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Friday, April 20, 2018

Comrades Marathon on shoe string running mileage

Anyone ever wondered how far cross training mileage (on a bike) could reasonably take a multi sport endurance athlete to a comfortable ultra-distance marathon finish? This knowledge is particularly useful when running is temporarily out of the question due to injury but the heart is stuck at the Comrades starting line. I toiled with this question for many weeks some time ago when I was faced with an overwhelming sense to run the Comrades Marathon even though running was not part of my training for most of the 6 months preceding the race. Unfortunately I do not have the answer but I can relate my story. I have come across this piece that I wrote a few years ago and that I thought would be great to share..…. Enjoy.
"For the first time this year I will be towing the line at Comrades with low running mileage. And so the verdict is out there whether this will work or not; if it does, then I would have cracked a personal multisport training plan that will allow me to take part in mountain biking endurance events without sacrificing my Comrades green number ambitions. If it does not work out, well I still would have learned a lot and would be confident to preach “what not to do”. The Comrades training plan I have used before is my own – optimised for my personal/professional circumstances – and has consistently delivered expected results across all my 6 previous finishes. It starts in earnest on the 1st of December each year and gives me exactly 6 months (or 24 weeks) to train. In contrast, my current plan is 9 week long and crunches the entire build up, peak and taper in 2 months.

Before you start shooting this down as completely insane let me also provide perspective on the mountain biking training I did from December to February: 
-  Averaged 13 hours a week on the bike (indoor and outdoor) per week;  
-  Peaked at 17 hour a week, twice; and 
- Climbed over 35 000 m of altitude on outdoor riding.  
Running is a lot less forgiving but to loosely compare, I peaked at 8 hours a week on my Comrades training and averaged about 6.5 hours a week. The point I am making here is that I was not sitting around twiddling my thumbs over the first 3 months while Comrades runners were hard at work. Nervous and anxious as I am, I feel that at this stage a few factors still make my Comrades attempt this year a bit promising: I have ran my fastest 10km in a long while at pace 5:08 (51 minutes) a week ago and have ran a qualifying time of 4:15 at conservative pace 4 weeks into Comrades training. But the verdict still remains out there and we will know on May 31st for sure. I have ran close to 350km so far and have started tapering. The plan is to run the remaining 150km as safely as possible while ironing out a few niggles, especially around my hip area. "
Look out for the update!

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