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TRAINING FOR EVERY COMRADES RUNNER – PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE
By Don Oliver, Comrades Coach

 

The winter period, covering July to December, is the time to lay a solid foundation for the serious Comrades training that starts on January 1st every year. In July each year there are many different runners out there, with different levels of fitness and preparation. They will all do different types of training, depending on their past performance – ranging from the well-trained, successful Comrades finishers this year, to the TV viewers who were so stimulated and challenged by the coverage of this year’s uphill thrill, that they want to be part of the action in 2005, notwithstanding they can hardly call themselves athletes at this stage.

There is a programme for everybody in this booklet. Just select the type of runner you are and you will find a programme taking you through to the end of the year, when all of you will be ready to embark on a solid 6-months programme of well-constructed training for Comrades 2005, which will be featured in the Race Dates Summer 2005 booklet.

RUNNER CLASS 1

“Haven’t run much before but want to be part of the action in Comrades 2005, and get a medal.”

The very first thing to do is to go to your doctor and break the news to him of your latest ambition. Let him check you out with a stress ECG and all the other tests, so that you start off with confidence.

The second thing to do is to make a firm commitment to your family, friends and colleagues that you will be a Comrades runner next year. The dedication and persistence you have to develop and the sacrifices you will have to make means that Comrades is not for the faint hearted. Believe you me!

The third thing is to get the kit, As a start, get a pair of good recommended running shoes from a specialist shop, and suitable clothing for winter running.

Fourth thing is to join a running club or a group of local running friends, some of whom have done Comrades before, and arrange to train regularly with them. They will help you run on safe training routes in good company.

Fifth thing is to allocate time for training in your already busy life but not at the expense of family, friends and your job.

As with all road running training, you have to start off slowly and build up gradually to adapt to the new lifestyle. Your heart and breathing will develop more rapidly than your muscles and bones. As a result, injuries are an ever-present danger and must be avoided at any cost. Progress gradually. Only do as much as the programme asks. To get ahead and do too much too soon will land you in the physiotherapist’s rooms. You will be set bi-monthly targets – settle for just that and no more. Please note that you start of with walking/jogging sessions only. You will run or job all the way later.

Here is how you start:

Part 1: July and August 2004

Objective: To walk/jog a 10km road race in less than 1hr 20mins by 31 August

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

W/c

05/07

12/07

19/07

26/07

02/08

09/08

16/08

23/08

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

30mins

30mins

30mins

45mins

45mins

45mins

45mins

45mins

Wed

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Thu

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

Fri

20mins

20mins

20mins

20mins

20mins

20mins

20mins

20mins

Sat

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

30mins

Sun

40mins

40mins

45mins

45mins

60mins

60mins

60mins

75mins

Total

150mins

150mins

155mins

170mins

185mins

185mins

185mins

200mins

Thought for the month: “At least I’ve made a start:

PART 2 – SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2004

In Part 2, you can take on the role of a regular runner. Spring has arrived and that makes it so much easier for running than those dark, cold winter mornings. The training runs are classed as running but, like all road runners, you can slip a little walk in now and again when you are battling a bit. If you want to see runners walk, look at that Comrades TV video again! Your routes should be varied and include a couple of hilly ones, but there must also be a few far easier ones for those days when you must take things easier.

You can do races twice a month and go up to 15km only, trying each time to walk less and improve your race time. If it is hot, learn to take in fluids. Recover after the weekend with a day off and two or three days’ really slow running. We have a rule: “Hard day – easy day”. If your legs are stiff or you are a bit tired, you should run slowly for a few more days.

Go to the club Time Trial and have a short, sharp 8km run. Race against your friends and rivals or run against the clock. This will improve your running immensely. Map out several training routes and measure them accurately with the car trip meter.

Note 1: The Sunday runs in italics are club training runs and the others are road races.
Note 2: Have a drink of water on all your training runs. That is the only stop now.

