“I’m training for the Comrades”. Here in South Africa, those are very well known words. Every South African knows about the 89km (56 miles) Comrades Marathon. Runners and non-runners alike. The Comrades is known in every family and everyone knows someone who has run it or is training to run it. The Comrades is what road running in South Africa is about.
There are many “experts” that want to tell you how to train and what you should do. We all know the trend towards “less is more” that’s been prominent over the last few years. But I’m old school and for Comrades success I believe one should be old school.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I firmly believe that if you want to do well in a long ultra, that is an ultra of 80km (50 miles) and longer, less is not more, but rather less is less...or not enough. I’ve seen too many failures over the longer distances with people not training enough or not training correctly. You may be lucky and get away with it once or maybe even twice, but I believe for long ultras less is not more.
Don Oliver, Comrades Coach with 19 medals.
That is why I turn to the real old school experts when it comes to training for an ultra like the Comrades. I follow the people that know best. I turn to the old Comrades coach, Don Oliver (19 Comrades medals), 9 times winner Bruce Fordyce (30 Comrades medals) and the website with Don’s program on it, The Alsoran Runners.
Bruce Fordyce, 9 times winner with 30 medals.
Most people believe the training program these guys follow does too much and will cause injury. However, I know if you follow this program correctly and do each run as they say and at the pace they tell you to, it will be fine and the best preparation you can get.
I only use the program as a guide and follow my own program as I always do. There are many similarities however, and that’s why I use Don’s program as my guide to Comrades.
I run 6 days a week with Monday as my rest day. I run almost the same distances as the program suggests although I don’t do it the same week by week. The total distance from January to the day before Comrades, 1 June, should not be less than 1400km (870 miles).
This is where people differ from me, but I firmly believe in this training routine for races of 80km and longer. You have to get used to running on tired legs. I also don’t believe average runners should do any form of repeats during their training. This is for speed as well as hill training. Repeats of any form cause injuries! Go read any running blogs you can find and you will be amazed at how many runners get injured. Look deeper and you’ll see about 95% of these runners include some form of repeats in their training.
Only if you want to finish in less than 9 hours will you require that type of training. That is a very small percentage of the Comrades field. Runners with that ability have bodies that can handle that type of training. If you can’t run that fast, don’t train like that or you will get injured. Do your long runs over hilly courses instead and include one 8km time trial per week. Run this as fast as you can.
My typical week for the next 4 months will be:
Monday – REST
Tuesday – 10km
Wednesday – 15km (I believe in a midweek longer run)
Thursday – 10km
Friday – 7.5 or 8km faster run (my “speed work” or time trial for the week)
Saturday – 21km – 60km long run.
Sunday – 12km relaxed run
The Saturday and Sunday runs sometimes swop around as I sometimes do races as long runs on Sundays.
So that is me and my preparation for the Comrades Marathon on 2 June. I will keep you up to date with my progress and include more Comrades info as we go along.
The Sasol Half Marathon I was going to run on Saturday has been cancelled. I will now run the Alberton Half Marathon on Sunday instead. I will run this as an easy training run.
Happy training everyone!