Comrades Training Tip no. 1
Pick a qualifying marathon
This will give you a clear goal for your training. Allow enough time that you can properly train for your marathon. Depending on whether you want to “cruise” it or “race” it, plan accordingly. Here is a comprehensive list from Runner’s Guide of all the National Marathons which you can use for both Comrades and Two Oceans to qualify.
Comrades Training Tip no. 2
Train your Nutrition
It is important to start good habits early. In my Physiotrailrunner blog, How to supplement your diet in peak training, Keri Strachan – Dietician – talks about recommended supplements especially as you reach the high mileage. Additionally, it is vital that you work on your Running nutrition.
What does this mean?
You need to practice eating while you train so that on race day, your body will have adjusted to eating while you run. Comrades is a long day out. You will need to eat during your run. This can be a blog on it’s own. Small amounts frequently are important. A good breakfast and night before the event meal need to be planned. Find out what works for you. I use a variety of bars, bovril bread with cheese, wors/ biltong (dried meat), potatoes, salted chips, orange with salt…but find what your body agrees with and TRAIN it.
Your body cannot run on empty and it will perform EVEN BETTER if the nutrition is done well!
Comrades Training Tip no. 3
Train in different weather conditions
Comrades 2013 is memorable. Badly so. It was an absolute BOILER of a day. In 2018, when I was running my back to back down run, the weather was JUST right! Even though Comrades is in June, the weather can be unpredictable. Again, you are running for a few hours during the Comrades ultra marathon, so train later on in the day or add in an afternoon jog once a week just to get used to the hotter climate.
Comrades Training Tip no. 4
Be Consistent. Be Consistent….BE CONSISTENT
No more needs to be said.
But seriously, train consistently, sleep consistently, slowly progress…consistently. You can’t catch up “missed miles planned”, so don’t try. Then you will most likely be needing to see a physio as you are more likely to get injured!
Comrades Training Tip no. 5
Plan for your Comrades Running Shoes, Now
Running shoes are expensive. Stick with what works for you. Try not to change running shoe brand just because it is on a special or a friend recommends it…or it is purple (although the latter COULD be a good reason…hehe. Jokes!)
If you have just started training for Comrades in new running shoes…it is VERY unlikely that you will be able to use THIS pair for Comrades in June next year, if you have done good training. I would recommend looking out for a second pair now. Firstly, you can catch it on a discount, and then wear them in before race day. Secondly, you are not using new shoes for Comrades. Thirdly, you potentially save money buying on special. AND, lastly, you don’t panic looking for shoes at the expo…don’t laugh. I have seen it done many times!!
Comrades Training Tip no. 6
Test all race day gear
Wear your running shorts that you plan to wear on Comrades day. If you chafe anywhere, make a plan. I find that a piece of strapping works well to prevent chafing however, there are many products on the market. But TRY them out. Especially on your long training runs. And hot sweaty runs.
Make a list of your race day kit well ahead of the Big Day. One of my friends takes a photograph of her gear each year and she checks her kit from the photo so that she is race ready. It is so simple to forget to put the watch on or leave the rehydrate in the fridge. Make a list, check it twice…
Comrades Training Tip no. 7
Plan your Sleep
This is an important part of your recovery, especially in March and April when the mileage peaks and you feel constantly tired and drained. Try be consistent with your sleep. If you are feeling particularly tired, going through a bad work/life patch, or starting to feel that dreaded sniffle coming along – then sleep MORE! Don’t underestimate the value of sleep. It is usually MORE important than extra medication or vitamins. But do both if needs be.
Comrades Training Tip no. 8
Sleep is one way to actively recover. See above.
After long runs, or back to back runs, or a hard race I would recommend that you plan to actively recover. What does this mean?
- Eat sufficiently after your run/ race
- Hydrate – drink sufficient water and rehydrate
- Drain your legs (lie on your back with legs up against a wall and gently pump your feet up and down for about 10 minutes – uses gravity to drain your legs and recover well)
- Ice bath
- Compression garments for legs
- Rest day, easy run or stretch the day after
Comrades Training Tip no. 9
Strength work is vital
If you haven’t already, plan to have at least 1 to 2 strength sessions per week as part of your training. In my Strength Training for Trail Runners, I have given some good tips on how to get started with a strength program, as well as the benefits of strength training.
Take a look.
I have also developed a specific Run Analysis which involves a video analysis of your running, strength and length testing of your muscles and the aim is to highlight any possible weak areas which you can then specifically work on. My aim is to use this analysis more to prevent than to react to an injury.
Comrades Training Tip no. 10
Mind over Matter
Comrades Ultra Marathon is known as the Ultimate Human Race. One part of the training is the physical training runs, strength sessions, nutrition and recovery. The Mind needs training too!
If you are fortunate enough to live in the Durban/ Pietermaritzburg area, run parts of the route. Join in The Beloved Long runs pioneered by our amazing Dean Wight. This will help the mind see, feel and plan the route.
Take a drive along the route before race day. Have a target time and SEE yourself running through Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Your mind is a very powerful tool. Train it!