Thought for the month: “I never thought running was so much fun! No wonder so many people are out there!”

Part 2: September and October 2004

Objective: To run a 10 km road race in less than 63 minutes and also complete a 15km race within the cut-off time by 29 October 2004

 

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

W/c

30/08

06/09

13/09

20/09

27/10

04/10

11/10

18/10

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

5km

5km

5km

5km

5km

5km

6km

6km

Wed

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

Thu

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Fri

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

8km

Sat

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

Sun

10km

12km

10km

12km

10km

15km

12km

15km

Total

37km

39km

37km

39km

37km

42km

40km

43km

PART 3 – NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2004

In Part 3, you are finding yourself and where you fit into the scheme of things. The club seems to be made up of very fast lean serious runners, fatter slower ones who support the bar, some who are friendly and others who seem to run in a world of their own. Some are really competitive and ask your times and tell you they beat you in the race on Sunday. They are all good people – road runners.

During this period we are beginning to prepare ourselves for some fairly serious training next year. The kilometers go up and the objectives are slightly harder but still really quite easy. We didn’t realize training for Comrades was this easy. Well, wait for April next year and speak to me then. The idea of achieving an objective and moving on to the next slightly harder one is called “biteable bits and chewable chunks”. You get used to being san achiever.

Note 1:    Sorry that I took away the second Rest Day. You will need to get used to six day a week running from January next year.
Note 2:    If you go on holiday, don’t do more than the programme, but and also don’t do nothing for the month. Road runners never have a holiday from running. They would miss it too much.

Thought for the month: “I am feeling better about everything in life!”

Part 3: November and December 2004

Objective: To run a 21 km road race in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes by 31 December 2004

 

Week 17

Week 18

Week 19

Week 20

Week 21

Week 22

Week 23

Week 14

Week 25

Week 26

W/c

25/10

01/11

08/11

15/11

22/11

29/11

06/12

13/12

20/12

27/12

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

5 km

6 km

6km

6 km

6 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Wed

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Thu

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

5 km

Fri

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Sat

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

6km

8 km

8 km

Sun

15 km

15 km

10 km

20 km

15 km

20 km

21 km

15 km

8 km

15 km

Total

48 km

48 km

43 km

53 km

55 km

56 km

50 km

45 km

52 km

52 km

 

RUNNER CLASS 2

“Have been running for over a year now and am handling the 21km but am unsure that I could make Comrades, although I would love to be there next year.

You are in a very strong position: you know the scene and, surprisingly enough, you are beginning to get “road hardened” after a year’s regular running. You have got over the agonizing decision of which club to join.

Many, many runners I have trained over the years have been amazed at how deceptively easy it is to slowly increase the distance you run in training and races. The other thing is, there are many other runners out there like you, who aren’t sure how to go about Comrades training, and the old hands at the club seem to keep it a big secret.

You will find the most comfortable training programme for you, graduate to a marathon runner, then an ultra marathoner and finally the king of the road, the Comrades runner. In my own case, I waited nearly three years before I had the courage to go for Comrades, mainly because nobody was really prepared to help me, step by step.

Over the years I have developed a programme that takes runners by the hand and leads them gently on and up. The fear of failure, of course, is very real at Comrades but this programme develops confidence of achieving longer and longer distances so that when you line up at the start, you know you can run the longest you have ever gone before. You have already done just that thing for the last 10 months, every single month. We call it biteable bits and chewable chunks.” That is how we slowly progress month by month, step by step over the last 20 years, more than 600 runners have won their first Comrades medal using this programme.
Note 1:       You have been going to races every other week and expect to see an improvement in your times.

Thought for the month: “It’s really exciting to have a goal at last.”

