Comrades Wrist Bands
No matter how good your training has been, when it comes to the Comrades Marathon, you better have a strategy on how you are going to run to reach your goal. Follow the steps below to get:
- A prediction of your realistic finish time
- A few sample pacing points
- You can listen to a blow by blow description of the whole 86.9km up-run split into two LineBreak podcasts on www.witness.co.za
What is your Realistic Potential Finish Time?
- Look back at all your race times of the past 12 months and select the best three performances
- All three times should be flat out races / time trials
- Ideally have a 5km or 10km race time from late May or early June
- Include your best 42km or 56km time in the last 12 months
- Play with the choice of your third time, which may be a repeat of one of the others or a distance between them, but use the one that gives the best Comrades finish time – This will be your best Initial Realistic Predicted Time! (IRPT)
How much have you trained?
- Find your predicted finish time (IRPT) on table 1.
- Under the finish time find the marathon time closest to your PB
- Determine the corresponding required training distance.
- How does that compare to your total training distance between January and June?
- If you are over 15% higher or lower than that distance then ADD (in both cases) 15-20 minutes to your IRPT to get your final Realistic Predicted Finish Time (RPFT)
- Now go to this new (RPFT) finishing time and see which pacing band you require. (7 Hour to 12 Hour)
Although each band has an average pace, it would be impossible to run the Comrades route constantly at that pace. The pacing takes into account the gruelling and highly diverse nature of the Up run Comrades in timing your run through to Pietermaritzburg. This means that in some sections you will be considerably slower than average pace, where these slower times are bought back by running slightly faster over the longer downs.
Run and Walk to success
Any runner with a finish over 7 hours should incorporate a run and walk schedule into the pacing. As a guide 9:00 and under should run 9km with 2-3minute walks, 9:00 to 11:00 should run 6 km with 2-3 min walks, 11-12 hour finishers can work on 3km with 2-3 min walks. The important principle is to start this regime right from the gun and continue it throughout the race, DO NOT wait until you are tired: by then it’s too late!
Silver, Bill Rowan, and Bronze Cut offs:
If your predicted time indicates that your potential is such that you would miss this medal by less than 10 minutes, then consider using the pacing band for the medal category above. (e.g. a 9:05 predicted time buys the 9:00 pacing). However remember this is a stretch for you and will only happen if everything goes well on the day. You must then add 3/4s of the difference between your predicted time and the medal cut-off time to the time at the Umlaas Rd intersection. From there gradually close in back onto the scheduled time between there and the finish. If it’s your day this is your best chance!
Delays at the Start:
Generally runners experience only small delays between the time the gun fires and crossing the start. Do not worry about this as you should plan to make up this time over the whole length of Comrades and with over 80 kilometres of running it is generally only a small amount of time per kilometre. However it is so important to start slowly on the Up Run that you should not try to make any of this time up until you get past the top of Tollgate (83km to go). Trying to find your way through the crowds uses too much energy, as does pushing up the steep 3km climb to the bridge, so take your time and catch back those couple of minutes over the remainder of the distance. Even if you eliminate all the major climbs, where you should be running conservatively, there is still over 47km of easy or downhill running to take that time up. For example if you take 3 minutes to cross the start line then you simply go about 4 seconds per km faster on the flat, downs or very gradual ups. This is nothing when you consider that a 3:40 marathoner races 42km at 5:15 per km, but averages comrades at 6:10 per km.
Special Advice for 11:50 to 12 Hour Runners
The situation is slightly different for those who qualified for comrades using a 4:50 to 5 hour marathon. They may take about 6 to 8 minutes to cross the start line, and they must get through Drummond within 6 hours 10 minutes of the start.
Once again do not try to make up this time going up West street, on the climb to Tollgate or until you reach 45th cutting – The road is just too full and the hills too steep.
Now split the time to be made up so that commencing from the top of 45th cutting to the top of Cowies hill you make back 25%. Then make a total of 60% back from Cowies to the Winston Park BP Pacing point, and the remaining 40% from there to half way. Remember the easiest part is the section from top of Botha’s Hill through to Drummond, so don’t worry if you are not right on target for the first sections.
Visualise and Run the Comrades Route by Podcast:
Norrie Williamson will take you over the whole 86.9km Up-Run describing exactly where each of the hills and downhill sections are, and providing advice on where to hold back. This in-depth podcast allows you to be sure of exactly where the different pacing points are and to relax and visualize yourself running the route. Together with the pacing point photos it’s the ideal way for those who have not seen or experienced the route to get a better understanding of what they will face on Sunday 29 May. For previous Comrades Runners it’s a reminder of those tricky hills you have forgotten about – but lie in wait to trip you on Comrades day.