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February 23, 2017

Despite the hot weather, work scheduling and the occasional bodily let down, training for Comrades 2017 has been progressing steadily if not positively. Naturally I’d love to get the confidence boosted by logging a nice long run, but the mind has often been the victim of the humid conditions that have often prevailed in this part of the world in the last few weeks. It would often be a case of running reasonably well for 4km, then I’d need to have a spell in order to properly regain focus and to hydrate properly. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that given that in 3 months time the big trip is taking place and anything short of permanent disability will prevent me from making that start line (and even then….)


But I’ve now realised that this weekend is the first race weekend of the year. February is usually a month where I’m finding my feet and building up the kilometres rather than focusing on race goals. Yet this year is totally different in many ways, and the early preparation has meant that conditioning under race conditions rather than training runs is a requirement. After all, these races are the easiest way to build up the kilometres I need to succeed in Comrades.

To achieve this will require a visit to a place where I’ve never had the pleasure of setting foot in. Like I’ll probably be heading to South Africa in May/June, the travel component will likely be the time where I’m most nervous compared to when I’m standing among what I understand will be close to the capacity field of 500 for 21 of the best kilometres I’ll have covered this year. Whilst the course itself won’t provide the elevation that Comrades will offer (I’d get as much elevation change in a sharp 3km time trial around the block at home), it’s all a number of things on Sunday, namely

  • New Experiences (New town, different terrain with cycle paths being the bulk of the course surface)
  • Race simulation and using it as training
  • Boosting the confidence knowing that March will be mainly literally pushing the barrow uphill so to speak


In terms of what I want to achieve out of the run itself on Sunday morning, the following goals are in mind:

GOAL TIME: Somewhere between 1:55 and 2:00 is ideal. Just outside 2:00 is passable, anything slower than 2:05 will be cause for concern
RACE PLAN: Steady for the first couple of kilometres, then look to increase the tempo from kilometres 6-16 before a strong finish. If I can stay with a pack for the first 6km it will be ideal.
HYDRATION: As per usual, ignore the first 2 drink stations and utilise the stations at 6.5km, 10.8km and 15.4km. Unsure if I’ll take on board sport drink or water, although I’ll have a drink of h2o prior to the start
TRAFFIC: There is a marathon taking place that begins 15 minutes earlier. Even though it’s unlikely that the front runners will catch me prior to the finish given we’re using the same course (they’re running 2 laps of the half marathon course), I’ll need to be mindful of giving room for faster runners much like in the Perth City to Surf when the leading half marathoners pass me when I’ve done close to 30km. There may be times where I can gauge my pace off a marathon runner particularly when I plan to increase the tempo for the middle 10km sector that I’ve identified yet I’ll need to be mindful that I’m not in their race so there’s no need to hold them up without necessity.


Following Sunday the plan will be for a couple of training runs in Melbourne which is basically going to be a recovery type session. Monday is a travel day (the return train trip), but Tuesday and Wednesday mornings will be the scheduled times for training. Then the following week will be another week in Brisbane, again climbing Mt Coot-tha at least once and possibly twice. Hill climbing will be a focus throughout March, as will pain management. I’m certain there will be times where I’ll be sore on the long trek in South Africa so being able to cope with the pain whilst maintaining some sort of pace may become valuable if I want to finish. The next few weeks therefore are going to be busy, but hopefully it will be all worthwhile.


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