Part 1: July and August 2004

Objective: To run a five days a week and complete a 15km road race to ;92mins by 31 August 2004

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

W/c

05/07

12/07

19/07

26/07

02/08

09/08

16/08

23/08

30/08

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

Wed

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Thu

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

Fri

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Sat

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Sun

10 km

15 km

15 km

20 km

21 km

15 km

15 km

20 km

21 km

Total

38 km

43 km

43 km

48 km

49 km

43 km

43 km

48 km

49 km

Part 2 – September and October 2004

During this period we will be training for a 32km race in November. Avoid thinking about getting an early qualifier for Comrades by doing a standard or an ultra before Christmas. It doesn’t fit in the programme at all. You will qualify in a standard marathon in late February or early March next year, as you sail along the Comrades training programme for 2005.

You can go to a Time Trial this month (September 2004) and start measuring your time on an accurate course each week. At this stage you should manage 8km in 42mins. You can extend the length of your Sunday Club Runs to about 2,5 hours, just learning to relax and take it easy. It’s called “time on your feet” and it’s good for Comrades. You can start looking at some of the other runners in the club, find out their Comrades times and think about what time you can go for the Comrades next year.

Note 1:       Your time for 15km should be close to 80mins.

Part 2: September and October 2004

Objective: To run a 10km road race in less then 63mins and also complete a 15km race within the cut-off time by 29 October 2004

*

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week1 5

Week 16

Week 17

W/c

06/09

13/09

20/09

27/09

04/10

11/10

18/10

25/10

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Wed

10 km

8 km

10 km

8 km

10 km

8 km

10 km

8 km

Thu

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Fri

6 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Sat

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Sun

25 km

15 km

20 km

25 km

21 km

20 km

15 km

25 km

Total

65 km

53 km

60 km

63 km

63

60 km

67 km

65 km

PART 3 – NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2004

The 32km race is an ideal lead up to a standard marathon early next year. Those living close to Central Gauteng will enter the aptly named Tough One. In the 32km race you can practice “looking through” to the longer distance. As you approach the finish of the 32km, you can visualize what it would be like to carry on for another 10km. Normally you get a negative answer but as you prepare for the longer distance and line up on next race day, you mind will take you through. It will teach you that each race has to be prepared for thoroughly and Pace Judgment is one of the important techniques for long distance road running. Go out too fast and you will be a dead duck soon after halfway.

Note 1:       Try your best not to miss training days over Christmas, just as a sign of discipline.
Note 2:       If you go away, avoid doing too much running because you do not have to go to work.

Thought for the month: “Yeah you’re right, that is a Tough One”.

Part 3: November and December 2004

Objective: To complete a 32 km road race in less than 3 hours and 05 minutes

 

Week 18

Week 19

Week 20

Week 21

Week 22

Week 23

Week 247

Week 25

Week 26

W/c

01/11

08/11

15/11

22/11

29/11

06/12

13/12

20/12

27/12

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Wed

10 km

10 km

10 km

10 km

10 km

10 km

10 km

10 km

10 km

Thu

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Fri

6 km

5 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

5 km

6 km

6 km

6 km

Sat

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Sun

21 km

25 km

20 km

32 km

10 km

20 km

15 km

8 km

10 km

Total

61 km

65 km

60 km

72 km

50 km

60 km

55 km

48 km

50 km

RUNNERS CLASS 3

I finished Comrades this year, what do we do now?”

There is so much to do. Have a look at this:

1.       Do a better time next year and start training earlier this time.
2.       Rather do a good Two Oceans and just have an easy Comrades.
3.       Recover from the ordeal and then do better times at the shorter distances.
4.       Have a break during the winter and start again when the weather improves.
5.       Do some cross training to get stronger for the Down run.

These are all good alternatives and all will get you back to Comrades next year for the dreaded Down run. I will give you very brief outlines of the training for July and August for each of the plans above.

