Runners wanted for WITS study on bone density

Posted on Feb 24, 2010 under Running | No Comment was approached by Dr. Joanne McVeigh from Wits Medical School to call for South African runners to partake in a study looking at bone density in a variety of athletes. We hope that this call appeals to you and ask you to contact here if you’re interested in the study:

Are you training or straining?

Exercise, specifically the weight-bearing kind, is one of the best things we can do to help build and maintain healthy bones. Exercises, like running, walking and weight-lifting, put strain on the skeletal structure and our bones respond by supporting that stress.

Retired athletes have been shown to have an increased bone mass when compared to people who were not physically active in their youth. Recently, there has been evidence to show that competitive road cyclists are 7 times more likely to develop osteopenia of the spine when compared to runners. Osteopenia is the term indicating some bone loss. It is the precursor of osteoporosis, which is a high degree of bone loss.

Are you interested in finding out your bone mass?

We are running a research project which will assess the bone mineral density of male athletes participating in weight bearing (running and mountain biking) and non-weight bearing (swimming and road cycling) sports. We are researching whether the different types of physical activity have different effects on bone mineral density (bone strength).

We are looking for male athletes (runners, mountain bikers, road cyclists and swimmers), aged 18-29 and participating in their chosen sport for a minimum of 5 hours per week. If you choose to partake in our study, you will be asked to come into the Wits Medical School (Parktown, Johannesburg) for a visit lasting approximately one and a half hours. We will take some measurements and perform a Dual Energy X Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan on your bones where bone mineral density and body fat percentage will be measured. This scan provides valuable information regarding the status of your bone health and is worth over R2000. Your participation in this study will contribute to medical knowledge that may help us to establish whether athletes who participate in non-weight bearing sports are at risk for osteoporosis later on in life. You will not be paid to participate in this study but your transport costs will be reimbursed adequately. Our study has been approved by the board for Human Ethics at the University of the Witwatersrand.

For more information please contact Dr Joanne McVeigh: or 011 717 2154

An Unofficial Comrades Training Program

Posted on Jan 09, 2004 under Comrades Marathon | No Comment

Training tips: How to ensure a great Comrades
My opinion on the cut-off extension at Comrades Marathon 2004

DATE 16 June 2004
TIME 05:30
DISTANCE 87.3 km’s
START – Durban
FINISH – Pietermaritzburg

Distance of Race Qualifying time
42,2 km 05:00
48 – 50 km 06:00
52 – 54 km 06:30
56 km 07:00
60 km 07:40
64 km 08:20
80 km 10:30
100 km 13:30

There are many different ideas on training for a ultra marathon such as Comrades and there are always people who argue that they have the best training program. I submit, mine isn’t the best but then again, I don’t know who’s is or what the “best” is for that matter. This training program is based on my planning logbook for the 2000 Comrades Marathon. Use it as a guide as that was a training program is all about. If you miss a day, forget it – it’s gone. It cannot be made up.

The reason for placing this training program here is the fact that, to my knowledge, nobody has made their training program available on the net. This is a disgrace as the spirit of Comrades is to help each-other through one of the toughest ultra’s. On the forum when a runner in the USA asked for training tips, the reference was not to a South African site, but one in the States based on running an ultra. I hope that this changes in the future and all recognised coaches have their programs available for all – for free.

The program is for a 10:00 – 12:00 hour cut-off.

Again, I stress, this is a guideline. Go to time trials at the club and chat to experienced Comrades runners but leave the silver medallists alone for now, subscribe to Runners World, attend the panel talks. The program worked will for me and guided me to an “easy” Comrades and what a party throughout and after. The Paulshof Plodders have a saying, “if someone says they enjoyed Comrades, they lie about everything else as well”. There is one thing for sure, it’s a life changing experience and you will cry when you finish your first.

Starting Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total
05/01/03 Rest 8 8 10 5 5 15 51
12/01/03 Rest 8 8 10 6 5 21 58
19/01/03 Rest 6 8 10 8 5 15 52
26/01/03 Rest 6 8 12 8 5 21 60
02/02/03 Rest 10 8 12 10 5 25 70
09/02/03 Rest 5 10 5 10 6 32 68
16/02/03 Rest 8 8 10 6 8 21 61
23/02/03 Rest 8 8 12 5 8 21 62
02/03/03 Rest 8 6 8 6 0 42.2 70.2
09/03/03 Rest 6 6 8 6 8 15 49
16/03/03 Rest 8 8 12 8 8 25 69
23/03/03 Rest 6 8 10 8 10 15 57
30/03/03 Rest 8 8 10 6 0 50 82
06/04/03 Rest 8 8 12 8 8 21 65
13/04/03 Rest 6 8 10 8 8 15 55
20/04/03 Rest 8 8 12 0 56 0 84
27/04/03 Rest 6 8 5 6 8 15 48
04/05/03 Rest 8 6 12 8 8 21 63
11/05/03 Rest 8 6 12 8 6 62 102
18/05/03 Rest Rest 6 10 8 6 32 62
25/05/03 Rest 8 6 10 8 6 15 53
01/06/03 Rest 6 6 8 6 8 21 55
0 153 164 220 152 187 520.2 1396.2

