How you prepare for the walk of your life13.07.2020
100 km in 24 hours? Why would someone do this to themselves?
This is the first question that comes to most people's minds when they first hear about the mega-march. But soon your curiosity is aroused and you ask yourself if YOU could make it as well?
In fact, the Megamarsch has numerous supporters in many cities in Germany. Together with us, about 4500 hikers started this year in Hamburg. What motives we had for this self-torturing action, and what we would change in our preparation next time, you will find out in this blog post.
How much is actually 100 km?
100 kilometres hiking and that in 24h! For most people, it sounds insane and others are already thinking about whether they would make it. Maybe you are already playing out in your head how many kilometres you would have to walk per hour or what you would take with you to this breakneck event. We want to use our experience to help you get through the mega-march.
By the way, to master the march, a speed of no less than 4.17 km/h (without a break) is sufficient. The average person walks about 5-6 km/h. Sounds encouraging, now only hold out for 24 hours. Of course, this also means that you have to walk all night.
So that also the not- or not-yet-hikers get a feeling for what they are getting into: The route between Hamburg and Bremen is a good 100 kilometres long.
The average German pedometer / Fitness tracker owner walks 5200 steps a day. That is about 3.5 km. On a typical city trip day, at the end of which you fall into bed tired, you have probably walked 13-20 kilometres. These are pretty sobering views, considering that we were about to cover 100 km. But it's too late to back out because we have already signed up and told everyone about our glorious project.
Who can take part?
In principle, any adult who wants to take on the inner bastard can register for the Megamarsch. On the way, we met the most different hikers with the most different techniques. Barefoot, in wheelchairs, joggers, over 70-year-olds, men and women, experienced hikers and beginners, well-trained sportsmen and women, but also hikers who have a few extra kilos in their luggage. In the end, they all have the same goal: to leave the comfort zone to rise above themselves, to dare something crazy and of course an unforgettable experience that you can tell about later.
Motivation, training and nutrition
Let us start with the most important point: motivation
Why did we go along with it? That's a fair question. A colleague had the idea, our bosses paid the entry fee and so one thing led to another. As February was already running, there was not much time to think about it, as the mega-march in Hamburg will take place at the beginning of April. Now or never! In retrospect, I'm glad that we had to decide quickly because after reading the many blog posts we had second thoughts about whether we should participate or not. Fortunately, as naive beginners, we had no idea what we were getting into and just jumped into the cold water. First of all, I can say: None of us has regretted it so far!
On the mega-marching side, the start of training is recommended 3-6 months before the date. Now, as non-hikers, we had just under 2 months time. We are all active in sports, but the Mega March is for extreme hikers. Accordingly, the expectations of friends and colleagues turned out accordingly. The bets ranged from 30 to 60 km. But that was no reason for us to set limits. On the contrary, it was rather a further incentive! We would show them, that was one of our motivation reasons!
One of the biggest mistakes is, we can say that in retrospect, setting limits. Because as soon as you have mastered them on the march, something switches in your head: I have reached my goal. Why should I continue now? From then on, every kilometre costs you not only physical effort but also much more mental effort. So you should set your goal at 100 kilometres or at least far above what you actually dare to do. Now you also see the hurdles in a different relationship. If you set yourself a goal of 50 kilometres, 20 is already a big and strenuous part of the whole project. But if you have 100 as your goal, then 20 km seems like a small step on the way to a big project. Set big goals for yourself!
Motivation or the right mental attitude is actually the most important thing in the mega-march. With broken feet, you can make it a few kilometres further. Without motivation, nothing works anymore! Therefore you should see the training, especially the night hike, as a test of your willpower!
Admittedly our training sessions have been limited. We have tried to walk a lot in everyday life to break in our shoes and to train our endurance. Ah yes, and as recommended by the mega marchers, we regularly creamed our feet with Deer Tallow Sports Cream to prepare them for the strain.
Since it is said that night hikes are much tougher, especially for the strength of will, we set out together on a Friday evening for an evening/night hike. The weather was not on our side on this day, because the wind was blowing icy and there was the typical Hamburg drizzle. There was also a storm warning but nothing could stop us and time was running out. But hey, isn't it the best to train under the hardest conditions?
Armed with warm clothes and a bottle of Lille-based cocktail we went into the well-deserved end of the day. After 5 kilometres we made a detour to Sausalitos to get a Cocktail ToGo and the hike continued. Finally, we didn't let the Friday evening drink take away from training. All in all the training was successful and thanks to the alcohol we were in a good mood. After 15 kilometres at the latest, everyone had broken down the alcohol and, what's more, we slowly ran out of things to talk about. The tiredness set in a little and the first hip pain was felt. The last 5 km we hardly changed a word, because even talking is connected with efforts, which the body involuntarily wants to avoid. Apart from that, we were doing well after the 22 km long night hike. We were all well and in good spirits. We did our night walk through the brightly lit Hamburg-City. On the Megamarsch you are on longer, unlit stretches, which is why we advise you to use a Headlamp. Don't worry, you won't be the only one wearing one.
That's where our training efforts end. Would we do more for our preparations next time? Yes, a 30-kilometre day hike to train legs and mind. Otherwise, we personally wouldn't go on extremely long hikes, but that's a matter of taste. Some people prefer to know in advance what they are getting into and others prefer to jump into cold water. If you know in advance what 50 kilometres feel like, it could be that you set yourself other limits and we want to avoid that as much as possible. Knowing that the journey will be arduous makes you approach things with a negative attitude from the very beginning, which is why we would not go on long walks.
A very important point is nutrition because it has a strong influence on your performance and your motivation!
While we still consumed alcoholic drinks during the training and did not take the diet too seriously, we thought a lot about it before the march and read up on what to pay special attention to.
A balanced and healthy diet is good for everyone. But as a mega marcher, it is really important that you pay attention to it.
The most important point is hydration. During the march, your body loses a lot of water. Therefore you should make sure that you drink a lot the day before the march. Preferably 3-4 litres. In order not to neglect drinking during the march, we have used a Drinking bladder. Thereby you automatically drink much more.
During the Megamarsh you consume more calories than you can eat, so try to support your body in advance by recharging all your stores. The body stores glycogen in your muscles and liver to access it when needed. These stores are best replenished a few days before the march with complex carbohydrates in the form of rice, wholemeal bread and pasta, potatoes and oatmeal.
Avoid foods that are difficult to digest and unnecessarily burden your body and digestion. Bet on fruit, vegetables and fish. We made sure that our body gets enough iron a few days before the march. The iron reservoirs are heavily used during such a strain. Iron is important for the formation of haemoglobin, a red blood pigment. An iron deficiency leads to anaemia and a drop in performance. Tiredness, paleness, shortness of breath and palpitations are only some possible signs of iron deficiency. Good sources of iron are: Liver and red meat in general. These sources should be consumed in moderate amounts, otherwise, they are harmful to health. Wheat bran, millet, wheat germ and oatmeal are therefore more recommended. Nuts and especially pumpkin seeds are also very good sources of iron. By the way, caffeine inhibits the absorption of iron. It is supported by vitamin C.
With these tips, you should be well-prepared for the mega-march. If you want to know what we took with us on the march and if we made it, stay tuned! You will find our next blog articles about the mega-march soon on askgeorge.com/en/lifestyle.