Till Death(race) do us apart!

20 05 2010




Death Race or Death Wish

 There are 72 days left to train.  I’ve been training hard since January 2009!  for 500 days!  Almost there

The first question I get when someone finds out I am going to run a 125 km race through the mountains of Grande Cache Alberta, in the summer,




Yes good question why run for 18 plus hours through mountainous terrain, through the night on narrow little trails and across a river.  Why.

An even better question is why train for 540 days through two winters and many cities.


We’ll get to that later but first a bit about the journey and what this has to do with being a chef.

When planning to run a marathon, or ultra marathon, a chef has a great advantage in that we know the importance of a good “mis en place”.  We know that the consequences for not being properly prepared for something are swift and severe.

Planning a Marathon takes numerous small steps over an extended period of rigorous training through many hurdles and pitfalls.  Schedule conflicts, injury, and health, and nutrition have a lot to do with both running a kitchen and planning a marathon.  Or saving for a house or any task of monumental importance.

My first few marathons were tough.  Much more difficult than they needed to be.  I just simply hadn’t created and followed a precise plan that would give me the conditioning to do justice to the task. 

First set a goal, then  make a plan.  Take into consideration your work schedule, family commitments, sleep, etc and then look out about 20-22 weeks.  Get a sensible schedule for yourself by following one of the many guides available either on-line or in books.  I prefer to use John Stanton’s Running Room books on “How to run”.  They are a great tool covering many pertinent topics to making this a success.

Then stick to the plan.  I can’t get creative or cocky and do more than scheduled, but by the same token I do not take this lightly and miss workouts with feeble excuses.  This is a big deal.  Proper training for me turned a painful 42 km run in 4 hours and 15 minutes into a pleasurable 42 km in 3 hours and 28 minutes.

Marathons are tough stuff.  It requires a big effort and carefull monitoring of Caloric intake, and hydration.

Now Why after knowing what it feels like in a Marathon at 36-42 km, would anyone in their right mind train for and intend to run 3 marathons back to back to back.??

Well for me its simple.  I like to run.  I like the discipline and order a rigorous schedule brings into my life.  I’m obsessive by nature so this is something healthy to obsess about.

It puts me in touch with what I am eating and why.  Everything I eat during my training I think about and it has a purpose.  In focusing more on what I eat, I learn more about food in general.

You could really eat what ever you want and still lose weight when putting in this incredible training mileage a week ( 125 km a week) but you wouldn’t have the energy to train.  You have to really concentrate on where your calories are coming from , carbohydrates, electrolytes, vitamins, protein, and fat.  I need to massage and tweak my  diet so I can maximize the intake of these to affect my performance.

I take huge doses of Omega 3 which keeps my joints well lubricated and my mind clear.  I eat fish but I also take Omega 3 capsules made by Ocean Nutrition in Nova Scotia. I have found that by taking this Omega 3 ( 2000 plus mg a day), I have seen significant improvement on joint flexibility and lack of inflammation.  This is a separate blog at http://WWW.EXTREMECHEF.WORDPRESS.COM  as for me it has played such an important part of keeping me healthy.

In my life I have taken on many challenges.  I have enjoyed the work and dedication which has been required of me in meeting my goals, whether opening a restaurant, doing a culinary demonstration in 7 countries in 6 days, running a marathon, starting a business……………all of these challenges have proven worthy and have altered my life in some significant way or another.  Each challenge a journey of self discovery.

Few people will ever understand the full capabilities of the human body and mind.  The ability to push through and past…..way past the pre conceived notions of pain fear and fatigue.  Once you do know it can be a very humbling and a somewhat shocking revelation!  Reaching what feels like your complete physical and mental limitations and pushing through… is a life affirmation of extreme magnitude!  Things in life look different after this.  Challenges become less challenging.

This new challenge is proving to be the greatest challenge of my life to date.  The commitment and discipline it has required thus far is difficult to comprehend.  The inner focus it has required to monitor my health and body mechanics, focus on nutrition and rest has been constant.

I am now entering the most challenging part of this journey.  The final 10 weeks training.  The base is built.  Now to implement all the tools at my disposal to condition my body and mind to survive the incredible pounding it will take on a 125 km run through 18 plus hours.

There will most definitely be times during the run that my mind tells me to stop.   There will be pain! A lot of pain…that is a certainty

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  I need to embrace the pain and deal with it.  I do not need to dwell and suffer it!

“Till Death ( race) do us apart”


My wife didn’t know what she was getting herself into when we took those vows on the altar.   This journey has taken a great support from friends and family.  Our social activities every weekend consist of Diana ( my wife) strategizing where to meet me at a specific time on my route to bring me new nutrition or hydration.  Or going to various Marathons and races around the country and running sections of the finishes with me for mental support.   It is hard on her to see me constantly “damaged”  icing damaged muscles and joints…limping around every Sunday night and Monday morning!  This schedule is demanding not only on me but on her as well.  Worrying about me when im out on a 5 hour training run alone in some remote wood road!  But she understands my drive and need to do this.

When I cross that finish line on August first at about 230AM there will be elation that is seldom experienced in life.  I know this.  I know this from how it feels to finish a Marathon. 

In the laws of the universe, there is a constant in that “ for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” which for me means that after the suffering will come great elation.

My biggest goal at this point is getting to the starting line un-injured so I have a chance to do this test of my resolve.

Finishing will be nice but the biggest growth personally has come from the completion of this long training process and what I learn from running 3000 plus km in all types of conditions to get there.

Much like being a chef working through fatigue and enduring long hours the personal satisfaction achieved by putting out the best food possible, and receiving the accolades of the guests, is a greater pleasure than the pain endured to get there.

Chef Stefan Czapalay, c.c.c


Sunday                         45-55 km run slow

Monday                       Off

Tuesday                       6 km morning, weight training 30 minutes, swim 500 meters

                                    8 km evening FAST

Wed                             21 km run, hill repeats, weight training 30 minutes

Thursday                      15 km slow run

Friday                          15 km fast run

Sat                               10-20 km slow run, swim 500 meters, ab workout 30 minutes

Total                           130 km a week.  25 hours training including stretching etc.





Basic daily nutrition

2 cups coffee, 4-6 omega 3 capsules a day

1 x 100 calories gel during runs every 30 minutes

6-8 litres of water and electrolyte drink per day depending on running.  1 litre an hour during the running

6 AM                Cereal, 1% milk, Banana                                                   350 calories

8 AM                2 small  bran muffins                                                          160 calories

10 AM              apple and 2 small slices cheddar                                    120 calories

12                    90g sliced turkey,8 celery, carrot sticks, slice bread     200 calories

2 pm                20-30 blueberries  10-15 walnuts                                     140 calories

5 pm                3 oz Salmon or chicken breast or lean pork                   400 calories

Asparagus, or broccoli, rice or sweet potato                                           250 calories

6-8 pm             1 slice toast with honey or an applesauce                      140 calories


8pm to 9 pm


SOMETIMES       a small cereal for the serotonin enhancement for better sleeping                                                                                                240 calories




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