Lessons learnt in Morocco 

Posted: May 4, 2017 in Holiday, running
Tags: , , , , , ,

Most of us, on occasion, write cheques our body can’t cash. With me it’s become habitual.   Getting an early night over Christmas I entered a triathlon. (I swim like a hippo). I once struggled to finish a double parkrun (6 miles for the uninitiated) and entered a marathon with 12 weeks to train.  To be honest it’s not a bad plan.  I rarely succeed with any grace, dignity or speed but I finish and in the process drive myself on towards my goals.  So, last October, lying by the pool on holiday with  spare tyres hanging over my bikini I hatched the genius idea to go running in Moroco.  I’d met Howard from Right altitude on another trip and was massively jealous of the photos he kept posting. 

I’d had a few months off exercise and the horror that was New York 2015 was still fresh in my mind. This would surely inspire me to get fitter and work on …. Well everything! And what’s the worst that could happen? I could end up as the only other person on a trip with an endurance runner who has completed amazing triumphs  like running across America. Surely not?!? 

You guessed it. That’s precisely what happened.  And actually it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  There are runners out there with a chip on their shoulder about speed and being held back by slower people in the group.  But luckily that wasn’t the case with my fellow traveller.  Plus Howard had arranged a local guide to run out in the front and he hung back with me. 

Maybe if the ability gap had been smaller I’d have felt more pressure to keep up but it was so dramatically different  that there was only one thing to do, keep my head up and enjoy the views. I’m not going to lie and say there weren’t moments when I had some doubts about the wisdom of this holiday but usually within a few minutes there was some amazing view or distraction that made me sure I made the right choice.  On one particularly bad climb we played the alphabet game and once we’d got to the top the views were incredible. 

The trip is incredibly varied considering it’s a running trip fundamentally based on running! We stayed in the kasbah a few nights and experienced their hospitality, we went to local villages ad met with local people who shared tea with us.  Marrakech is  a very different experience entirely.  We did yoga on the terrace in the mountains, sun bathed, read and the trip wasn’t just about the running. 

Some easy learning points (and tips for anyone planning on taking this amazing trip with Right altitude  or a similar type) 

Take all the socks. Literally, pack the number of socks you think you will want and double it. 

You can’t over estimate the pleasure of putting on a clean pair of socks when everything else you own stinks. Depending on where you’re going (and certainly in moroco) the sewerage system is a little relaxed so if you’ve crossed a stream or muddy road you should really burn those socks or at least not put them back on just yet. 

* don’t burn the socks, see next point. 

Carrier bags. 

I totally missed this and only took one with me. Your kit will stink (you’re running and its hot) plus … You know the whole drainage system. You will be thankful to have some nice disposable wrappers to bundle everything in until you can get to a washing machine/ disposal unit.


Before you go work on your squats.  Most nights there was a sit down toilet but not always.  You’ll also probably need to pee on the trail at some point.  Being able to hold a squat will help prevent you from peeing on your own foot.  Do not under estimate the joy of not peeing on your own foot. 

Wet wipes, tissues etc

These are really important. You should take some! 

First aid kit.

In my packing panic I managed to pack cold meds instead of ibuprofen (in my defence it did contain ibuprofen) and the compeed for cold sores not feet (no excuse for that one).  There aren’t stores on trails most of the time and if you get blisters or a cut you’ll wish you’d taken a few minutes. 

Pack light 

Your luggage is transported for you from place to place but you’ll still need to carry it on occasion.  You’ll also experience much less guilt when you see the mule headed up the mountain if he’s not carrying a whole load of useless products you dragged along.  For the same reason take a hold-all or rucksack rather than a hard suitcase. My bag got really bashed around during the trip.  Having a wipe clean interior was also a blessing (see notes re burning socks). 

Trail running

Go trail running and enter all the trail events you can find. Find hills and run up them.  If you have no hills (unlikely) get on a treadmill and hit the incline. I can’t emphasise this enough. The trails are really good in the mountains but they’re precisely that. Trails! A n element that I totally failed to account for. I was totally unprepared for the for the gradient and terrain. On the first major day out I turned my ankle over while face planting on a trail. I spent the rest of the week with a swollen ankle that felt like hot knives every time I landed on an uneven piece of ground.  Accidents happen but I could have prepared better for it. 

I’m sure I’ve missed some hints and tips so feel free to comment below with ideas.  

  1. Those are great tips! I agree, it’s always best to pack light. I am trying to learn that haha. And those mountains- WOW. I was recently at the mountains…just not in Morocco haha the mountains of North Carolina https://courtneylivin.com/2017/05/04/girls-weekend-at-swoalmost-died/ Not as cool but still fun!

  2. carldudley7 says:

    Awesome trip & great blog!! I loved the Moroccan mountains – can’t imagine running up and down them though!

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