Comment finir son premier marathon ?

Imaginez-vous foulant le pavé d’une grande ville d’Europe en courant. Vous contrôlez votre corps, ne connaissez pas la peur et vous avez oublié la douleur. Votre but : une ligne d’arrivée situé plusieurs dizaines de km plus loin. Une ligne d’arrivée que peut osent rejoindre en courant et qui vous semblait à vous aussi, à peine quelques semaines plus tôt, impossible à franchir. Pourtant, la foule agglutinée sur les trottoirs vous acclame. Vous êtes devenu un vrai coureur à pied, un homme qui a su maitriser ses émotions et qui avance avec ténacité au rythme de ses propres foulées, les muscles tendus, son esprit fort. La fatigue, la soif, parfois la douleur, tout cela n’est rien. Courir un marathon est une sensation de toute puissance extraordinaire. Vous allez adorer !

La clé de la préparation : avoir envie, très très envie
Commencez dès maintenant par réfléchir aux raisons qui vous poussent vers un tel défi : rester en forme, réduire votre stress, arrêter de fumer ou tout simplement épater vos amis, votre mère ou votre copine… toutes les raisons sont bonnes à prendre. L’important est de ne pas se mentir à soi-même. Car l’épreuve et l’entraînement restent durs. Pour réussir, il faut donc être au clair dans sa tête et en accord avec soi-même. C’est la clé. Une fois déterminé votre raison personnelle, foncez ! Les récompenses seront à la hauteur de votre investissement : plus confiance en soi, un corps mieux dessiné, un mental à toute épreuve, une aura que d’autres vous envieront...

2 mois d’entraînement suffisent
Pour terminer un marathon, une préparation de deux mois suffit, à condition d’être au préalable capable de courir 1h sans vous arrêter. Ensuite, il faudra réaliser 4 sorties par semaines : 3 fois 1 heure en semaine avec un jour de repos entre chaque entraînement et une sortie longue le dimanche, comprise entre 1h30 et 2h30. Pas la peine de courir plus longtemps, vous puiserez trop dans vos réserves et le jour de la course doit rester une expérience nouvelle où vous ne vous êtes jamais aventuré. Augmentez régulièrement la durée de cet entraînement dominical jusqu’à parvenir à 2h30, 3 semaines avant l’événement et réduisez progressivement cette durée pour vous économiser jusqu’au jour J.

La simplicité, c’est la clé
Etant donné que vous allez réaliser un entrainement physiquement et mentalement exigeant, vous devez posséder, ou adopter, une bonne hygiène de vie. Cela veut simplement dire réduire votre consommation de cigarette ou d’alcool, mais également dormir 7-8h par nuit. Il faut aussi manger équilibré, c'est-à-dire de tout, en quantités raisonnables. La veille de course, mangez des sucres lents (pattes, riz, pommes de terre…) et pendant la course, buvez et mangez régulièrement mais peu et ce, dès le premier ravitaillement pour donner du carburant à vos muscles et vous hydrater. Surtout, résistez à la tentation de boire ou de manger beaucoup pour épargner votre estomac.

La ligne de départ : déjà la victoire
Etre sur la ligne de départ d’un marathon signifie que vous êtes en bonne santé, physique et mentale, et que vous n’avez pas craqué devant la répétition et parfois la dureté des entraînements. Peu d’hommes sont capables de se tenir à une telle discipline qui aiguise le corps et l’esprit. Vous êtes déjà un conquérant, bravo.

Marchez !
En marchant de temps en temps pendant le marathon, pour boire par exemple, vous reprendrez des forces mentales et permettrez à votre corps de se régénérer un peu. Faites votre course à votre allure, ne pensez pas aux autres, à ceux qui vous dépassent ou à ceux qui s’écroulent. N’ayez qu’un seul objectif, celui de terminer la course. Restez concentré et oubliez le chrono, il sera toujours temps de vous en occuper la deuxième fois.

Ne jamais abandonner, jamais, c’est la règle
Si vous avez couru 4 fois par semaine pendant 2 mois, cela veut dire que vous êtes en mesure de terminer un marathon. Vos jambes sont lourdes ? Votre estomac vous joue des tours ? Vous vous demandez ce que vous faîtes dans cette galère ? Ne lâchez rien. La différence se fait ici, dans la tête. Serez-vous assez fort ? Serez-vous un battant ? Si vous abandonnez sur un marathon, dites-vous qu’il y a de grandes chances que vous abandonniez dans d’autres domaines de votre vie. Sachez que les mauvais moments finissent toujours par être remplacés par des bons. Et puis personne ne vous a forcé à courir. Soyez un homme ! Assumez votre choix ! Beaucoup de gens sur cette terre rencontrent des difficultés plus grandes que vous à cet instant précis. Pensez à eux et à la chance que vous avez, vous, d’être là sur ce parcours de marathon, prouvant que vous en avez dans le ventre et que ce ne sont pas 42.195 malheureux petits km qui vont vous empêcher de devenir marathonien.

Ça y est, vous avez terminé ? Bravo et bienvenu dans la tribu des marathoniens !

The Making of an Olympian

Most of us never give a passing thought to what it takes to compete in the Olympics. For others, it’s a dream. And for a rare few -- those who dedicate themselves entirely to their sport and to a gruelling training schedule -- it’s a reality. Champion decathlete Dean Macey, owner of Essex-based Dean Macey Fitness, placed fourth at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and took home the gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He told Men’s Life Today exactly what it takes to be the best.

Training
There is arguably no tougher physical trial for an athlete than the Olympic decathlon. It consists of 10 events over two days that test everything from strength to sheer stamina. To get fully conditioned, Macey worked on his body four hours a day for nine months before the competition. He used a seven-day cycle that consisted of six days of intense training -- including running, plyometrics, gymnastics and endless technique drills -- followed by a day off. “The conditioning sessions in the months leading up to the season are really important,” he says. “Even though I’d be struggling by the end of the week, after my day off I’d be up and ready to do it all again.” To get to the Olympics, he adds, you have to physically overload yourself almost every day. “To train for sports like these isn’t good for your body long-term,” he explains. “But it has to be done if you want to compete at that level.”

Diet
While training, Macey needed to maintain his weight at around 100 kilos and consume 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day to stay there. He mostly stuck to a balanced nutritional program that consisted of equal amounts of fish, chicken and red meat along with whole-wheat pasta and brown rice. “But I do like to mix up my diet,” he admits. “And I never did take it very seriously because I’ve never had a problem in that department.” If he wanted a burger and chips he would have it -- and his “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” philosophy seems to have served him well. “As long as I was in great shape after the conditioning phase of my training,” he says, “I knew I had the background and the platform to set myself up for a great season.”

Qualifying
According to Macey, there are two types of people who make it to the Olympics. On the one hand are those who have geared their training to getting on the team -- they’re thrilled to be there, but don’t have a real chance of winning a medal. And then there are the others: the most talented athletes in the world. The latter, says Macey, shouldn’t push themselves too far when trying to qualify. “I would aim to do what I needed to, to qualify for selection,” he explains. “You don’t want to go hell-for-leather at that stage and risk injury. So I’d calculate the number of points I needed and shoot for that.” The key, he adds, is to be in good enough shape, but not at your physical peak. “You can only do that once or twice a year and it would be a complete waste of time for a qualifier.” After Macey established himself as Britain’s No. 1 decathlete, he really only had to show selectors that he was fit and in good form to make the team.

Psychology of Winning
Training by yourself is one thing. Competing in a stadium with 100,000 screaming fans is quite another; it’s hard to stay focused and to not think about the other competitors. But on game day, says Macey, the only person he ever thought about was himself. “When you make it to the Olympic Games, all the hard work has been done. There’s no one other than you that can affect your performance,” he explains. “I know where everyone else is strong, I know where they are weak and I know where I’ll need to make my move.” Perhaps most important is doing it for the right reasons. “At the end of the day,” says Macey, “I never competed for medals or money. For me, it was about seeing how good I could be.”

