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Endurance Athletes: how to prepare for the ultimate challenges


Posted by James Saward-Anderson of James Saward-Anderson under Running, Ultrarunning on 29 July 2013 at 11:00 PM

“Only those that will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”

T.S Eliot

James Saward-Anderson

My name is James Saward-Anderson and I am a 22 year old Ultra Endurance Athlete who undertakes epic endurance events in the name of charity and personal growth. To date I have ran from England to Rome in 58 days and completed various other trials. I am very excited to be able to share the details of my training programme via Tribesport for my next event due to take place in September in which I will be attempting to Row 50km before strapping on my running shoes and completing a 50km Run to then be finished off with a monumental 100 stair ascents and descents of a 55 meter under 14 hours! I cannot say that what I do is easy, far from it, but easy things are more often then not, easily forgotten!

Ultra Endurance is often misunderstood. Many see it as merely an extension of the traditional Marathon. But they are different things completely. Ultra Endurance events require diesel-like efficiency as you are forced to regulate a moderate running pace for up to 24 hours in some events. It is also a spiritual experience, there really is no feeling like staring over the abyss of your capabilities and then taking the plunge into the unknown. In this sense Ultra Running is a form of introverted exploration, a lesson into mindfulness where your mind is pitted against the bodies proposed limitations.

I began undertaking Ultra Endurance events when I was 19. For me there was no exact starting point, a referable mark on my timeline which defined my transition away from conventional sports to the solidarity world of distance racing. It was, in a sense, a combination of many events which accumulated into a bold and wild idea to run from Canterbury to Rome in under 60 days.

Running from Canterbury to Rome

It was an absolutely outrageous challenge which I had set myself but it was the very fact that the event was so insane which forced me to push myself to limits I would of never thought possible. The training I undertook was difficult and laborious but highly rewarding, there really was no feeling like it sitting down every evening along various side roads in Europe after successfully knocking more miles off the distance towards Rome.

Submerged marathonOn my return from Rome,my thirst for undertaking challenges did not stop. In November of that very same year I ran a Marathon submerged 40cm's into the sea carrying 40 pounds of weight. A year later I ran up 9,200 meters worth of stairs whilst completing over 2000 press up's in under 21 hours. Both events required monumental amounts of willpower on my behalf, especially the stair climbing. Being alone for almost a whole day traversing up and down the same set of stairs was extremely boring! 

Despite this fact there was something in Ultra Endurance challenges which kept luring me back into the lifestyle of arduous training and strict dieting. They served a duel purpose, on the one hand they enabled me to raise thousands of pounds for charitable causes and on the other they reacquainted me with the boundaries of my limitations. There was also the sense of comradeship which was gained through doing such events. For example during my last challenge I was joined by some of my friends for the last 50 climbs of the stairs which was a fantastic experience. To a broader extent most Ultra Endurance races are a collective effort as spectators are minimal and the extrinsic rewards are few and far between, the most you get for winning Badwater (a 135 run through Death Valley) is a belt buckle. 

For many of us the journey into fitness can almost be as fraught with difficulty as the journey within it. If it is any consolation no amount of training can render the thought of running on some rainy days no matter how fit you become.

Zig Zagler once said that Motivation, like Bathing, does not last. That is why he recommends it daily!

This fact is why I was attracted to the concept of the Tribesport community. A space where we are all able to set our own goals and attempt others who are also striving to improve their physical well-being because the greatest rewards are not found in the destination but the journey, in the realm of fitness it is the sessions we dedicate to overcoming a certain goal which combats weight loss or builds muscle tone, not the actual attempt itself. Yet despite this the event is of paramount importance to direct our energies to something tangible. My challenges represent a crescendo of months and months of self induced training camps in which I forge myself physically and mentally into a stronger, faster and more efficient athlete.

Pull ups - endurance and strength

If there is anything I have learnt from doing these kind of events it is that the day-to-day actions define your chances of achieving your goals,everything starts with a decisions and decisions can only happen in the present moment. My plan of action for the next month or so is to keep training and then come September undertake the 50/50/50 challenge. It is going to be a long but thoroughly rewarding day and I will let everyone know how it went.

You can keep up to date with my progress by following my profile here where I will share more hints and tips to improve your motivation to train. 

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    Great blog James :) good luck in september!


    Enjoy those 14 hours in September James! Great stuff, look forward to hearing more about your future challenges.

    Adrian K and Jane H encouraged this.


    You are an inspiration James, especially being so young, and having such will power, drive and self belief.

    Adrian K and James S encouraged this.


    This is awesome! The run to Rome sounds beyond epic, how did you find that @endurojames? I'd love to do something similar one day, any tips for such a long run?


    Hi Jack, the hardest bit about the run was the training leading up to it! The actual run was just a mental exercise in patience. My biggest advice is to take the plunge and do it, anyone can run very far if they work hard enough. Keep it simple as well, people have a habit of making things so complicated in their training that they spin themselves up into a mess and end up doing nothing, train smartly, eat well and have good people around you the rest will take care of itself.

    Jack A encouraged this.


    Great, thanks James! I've got a few epic runs just to actually do them!


    Thanks for the support guys and girls!

    Jane H encouraged this.

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