How to ensure a great Comrades Marathon result – Training tips

Posted on Feb 22, 2010 under Comrades Marathon | 2 Comments

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 – a timeless piece of writing!

5 Tips to Get You Up and Running When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

Posted on Aug 06, 2009 under Running | No Comment

Some days you just can’t wait to get up and go running, especially if the sun is out, it’s a beautiful day and you got plenty of sleep. But what about those days when you’re tired, it’s cold out and you just don’t want to get out of bed period, let alone get out of bed to run? While there is no surefire cure for getting up (or failing to) on the wrong side of the bed, there are some ways that you can boost your motivation and get yourself up and moving even when you sure don’t feel like doing anything. Here are a few you can try:

  1. Give yourself a light day. Just because you don’t feel like running 5 miles doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run at all. If you really aren’t up to going the distance, give yourself a half day or run a little slower than your normal pace. That way you’ll still be getting your workout in but you’ll also be giving yourself a little break. Knowing you don’t have to go as far can be a little incentive to get you up and dressed as well and may even let you sleep in a few extra minutes.
  2. Find a buddy. Not running by yourself makes you accountable to more than just you when it comes to getting up and working out. If you plan on meeting a friend, neighbor or just a running buddy you’re more likely to feel guilty about bailing on your plans and will drag yourself out of bed and find the motivation to go out no matter what.
  3. Supercharge your music. If you run with music, consider listening to your iPod or MP3 player before you even hit the track or road to run. Hearing those songs you associate with working out may help change your mindset and get you in the mood to work out. Keep in mind that your music choices are also important so create a playlist that makes you want to kick butt rather than sit on it.
  4. Make a deal with yourself. Some days we all just need a little extra motivation and bargaining with yourself can be one way to do it. Tell yourself you’ll get up and run now, but that later you’ll enjoy some kind of indulgence, whether it’s a massage, a long hot bath or that slice of cheesecake you’ve been craving. The idea of an immediate reward may be just what you need to get moving.
  5. Blaze a new trail. If you run the same way every single day it may be putting a serious damper on your motivation. Maybe all you need to get motivated about running is to take off to a different destination, perhaps one you’ve had in mind for some time but just never went out to do. The thought of new scenery and something more exciting than the usual may make running seem enticing enough to get you out of bed.

This post was contributed by Kelsey Allen, who writes about the nursing schools online. She welcomes your feedback at KelseyAllen1010

Motivation for runners – No excuses!

Posted on Mar 22, 2003 under Running | No Comment

I know it’s hard, running that is.

It’s been written so often that the most difficult thing about running is getting up to run… and boy has this been a real problem lately.

It’s so quick to skip a run here and there and suddenly a month or two has passed. The belly gets a little bigger, my excuse being why should I let my wife be alone in her pregnancy, the legs get a little stiffer, the chest gets a little tighter as well as the once baggy pants. I’m sure we have all been there.

But how do we get out of the gutter and onto the road ?

BE SELFISH and skip the shell-fish.

Examine the excuses you have been using

1. I had a late night
If it’s a once off, fine, don’t run. It it’s the fourth time this week, try a change in lifestyle. If you are in my industry managing two restaurants, find time during the day and still get the “normal” seven hours sleep. My friend John Walland of 5fm, works some days from 1-4am, then the breakfast show from 6am, then the afternoon with Darren Scott and still finds time to run. Still not sure how ? Discuss your “busy” day with someone that is equally busy and finds time to run and they will show you how to make time.

2. I need to help with the kids
There are very few things in this world better than spending time with your children. There is however a difference between spending time and spending quality time. Make a special time twice a week for an hour or two for just you and the kid(s). They will appreciate the quality time and you will be relaxed knowing that you aren’t supposed to be somewhere else. Consider including your kids when you run – find a field and let them play in the middle while you do your laps

3. I need to get the work out
It’s a well known fact – if you want something done, give it to a busy person who plans their day well. The better the body – the better the mind. We all have work pressure and in today’s competitive climate, we all have to perform better than the other person. There is however a limit and one that you have to find. I suggest you read the book by Stephen Covey on the habits of successful people. There is a diagram of how to become “life” centered and not work centered. Read it and do the exercise – it’s so easy and will change your life

4. I’ll go out tomorrow
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you’re always a day away – and will always be.

