Project Davos: How Do Two Nepali’s Taper?

The fifth in a series of articles about training two Nepali runners to compete in a top European trail race.

By on July 22, 2010 | Comments

I find tapering hard. After so many months of disciplined training and constant attention, the idea of chilling out for a couple of weeks doesn’t sit too well. Tim, my Dutch friend taking part in Project Davos, is the opposite. He loves it. He loves all the spare time he finds in the day that was dedicated to running, or thinking about running, or planning running…

I know we all taper differently, and we think about it differently, but how should a Nepali do it? Ramesh has always told me that “Nepali training is not like Western training” and over the months I have come to understand and respect this. More to the point, I have seen first hand how different these guys are from our understanding of training. Tapering is no different.

If Bed and Sudip are to be the best they can, they still have a lot to learn about eating, drinking, pacing, running together. No matter who you are, 78 kilometers at the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos is a really long way. Proper preparation is vital.

Poonhill Trek NepalA lot to learn, a lot to try, and two very tough and hardy runners. We chose to send (well, Ramesh talked me into sending…) them on a 51 mile (82 km) run up the Poon Hill trek and back. The run was to include 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) of ascent and descent, only a few miles of flat, and an unimaginable amount of Himalayan steps to climb. It’s a five-day walk for most trekkers, and each year some people choose to race it in a day. We sent Bed and Sudip off for on this adventure just two weeks before the big Davos race.

I was fretting all day, and Ramesh kept telling me, “The Nepali body cannot be idle.” Great, I thought. That’ll really help when they stumble-in breathing out of their bum.

After nine hours, both Bed and Sudip ambled home like they’d just been to the shops and back. I’d pleaded with them not to race, but to just run it calmly. What a relief for me that they didn’t race. Still, it took them only 9 hours. That’s faster than the fastest Westerner has run that route. As they sat at the end with their feet in the cool river, Sudip tells me, “I really enjoyed it, especially the high parts, a beautiful trail.” Bed then told me the memories he had of the race earlier this year. They were beaming!

The next day I’m panicking about how broken they’ll be, so I head off to Ramesh’s house as soon as I’m up. I find Bed and Sudip playing badminton in Ramesh’s front garden. No aches, no stiffness, no niggles. Once again I put my coaching books on the shelves, and watch these guys in awe.

Rob Cousins
Rob Cousins is a contributor to