alsoran runners Don Oliver's Central Gauteng
January 2018
Training Programme for Comrades 2018

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Don Oliver's Training Programme

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Where are we now? 

At the start line for 2018 there are a bare 161 days to go to Comrades this year. Sounds quite a lot of days but there is a lot of running to fit in. As time goes on in the road running scene we try to keep up with trends; some successful and many others unsuccessful. There are a few technological innovations with heart rate monitors and GPS and they provide a wealth of information to be used scientifically. Bottom line you have still to do the running part. For a long distance time limit event there is no substitute for running as the main ingredient for training.Yep, you still have to get out there and put the kilometres in. Your technological aids will certainly help how to best use that time on the road. In Comrades training there are not yet any short cuts invented. To get a bronze medal in 2018 you will have to put in not less than 1200km on the road in races and training. To handle the distance, 89km,we advise you to complete two standard marathons and three ultra marathons between January 1st and June 9th 2018. To get in under 11hours you will be finishing in the top half of the field. Get used to finishing well up in all your build-up races. Get comfortable with being in the top half.

This programme builds you up in small increments; called biteable bits and chewable chunks.Every month we set you an objective that is only a bit harder than the month before. Our plan is to go from 21km to 32km to 42km to 50km to 56km and the long run of 60km finally you can comfortably take on an 89km Comrades.

The first part of your training for Comrades 2018 is to qualify. Target is to run a sub 4hour standard marathon on February 25th 2018 in Pretoria. Seeding group D gives out the most bronze medals each year and it is unlikely to be an exception this year. That allows a generous 7 weeks to prepare for qualifying at a race pace of 5,6mins/km. Therefore your build up races should be shorter and faster. The races you will be using to prepare yourself are Dischem 21km on January 14th 2018, followed by Garbie 32km in Springs on January 21st 2018 and a final polish at Bronkhorstspruit 32km on February 10th 2018. This qualifier is of such basic importance because it is the first hurdle to clear easily in the programme and it will be heartbreaking to fail the very first test. Fail to qualify over 42km usually makes you feel that there is no hope whatsoever to finish 89km. Very true unfortunately. Your ultimate bottom line is to qualify for Comrades so if you are having a bad day. (but well trained road runners never have bad days) just make sure to get in under the 5hours qualifier that Comrades require. Your target time over 32km is under 3 hours to be safe. Both are easy courses but need concentration and sound race plan as regards, walking, refreshment breaks, pit stops and handling the heat. Choose your friends for these races and get comfortable with all their little habits, strengths and weaknesses.

The training in January centres around a good time at a 21km followed a week later by a 32km.race. The race fixture list is not ideal to have two popular races on consecutive weekends but your stage of training should be able to handle it. From me there is one very ingredient for you to develop and that is to get comfortable with your running style. It is in preparation to running Comrades where you have to be comfortable for 11 hours. If you are uncomfortable you won’t last. In your mind you must be at peace with your training and performance. You must be confident that you are doing the right thing at the right time. This programme should assure you of that when you reach each and every monthly objective it will give you confidence. Your running style is like a fingerprint. No two styles are the same. Don’t try to emulate the style of one of your famous club runners. However strange other runners may look.  There is now only one REST DAY per week and never ever miss it. That will need personal rearrangement of work, family and social schedules. Generally everyone will be very sympathetic and will support you. Finally set out on each and every run adjusting your effort to the distance remaining. You must always finish with a little bit in hand. Never push too hard. You won’t last the course, be it Comrades 89kms or the 1200km training programme. The programme on this website will guide you through the hard times to avoid the fear of injury and sickness. Injury claims the biggest number of lost training days leading up to Comrades. Some lost training days are due to interference from business, family, travel and sheer poor discipline. However, an injury produces a weakness which may well reoccur again later in the programme as Comrades is approaching, leaving insufficient time to repair the injury before race day. Your training must carefully balance the build up of strength and endurance with the risk of overuse. The skill of selecting which races to run and when and the recovery required after the race is covered in the programme. During the early stages in January you will often wonder if you are doing enough training. This is aggravated by the stories from fellow runners who are already doing huge mileage and frequent marathons. If you are novices stick to this programme. Your patience will be rewarded.

Here is your January 2018 Comrades Training Programme.

Objective. To complete a 21km race in less than 1hour 58mins and a 32km race in less than 3hour.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4Week 5
w/c 01/01/18 08/01/18 15/01/18 22/01/1829/01/18 
Tuesday 8km T/T  8km T/T  8km T/T  8km T/T 8km T/T 
Wednesday 10km 10km 10km 10km10km
Thursday 12km 12km 12km 10km12km
Friday 8km 8km 8km 8km8km
Saturday 5km 5km 5km 8km5km
Sunday 25km  21km race 32km race 20km25km
Total 68km 64km 75km 64km68km

Total km for January 2018 =   339km (Equivalent to 271km for a 4week month)

Recommended races:
January 14th 2018 Dischem Half marathon 21km Bedfordview.
January 21st . Garbie 32km  Springs.

Thought for the month: “Started the real thing now”

Don Oliver
Cape Town
December 2017

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Copyright Don Oliver 2017