There are only two important races if you are doing a Comrades Marathon:
1. Your qualifier
2. Comrades Marathon
Every time I hear runners saying sentences like this I shake my head: “I ran a personal best almost every race in my training for Comrades and then on the day I crashed – I can’t understand it?”
Deciding to run the Comrades Marathon is a huge commitment. A person joins a club and gets caught into the notion that one must run every race possible before Comrades
Please take note of the following and if you don’t believe me, ask Bruce Fordyce, Norrie Williamson, Johnny Halberstadt, Alan Rob, Andrew Kelehe and so on.
Races are an important part of training for Comrades. Not to see how fast you can run, but to see how slow you can run.
Let me explain further:
In training you must do speed work, hill training, gym work, recovery runs and slow runs plus your “normal pace” run.
You do not get fast by attempting a PB (personal best) on every race. You get fast by doing specific speed work training over a short distance. FACT!!
The only thing you will get from running flat out every race is burn-out and an injury. Races are there to get your long run in for the week, test various supplements, test new socks, test new drinking patterns, getting used to waking up early, getting used to the crowds at the start and more testing and then some more. When you finish a race, you must finish “fresh” enough to run a further 5km’s with ease. In fact, a good tip is after you finish the race, run back against the “traffic” of runners for a km and then back-at a very slow pace.
With a variation in your weekly training, your times will come down by themselves.
Another tip – do a time trial at your club without your watch. Set yourself a medium pace time and see if you can come in at that time. This will teach you a very important lesson about how you feel at what pace and the ability to judge what pace you are running at during a race. You won’t have to watch the marker boards every km to see your pace, you can judge for yourself and just check with the boards every 5km’s. This is very important for Comrades to be able to pace yourself through the day, and like some of us, into the late afternoon.
In summary: Use the weekend race as a training run and stay fresh for the qualifier and the big day.
Source: 2003 Webarchive of runner.co.za – a timeless piece of writing!