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Practical Considerations

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Here are some practical considerations in no particular order.

Water tables:
Carry a water bottle at the start.  Why?  Well the first couple of tables are a bit of a bun fight so it is easier just to run through them.  Carrying your own water will allow you to do that.  Run in the middle of the road when running through these refreshment stations as they are positioned on both sides of the road.  That way, you should be able to run through them without too much problem.  Discard your bottle once the field has spread out and revert to using the tables.

Another thing to consider at the water tables.  Avoid the water troughs!  Don’t use them, they are probably a health hazard.  Just think about it!  If you need to cool down or wash your face, rather look for the hose pipe that they use to fill these troughs and use that.  When running through the residential areas, many of the homeowners have their hose pipes out so use that to cool yourself down.

Physio stations:
Don’t stop at the physio stations for a rub.  You don’t have the time to waste, and it makes it harder to get going again.  You shouldn’t be running with any strapping (you’re supposed to be physically fit), but if you are, only stop at the physio station to be re-strapped if the original strapping is coming loose.

Deliberate Forward Motion:
This is key to your run.  Whatever you do on the day, do it moving forward!  Remember, every step you take is one step closer to the finish.  Don’t go back for anything!

Don’t take off your shoes:
Just don’t!  Your feet generally swell during the day.  It s not a good idea to take your shoes off because it may be difficult to put them on again.  Make sure you sort out any shoe problems like tight laces or little stones in your shoe, early in the run.  Remember tight laces can bruise the tendon on top of the foot.

The carrot on the stick:
If you are going to use someone as the carrot, I would suggest you follow a runner wearing a yellow number.  They are doing their 10th run and should hopefully finish in time (but don’t count on it, both my husband Andy and my friend Russ missed out on their 10th, and had to come back the following year to earn their green numbers).

Pacing chart:
Use a pacing chart.  I highly recommend Don Oliver’s pacing charts.  Make sure you study the chart beforehand so that you understand what Don is doing.  Take note of his minutes per km allowance, especially in the second half.  Don’t stress if you fall behind using Don’s chart.  There is a good chance of catching up in the second half.  Comrades has enough kilometres in which to fix things up.

Running Mantras:
Have a running mantra you can recite, especially when the going gets tough.  I usually go with “STRONG MIND, STRONG BODY”.  If you are kept busy repeating a mantra, you can’t be saying things like “I’m so tired” or “I can’t do this”, which are negative messages.  If I get to a point where I am feeling sorry for myself, I usually revert to the “SHUT UP AND RUN” mantra.

Be self-sufficient:
Don’t rely on a support crew.  There is a good chance that your support crew won’t be able to get to a particular point at a particular time.  Make sure you are carrying everything you need on your person.  See my page on being self-sufficient for more information.

Comrades busses:
Personally I stay away from pace setters but many runners have hopped into a Comrades bus and finished in time.  There are a number of reputable ‘bus drivers’ and it’s best to try and hook up with them.  “Vlam se bus” comes to mind!  In past Comrades runs, I have seen pace setters sitting on the side of the raod, having blown their own race.  I have also run alongside busses that are clearly running to fast, and as a result some runners are falling off the bus.  For an inexperienced runner, this could blow their race on a mental level because they start thinking “Well, I’ve fallen off the bus, what chance have I got of finishing in time”.  In most cases this is not true, but unfortunately the inexperienced fallen runner doesn’t realise that the bus is going to fast.  Always back yourself above anyone else!

And lastly, don’t forget to smile for the camera!  This is the picture you’re going to show your grandchildren.

Key words: practical considerations, water tables, water troughs, physio stations, shoes, yellow number, deliberate forward motion, Comrades busses, pace setters
Internal links: busses, pacing chart, shut up and run, be self sufficient, back yourself
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website




Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008
alsoran@webafrica.org.za