With over 400km of trail run­ning and 145km of pad­dling to com­plete, BEN SOUTHAL fits a gru­elling train­ing sched­ule into an al­ready-over­loaded life­style.

New Zealand Fitness - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Lor­raine Thom­son By Ben Southall

– and over the har­bour bridge

nine great walks

Rac­ing along the pre­cip­i­tous edge of an ex­posed ridge­line, feet scram­ble to find a hold on the loose rock that’s mo­men­tar­ily un­der foot. I tear down­hill to a wa­ter-logged gully, feet and fin­gers numbed to the core. Day­light fades, slowly re­placed by the beam from my head torch, goug­ing a path through the dark­ness ahead.

With hours to go un­til the end of the trail my brain’s tired and body aching, but I’m here in the mo­ment, im­mersed in the ex­pe­di­tion and loving ev­ery minute of it.

After months of care­ful plan­ning, be­ing out in the great out­doors run­ning ul­tra­ma­rathons, kayak­ing rivers or sail­ing oceans are more of­ten that not, the eas­ier parts of an ex­pe­di­tion. If ev­ery de­tail’s been thought through, ev­ery even­tu­al­ity planned for and the right team and part­ners are in place, the chance of fail­ure should be in­cred­i­bly low.

The support of those part­ners only comes from the ex­pec­ta­tion of a suc­cess­ful ex­pe­di­tion through which their brand or prod­uct can be show­cased or gain ex­po­sure. Fail­ure isn’t good for any­one in­volved.

Tak­ing the age-old adage of the six P’s – Per­fect Plan­ning Pre­vents Piss Poor Per­for­mance – and given enough time, lo­gis­tics are easy enough to plan for, but fit­ting a gru­elling train­ing sched­ule into an al­ready-over­loaded life­style, is much more dif­fi­cult.

The New Zealand 9 is my lat­est ad­ven­ture – an at­tempt to com­plete New Zealand’s nine Great Walks in just nine days. With over 400km of trail run­ning and 145km of pad­dling to com­plete, be­ing bat­tleready for the back-to-back en­durance and de­mands the land­scape is sure to sub­ject me to, will be paramount.

I’d al­ways trained my­self, be­liev­ing I knew what was best and how to get my­self match fit, but for this ex­pe­di­tion I de­cided to work with the team at the Univer­sity of Queens­land, School of Hu­man Move­ment Stud­ies. On top of the rig­or­ous train­ing sched­ule any per­sonal train­ing in­struc­tor would give you, they’ve helped iden­tify my weak­nesses and put a train­ing em­pha­sis on core strength, dam­age-lim­i­ta­tion and in­jury avoid­ance – es­sen­tial ar­eas that’ll be cru­cial over nine days of back to back tor­ture.

Run­ning has al­ways been my Zen and the place I have my clear­est thoughts. I never run with mu­sic or head­phones, or any other dis­trac­tion. It’s a chance to brain­storm, think things through and plan.

I of­ten take to the trail or streets around Bris­bane at 5am, aim­ing to have a half marathon un­der my belt be­fore break­fast to set me up per­fectly for the day ahead. Then each week on a Sun­day morn­ing I head into the bush for a longer, slower trail run of be­tween 25km and 40km.

In the lead up to a big event I add around 10 per cent to my to­tal dis­tance each week, up from my usual 40km, to an ex­haust­ing 90km. Find­ing time to fit ev­ery­thing into an al­ready busy life, along with train­ing for a new dis­ci­pline has been tough, but in­tro­duc­ing pad­dling on a surf ski (our boat of choice for the Whanganui River) twice a week has been a wel­come break from the hours of con­tin­ual run­ning.

Ev­ery ex­pe­di­tion I plan re­quires a dif­fer­ent train­ing rou­tine and sched­ule. From the marathons I ran and moun­tains I climbed dur­ing my Afritrex ex­pe­di­tion, to the 1,600km sea kayak pad­dle along the Great Bar­rier Reef dur­ing Best Ex­pe­di­tion in the World, to the trail run­ning re­quired to set the world record for Aussie 8.

When I set out on my first African ex­pe­di­tion in 2001, I never thought 13 years later I’d be mak­ing a liv­ing from ad­ven­ture. Putting pen to pa­per and writ­ing my first book The Best Job in the World – How You Can Make A Liv­ing From Fol­low­ing your Dreams, was an ad­ven­ture in it­self and one that made me re­alise it you want some­thing badly enough you can make it hap­pen.

To me life is all about ad­ven­tures – some big, some small. The more I strike out into the world and learn about it, the more it ex­cites me and the more it drives me for­wards to plan the next one.

We have one chance on Planet Earth. Use it.

Ben Southall . . .”Be­ing bat­tle-ready for the de­mands the land­scape is sure to sub­ject me to, will be paramount.”

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