Training programme

In order to build her physical and mental endurance for the expedition, Elham worked with Lomax Bespoke Fitness, Nutrition and Wellbeing to develop a high-performance training programme designed to optimise strength and power whilst enhancing agility and speed.

The training plan is flexible in order to include all the fundamental components of fitness, nutrition and well-being, taking into account the practicalities of a 5-day work week, the idiosyncrasies of seasonal weather (specifically, ensuring cold climate conditions) and personal health issues.

Given Elham’s unique requirement, Lomax put together a team of five professionals to help develop the following:

Specific skills for advanced preparation

  • Advanced endurance training: aerobic/anaerobic threshold training
  • Sports-specific training: skiing, climbing, extreme sports training
  • Advanced sports medicine: classical osteopathy and remedial massage for injury prevention and management
  • Sports nutrition: Endurance based fuelling and pre-cold climate weight management
  • Performance coaching: for mental toughness preparation

Specific experience

  • Event training experience: marathons including Marathon de Sables, high altitude trekking, competitive free-ride skiing, Iron Man, lifeguard training, etc.
  • Ability to assign trainers to travel with Elham to optimise training and immerse themselves in the challenges ahead: Minnesota shakedown for polar preparation, Chamonix, Dubai and Egypt
  • International experience: high level of Middle Eastern exposure within the team giving geographic and cultural understanding
  • Broad partnership framework for specific training and nutrition requirements: Altitude Centre, Profeet, Reflex Nutrition, Viridian

Building the programme

The phases of the programme are cumulative, in that they dovetail into one another in a repeat/replace/merge cycle.

December 2009: Integration phase

  • Natural fitness: foundation building for strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • Flexibility, balance, coordination training
  • Rehabilitative and corrective therapy
  • Nutrition planning

Detailed breakdown (PDF: 25kb)

January 2010: Power/speed training phase

  • Intensive muscular strength training
  • Medium intensity cross training
  • Sport-specific cardio development
  • Rest
  • Muscle building

Detailed breakdown (PDF: 27kb)

February 2010: Endurance training phase

Anaerobic/aerobic crossover
  • Peripheral heart action (PHA) strength training
  • Sports-specific plyometrics
Aerobic/Anaerobic crossover
  • Long interval training (lactate threshold)
  • Sport-specific: ski trip, high altitude walking, climbing
  • Active
  • Energy focused

Detailed breakdown (PDF: 24kb)

March 2010: Functional endurance training phase and acclimatization

  • Weight training at altitude (hyperbaric chamber training)
  • Long distance cardio, incorporating random short interval training using diversity principal
  • Use of at home altitude equipment as alternative
  • Sport-specific: dry land ski drills/Nordic ski (if possible, roller skiing)
  • Running
  • Active recovery/rest
  • Lean system eating

Detailed breakdown (PDF: 25kb)

Elham Al-Qasimi

Until she resigned to focus completely on her North Pole expedition, Elham Al-Qasimi was an investment manager at the Impetus Trust. She conducted due diligence on charities and social enterprises to identify those with the most distinctive delivery models and build a case for investment committee approval.

Elham was born in July 1982 in Dubai, UAE. She earned a degree in Business and Marketing at the American University in Dubai in 2004, and then moved to London to study at the London School of Economics for an MSc in Management of NGOs. On graduating with a Distinction for her thesis, Elham took an internship at the Overseas Development Institute, a leading think tank for international development.

Read more about Elham →

Elham’s daily schedule

Before she sets out on her expedition, Elham has a very busy schedule to follow. Follow a date link to read what she’ll be doing on that day.

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About the expedition

In April 2010, Elham Al-Qasimi will attempt an unassisted expedition to the North Pole. During a three-week journey, Elham will ski cross-country to the North Pole starting at 89 degrees latitude. As a result, she will be the first Arab woman to set foot on the North Pole and the first UAE national to ski to the North Pole, with no food drops, no re-supplies and no visits to towns or settlements.

Read more about Elham's expedition →