Comrades marathon 2004 Up-Run Pacing Chart

12:00 11:00 09:00 07:30
Route section Distance Km to go Time Pace Time Pace Time Pace Time Pace
Tennis courts 8 79.3 01:08 08:30 01:02 07:47 00:51 06:22 00:42 05:19
Top Cowies 15 72.3 02:03 07:52 01:52 07:12 01:32 05:54 01:17 04:55
Top Fields 24 63.3 03:14 07:05 02:58 07:15 02:25 05:56 02:01 04:57
Halfway up Botha’s Hill 32 55.3 04:17 07:53 03:56 07:14 03:13 05:55 02:41 04:56
Alverston 42 45.3 05:38 08:05 05:10 07:25 04:13 06:04 03:31 05:03
Drummond (half way) 43.5 43.8 05:50 07:33 05:20 06:55 04:22 05:40 03:38 04:43
Over top og Inchanga 47 40.3 06:18 08:19 05:47 07:38 04:44 06:14 03:56 05:12
Harrison / Cato Ridge 56 31.3 07:33 08:16 06:55 07:35 05:40 06:12 04:43 05:10
Camperdown 60 27.3 08:06 08:05 07:25 07:25 06:04 06:04 05:03 05:03
Umlaas Road 67 20.3 09:05 08:33 08:20 07:50 06:49 06:25 05:41 05:21
Halfway up Little Polly’s 74 13.3 10:03 08:19 09:13 07:38 07:32 06:14 06:17 05:12
Bottom of Polly Shorts 77 10.3 10:30 08:38 09:37 07:55 07:52 06:28 06:33 05:24
Top of Polly Shorts 80 7.3 10:58 09:42 10:03 08:54 08:14 07:17 06:51 06:04
Finish 87.3 0 12:00 08:25 11:00 07:43 09:00 06:19 07:30 05:16

Comrades Marathon cut-off extended to 12 hours

Posted on Jan 05, 2003 under Comrades Marathon | No Comment


The Comrades Marathon Association have decided to extend the cut-off for the 2003 and future Comrades Marathon to 12 hours. In Speaking to many runners, the decision has received both positive and negative responses.

The majority of runners who have completed previous Comrades under the 11 hour rule are negative towards the change. They are of the opinion that it takes away the spirit and knowledge that Comrades is one of the toughest races in the World.

The majority of runners who had not yet run a Comrades or who have failed to finish under the 11 hour rule are positive in that they now have the opportunity to complete and finish the race.

The organisor’s reason for the extension is pure economic. Comrades has had a ”negative growth” factor over the past few years. This with the exception of the 24,500 starters in the 75th anniversary / Millennium run. They need to have growth to get continued support from the sponsors. With many sponsors directing their funding towards cycling, the organisors cannot afford to have sponsors leaving Comrades. This will truly be the end of the Marathon.

My personal comments are easy – GREAT. Whatever we can do to encourage more participants into running, the better. But beware, if you couldn’t finish Comrades in the 11 hours, the chances of finishing in 12 are not much greater. At the end of Comrades, the average runner will be running / walking at around 10min per kilometer. This equates to giving the runner a grace of 6 km’s. Over a Marathon of 89km’s, 6 km’s is not material to a good Comrades.

Runners must be warned that the training to finish under 11 hours will not change should you wish to finish under 12 hours. The qualifying time for Comrades has been extended to a 5 hour standard marathon.


This is my opinion based on my experience and the experience of other runners.

Do your training, finish a standard marathon under 4hr30min (still strong), listen to the experts at panel talks, follow Don Oliver’s column in Runners World.

After 60 km’s at Comrades, it’s your mind that takes you to the end, not your body. I further suggest reading The Lore of Running by Prof. Tim Noakes.

Anybody can run Comrades & anybody can fail at Comrades – it’s up to the individual.

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