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So you managed to enter in time for Comrades 2018! Now what?
So often we underestimate the demands of the big race. It’s only December and reports of massive long runs and training stints are popping up all over Facebook! I get it. It’s a big race and if we have to be honest, its just a little bit scary.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a decent number of runners that are doing exactly the opposite – they are waiting for January before they start training. This too is a bit worrying! The truth is we need to be somewhere in the middle. A moderate amount of training for most runners is what will start setting up that cardiovascular foundation that will ensure you are ready for when the real stuff starts!

Of course the same training plan won’t work for everyone though. Well before the approach to Comrades day you need to decide what training strategy will be best for you.

  • Group One: The early birds. This group will include runners who have registered for an early qualifying marathon either at the end of January or the first week or two of February. There are no two ways about the fact that they should well be doing some mileage right now in December if they hope to get the best out of their qualifying run.
    It is important for those runners though, to build in sufficient recovery time after this initial big effort to ensure that they don’t reach a premature plateau four to six weeks before Comrades. It is not uncommon for runners to hit peak fitness somewhere in April, and they find themselves running stunning times at a marathon or ultramarathon, just end up with an injury “at the worst possible time” or maybe worse, they have failure-to-launch on the most important day of the whole program.
  • Group Two: The late bloomers. This group has planned a much later qualifier with the initial objective of building a sufficient base of fitness to enable them to have a solid qualifying race. This should ideally, as for Group One above, also be followed by a time of restoration to ensure full recovery before the ultra phase of conditioning starts.
  • Group Three: The Down-but-not-out-group. Ideally we don’t want to find ourselves in this group, but the reality is that some people are there as we speak. It is never nice to start a new running season with an injury or a nagging niggle, but unfortunately it is not always in our hands. The good news though is that there is more than one way to prepare for a good Comrades marathon. A late start might mean delaying the qualifying race, as well as holding back with the biggest mileage weeks that other runners might be heading for. Depending on the reason for or the extent of the niggle or injury, you may well still achieve your targets but it will require batting a bit smarter and applying a healthy dose of patience. The real challenge will be to not compare yourself with those who started four weeks before you. Sticking to your own plan and being patient will well be rewarded on the big day!

Some may argue that another group(s) should exist, for example those who have already qualified. Personally I am not a believer in qualifying the year before. Sure, it gives your base fitness a jumpstart, and also some confidence that you might want before the new year, but physically, psychologically and mentally there is no substitute for following a more suitable timeline. The training effect of an early qualifier will have little benefit on a race that takes place more than seven months later!

At Fitness From Africa Coaching we ensure that our runners’ goals are merged with their personal ability, background as well as infrastructure for preparation. In other words, what sort of training have you been doing for the past few years, past few weeks, and what type of results have you achieved with this training?
Some runners do better on higher mileage while others to better on less mileage and more quality. Some runners lack strength or are injury-prone, while others need a bit of help with race-day strategy to prevent the wheels coming of an hour after going through Drummond!
We are all different, but we all need to do the work, we all need to put in the hard miles, make those sacrifices and go the distance before the gun as well as on race day if we are going to celebrate at the finish line.
If you want to streamline your training and make the most of the next five months, contact us now at info@fitnessfromafrica.co.za