Comrades Marathon 2019 “up”

Comrades marathon logo

Hey guys, with the fast approaching Comrades Marathon on June 9, I would like to provide a summary on the longest and oldest Ultra Marathon race in the world.

Starting back in 1921 it is approximately 89km of road running between the South African cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The race famously changes direction each year and is known as either racing an “up” year as Durban is at sea level or a “down” year as Pietermaritzburg sits at 600 metres above sea level. 2019 will be an up year with the race starting in Durban.

What makes this race so special and unique is the challenge that lies ahead for most of the 25000 starters who are required to reach checkpoints along the way —16k/30k/45k/58k/69k and 81k —within the set cut-off time only to then have to run, shuffle or crawl in fear of not making it to the finish line for the final cut-off of 12 hours. This is a sight that even the exhausted and hobbling finishers come to watch and applaud as the pain and anguish that the runners face as the human chain formed by marshals close off the finish line when the 12 hour gun is fired. This would be devastating after 12 hours of gruelling and punishing effort of running 89 kilometres over the famous “Big 5” hills, to not be awarded an official finish certification or medal.

I, along with my fellow Australian Comrades, will be preparing and training hard to not be one of the 15000 runners who fail to make the finish line come June 9 2019 and pick up one of the medals listed below.

  • Gold medal: the first 10 men and women
  • Wally Hayward medal (silver-centred circled by gold ring): 11th position to sub 6hrs
  • Isavel Roche-Kelly medal (silver-centred circled by gold ring): women only, 11th position to sub 7hrs 30min
  • Silver medal: 6hrs 00min to sub 7hrs 30min
  • Bill Rowan medal (bronze-centred circled by silver ring): 7hrs 30min to sub 9hrs
  • Robert Mtshali medal (titanium): 9hr 00min to sub 10hrs
  • Bronze medal: 9hrs 00min to sub 11hrs
  • Vic Clapham medal (copper): 11hrs 00min to sub 12hrs 00min.

All the best and safe travels for all.

Author: Aston Duncan —The Running Guy—piecing potential-together

Another resolution gone pear-shaped

Have a plan with accountable strategies to prevent things going pear shaped

You’ve said it and you’ve heard it: I’m going to get fitter! I’m going to get healthier! I’m going to do a fun run or join the gym!

Where do we go wrong?

The decision to increase your fitness and lose some excess kilos from the waistline is usually fed from our non-committal emotional side rather than our realistic and achievable side. To repeat one of the well-known Benjamin Franklin quotes “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

So let’s use the W and H approach:

WHO can help assist you in achieving your new short and long term goals? A work colleague, family member, partner or friends are a great asset to include in your training. You have a much higher chance of turning up to train if you have someone awaiting your arrival. ACCOUNTABILITY!

WHAT is realistically doable? Be very clear on what you are setting out to achieve: lose 4kg in 4 weeks, drop a dress size or move up some notches on the belt. If you try to lose weight fast in the latest unsustainable diet or exercise fad, you will put it on just as fast plus a bit more. Think SUSTAINABILTY!

WHEN are you going to complete your training sessions? It’s time to be honest with yourself and your ‘actual’ available time to write up a training plan. Take into account weather, visibility and working hours and start slotting in your training sessions. Lunch time (have a break to get the body moving again, it hates being sedentary) can be utilised for group sessions or brisk walks with work colleagues, take advantage of weekend mornings to get your training done in case your day runs away from you with other commitments and your exercise plans go wayside. Be flexible with your allocated days and sessions to allow for adjustments if needed, but attempt to hit the weekly targets in either sessions completed or total time. Don’t try to catch up the following week, nail it before Sunday evening to stay on track. DISCIPLINE!     

HOW to make it happen! Position yourself in a peaceful environment with pen and paper and start allocating time around your must work and life commitments. Taking into account your current and previous history of exercise and health, design yourself an achievable first training plan. You don’t have to set world records in the first month, remember that it has to be sustainable as well as achievable. Break the week down into daily segments and slot in your sessions around your commitments—something everyday day would be a great starting point, then progressing to a.m. and p.m. sessions. The shorter and colder winter days can be more challenging but certainly not an excuse. Be smarter with your planning and focus more on indoor sessions to increase your fitness so you are up and running for when the days become longer and more pleasant.

WHY bother! This is where we use all our emotional energy in a positive way to propel us forward in achieving our goals. The feeling you get once you have ticked the box will be memorable, self-rewarding and well deserved. Remember to have those daily and weekly goals outlined so you don’t get lost along the way and lose your motivation and focus. If you start to see signs of your training plan faltering, then sit down, re-focus and nip it in the butt before it goes pear shaped—pun intended. Every day you exercise you are giving yourself a great gift for today and for tomorrow. Visualise where and how you see yourself in months to come, feel proud, confident and remain focused. If you have a slip up, don’t be hard on yourself, just absorb it as you have the chance to make up for it the next day. SELF BELIEF!

So let’s highlight the key points:

  • Having training buddies is a handy tool to help prevent you from skipping a session
  • Be clear on what you are setting out to achieve and have it documented for easy access
  • Write up an achievable exercise diary and log your sessions; weekly monitoring will help you make adjustments
  • When you have a bad day, go easy on yourself and stay positive, there are plenty of good days ahead to make amends.

Author: Aston Duncan—The Running Guy—piecing potential-together