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The first bit of Comrades advice I got was from a Lindsay Weight article I read in 1998.   Lindsay maintained the two most important things one needed to learn were

1)  learning to run slower and
2)  learning to walk.

Well I figured I had the first one taped!  I had no problem with running slower.  As for the second point, I figured NO way am I going to be walking, that’s like giving up.  Big mistake!  I realised the value of Lindsay’s walking advice after Field’s Hill on the up run!  Up to that point in my running “career” I had always believed that you walked because you were too tired to run.  Fortunately for me, it was early enough in the race to change my thoughts on walking.  From that point on I quickly adopted some walking into my race strategy and managed to finish my first Comrades in a respectable 10:46.  Former Comrades coach, Don Oliver maintains if you haven’t walked within the first 2 hours of Comrades that you are heading for trouble!

Let’s have a quick look at running slower.  You need to be running slower because you need to be able to maintain this pace for a pretty long time (say 10 hours plus).  Yes, I know you can run 5 mins a km for a marathon but Comrades is a lot longer than a marathon (twice as long with some spare change!)  What happens when you get to 60 kays and you have nothing left in the tank? 

Get used to running at a slower pace in training runs.  If you really feel the ‘need for speed’ look at pushing in the last 2 or 3 kays of your run.  You’ll be amazed at what you still have left in the tank!  See my “I don’t want to win the race” page for more information on pacing at Comrades.

Lets have a quick look at walking.  There are various strategies for walking and they all work pretty well.  Some folk run for 8 minutes and then walk the 9th minute, repeating this throughout the run.  Others, myself included, use a run/walk strategy on all hills.  I run to the count of 100, then walk to the count of 50.  I find this gets me up the hills pretty quickly because a run to the count of 100 is a very manageable goal with a nice little walking breather in between.  I recently tested this strategy on the island of St Helena, choosing a particularly nasty uphill of about 2.5km.  I initially ran the entire hill in 22 minutes.  The following day I used the run/walk strategy on the same hill and I was 4 minutes quicker!  Just goes to show!  If you feel that walking is too much to ask of you, look to walking through water tables as a start!  Walking gives your legs that little bit of recovery which will keep you going in the long run!


Key words: walking, running, slower, Comrades
Internal links: I don’t want to win the race, water tables, Lindsay Weight, Don Oliver, Field's Hill
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website,




Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008
alsoran@webafrica.org.za