In this special guest post by ultra-marathon runner Greg Nance, we learn what it takes to train for and run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Yes, you read that right. Think about what that really means. That’s quite a commitment — one that will require personal sacrifice, grit, focus, and determination. Why is Wentworth publishing Greg’s blog contribution, you may be thinking? Wentworth is proud to support Greg on this journey. Why is that? At Wentworth, we know from first-hand experience that independence is a journey. If you are an independent advisor — or simply thinking of becoming an independent advisor — we are sure you will see many similarities between what you are doing to build a profitable and successful financial advisory business and what Greg Nance, our committed athlete, is doing to plan and execute according to plan on his personal journey. Enjoy this contribution from ultra-marathon runner, Greg Nance.
Running ultra marathons has taught me that the only limits that matter are those we place upon ourselves. To safely reach and push past our limits we must properly prepare.
In this post, I’ll take you behind the scenes on my training for The World Marathon Challenge and share how I’ll reach the start line prepared to push past my limits.
Define the Mission. Inventory Obstacles.
The first step is to clarify our aim and then commit to accomplishing the goal. My mission is to complete The World Marathon Challenge. Powered by Wentworth, I’m aiming to run 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents.
Beginning on January 31st with 26.2 miles across Antarctic ice, I’ll then log marathons in Cape Town, Perth, Dubai, Madrid, Santiago, and finish in Miami on February 6th.
Beyond coordinating myriad logistics (including over 23,000 miles of air travel), running seven marathons back-to-back-to-back will be a grueling physical and mental test – from battling sleep deprivation and extreme fatigue to managing blisters, chafing, dehydration, shin splints and muscle cramps.
I’ve completed ultra marathons over some of the world’s toughest terrain – whether crossing Gobi Desert rock fields, Vietnamese mountains, Chilean sand dunes, or Philippine jungle – but the World Marathon Challenge will be the toughest yet.
Only 104 people have ever completed The World Marathon Challenge – compared to 562 who have traveled to outer space or 4,000+ who have climbed Mt. Everest.
It’s critical to reflect on our priorities and clarify the mission in front of us because a deliberate approach helps us jumpstart preparation and maintain focus as the difficulty increases.
Take the Leap.
Our biggest goals are the ones that can help us become our best self. They are also the ones that can scare us from starting because failure and disappointment are real possibilities.
Our biggest goals are the most challenging because we often feel like we need to spend more time reading or researching or planning or preparing before we can begin. The reality is that we’ll never feel truly “ready” and there will never be a perfect time.
To accomplish our biggest goals, we must start before we’re ready. We must start now, wherever we are. In partnership with Wentworth, I’ve learned this lesson anew. We must #TakeTheLeap!
Plan the Work. Work the Plan.
The biggest goals require persistence and focused determination. The best way to channel our energy is with a structured training plan. I reverse engineer my plan based on the obstacles I’m likely to face. I schedule workouts of gradually-increasing intensity then inventory progress, identify improvement opportunities, and troubleshoot setbacks.
Once we’ve planned the work we only need to work the plan. It’s liberating and enables us to simply focus on the workout in front of us. This basic formula has enabled me to maintain a streak of consecutive workouts dating back to December 2016.
No matter the goal we’re working toward, it’s key to plan our work and work our plan.
Though I’m hardly a morning person, I prefer early workouts because I have fewer scheduling conflicts or distractions.
I begin each morning with a simple routine. I roll out of bed at 4am and chug a glass of water before knocking out a regimen of squats, lunges, calf raises, chin-ups and push-ups. After calisthenics I roll and stretch my legs before lacing up and hitting the pavement for my morning run.
The key is to start small and focus on building momentum. With consistency, we can surprise ourselves with the pace of our progress. I’m not a naturally disciplined person so I’ve sought to create a morning routine that leaves me less dependent on personal will power and enables me to push through mileage.
Morning training runs also yield a sense of accomplishment and momentum for the day ahead so it pays to get started early.
Freezer to the Furnace.
One of the biggest obstacles during training is preparing for the large contrast in temperature we’ll face while completing The World Marathon Challenge. We’ll begin with sub-zero Antarctic wind chill before facing unrelenting sun and triple-digit heat in Perth and Dubai.
I’ve built habits to prepare for both extremes. Each morning I head out into the cold to train without gloves, cap or coat. The winter chill stings my hands and ears, teaching me to power through discomfort. After training, I clean off with a cold shower to both combat inflammation and further acclimate mentally and physically to the frigid challenges that Antarctica will surely bring.
Simultaneously, I’m preparing for the rigors of distance running in extreme heat. Before work and on weekends I knockout a “Stair Master” workout where I’ll wear a winter jacket, wool cap, and rucksack loaded with books. Within a few flights of stairs, I’m sweating and feeling the burn. I started with 100 flights up and down my office stairwell and am aiming to peak at 777 flights before The World Marathon Challenge.
I also train with cardio sessions in the sauna. An intensive aerobic circuit in the sauna helps me refine breathing and find a rhythm despite suffocating heat. I bring several bottles of water and Gatorade to ward off dehydration and safely build my stamina.
These activities condition mind and body for the humidity and hills so I’m not wilting under the tropic sun.
Go the Extra Mile.
I live in Shanghai, a sprawling city of 24 million inhabitants. Though the city boasts a top-notch metro, I prefer commuting on foot.
A lot of my work happens outside the office – whether meeting potential investors, partners, or prospective teammates – so I aim to optimize transit time. I typically schedule an 8 or 9 a.m. breakfast meeting and run across town to the venue. This early morning window is ideal for making phone calls to colleagues in the U.S. who are still in the office. I arrive for breakfast ten minutes early and wash my face before hand-combing my hair and changing into proper work attire.
I also run home after meals with friends, to weekend start-up events and social gatherings, and to the local sports bar for Seattle Seahawks games. Commuting on foot helps me log an extra 50+ miles each week and keeps my legs tuned up.
Independence is a Journey.
No matter the size of our goal, we prepare for life’s challenges one step at a time.
We have to remember that independence is a journey and the road to the start line is full of obstacles and opportunities to become a stronger version of ourselves.
Just 50 days until The World Marathon Challenge. I’m proud to partner with Wentworth to make this epic challenge a reality.
For more training and World Marathon Challenge updates, follow @GregRunsFar and @WentworthWMS on Instagram.