April is the build up month, a time when we start to add distance into our training and when time becomes something we cherish dearly. It is the consistency of training and overall training load in a week that counts rather than the number of long runs or total mileage achieved in a week.
Research shows that the physiological enhancements from a long run are acheived in as short as 90 minutes and need only really be around two and a half to three hours, anything longer than that is more for the psychological comfort and confidence than anything else. The pace of the long run is also important so look carefully at the tables to make sure you are doing your long work at the correct pace. This will be considerably slower than your marathon pace and should even be slower than your anticipated Comrades goal pace.
Bruce Fordyce was a classic example of how to treat the long runs: Bruce could run 10km @ 3 minutes per km, a marathon at 3:17 per km, Comrades @ 3:45 per km, but did many of his long training runs (such as Hillcrest Marathon or Two Oceans) to get the last silver which meant 4:15 per km – Thats 30 seconds slower than his realistic Comrades Goal pace. That means for instance anyone who can do a 3:40 Marathon should be doing their long runs around 6:40 per km! and certainly no faster than 6:00 per km – and yet their marathon pace is 5:10 per km.
In most cases this means that many runners can not use marathons as training runs as it would require them to finish after the cut off time of the marathon. But here’s the benefit it is this training using this muscle movement (the same that you will use in Comrades on 15 June) that helps to protect against the cramps on comrades day. Too many runners run long runs too fast a) draining energy, b) failing to train the energy systems and muscles that they will use on Comrades day, and c) leaving their Comrades race out on the road.
In all by the end of the month you will be spedning about 10-12 hours in training, but all of that will be watsed if you dont plan in enough recovery. recovery is both inactivity or light activity, sleep and nutrition. Without enough recovery the training is watsed, so dont train aimlessly and stick to the programme if you dont have enough time for recovery. Rather cut back and give quality training with quality recovery.
From May we start with a peak three to four weeks then taper to Comrades 2008.