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Pace Between the Two Oceans – Half and 56k Ultra


The TWO OCEANS MARATHON is just hours away and although shorter, presents runners with a tougher challenge than Comrades Marathon for a couple of reasons:

Firstly the profile of the course is such that to earn a coveted Oceans Silver one needs to be capable of a 2:49 marathon (roughly a 36 minute 10km) compared to the relatively leisurely 3 hour 5 minute Marathon (sub 40 minute 10k) for Comrades.

Similar comparisons can be done for the Silver / Bronze Sainsbury Medal which requires a 3:31 Marathon and sub 45 10k, whereas a Bill Rowan is the goal of 3:42 marathoners and runners with 47 minute 10k ability.

Training versus Racing:
Getting to this Easter week in Cape Town has been an objective for many runners over the past three months, even if the seed of their goal was a Dream much further in the past.
By now there is absolutely ZERO training that can assist a runner to go faster: The die has been cast and now its about matching the ability to the performance.

Each one of us in either the 21km or the 56km has now a “potential finish time” based on the total distance trained, (particularly in the three week peak period), our speed over the 5km, (or mile) distance, our psychological drive, and OUR GAME PLAN..

You can be at your peak fitness, with the greatest desire and drive, but blow your chances by running a strategically poor event.
It is for this reason that many top contenders have failed to live up to their potential.
Although Racing over the 21km (and shorter) distances requires a commitment to the ‘cut and thrust’ of one on one battle, the victor in marathons and Ultras is more frequently associated with the runner who runs a race and pace tailored to his own ability and then engages in the more competitive aspects over the final 7-10km. Pacing is a Priority and Discipline is ESSENTIAL in keeping to and running your own race.

DECIDE THE BEST YOU CAN DO
The table below will give you a close guide to your best possible outcome on Saturday based on current fitness.

With your potential known, you now have a major decision to make: Race or Train Oceans?

There are certain key time bands that can differentiate your approach to Oceans:

In the Ultra a prediction of 3:45 to 4:05 means racing for a Silver medal but outside that it is unlikely that you can catch the gleam of the precious silver. HOWEVER, if you train through Oceans at your Comrades pace, (or slower), and use this as a dry run for the Maritzburg to Durban trek, there is a good chance that you can earn silver with your arrival in Moses Mahbida.

Runners below 3:45 prediction are safe silvers, while men around 3:20 will probably be contesting for Gold or team awards.

Women capable of 3:10 marathons or better have gold potential, although this years field seems a bit more competitive.

Sainsbury racers are between 4:45 and 5:05, with the others either a safe Sainsbury or potential Bill Rowan in Comrades

Again the same applies to 6 hour cut off, while anyone with a 4:50 to 5 hour marathon qualifier needs to race the final gun.

In Summary my advice is to decide whether to race or take it easy through Oceans based on your predicted time. Only those in the 20 minute band around the cut offs really need to race: the remaining runners are better cruising the first 44km (to the steep climb on Constantia and then having fun by moving through the field over the final section.

The table below provides suggestions for the training pace and pacing charts to be used by those runners who are unlikely to improve on the colour of their medal in Oceans, but can benefit significantly in Comrades from adopting a more judicious approach on Saturday.

One thing to contemplate is this ‘rumour’ that Oceans and Comrades are so far apart this year that you can race both… There is a reason the worlds best marathon runners race only twice (max 3 times) in 12 months – and why 9 times Comrades Winner, Bruce Fordyce, never raced Oceans in his build up…. it is NOT co-incidence and there is no need to re-invent the wheel.

Pace Charts:
Once you have made these critical decisions you can simply take your chosen pacing information from the 21km and 56km charts below.
Importantly this pacing, (as with all produced on CoachNorrie) and the selection of the points is such that it calculates in accurately for the specific Two Oceans courses (56k and 21k), so is not even pace but promotes even effort.
[keep an eye on the web site for pacing for many of the popular racing events]

Run In The Zone!

For 85-90% of the field Oceans can be quite an enjoyable day out, and the outcome is fairly certain. However the real stress comes for those who have to hit the times almost exactly.
Getting and keeping in your correct pace is vital, and most people that battle do so because of lack of disciple on the day.
The Main Road start is relatively fast and it is easy to get carried away. A mere 20 seconds too fast over the first 5km is worth around 35 minutes at the finish, but running on a target 35 minutes beyond your ability will catch you up around Hout Bay and then its a long mind and leg crunching trudge to the finish – well off potential.

For this reason i promote the idea of having three pacing times – The goal time for each of the pacing points: then one for a finish 10-15 minutes faster at the finish, and one 10-15 minutes slower (but avoiding a change in medal colour)

Now you have a ‘zone’ of time to keep in at each point which is much easier to handle.

Run and Walk
Virtually every runner can benefit of a run and walk strategy, and you will find a couple of different regimes to consider elsewhere in this web site.

The simplest option is to split the race into smaller sections with a 60-90 second walk at the chosen points.
In the 14 years between 1982 and 1996 i ran only 10 Two Oceans and using the run and walk joined a relatively select group who have 10 silvers, from 10 runs. In those days i used a run and walk at 8km intervals.
Sainsbury runners may opt for 6km intervals; 6 hours runners around 3km intervals and 7 hour runners about every 2km allow for 90 seconds to 2 minutes walk.

That run and walk has served me well in the Half Marathon where for years i led the 1:45 and 2 hour buses, and split my 90 seconds between 8 and 14km into 2 x 45 seconds at 1km intervals on Southern Cross Drive. In most cases the bus would beat those who tried that ascent with non stop running.

Keep in mind that if you get Edinburgh Drive and Southern Cross drive covered in a relatively conservative fashion, it is possible to make some major impact on the drop to the finish – but keep a 30 second in respect for Chets Hill, and unless the bell is about to toll, the final climb to the UCT entrance is worthy of your last 30 seconds stride, which will let you hammer down the final straight towards the line….

So there it is all you need to have a scientific approach to your own personal pacing for Saturday’s 49th Two Oceans Marathon – 56km and 21km… Have a great Run!!


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