Dubai: When the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) draws to a close this weekend, its ambassador Marcus Smith would have run an exhausting 1,266km over 30 days, which is one marathon or 42.2km per day.
That is no mean feat considering Smith has undertaken the challenge despite a horrific road accident that punctured his left lung and broke his left shoulder and seven ribs earlier this year.
But talk to the multiple marathon and ultra-marathon warrior and he says, “It’s the small steps that count.”
Recalling the near-fatal experience after a utility truck sent him flying in the air when he was cycling to Kalba with three others in February, he says: “When you are so close to death, you start to focus on the little things in life. As I lay on the road waiting for an ambulance to arrive, the only thing that mattered to me was to breathe, which we otherwise take for granted.
“When I was in hospital with a punctured lung, broken shoulder and ribs, it felt like I was finished. But I would constantly ask myself what I could do to feel better.
“I wanted to mark a small improvement every day, whether it was just getting up from the bed or walking 10 metres, then 20 metres and so on. It’s the super small things that eventually make big things happen.”
Within three months, Simth says he had recovered enough to keep a promise — to run a marathon in France.
In July, he pushed the envelope and did an ultra marathon 195km mountainous run, also in France.
Not one to rest on his past laurels, he now took up the 30 marathon mission as part of the DFC.
“I wanted to do something for the UAE to address the huge problem of obesity and motivate people to move. The DFC makes sport and healthy lifestyle so simple with just 30 minutes of exercise everyday.”
Smith says he has learnt many lessons from the task he set for himself.
“It’s incredibly hard because it can be so repetitive. The body is stressed and doesn’t get enough time to recover. Starting 5am, I run four-and-a-half to five hours every morning and try to get eight hours of sleep later.
“Cumulative fatigue can take its toll on the muscles and joints, it can be physically very painful. But I have to be mentally very strong as it’s a commitment. Even if one person gets motivated and exercises for 30 minutes or tries a new sport, my purpose is served.”
Smith says, “When it comes to fitness, just accept that pain is part of the process. Take one step at a time, put one foot after the other and tell yourself, stopping is not an option. Always remember the human body is capable of doing what the minds commands.”
Smith, who weighs 91kg and is 187cm tall, says he doesn’t count calories when he eats. “That’s not sustainable. I am on a 100 per cent paleo diet and avoid processed foods and dairy.”