Photo: Getty Images

Skin Care Essentials for Winter

What would be the best place for a dermatologist to open a practice? At the base of one of the valley runs in our Alpine ski resorts. There’s no place on earth where you find more skin problems: sunburn, frostbite, dry skin, even acne from using the wrong cream. We consult with experts on how to avoid these conditions, so that you (and your skin) can enjoy your last skiing trips of the winter, problem-skin free.

 

Sunburn

It’s a popular mistake to use sun protection only when it’s sunny. “Even in complete fog, you should cream your face”, says Rita Absmeier, owner of the beauty salon Santa Margerita in Munich. At the very least she suggests using a light moisturizer, which usually has a protection factor of 4 to 15.

And if it’s sunny, this obviously won’t be sufficient. The German Industry Association for Skincare (IKW) in Frankfurt recommends a minimum protection factor of 30 to 50, especially when doing winter sports, as snow reflects the dangerous UV radiation. IKW deputy general manager Birgit Huber suggests analyzing your skin before you even enter the slopes. To do so, visit the website http://www.haut.de/service/hauttyp-bestimmung, complete the form about your skin and continue to an online map. Choose your destination and get the necessary protection factor for your individual skin type.

If you’re still not sure, better to err on the high end, Absmeier says. Many people underestimate what the sun can do to you in winter, because your natural skin protection is switched off. If you get sunburned in summer you’ll recognize it immediately, since your skin becomes hot. In the cold you don’t recognize it -- at least not until you enter your hotel. And by then, says dermatologist Dr. Patricia Ogilvie, owner of the private medical clinic Skin Concept in Munich, “It’s too late”. According to Ogilvie, it’s especially important to take care of the “sun terraces” of your face: the nose and upper parts of your ears and lips, which are very exposed to the sun. “On really sunny days forget your vanity and cream those parts with the strongest sun blocker you can find,” advises Ogilvie. “Even if the white color looks funny”.

Acne

Unfortunately many creams are greasy and therefore problematic for people with acne. “They block the pores and even help bacteria to grow”, Ogilvie warns, adding that a fat-free emulsion might be your best bet. Make an appointment with a dermatologist and ask him or her about your particular needs. But never ever forego sun care because you’re afraid of breaking out. Inflamed pores and acne scars react sensitively to the sun; without proper care, they rapidly produce brown pigments and become dark spots on your face. Which is really no better than a face full of pimples.

Hypothermia

If you don’t apply protective cream in conditions of wind, frost and snow, your skin will cool down rapidly. If it starts to hurt and turn red and/or numb, you have hypothermia. Hypothermia, in turn, rapidly leads to frostbite (recognizable by swelling and very red skin). This is obviously extremely dangerous. Go inside immediately and find a heat source to warm the skin. If that’s not an option, look for some kind of shelter and hold your hands to the affected area to warm it. (If the affected area is your hands, put them in your armpits.) Never ever rub the area with snow. Some guides recommend doing so, but it actually aggravates frostbite.

 

Dry skin

The cold triggers a host of reactions in the skin: small blood vessels under the skin contract; the surface of the skin gets less oxygen and fewer nutrients and reacts more sensitively; and the sebaceous glands reduce fat production. For all these reasons, skin suffers the most in winter.

IKW expert Huber recommends drinking at least 2.5 liters of water during an average ski day to avoid dehydration, forgoing long baths and showers (since hot water also dries the skin) and using appropriate care products. The richest creams are oil-based -- they’re the thickest, protect best against the cold and help defend the skin against wrinkles, which are fostered by frost. “If you’re looking for the best protection”, says Huber, “look for explicit ‘cold creams’.”

Water-based creams offer fewer protections against the cold, but they still help. The notion that they cause frostbite is a myth, based on the idea that they consist of pure water. If you don’t have cold cream on hand, or if you find it too greasy, water-based creams are better than nothing.

Stoke Your Competitive Fire!

Champions share a hard-to-define quality. It’s a combination of competitive drive, focus and desire that makes them winners -- in sports, in the classroom and in life. You want to be that guy, but perhaps you think you can’t be. Maybe you believe that the winners of the world are born, not made.

If so, think again.

