For most, ‘pushing your self’ means including an additional set onto the finish of your exercise. For 40-year-old Ben Saunders, nonetheless, it would quickly imply one thing totally totally different. That’s as a result of the British explorer is making a herculean bid to turn into the first man to cross Antarctica fully unsupported. In different phrases, on his personal.
I can be eating about 6200 energy a day, it’s a whole lot of food coming in, and I nonetheless count on to lose weight
Temperatures of -50C await him in Antarctica the place he’ll spend eight weeks dragging 130g of package by means of life-threatening climate, together with ripping wind, bitter chilly, thick fog and violent snowstorms, every promising to push him to his restrict.
For the expedition, Saunders can be completely unsupported. He’ll be on his personal, with nothing however food and tools for firm.
If he is profitable, he’ll be the first man to ever to cross Antarctica. But the risks are actual. He misplaced a buddy — Lt. Colonel Henry Worsley, an ex-SAS soldier — who died making an attempt the identical course final yr, simply 30 miles from the end line.
“He called for help. He basically called for an evacuation point, he was picked up and flown to hospital in Chile… I remember thinking ‘what a brave move’, for calling for help that close to the finish line,” explains Saunders.
“He thought he was fine, home and dry, but 24 hours later in hospital, he was dead. He died of acute peritonitis, which is an acute abdominal infection.”
Saunders has been making ready diligently. Here’s how he is training, and the way he plans to deal with the largest demons on his personal.
“The preparation is strange – in some ways it’s a cumulative thing; each of these expeditions over the year is a kind of stepping stone that brings you closer and closer to these big milestone goals,” explains Saunders.
“It’s a weird thing to train for, because — on the one hand — it’s ultra endurance, dozens of marathons back to back, but it’s a strongman event – you’re leaving Berkner Island from the start pulling probably 130kg.” 130kg, that is virtually double his body weight, particularly throughout the journey when his fats begins to soften.
“It’s not only the strength to move the stuff, but mental strength — the strength to know that in a month, six weeks time, you will still need that power in reserve to keep going.”
What does weightloss seem like for Saunders, as he trudges in the direction of his finish purpose? “I lost 22kg on the last trip,” he admits. “For this one, I’m putting on 8-9kg, maybe 10kg and I expect to lose maybe 15kg.”
During the expedition, it is necessary that Saunders eats as a lot as he can so as to preserve his weight. “I will be eating about 6200 calories a day, it’s a lot of food coming in, and I still expect to lose weight.”
The psychological wrestle
“Antarctica is just nothingness, once you’re out there there’s nothing going on,” Saunders explains. “I’m basically offline for two months.” But the unimaginable lack of stimulus that Antarctica presents can, sarcastically, be factor. “You’re forced to use your brain a bit more,” he says. “It’s a low stimulus environment. I live in London and I’m glued to my phone, as most people are, and it’s interesting to slowly learn how to pass time and to daydream.”
Quitting, inevitably, is not an choice for Saunders. “There are always times when it seems impossible and hopeless, and normally early on because you’re at your slowest in the first couple of weeks because the sledge is at its heaviest… you’ve got the ultimate goal but you need to shorten the focus to a point where it feels manageable – sometimes it’s the end of that day, sometimes it’s the next hour, so there are mind games like that to get through it.”
Doing it at 40-years-old
For some, taking up an expedition as massive as this could possibly be a deathwish. Especially so for a 40-year-old. But, for Saunders, it is the excellent time. “I’m 40 and I’m as fit as I’ve ever been in all round terms.” Of course, there are naysayers – who think about Saunders’ earlier achievements, together with an Arctic expedition in 2013 his peak — however they’re shortly placed on the again foot as soon as Saunders reels off his fitness credentials.
“I ran a marathon in 02:55 and I was nearing a triple-bodyweight deadlift,” he says, with none indicators of conceit. “They’re competitive standards for a runner and a powerlifter so it’s quite fun being able to juggle both of those. I would say variety is key.”
However, for you (and us) a triple-bodyweight deadlift is an exceedingly tall order. Instead, you may utilise Saunders’ hyper-local training strategies to earn expedition fitness for your self.
“I’m in London so I have to make do, so the endurance work is basically running and cycling. Now I’m beefing up, the training is actually slowing down and becoming more specific,” he explains. “I do a lot more Olympic weightlifting, which isn’t that specific to what I’m doing, but builds core strength – you can generate huge power.”
But how typically? “Three times a week, for relatively heavy and low reps,” he says. “It’s compound stuff – such as bodyweight moves, single leg pistol squats, dips and press-ups.”
Which, for the regular chap, appears sufficient to get into other-worldly form. We’ll go away the world report searching to Saunders.