alsoran runners  Comrades 2011
An article by Don Oliver

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Comrades 2011 Recovery

The dust has settled and the medal safely stored away for another year.  What now?  You do need a recovery from the whole scene for both body and soul.  The training was always a combination of the head and the legs and nothing changes much for the recovery. Of course there are many first time medal winners who are still on a total high at home and at work and also awake and asleep.  Can’t get it out of your mind.  Enjoy it but do not be lulled into a false feeling of invincibility and rush to get back on the road.  Comrades does take its toll right through to your core.  First of all you feel the soreness and tiredness disappear after a week or 10 days.  However inside there is a lot to be restored and repaired. You took a beating during those 9 weeks heavy training. You were drained also by the pressure of having to meet the targets each week and at each race.  You did get a temporary respite for the 4 week wind down but that was only to get you out there for another mother of all hidings for somewhere between 10 and 12 hours.  You need a break that is for sure.

First of all you need to keep off the road for about two weeks with no running at all.  It is better to do no physical training even in the gym or on the bike.  When your legs tell you they are back to normal with no soreness, pain or tiredness, ignore them.  They are not telling the truth.  A big mistake is just get out to do the local 21km and use it as an opportunity to talk about Comrades.  Just after half way which you would expect to just hardly notice being a veteran of a 87km run last month, the tiredness comes back and an unexpected pain develops that you never felt all the way to Pietermaritzburg.  You see you were not ready to go to a race just yet.  Therefore after you feel your legs are O.K. wait another week resting before you go out.  When you do out in the cold, wrap up well and only run slowly for 30 mins maximum.  Do that every other day for 10 days. No races, not even a Fun Run with the kids. The first race should be a social 10km preferably or a 15km.  Just jog slowly and enjoy the attention and preferably wear some gear that has the Comrades badge on it to stimulate conversation and admiration.

Spring comes at different times in the country but in September the temperature warms up and the sun rises earlier.  When the trees are a bright green and the flowers smell good, you can ease yourself into your normal programme again.  My experience has shown me that those runners that had a bad Comrades are impatient to show themselves and their club mates they have not lost it and tend to go out to do P.B.’s.  They normally fail because they have lost all their speed for these shorter races.  Hard luck for you, you will have to wait a whole year to prove to all of them your are a good runner.

We all know already that entries for Comrades 2012 open on September 1st 2011 and you can enter without further thought.  If you are a novice we will help you through on our novices training programme starting in August already.  If you are now a proud medal holder, enter and have a taste of the “Down Run”. Now that is very different and will be a totally new experience for you if you did the “Up Run” for the first time this year.

Cross training of any sort is both popular and valuable at this time of the year.  The swimming and cycling are non-weight bearing and do not damage your legs in the same way as all those hours on the road. Gym work including spinning can be included for the same reason.  In the New Year you normally have to give up the gym work to allocate your precious time to running.  All these alternatives are valuable to provide a diversion to the tedious nature of the road races and training for Comrades. This is how you can refresh yourself in body and soul.

It is never not too late to congratulate all the novices on their first medal.  Well done and I hope you finished with just enough breath to tell yourself that was good fun, I will be back again next year.  For the die hards that have tucked yet another medal away in the shoe box, can I say well done yet again,  knowing that each year it is never just the same old race but rather another new set of challenges and exciting experiences.

Don Oliver
Cape Town
June 2011

Internal links:  Don's training programme, cross training,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2010