alsoran runners Don Oliver's Gauteng
December 2010
Training Programme for Comrades 2011

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Where are we now?

Heading for the end of 2010, we have 180 days to go until the 2011 Comrades marathon.  That is all of 6 months and no reason to panic yet.  We are busy ticking off targets as we go along and of course you have entered for Comrades before the November 30th cut-off.  You have plenty of time to qualify and you will be heading for your qualifier at the end of February.  In fact that it is your next target towards getting your bronze medal at Comrades.  Qualify in a standard marathon. Of course that is so vitally important and it must be easy. We have learnt over the years that if you battle to qualify for Comrades by running under 5 hours in a standard 42km marathon it is better not to enter.  On the day, you have to do two standards back to back plus 2kms more.  It is no good if you battle after 42kms and still have another one to do on the same day.  Your running in December is part of the qualifier preparation. You must be warned that you must not arrive at the beginning of January 2011 feeling tired.  There you are for the objective for December - "Run consistently to maintain a sound fitness but avoid doing too much too soon.”

At the end of November you ran the 32km RAC Tough One and I hope you all reached the objective of finishing in under 3 hours 15 mins.  It is a tough course and you can feel justly proud to have finished in time.  Your recovery is an important technique to learn because as from February next year you will be either recovering or racing each weekend. One or the other.  Firstly have a couple off days off if you really feel totally exhausted but not just weary and a bit sore. Try to get out as usual on Tuesday evening for the 8km Time Trial.  Run it very socially using it as an opportunity to compare notes with your friends and congratulate those who finished in front of you and encourage those that finished behind you. Walk if necessary during the T/T.  During the next 4 days monitor any remaining muscle soreness and be very careful not to put any effort into the training runs.  Sore legs are the time you get injured.  Gradually run near your normal speed as your legs feel light again and you don’t notice them when running.  During this recovery time you can have massages but not too aggressive ones.  Eat and drink plenty but avoid too many late nights of celebration.  Reflect on how you prepared for the race and in particular how you prepared in the last few days and also the morning of the race.  Examine your splits to see if the first half was too fast or slow.  How did you handle the hills? There is going to be plenty in the first 48kms of Comrades I can assure you.  Some of you will vow never again to run with someone or other.  In Comrades you have to run with soul mates.

December is a month of holidays with more time to spare whether you go away or not.  Avoid doing too many long and hard runs this month. The favourite trap that I fell into at the beginning of my running career was to look up the local running club when I arrived on holiday and get involved with their local runs. The locals are determined to show you each and every hard torturous run and you are equally determined to show how fit the guys from Joburg are.  Each run ends up a trial of strength.  I returned to Jhb exhausted and a log book well over the target set for December.  One year I returned from Cape Town with nearly 500km on the clock for December.  In March that next year I had a bad achilles injury that very nearly needed surgery. The recipe for December is frequent short runs and enjoy the luxury of getting up 30 mins later than normal.  Support the local road race by all means but don’t try to set a newcomers record. Don’t be deceived by the extra oxygen level at the coast and confuse it with a sudden huge boost in fitness and training times.

On the other hand do not lose motivation and do nothing all holiday, put on weight and get thoroughly unfit.  If you have followed the programme so far this year you will be amazed how fit you are.  Don’t try to find out by losing that precious condition by throwing it all away in one idle month.

Over Christmas and New Year support your family and friends and enjoy more time with them.  You will need all their support next year.  Don’t worry if you miss a couple of days training for travelling.  Don’t be too serious about your running at a time meant for family and celebrations.

Here is your December programme.

Objective: To recover from your 32km race and arrive at the beginning of January fit and relaxed.

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
Wednesday 8km8km8km8km
Thursday10kmPublic Holiday10km10km
Saturday5km5kmChristmas DayNew year
Sunday15km  15km  10km15km  
Total46km36km 36km 49km 
Total kms for December = 167km

Thought for the month: "Im ready for the real training now”.

A reminder to buy the new book "Make Sure of your Comrades medal” by Don Oliver.  This is a complete 6 month training programme for Comrades based on the successful Comrades Panel Talks held in Johannesburg for over 25 years.  Available from Exclusive Books, Sportsmans Warehouse nationally for R103.  Also available on, click on “Newsletter” and order through  R100.

Don Oliver
Cape Town
November 2010

Internal links:  qualifier,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2010