Having attempted to run Comrades on two previous occasions and not being successful, must beg the question so why try again? Granted, I never really got to run the Comrades although I had entered and trained for it, I never even got to the start line. On both occasions, each about 20 – 22 years ago and in the prime of my running career, some would argue, I got sick with the flu about a month out and decided at that point that because of me falling ill, I would not complete the race and possibly cause some serious harm to myself. At the time that seemed a good enough excuse but this time round I am going to be a little more scientific about my approach. Before I get there, let me give you some idea about how I previously trained for the Comrades marathon and how it is going to be different this time round.
I just ran…
I clocked incredible distances to prepare myself for Comrades. I ran almost every day for about three months prior to the race. On some days I ran twice a day. Once before work in the morning and then after work again. I entered races of all distances and raced to achieve my best time. I barely allowed myself to recover and on those days that my body was crying out for a break, I would push even harder and run even further. You see, once I got into my rhythm and ignored the pains in my joints, I could run forever. I had no training programme, no diet to follow, no nutritional plan or supplementation whatsoever. I hardly rested.
I hardly rested.
I just ran.
Persist Until Success Happens – unknown
I remember one incident particularly well, just before my first attempt at Comrades glory, during a marathon, I think it was the Johnson Crane, at the 10km mark, I ran off the road to get past a group of slower runners and twisted my ankle so badly that it immediately became a purple ball of swollen ligaments, tendons and muscle. After rubbing it a little and assessing the damage, I decided that the only thing to do was to keep going, keep the joint warm and flexible by running through the pain. I know, crazy, right?
Still, I just ran
But I was fit, young and weighed just under 70 kilograms so nothing was going to stop me or stand in my way from this ‘training’ run. Besides I had driven up from the Free State where I was living and working at the time and there was no way I could quit and go back home without the mileage on my legs and a medal in my pocket. I finished that marathon in a respectable 4h45mins, hobbling home in the most excruciating pain that would leave me unable to walk properly for 6 months. Did that stop me from training? Hell no! I rubbed and rubbed and bandaged my ankle for those 6 months so that I could continue training…until I got sick and bailed.
And still, I just ran.
This time around I considers myself a lot wiser, 20-odd years wiser. Probably not as fast but hopefully as fit in 10 months time, definitely stronger mentally and not so hung up about chasing a gold medal or finishing in the top 10%.
What is going to be different about Comrades 2018 for me besides the obvious?
I turn 50 about a month after this first official Comrades attempt, so my attempt and my result have to be epic!
This is how I think I want to approach it and who knows, I might even attempt a back-to-back run the following year?
DKL – husband to EKL will be a regular contributor to this blog, sharing his journey to Comrades 2018