Research shows that the will to succeed is as much a factor of nurture as it is nature. A 2009 study compared competitive drive among members of a primarily patriarchal tribe in Tanzania and a community in India in which women have greater authority and social standing. The researchers -- from The University of Chicago and Columbia University -- found that in the Tanzanian tribe, women were less competitive. But in the Indian community, the reverse was true: The women were more competitive than the men.

The implication: Competitive drive is a learned behavior.

“Granted, some may be born with a mentally tougher edge,” says Greg Chertok, a sport-psychology consultant who works with young athletes at The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Center in Englewood, N.J. “But any athlete -- any person -- who is willing to put in the work can develop this as well.”

Here’s how to develop the competitive drive and mental toughness of a champion.

1. Identify your opponent

First, stop and consider who or what it is you’re competing against.

“Most of us think of competitiveness as the drive to be No. 1,” says former NCAA wrestling champion Matt Furey, author of a 2009 memoir, The Unbeatable Man. “That’s OK sometimes, but chances are you’re not going to be the best in the world at whatever you’re doing. So does that mean you’re going to hide your talents under a rock? How about, instead, you let the very best you have shine?”

In other words, stop comparing yourself to others, and start playing the game of life as a healthy competition against yourself -- striving to set and meet goals, and to do your best.

2. Cultivate your competitive attitude

“Excelling often means taking yourself out of your comfort zone,” says Chertok. At the point when most people want to quit, real competitors battle on. You can help develop that go-the-distance attitude by practicing it. During moments when you feel like finishing your workout early or closing the book during homework … make the decision. Do one more set. Read one more chapter. “Flip the competitive switch!” says Chertok.

3. Find your peak performance number

We all have a different energy level at which we perform best. Chertok asks his athletes to find that level on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being cucumber-cool; 5, a controlled intensity; and 10, a Ray Lewis-like, frothing-at-the-mouth hunger.

Identifying and then getting yourself to your optimum intensity level (Chertok recommends deep breathing to lower your intensity, and your favorite music to amp it up) is going to raise your chances of coming up big when the game is on the line.

4. Take small daily steps to success

Doing one thing today -- one thing that will make you stronger, faster or better prepared -- will help get you closer to your goal. It’s a technique used by Olympic athletes during their long years of training between the quadrennial Games. “Every day they try to do something, even a small something, that gets them closer to a gold medal,” explains Chertok.

So let’s say your goal is to be the starting centerfielder on your school’s baseball team. What steps can you take now to reach that goal? Maybe you need to get stronger, throw the ball farther, hit better?     

Here are three days of small, realistic and measurable goals:

  • Today, I will bench-press the heaviest weight I can handle for eight to 10 reps.
  • Tomorrow, I will go down to the field and play long toss with my buddy -- and make 10 more throws each time we do it.
  • The day after, I will go down to the batting cage and take 10 more swings.

Over weeks and months, those extra reps, throws and swings will add up to you being a vastly improved ballplayer.

5. Positively the way to go

In his 2007 book How Lance Does It, author Brad Kearns examines the factors that helped Lance Armstrong come back from cancer to win seven Tour de France titles. He lists a positive attitude as Armstrong’s “Success Factor 1.”

“Lance developed a positive attitude so resilient and a perspective so enlightened that he could pedal his bike through all kinds of adversity and obstacles and emerge victorious,” writes Kearns.

Note that word: developed. When cancer threatened his life, he had every reason to be negative. But Armstrong realized that a positive attitude is a choice. Again, that drive to be a winner, to succeed on the field and off, is not in your genes. It’s in your mind.

So will you make up your mind today to start competing like a champion … to be a winner? It’s up to you.

The MLT Guide to Healthy Travels

Nothing beats going on vacation in the dead of winter… and nothing sucks more than a winter vacation ruined by illness. Whether you’re going to Malaga with the goal of partying till sunrise five nights in a row, or jumping on a plane to Nigeria for an exotic cultural adventure, there are precautions you should take to stay healthy. Here, MLT presents the top five travel-veteran-tested rules for avoiding all the nasty pitfalls -- from stomach parasites to the common cold -- that can wreak havoc on your holiday. 

