"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

So I’m training for the Comrades

“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!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Sudan for Jesus Run - S4J

In November 2011 I posted about the Sudan for Jesus group that runs the Comrades Marathon to raise funds for ministries in this war torn country. I joined the group but in the end I did not run the Comrades in 2012.

Sudan is going through a very bad time and Christians and Christian workers are expelled out of the country on a daily basis. Some even pay with their lives for being Christian.

Working in Sudan is very hard. There are areas with no written language yet! So I decided to give something back with my Comrades 2013 effort and run for the S4J team this year.

S4J aims to have at least 100 runners in the Comrades on 2 June. Yesterday the team size was 97 already.  There are also a drive to get as many supporters (buddies) to join the group to help the runners with fund raising and supporting them through Comrades and the training for the race. My lovely wife Anette will be my buddy.

S4J Team...growing every day!

Last weekend we had our first team gathering of the year. It was great and the people are all unbelievable! There is a passion for Jesus and working for God among all. I know this is going to be an unbelievable experience. My Comrades 2013 journey will be much more than running.

Each athlete will try to raise at least R5000.00 for SSNet. I will keep you posted as I continue my Comrades preparation.

You can read more about Sudan and the work of SSNet on their blog at http://www.sudan4jesus.com/

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! All the best to the crazy SA runners doing the marathon triple this weekend!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Two This Tuesday

1 - Off the trails and onto the road!

So it’s off the trails and onto the road for me for the next few months. Maybe I can get a bit of speed back…no, that’s not going to happen…haha!

With the way our lives have been busy and the time is already flying through 2013 Anette and I decided that my first main goal for 2013 will be the Comrades Marathon on 2 June. This means I better get my road feet on.

This is my Comrades Commitment Card - now signed and on the fridge door.

I still need to qualify for the Comrades although I have already entered. I plan to do this on 21 March at the Goldi  Marathon in Standerton. It will be my first road marathon in two years. Luckily qualifying is not that difficult but I need to get moving on the road. I need a sub 5 hour marathon which is not bad but I want to do a comfortable sub 4:30 if possible. That will set me up for a good buildup towards Comrades.

2 - Tragedy at Triathlon.

Two athletes died during the SA Half Iron Man this past weekend. That is so sad. Both athletes’ hearts stopped during the swim. I am very sad and I wonder how this happens.

Apparently 75% of triathlon deaths occur during the swim. One reason is that it takes longer to notice someone is in trouble and then longer to get to the person to start treatment.

With the whole Lance Armstrong debacle questions have also been asked around the subject of steroids and other enhancers that might cause heart failure. Still, a very sad week for triathletes here in South Africa.

So I am now officially in Comrades training. I'll keep you up to date.

Happy training!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

So what is on for 2013?

I know January is halfway already, but I’ve been working and fine tuning my schedule for the year and it took some time to make certain decisions.

This is a big year as I turn 50 on 31 July. Obviously I’ve been asked many questions about which race I will do or what will I run for my Birthday. Will it be 50km or 50miles?

Well, the short answer is that I will not run any 50 distance specifically for my Birthday although there is a 50km on my schedule. I do have two Birthday races planned and a few more main goals.

RED = Birthday Runs
BLUE = Main Goal but not Birthday Run
GREEN = Races as Training Runs

Sasol Half Marathon – 2 February (Just a nice race to do as a training run.)

Striders 32km – 3 March (Great race for some distance.)

Goldi 4 in 1 Marathon – 21 March (Qualify for Comrades with this race.)

Slow Mag 50km – 14 April (Run as a long training run…LSD!)

RAC Loooooong Run – 28 April (60km) (This is not a race, but a Comrades training run organized by Rand Athletic Club.)

Colgate 32 – 32km (Great training run with nice goodies!)

Comrades Marathon – 2 June (89km road race, up run this year. Have to revenge my broken toe DNF of two years ago)

Springbok Vasbyt 25km – 13 July (Great race to start my trail season. )

Num-Num Trail Race – 3 August (Toughest trail race I know with monster climbing.)

The Namaqualand Challenge – 28 to 31 August (120km stage trail race. A big Birthday trip!)

The Otter Challenge – 24 September (42km along the coast over mainly rocks. Second big Birthday trip! The kids will join us for this one.)

Golden Gate Challenge – 26 to 29 October (73km. This race is just too good to miss.)

RAC Tough One – 24 November (32km road race, hard and warm.)

Sabie Xperience Trail Race – 15 December (45km stage race with night stage included.)

Year 2 Year Circuit Race – 30 December to 01 January 2013 (Have to go do the 48hour properly this year.)

So that’s what my 2013 schedule looks like at the moment. I’m sure there will be some minor changes but the main goals will remain.

Happy 2013 running everyone!

PS: I've been getting hundreds and hundreds of spam comments. I have turned on word verification for now. I'm sorry about this as I don't want to have it on. It has just become necessary.

Can anyone tell me the best way to get rid of this?

Friday, 11 January 2013

48Hour Circuit Race and a Very Sick Wife

Start/Finish of the loop.

The Year 2 Year Circuit Races were held from 26 December 2012 to 01 January 2013. The races were run on a 500m circuit at the PHOBIANS club in Pretoria. Runners camp along the course and the atmosphere is always fantastic. You run, eat and sleep as you please.

Runners camping next to the course.

The following races were run:
6 Day, 5 Day, 48 Hour, 24 Hour and 12 Hour.

I was entered for the 48 hour and Anette for the 24 hour race. I had to run a minimum of 60km per day to qualify as a finisher of the race. The 48 hour race started at 12:00 on 30 December and continued to 12:00 on 01 January.

Nervous 48hour runners.

