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Training for the Marathon des Sables ~ Mitch Keene

So I get into the lake and wait for the start hooter. All my training has gone well. Ive been here many times before, it’s not my first triathlon after all. We start and just 100m into the swim my head tells me “what are you doing out here you don’t like this, are you sure you can do this”. I do like this, I can do it and I chose to be here, I tell myself. I am having fun so why doesn’t it feel like it? Confidence and self belief is the answer. When self doubt is an Olympic event I will be in team GB.

It’s a temporary state that soon fades but it happens every time I start a race. If I was going to take on the Marathon de Sables I couldn’t have that self doubt every day of the event it would be hard to overcome.

The event is tough enough (known as the “toughest foot race on earth”) and I recognised that I needed help and experience that would go way beyond just physical training.

Fortunately, I met Kerry Sutton: the only coach I have ever met that didn’t just smile when I told them what happened at the start of my races and change the subject to a discussion about physical matters.

Kerry turned out to not only be the person that could develop a tailored physical plan for me – that would fit in with my work and family commitments – but also someone who could support me with understanding how to overcome the self doubt and how to battle the demons in my head. If you add to that the fact that she actually runs ultra marathons, including the MdS and doesn’t just talk about them, she is the complete package.

Her support and expertise was invaluable in my preparation. When I stood on the start line in the Sahara desert we had overcome several last minute obstacles and changes but I still felt ready to go. Kerry had told me she would be with me in spirit and she was. When someone believes in you – genuinely believes in you – rather than just saying it, it matters and it works.


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