Travel Rule 1: Pack a first-aid kit

If the last safety kit you encountered belonged to the nurse at your primary school, that needs to change. “A pack doesn’t take up a lot of room and can be very useful,” says Roman-world-tour.com’s Romain Corraze, 25, who completed a year-long, around-the-world trek after finishing his MBA. “I always take one with me.” Don’t forget the basics from your bathroom cabinet: paracétamol for fevers and headaches, bandages and Bétadine to take care of small wounds, prescription anti-diarrheal meds like Tiorfan and Imodium for tummy troubles and a thermometer because, depending on where you’re traveling, it can be a pain to track one down. [A1] 

 

Travel Rule 2: Watch what you put in your mouth

“When you travel to exotic places, the most frequent problems are related to food,” says Fabrice, 33, editor of instinct-voyageur.fr, who’s been going to Asia regularly for the last three years. “Eating raw produce is really the easiest way to get traveler’s diarrhea.” And no one wants that. Avoid raw fruit and veggies religiously when you’re in an underdeveloped country, where restaurants often rinse them in water unsuitable for drinking. You can satisfy any health-food cravings with cooked vegetables, or buy greens at the market and wash them yourself with drinkable water.  

Which brings up an important point: Although we’d normally classify buying a bottle of water every time you want a drink under Big Environmental No-No, you’re exempt from this rule on vacation, particularly in underdeveloped countries where water might be unclean, reused, and swimming with microscopic germs. “I got an amoeba one time in India,” says Fabrice, “and had seriously horrible diarrhea. Luckily I was in a big city, so I had easy access to a doctor and medicine.” If you’re in the wilderness and don’t have access to bottles, boil your H2O or use pastilles micropurs (anti-bacterial tablets that dissolve in water). Buy them while you’re still at home.

Travel Rule 3: Don’t push yourself to the limit

Hey, this tip applies to you, too, Mr. “I’m Soaking Up Rays on Mauritius for My Winter Holiday”. Heat is one of the main causes of exhaustion, which can leave you with muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, tiredness, vomiting, fainting spells and other symptoms that can put a damper on your week in paradise. “When it’s hot,” says Fabrice, “the basic rule is to drink a lot, even if you’re not thirsty. And always have a hat or something on your head.”

For those of you planning on more physical trips -- including ski trips and the like in cold climates -- don’t forget to take breaks and get enough sleep. “You’ve got to have time to relax,” counsels Corraze. “Otherwise you’ll leave your body more vulnerable to health problems.” So take your hot chocolate break as if it’s doctor’s orders. Because it is.

Travel Rule 4: Fight jet lag and cabin colds

Although jet lag probably won’t destroy your trip, it can make things far less enjoyable, causing insomnia, bizarre sleeping patterns, an upset stomach, a loss of appetite -- plus it can leave you more susceptible to illnesses. But jet lag isn’t a necessary evil of long-distance travel. To avoid it, Doctissimo advises preparing in advance by changing your daily rhythm before boarding the plane; try advancing your clock one hour per day toward the local time at your destination. When you take off, make sure you’re well rested so that the time difference’s hit will be less powerful. Avoid naps once you’re there and (during the first few days at least) stay away from soda, spices, coffee, tea and any other stimulants that could prevent you from sleeping.

Like jet lag, cabin colds are also avoidable with a little common sense. Drinking water instead of dehydrating caffeinated beverages during the flight will prevent your nose and throat from drying out, which is a good defense against colds. Another easy way to avoid picking up wayward germs is by washing your hands. (Obvious, yes, but people sometimes forget the obvious when in the throes of pre-holiday excitement.) Pack antibacterial gel or hand wipes before you get on the plane, just in case you’re in the middle seat and the grumpy aisle neighbor is dozing. And use it before touching any food.

 

Travel Rule 5: Visit a doctor before leaving

One essential step in preparing for a trip to an exotic country is making an appointment with a doctor specialized in travel. Vaccination centers often have a service that caters to travelers; Air France even has its very own Centre de Vaccination in Paris. During the appointment, the doctor will make sure your vaccination booklet is up-to-date, give you a list of medicines to bring along, write prescriptions, tell you what to add to your first aid kit, and answer any questions you might have.


 [A1]Sandrine: Can you please replace these brand names with generic medicine names when translating? Thanks!