Marcus Leach, one of our Forever Global F.I.T. Ambassadors, is taking part in multiple events and challenges during the summer months. One of his biggest challenge this year is the upcoming Tour du Mont Blanc – it’s described as the ‘world’s toughest one day bike race’! On Saturday 16th July, Marcus will be cycling 300km with 8000m of ascent across three countries. We caught up with Marcus to ask him a few questions on his preparation for the event. Excited and nervous for the challenge ahead, Marcus has said: “It’s hard to explain just how much this means to me; I’ve poured so much into this over the past twelve months. I just have to do it now, and the waiting for it is almost torturous”.
How have you been preparing mentally for your upcoming Tour du Mont Blanc event?
My mental training is an ongoing process, and is ever evolving. We often think of mental toughness in relation to how we react to extreme situations, such as this ride, and whilst there’s no doubting that these situations will test our courage and perseverance, the mental toughness we need to come through them is forged on a daily basis; it’s about pushing yourself in a thousand smaller ways to ensure that when the time comes, we have the ability to cope with far greater challenges. For me it’s the constant application to daily training, and the ability to push myself past my limits on a constant basis, that helps develop my mindset. In addition to that a major part of what I’ve been doing is visualisation: taking time to play out the race in my head, picturing what it will be like when I finish, and imagining how I will feel. But I’ve also been remembering how I felt last year when I didn’t achieve my goal, and I’ve been using that pain to push even further in all that I do to ensure I don’t have to endure it again.
How have you been preparing physically for this event?
From a physical point of view it has taken almost a year of dedicated training to get me to the start line for the Tour du Mont Blanc. Apart from a few weeks off when Harrison (my little boy) was born, I have been in full training over the past year. That includes five sessions a week on my bike stand in the shed, as well as longer rides out on the road at weekends, and a series of races over the past few months that are all building towards the ‘big one’. Even something like going to climb Mount Elbrus, whilst not on my bike, had a big impact on my training from spending a week at high altitude. One of the big disadvantages I had last year was my weight, even though I was very lean, I was 100kg and it takes a lot more energy to get that up a mountain than it does if I was 80kg. So I have focused on dropping my weight in a controlled manner in order to be better equipped for the big climbs on the ride. It has been a long process – losing lean muscle isn’t as easy as it sounds – but now, twelve months on, I am definitely happier with my racing weight.
3: How will you approach this challenge knowing you weren’t successful in completing the event on your previous attempt?
If I’m being honest, I feel a lot more pressure this time around. This is from a personal point of view but also because of the amount of people who are now following my journey. I am incredibly driven and have always been goal-orientated, so not finishing the race last year was a bitter disappointment and has, in many ways, haunted me ever since. This has had its advantages as I have been able to use that pain and hurt to take my training to new levels, but also it has meant twelve months of waiting to get another shot at putting things right. Because of how successful I have been with my other challenges this year, I almost feel like there is a sense of expectation that I will do this. Whilst I am confident in my own ability, there’s no getting away from the sheer scale of this challenge; it’s not known as the world’s toughest one day bike event for nothing! It’s hard sometimes to explain to people the magnitude of the ride and no matter how much I work on my mindset there’s always going to be a little element of self-doubt given that I didn’t finish last year. But, having said all of that, I have spent the past twelve months doing everything in my power to ensure that the person who starts this race is better in so many ways than I was last year. There’s nothing else I can do; now is about having total focus on the race, believing in myself and giving everything I have.
4: What will be your main goal as you go in to this event?
To finish! With every other race I enter I set myself goals for the time I want to finish them in, but with this it’s simply a matter of finishing. It’s going to push me to my absolute physical and mental limits; it’s going to push me to the point of breaking and I know I have to stay strong, focused and not let anything stop me from finishing. It doesn’t matter how I do in relation to anybody else, this is purely a personal battle; it’s me against the mountains.
We wish Marcus the best of luck for his Tour du Mont Blanc!
Find out more about Marcus here.