovery is key to sustainable training. Fuel your body with the right nutrients after workouts, and consider adding recovery practices like massage into your routine. Treat your body well—it’s working hard!
  6. Entertain Yourself: Long runs can be mentally taxing. Keep yourself engaged and motivated by listening to podcasts or audiobooks while training. This can turn your solo runs into enjoyable and educational experiences.
  7. Build Confidence: Before tackling your challenge, ensure you’re comfortable with the distance. It’s not about speed; it’s about knowing you can cover the distance when needed. This mental readiness is crucial for endurance events.
  8. Enjoy the Process: Most importantly, embrace the journey. Running is a profound personal experience. Find joy in the miles, the challenges, and the victories along the way.
  9. If you are considering your own personal challenge, like Heather’s, make sure you get the right cover for your event. You can check out the activities DOGTAG covers here make sure you understand your cover and any special conditions which relate to your sport.

So, lace up your shoes, set your goals, and embark on your own epic journey—one step at a time.

Helen Stanning at the Marathon des Sables