1.       You cannot start training again too early. You must go very gently in July before you start off again in August. Start faster and shorter runs from September.
2.       The training leading up to Two Oceans is very similar to the Comrades training up to that point but you can race it harder.
3.       That is a great idea. You have a good base, as soon as you have recovered from Comrades. You need to pick up some speed work and you will be a better runner by around October.
4.       Do not have a complete break. It is difficult to get going again. Rather do some gym work, swimming in the indoor pool and some weekend cycling. Lots of people do vigorous hiking. That’s all good for you.
5.       Cross training will do you a lot of good. You will enjoy the break from the long runs on the road. Get some professional advice to build up those quads and the style you need for downhill running. Why not try a duathalon?

Here is the general training programme for a Comrades 2004 finisher.

PART 1 – JULY AND AUGUST 2004

Note 1:       Mix and match as you like, provided you don’t run more than 3 times per week.

Thought for the month: “Maybe I was doing a bit too much running?”

Part 1: July and August 2004

Objective: To recover from Comrades but not lose your fitness

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

W/c

05/07

12/07

19/07

26/07

02/08

09/08

16/08

23/08

30/08

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Wed

Spin

Swim

Gym

Spin

Spin

Swim

Gym

Spin

Spin

Thu

Gym

Gym

Walk

Gym

Walk

Walk

Walk

Walk

Walk

Fri

5km

Cycle

Spin

Swim

Cycle

5km

5km

5km

5km

Sat

6km

Cycle

Cycle

Spin

Cycle

Cycle

Cycle

5km

5km

Sun

10km

10km

10km

10km

Cycle

10km

Cycle

10km

Cycle

Total

21km

18km

18km

18km

8km

23km

12km

28km

18km

PART 2 – SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2004

The spring has added a new dimension to life. At least we can start getting out in the morning and evenings now. At this stage, we can switch over to some low kilometers, faster running. A basic week can include:

·        One day speed work of either springs (Spr) along the length of a rugby field with a jog back, 10reps; 2km warm up and warm down.
·        One day Time Trial (T/T)
·        Two days of 45mins slow jogging for 8km (Jog). One day of steady state (S/S) faster running for 45mins. One race and one day’s rest.

Your races in October can be between 10km and 21.1km. You can aim for fast times every other weekend.

Note 1:       Your Sunday runs should be a mixture of races and slow club runs. Make your own choice.

Part 2: September and October 2004

*

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week1 5

Week 16

Week 17

W/c

09/09

13/09

20/09

27/09

04/10

11/10

18/10

25/10

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

Wed

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

Thu

9km S/S

9km S/S

9km S/S

9km S/S

9km S/S

9km S/S

9km S/S

9km S/S

Fri

6km Spr

6km Spr

6km Spr

6km Spr

6km Spr

6km Spr

6km Spr

6km Spr

Sat

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

8km jog

Sun

10km

15km

21km

15km

15km

10km

21km

15km

Total

49 km

54

60 km

54 km

54

49 km

60 km

54 km

PART 3 – NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2004

November is used to run faster times before you start to train again for Comrades in January next year. Avoid doing too much racing, which could cause you to arrive tired at the beginning of your Comrades training. December is best reserved for some steady slower kilometers as a good base for next year’s improved Comrades time. I recommend that you avoid any long races, such as a standard or an ultra, at this time of the year.

Note 1:       As from Week 23 you should take a break from racing during December.

Thought for the month: “I’ve enjoyed this faster stuff”.

Part 3: November and December 2004

 

Week 18

Week 19

Week 20

Week 21

Week 22

Week 23

Week 247

Week 25

Week 26

W/c

01/11

08/11

15/11

22/11

29/11

06/12

13/12

20/12

27/12

Mon

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

REST

Tue

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

8 km T/T

Wed

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

10km jog

Thu

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

8km S/S

Fri

6 km

6 km

10 km

6 km

10 km

6 km

10 km

6 km

6 km

Sat

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

8 km

Sun

21 km

15 km

10 km

32 km

10 km

15 km

10 km

8 km

8 km

Total

61 km

55 km

54 km

72 km

54 km

55 km

44 km

48 km

48 km