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COMRADES 2018: NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN

November 5, 2017

Many non runners think it’s madness to start thinking about races that are 7 months away, wanting us to live day to day rather than thinking too far ahead not knowing what lies in front. Yet I learned from my days studying a Primary School teaching degree (partially finished) that planning is everything. Sure it doesn’t have to be as detailed as lecturers and tutors wanted lesson plans to be, but for the big ticket item on next year’s agenda the planning started with the qualifying run in Melbourne. Now the plans are coming together day by day in knowing what I want and when I have to have these things in place by. So here is a summation of where the planning process is for Comrades 2018.

QUALIFICATION/SEEDING

As mentioned completing the Melbourne Marathon in 4:32 was enough to ensure that I would be on the plane to South Africa come hell or high water next June. Fortunately it means that rather than having to burn the legs that I have on entering future marathons with the objective of qualifying, and not being 100% certain that the time would be recognised, I can now even think about using training races as a means to get a better starting position. Of course at the end of the day believing that saving a minute or 2 at the start can lead to having the wrong mindset on race day itself, for specific Comrades race day planning won’t be fully known for a while.

THE REMAINDER OF 2017

Only a solitary event, the Point to Pinnacle in Hobart in just under 3 weeks time, remains on the 2017 running schedule. After that the plan will be to try to rest the legs wherever possible with the aim of starting specific training on January 1 2018. That’s not to say that I won’t be 100% inactive given I’ll be looking to actively recover from mountain madness and I may do the odd trundle here and there just to keep myself sane.

A TENTATIVE 2018 PRE-COMRADES SCHEDULE

Naturally circumstances will change according to fitness and employment, but at this point I am looking at the following schedule to provide me with what’s necessary to get myself ready to accomplish the toughest mission undertaken in my life.

JANUARY 21-27: TRAINING WEEK IN BRISBANE. Like 2017 the week that I always schedule off from work will be spent in Brisbane to do a little training in what should be cooler conditions. The plan will be to run at least 4 times that week (Sunday, Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday) with the run on the Australia Day public holiday Friday to be a lap of the road on Mt Coot-tha, unlike last year when I probably foolishly tried to do a trail run instead of sticking to the road. Doing this week away from my home base should also freshen the mind knowing that I can do this training without feeling as though I’m stepping on egg shells interrupting others at home.

FEBRUARY 10-12: BRISBANE WEEKEND. Work and possibly football commitments may restrict the number of weekends I’ll have to run in Brisbane, but I’ll be looking for some kilometres either around Coot-tha or on the roads of Brisbane on the 11th of February.

FEBRUARY 25: WANGARATTA. At this stage I’m likely to only do the half marathon here, although it is tempting to complete the second lap of the course to complete the full. Being a weekend hit and run mission as opposed to last year when I was forced to take time off work may make travel arrangements slightly rushed, but an overnight stay in the northern Victoria town has been booked so all I need to worry about is when I depart home base. I will even be back in Brisbane by the time night descends on February 25, for the plan is to catch the afternoon train which gets to Broadmeadows (a suburb reasonably close to Tullamarine where the airport is) just after 4PM.

MARCH 17: PORT MACQUARIE. I have entered what is known as the “Breakwall Buster”, an even where runners complete all 3 events offered in Port Macquarie’s Running festival (a half marathon, a 10km and a 5km). Less that 50 runners managed to complete all 3 events last year. The attraction for doing this is this will be to my mind a decent training run under race conditions for that time of year. Added to that will be trying to stop and start again on tired legs as I anticipate I’ll be needing to do in South Africa later in the year. Accommodation has been booked, however flights may cause me to have to look for a day’s leave from work that I wasn’t anticipating having to use.

APRIL 15: CANBERRA ULTRA (50km). The almost traditional lead up for a number of Australian runners prior to Comrades, this will be my 3rd attempt at completing this distance which hopefully will lead to a second finish. Not looking for a time as such but if I get somewhere close to 5 hours which may or may not improve my starting position it will be seen as a bonus. Hopefully things go well this time because as you may know luck has often deserted me in the Capital. It will most likely be the upper limit in terms of training runs unless I find the time to do something beyond 50 with elevation changes so I have to make the most of it.

MAY 6: WINGS FOR LIFE, MELBOURNE. This is something I’ve had my eyes on for a little while but for the first time work commitments won’t be standing in the way of entering. For those that don’t know this run has no finish line as such, rather the race ends when a catch car passes you. We get a half hour head start, but given the car goes 15km/hr to start it’s bad news if you’re not past the 15km marker. With the start time at 9PM in Melbourne (the run is worldwide and starts exactly the same time everywhere, meaning if Auckland had this event it would be an 11PM start time, or 3PM in Abu Dhabi if anyone is that game) even footy won’t prevent me from getting to this event.

MAY 27: ROCKY RIVER RUN (21km). With Comrades falling a week later this year I can return to running the half marathon at my local event rather than just doing a casual 10km systems check before getting on a plane just under 24 hours later. It will be the last meaningful training run distance wise and I’m hoping to get as close to 1:50 as possible, depending on the course as there are narrow bridge crossings which can hold up faster runners. Post this event I’ll probably only do 1-2 more training runs and perhaps do Parkrun at North Beach in Durban as I did last year, but I certainly won’t be doing anything that is beyond 10km or perhaps even 45 minutes if I can avoid it and resist temptation.

 

THE FLIGHT PLAN

Financially I am in a better position than I was 12 months ago, and I have knowledge on when I need to be in certain places based on accommodation bookings (Durban on the Wednesday before Comrades, with the return trip to be via Adelaide for footy commitments). At this point I have made no decision on departure port related to the overseas flights (the 4 options are Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, with the Southern capital being more cost friendly at this stage), whether I wish to spend an overnight stay in Johannesburg which given the flight arrival times via Perth may require 2 nights being booked rather than 1 or whether I choose to fly through to Cape Town on the Monday and fly back to Durban on the Wednesday. A decision on flights will likely be made by the week of the Brisbane training week in January, with hotels being paid for closer to the arrival date.

 

 

Perhaps this will give some indication as to where I’m at in terms of preparing for June 2018, and I haven’t mentioned any training specifics. Sure I’ve experienced a Comrades Marathon before but at this point I’m still to formulate a meaningful training plan taking into consideration employment factors and race weekends/recovery weeks. That may come a little later on but for now I can at least relax the mind if not the body throughout November and December.

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