I have started again. A slow 30min yesterday and another 30min today. It was great to get back out although the quads needed a little pampering today. I’ll get over missing Two Oceans and Comrades this year with the knowledge that I am back on the road.

Best of luck – if you need a kick in the butt, e-mail me, I’ll kick with pleasure.

Training for beginners

Posted on Jan 05, 2003 under Running | No Comment

The decision
Starting to run is a conscious decision to obtain a single goal.

The decision to run can come from a desire to get fit, lose weight, de-stress or any other personal decision. Nobody can convince you to achieve your goal but you. Remember, that your goal is just that, YOURS. It may be different from others but it remains yours.

I’ll try not sound like an accountant when I say “plan your goal”. If you don’t put to paper what you hope to achieve, your chances of success are minimal. You need to know your progress – you need to know when the goal is to be achieved by – you need to know how to achieve your goal – you need information.

Information is generally free with the use of the internet and running specific websites. There are however three items to purchase BEFORE you start.

1.       The Runners Guide by Tom Cottrell

2.       The Lore of Running by Tim Noakes, MD

3.    A subscription to Runners World, monthly magazine

The Runners Guide gives you all the race information you will require in attaining your goals. It won’t help that your goal is a 32km race and you chose the RAC Tough One. You would rather choose the Kellogg’s 32km. The runners Guide will give you a great reference to which race, when. Further to the book, refer to Tom’s website This is most certainly the best of the best when it comes to running in SA.

The Lore of Running is referred to by many as “the runner bible”.  It’s 800 pages long but don’t let this scare you. Tim Noakes is firstly a runner, then a medical doctor and further a professor. Whatever you do, read it. I don’t necessarily mean that you must read page for page before you start, as one never really finishes the book. The book should be used as an encyclopedia for running.

Need motivation, subscribe to Runners World by Touchline Media. If you are a Discovery Health member, you only pay R 50 per annum! I have mixed feelings with regards Runners World as a magazine for novice runners. The reason being is that a novice runner is a sponge absorbing any information handed out, good or bad. Over the years, Runners World has had many articles for the beginner, which had certain contradictions. There were underlying assumption, as to how fit the person was, what age, what weight and many others. The problem is that although as a human we are designed to run, through Westernization we have become lazy. The magazine however, as a whole, is invaluable for the runner. It provides up-to-date information on all aspects of running.


I speak to many people attempting to get fit but lead an unhealthy lifestyle. If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, change it! I know that this sounds “easy to say” but change is what life’s all about and what makes life interesting. It’s called living. Without change we are merely robots, surviving each day as it comes and heading nowhere but to a life of “I wish I had done…”

You will most likely do more damage trying to get fit without changing your unhealthy lifestyle. If you are stressed, welcome to life. You are not the only one. Every person I know is stressed, without exception. The difference is how people handle their stress. People who cannot handle stress find stress in everything. What should be a absolute “natural high” of reading to your child when he / she goes to sleep, becomes stressful as you had a bad day, you are hungry, your boss doesn’t understand or appreciate you, you, you, you. Take time to recognize the pure joys of life. Once the day ends, it ends. It doesn’t come around again.

If you are overweight, do something about it.  Don’t spend money on TV products or alike. All the information on nutrition is freely available through pharmacies, doctors, websites and magazines and many more.  You must make the decision to make the change. A simple solution with big results is not to eat carbohydrates after 4pm. Forget about that big meal at dinner-time. Get information and get pro-active. I will gladly offer some advise on my thoughts as to how to lose the weight. Unfortunately, I can only offer advice, you have to do it.


If you scrolled down to this section and missed the first two sections, go back!

