Laura Marshall is an ultra-endurance athlete from Canberra, ACT who in September/October 2018 will attempt to become the very FIRST solo Australian woman to take on one of the world’s toughest ultra-triathlons that covers 465kms from London to Paris – The Enduroman Arch to Arc. This gruelling event involves a 140km run from Marble Arch in London to the coast of Dover, a 33km+ swim across the English Channel and a 292km cycle from Calais, France to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Since the event began in 2001 (and as of end of August 2018) there have only been 33 successful solo athletes complete it, 8 of which have been women. However, to date there have been no Australian woman attempt this massive feat – Laura Marshall will be the first. If completing all 3 legs of the event under your own steam wasn’t enough, Laura has also elected to take the traditional approach to swimming across the English Channel in just a swimsuit and swim cap, something that within the realms of this particular event is relatively rare, as most competitors choose to swim in a full length wetsuit for added warmth and buoyancy. As part of this event Laura is hoping to raise awareness and funds for beyondblue, a fantastic Australian organisation that helps people affected by anxiety, depression and suicide.
Zoggs Australia are proudly supporting Laura in her endeavour and below she has written a blog post about her training and lead up to the Enduroman Arch to Arc.
Training for Arch to Arc; it might sound cliché but I have been training for something like this for my entire life as it is well known that endurance takes time and comes with experience. I have been lucky in life with opportunities that have let me participate in a variety of endurance events thus far. I feel like they have all been building towards the current adventure I am on and participating in the Enduroman Arch to Arc.
Training in earnest for this event started at the end of 2016, which was building on my foundation of endurance and strength. While I had participated in triathlons before, I started by focusing on my weakest discipline and delved into the world of open water swimming. Although I have been swimming since I was a toddler, I was new to the environment of open water swimming which included dealing with sea salt, nutrition and creatures of the deep. I had been planning my own swim training up until January 2018 where I sought the guidance of a coach that would give me more structure and accountability. One of the main aspects for me was to be persistent and consistent in my training. In terms of swimming this meant doing all the set sessions, which in my case was five sessions a week comprising of 4 pool sessions framed around 6 or 7 km sets of Aerobic and Fartlek set. This was then accompanied by one long session a week in open water which increased in distance over time; this would range from 5 – 10 hours. At the peak of my training I was doing 40-45km a week of solid swimming. As the English Channel is considered a cold water swim it was also very important for me to become comfortable swimming in cold water, which is generally considered to be 14 – 18 degrees Celsius.
A key turning point for me, especially mentally, was participating in a cold water swimming camp in Melbourne with a group called VladSwim in April 2017. This camp consisted of 4 days of various distance swims including a night swim and culminating in an 8 hour ocean swim. This long swim in water less than 16 degrees Celsius was a pre requisite for the English Channel and a real challenge, both physically and mentally. I attended this cold water camp again in April 2018 where I could fine tune my nutrition, feeding, chaff prevention and this time complete a 10 hour swim, building on my experience from the previous camp and also testing myself after a solid 12 months of training.
Another big learning for me has been the 1 percenter’s. All these little, but vital components of training and recovery enhance any program and I believe they are integral to a holistic training programme. These include; quality rest, stretching, massage, Pilates and ice baths. Over arching the physical side of training is the area of mindset. With endurance training and events there is a lot of time to think. I have learnt the importance of not overthinking my thinking and ensuring my thoughts are positive. If negative thoughts creep in (and they will) then it is imperative to have strategies in place to recognise and eradicate them. The skill of being able to roll through both the highs and lows that will inevitably occur is one that any athlete would be familiar with, whether it is during training or on race day. For me the techniques that I have found most helpful have been visualisation, recalling/reliving positive training experiences and key words that help me focus on the task at hand to help break the negative spiral of self-doubt. It is also important to remember the reason why I am doing this and recognise the people who have supported me along the way.
After two solid years of training and a lifetime of adventures I am now only 1 month away from taking on the biggest sporting challenge of my life. It definitely has not been an easy road to get to this point and to say it has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. For now, I look forward to standing on the start line at Marble Arch in London and setting off on my 465km journey to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Thank you so much to Zoggs Australia for your generous support on this adventure.
To find out more about Laura Marshall and her journey to complete the Enduroman Arch to Arc have a look at her website at: www.LauraMarshallA2A.com