It was a small and nervous group of runners that lined up for the twelve noon start on 30 December. My plan was to do the minimum 120km and then see how I feel about any bonus distance.

RD Eric Wright giving final instructions.
Race Director Eric Wright - Circuit race and 100 mile legend.

Anette was there for support and also to get a feel for the event before her 24 hour start the next day. She was not feeling very well and we were worried she might have tick bite fever.

Anette was on her post, but not feeling well at all.

The plan was to run until 8PM and then go home for some good rest to return the next day for Anette's race start. We did stick to the plan but the midday heat was so bad that I had to rest from 13:30 – 15:30 to get out of the sun.

On our way at 12 noon!

Early laps and feeling strong!

I was feeling great and took it very easy. Slowly I added loop after loop after loop. The only problem was the heat. There was no point in running in the sun so I stepped off the course for a break.

Waiting for the heat to pass.

Anette was not feeling any better and by the time I started running again we knew she would not start the next day. I kept on running until 8PM as planned and then it was time to go home. I was feeling super now but Anette’s health took priority. She was becoming very ill.

8PM - Time to get Anette home. She was very sick now.

The following morning early Anette was very bad and it was off to the doctor before I went to the race. She had Rheumatic Fever! Although this occurs in children mostly, adults do get it from time to time.

Best place for a sick body.

I decided to go back to the race but would keep in touch with Anette to see how she was. I didn’t run much and completed exactly 60km before I packed up my goods. Anette was very sick and this was just not going to work.

Taking it easy in the heat. T-shirt to protect shoulders from the sun.

Runners are treated like kings and queens.

I logged this as 60km of quality heat training. I must say it really helps to do some heat training. I have not had any problems with heat since I started doing this.

Although I could keep my jacket I will complete the 48hour before I wear it with pride.

I now owe these wonderful race organizers a proper run. I will be back at the end of the year and do a proper 48 hour race.

Anette is doing much better now but is still not 100%. She is back at work but taking things slow and easy. We hope she can start training again soon.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sabie Xperience Stage 3 Report

Monday morning and it was time for stage 3 of the first Sabie Xperience Trail Race. Stage 1 and Stage 2 was in the bag! I must say, it was a tired looking bunch of runners waiting around at the start. The morning-evening-morning format of the race was quite hard and definitely more difficult than the 3 morning starts of most stage races.

A bit tired but ready for stage 3.

Wet shoes and dirty socks long before the start.

There were less runners present than the morning of the first stage. Some pulled out after the night stage and others didn’t bother to return when there was so much rain the Sunday afternoon. Wet shoes, dirty socks and tired bodies did not appeal to everyone. Our socks and shoes were wet even before the start of stage 3.

Race briefing.

Soon the race briefing was over and we were on our way. 18km for the long run and 11km for the short run. We were heading towards some beautiful waterfalls today. I was tired but OK and ready for the challenge.

We started in the same direction as the night before and were soon out on the beautiful trails. It was still very humid with lots of mud on the ground. The bush and trails were beautiful!

Awesome trails again!

It wasn’t long before we could see the waterfalls in the distance. There were some spectacular views on our way to the first water table at 6km. I was feeling good when I reached the water table and looking forward to running at the waterfalls.

Running towards the waterfalls.

Water table at 6km.

After the water table it was only about 1km to the car park at the Bridal Veil Falls. It was still early so the car park was empty. The locals were putting out all the goods they sell to tourists through the day. Then it was on to the waterfall.

Locals sell their goods to tourists at the car park.
Running to Bridal Veil Falls

This is also where the climbing started. From the car park to the waterfall is a slight uphill through the forest. Just before the waterfall we turned right onto a hiking trail. This would take us up to the top of the falls. The indigenous forest was unbelievable and so dense it was impossible to see through the brush. The plants formed a natural tunnel.

About 500m on this trail we came to another waterfall. It was really beautiful and the water sprayed against my sweating face. I was really happy to be here!

Another beautiful waterfall.

Happy to be here!

Then it was up once more for the rest of the climb. My legs could now feel the two previous stages. It was still very humid and also getting warm. Luckily there were spectacular views to take my mind off the climb. Sabie is truly one of the most beautiful places I know.

Great views make the climb easier.

Before I reached the top there was another waterfall to pass. Wow, it was really great! All the rain made for beautiful waterfall spotting and the bush was lush and green.

Very special place to run.

Finally I reached the top and we turned onto a gravel road to make our way down again. There were some great views of Sabie from here and yes, another waterfall!

Gravel road down.

Passing another beautiful waterfall.

We followed the gravel road for a few kilometers and then turned onto a single trail through the pine plantations again. I was now heading home for the finish of the race with about 7km to go. Running between the trees was again very special.

Plantation running is very special!

We made our way towards the Sabie River and I was glad when I reached the water. I knew the last few kilometers were along the river and the race was nearly over. I would soon finish my next stage race!

Sabie River.

The river was flowing strong and crossed over it for the last time…this time on a bridge and not through the water. There were 2km to go and this was all flat now. I felt tired but very good.

Nearly done!

They were getting ready for the prize giving when I crossed the finish line and I got a huge ovation when I came running in. It was super and the RD was there to welcome me personally. What a great feeling and what a fantastic event!

RD at the finish.

This was one of the best organized races I have ever run. The handouts were superb and marshalling top notch. I will definitely be back next year. Thank you for a great race!
Super medals!

Super goody bags!

Anette fished her first stage race as well! We were very happy and I am very proud of her.

Evidence of a great race...

So that’s it for the Sabie Xperience. It was a fantastic Xperience and I recommend this race to all. The short race is also a great way for beginners to get into stage racing. I also know now that stage races is my new favorite type of race. Stage trail races that is…