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

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Don Oliver's Training Programme

“Where are we now?”

Getting on nicely all you newly qualified Comrades runners! You have still got 102 days to go and most of it is a hard 9 weeks ahead of you. Generally you find the qualifier quite hard and I am sure this was no exception. The newly qualified were asking themselves: Can I do another marathon like that plus 6km? At this stage the answer is no but by mid May with about 3 weeks to go you will give me another answer which is something like” bring on I’m ready already.”

Looking toward this month’s programme for March you have got two ultras to run; both big fields .Very good experience for Comrades .Big fields are daunting to start with but you must, each one of you, work out your own plan for the start and travel arrangements. Both races Om-die- Dam and Two Oceans have seeding. Always a good idea if possible is to have a careful look at the layout. Look for tog bag truck and toilets. Never lose your friend even before the start. Have plans for meeting friends at the finish. Normally you are so tired at the end of an ultra you can’t handle a search of half an hour and stumbling over gazebo ropes and exhausted runners. Make good plans to avoid getting anxious.

Om –die- Dam is a good 3 weeks away giving you time to recover from your standard qualifier. After that 50km big race you have 2 weeks exactly to recover to put in a solid performance in Cape Town at Two Oceans. You move up from 42km to 50 km and then up again to 56km.all in a month. You will find the gradual increase in distance almost unnoticed but the biggest challenge is to recover from each race and build up to the next one. There lies the success of this programme taken from hundreds of club runners over the years. The magic step is to run no more than 15km on the weekend following an ultra or standard. We took a few years to get it right .First of all we thought you had to do more and more each weekend to toughen you up. It doesn’t work that way. The Sports Scientists advised us to rest after a hard race. We nearly put all the physiotherapists out of business. No injuries and no sickness. It requires discipline and that is the hallmark of a good distance runner.

You will notice that in the ultra marathon” the second half is always slower than the first half” .We build in a fatigue factor to allow for the inevitable slowing down as you get into the tired zone from about half way 25km. The other rule for ultra-marathon running is “As the distance gets longer the pace gets slower.” Your overall pace will be slower over 50km as you managed in the standard 42km. From 5.7mins/km to 6,3mins/km. You target time at Om –Die-Dam is 5hours 15 minutes. The first half is aimed for 2hrs 32mins and the second half is slower at 2hrs 43mins.You have got Sarkies Nek and the heat all in the second half.

You have to look after yourself in an ultra. The basic rule is to start off with a comfortable slow pace that feels that you can carry on like that all day. In Comrades you will be doing just that. That many a true word is spoken in jest.
Secondly you have to keep yourself adequately hydrated and topped up with carbohydrate. Drink about 45g carbohydrate equivalent to 450ml Coke Energade/PowerAde. In addition swallow a squeeze containing 25g carbohydrate per hour on the hour. You drink straight water addition only when you feel thirsty. You will in this way keep fully hydrated and get no dizziness or exhaustion. It is now permitted to fit in short walks when you feel tired or going up a steep hill. Even though you have these short walks you must still stay close to the Pacing Chart. Build the short walks into the schedule. It is a personal decision how you structure the walks but get used to having short walks because you will certainly be doing just that in Comrades. Not many can run the whole way.

Here is the Pacing Chart for Om die Dam 50km.

Kilometre Board Stopwatch Time
5km 30mins
10km1hour 00mins
15km1hr 31mins
20km2hrs 01mins
25km Halfway2hrs 32mins
30km3hrs 04mins
35km3hrs 37mins
40km4hrs 10mins
42km Standard Marathon4hrs 24mins
45km4hrs 42mins
50km Finish5hrs 15mins

The Two Oceans is thankfully at sea level and you will enjoy a boost of free oxygen which can improve your performance by 10%. Your target for a bronze at Comrades is indeed the same as a bronze at Two Oceans of sub 6hours.The current drought warning in W.P.will not affect water supply at Two Oceans race but there will probably be stringent rules at your accommodation.

Here is your Two Oceans Pacing Chart.

Two Oceans 2018 sub 6hours.

Km BoardStopwatch time
531 mins
101hr 01mins
151hr 31mins
202hrs 01mins
252hrs 32mins
28 Halfway2hrs 50mins
303hrs 03mins
353hrs 37mins
404hrs 09mins
42 Marathon4hrs 22mins
454hrs 43mins
505hrs 15mins
555hrs 48mins
56 Finish5hrs 55mins

Here is your March 2018 training programme.

Objective. To complete the 50km Om-Die-Dam in 5hrs 15mins and also the 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans in less than 6hours.

 Week 1.Week 2. Week 3. Week 4
w/c05/03/18   12/03/18 19/03/18 26/03/18
Tuesday    8km T/T  8km T/T  8km T/T  8km T/T 
Friday  8km REST8km REST
Saturday 5km50km race5km56km race
Total.54km  74km 52km77km
Total km for March 2018  = 257km.

Recommended races:
March 17th 2018 Old Mutual Om-Die-Dam Marathon 50km Haartbeestfontein.
March 31st 2018 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon 56km Newlands. Cape Town.

Thought for the month: “I’m a qualified ultra marathoner now and feel proud of that.”

Don Oliver
Cape Town
February 2018

Copyright Don Oliver 2018