When you were a baby, you generally learnt to crawl then to walk, then to run. Don’t compare yourself  to chose you didn’t crawl as a baby or those who didn’t learn to walk before learning to run. I won’t mention any names Bruce.

This is of great importance and a lesson I didn’t learn until it was too late. I was reasonably fit from tennis and soccer and at a perfect weight for my age and height. I started running with a friend who was a runner. It went great for the first four months until a pain on my left shin stopped me from running. A bone scan indicated a grade three stress-fracture. I had no pain leading up-to the injury or any symptoms that an injury was on its way. I had a further six months of recovery to read and learn to which I thank The Lore of Running for guidance. I did too much too early.

Once given the all clear, I undertook to learn to how to walk before getting back on the road. For the next three months, I walked on a treadmill and did strength cross-training. My progress was closely monitored and I became walking fit. Then and only then did I head back on the road. It was a frustrating period as my running partner by now was very fit and running good times at races I couldn’t yet attend.

The following is a extract from The Lore of Running which, in my opinion, is the best advice I have read for a beginner to start the journey of the runner.


THE GOAL: Run a 10km race after 25 weeks

Notice that it takes 25 weeks to train for a 10km (with continued training it only takes a further 11 weeks to progress to a standard marathon) Refer to Lore of Running for further information.

w – walk r – run
Day Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
1 W20 W20 W15,R5 W10
2 W20 W20 W20 W20 W20,R5
3 W20
4 W20 W20 W20 W20 W15,R5
5 W20 W10
6 W20 W20 W20 W15,R15 W15,R5
7 W20
Day Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
1 W5,R5 W5,R5 W5,R5 R10 W15,R5 W10,R10
2 W15,R5 W20,R5 W20,R5 W20,R10 W20,R10 W15,R15
3 W10,R10
4 W15,R5 W15,R5 W20,R10 W20,R10 W20,R10
5 W10,R10
6 W15,R5 W20,R5 W20,R10 W20,R10 W15,R15
7 W15,R10
Day Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18
1 W10,R10 W10,R10 W5,R15 W5,R25 R30 R30
2 W10,R20 W10,R20 W5,R20
3 R30 R30 R30
4 W15,R15 W10,R20 W10,R20 W5,R15 R20 R20
5 R10,W10 W5,R25 R30 R30
6 W10,R20 W10,R20 R30
7 W10,R10 W5,R15 R20 R20
Day Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24
1 R30
2 R30 R30 R25 R35 R20
3 R30 R20 R30 R40 R30
4 R30 R20
5 R30 R35 R30 R25 R45
6 R20 R30 R25 R25 R35
7 R20 R15 R20 R20 R20 R20
Day Week 25
1 R40
2 R20
4 R15
7 10KM

A new family – running for a purpose

Posted on Jan 05, 2003 under Running | No Comment

When I decided to take up running in 1998 it was only due to the fact that I got injured at soccer after some 20 years on the field. It was either go under the knife or retire. Retirement seemed the best route as the younger players seemed to be getting the better of my age.

I didn’t know anything about running or the unity of the running community. In soccer, there was always bitter rivalry between clubs which often was decided by a harsh tackle, a head-butt or even a full player and spectator brawl.

I joined Randburg Harriers as it was in between my house and a friends. We were both welcomed with open arms and a friendly smile. A new home – a new family.

In business as an accountant in public practice, I found that people cared for one thing – themselves and their well being. How to avoid this and evade that. Many a task was performed beyond the normal accounting call and only to be “negotiated” on the fee. Further, criminals hiding behind the corporate curtain and lengthy legal jargon left a bitter taste and finally led to me closing shop after eight years.

Throughout the bitter business battles, the one thing I could always rely on was that the road would welcome me every morning with a huge smile and the odd “tears from heaven”.

The question is often asked – why do you run?

My answer – I run for a purpose.

I run to better myself, I run for my family, I run for others via charity, I run for my income, I run to spend time by myself, I run to enjoy natures beauty, I run because I love it – I run for a Purpose.