Train for the Bataan with the course in mind, 14 miles for the honorary course or 26 miles for the full course. Both courses include miles of desert trails. The 26 mile course includes a small mountain. Your training regimen should mimic that as closely as possible. The commentary that follows is meant for the 26 mile course.
Start training in early January. You need experience hiking trails and up prolonged upgrades. If you have access to trails, use them. Your feet and ankles need time to adapt to traveling long miles over desert trails. There are miles of steep grade leading up to the top of Mineral Hill. If you do not have a trail nearby with steep hills, consider augmenting your training using a treadmill with a steep upgrade.
Wear your Hiking Boots while training. They should have 100 miles on them before the Bataan. Start training at a length and pace that is comfortable for your body. Stretch before and after training to warm up and reduce the risk of injury. Two weekends before the Bataan, max out your training at least 20 miles. Stop training a at least a week before the march. Your body needs time to rest and heal before it.
You need to build up to walking at least 20 miles. That will toughen the skin on your toes, heels and soles. Pay close attention to where 'hot spots' develop on your feet. You will need to protect those areas with moleskin the day of the Bataan March. That will help prevent them from developing into blisters. Trim your nails to meet the tip of the toe. That helps prevent them from striking the front of your boots while walking downhill (a painful condition known as 'black toes').
There are challenges to training and maintaining a work and personal life. My training began in late December and lasted through just before the Bataan in late March. It was cold in January and February so I walked on the treadmill at the gym at night after work. Early on I tried to maintain a schedule of two nights of walking at the gym and a long walk outdoors on the weekends. As the weather warmed and my legs got stronger, I started taking long walks on the weekends. That long distance is necessary to build the stamina needed for the Bataan. I walked 20 miles two weeks before the Bataan and stopped training at that point. All in all, I walked 196 miles in training.
Fair warning, the Bataan is not for the faint of heart. You need to go into it with eyes wide open. That will help you be successful. First off, keep in mind this is one of the toughest marathons available. Be prepared for Mineral Hill. It has a 1,200 foot ascent over 4 miles. The sand pits are difficult to get through as well.
Be mindful of areas where your training falls short. If your training ended at the 20 mile mark, the march will be six miles longer than you are accustomed to. If you trained in a cold climate, the hot dry air of the desert will also add a degree of difficulty.
The Bataan is an extremely challenging course. There are times when you will experience dispair. That phenomenon is known as 'the loneliness of the long distance runner'. Conversation and music are ways to overcome that condition. The Bataan march veterans experienced far greater challenges. You honor them by completing the course. Always be mindful that the course is finite. Count off the miles as they go and stay positive. The Bataan is a test of will.
The end of the course will be a high point in your life. You will feel elated and a huge sense of accomplishment. Keep that in mind as you are on the trail.
This site is meant to complement the official Bataan March site. Read the content on all pages of the Bataan site at least twice, especially 'Survival Tips and Tactics'.
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Your use of this information is at your own risk. Consult your doctor before beginning a program of exercise and fitness. Know the signs of overexertion.
Gideon Rasmussen assumes no liability for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect or punitive damages arising out of your use of this workout. Without limiting the foregoing, this workout is provided to you "As Is", without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranty of merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose.