Knowing what you want is key to getting the result.
Having the discipline to give up what you might think you want now for what you really want is the secret to achieving your goal …..and the same is true of running goals!
It’s too easy to get tied up into the racing scene at the beginning of the year and to do events that don’t lead to your true ambition. While we have some great challenges and scenic well organized events on the SA calendar the truth of the matter is that your racing schedule should be built from the Goal race backwards.
So let’s assume the goal for the first half of the year is a Comrades time or specific medal then your last race should be something that will let you test your speed and fitness in the final taper. This would be a 5-10km event, which for those in KZN, could for instance be the mass event planned for 19 May in association with the SA 10km Championships in Durban.
Then we need some longer training runs and … providing you have the discipline to run in races at a slower pace (major discipline required here) … then you use a number of the local marathon and ultras on the fixture list. These would be run at predicted Comrades pace and can include, for instance, the Old Mutual Om Die Dam 50km (16 March) Marathon, the historical Arthur Cresswell Bergville to Ladysmith 52km (13 April), Loskop 50km April 20 or the Matzikama 3 in 1 in the Western Province.
Of course a considerable number will opt for Old Mutual Two Oceans 56km on 30 March and this 8 week gap between the Two Oceans and Comrades does allow a certain increase in intensity, but if you are truly trying for your best possible Comrades then this event should, like your long training runs, be run at the predicted Comrades pace. … That after-all was the sole purpose that Dave Venter, a member of Savages in Durban who moved to Cape Town, organized the very first Two Oceans – as a training run for Comrades.
Then prior to that the focus is on a qualifier or seeding race using the Weekend Witness PMB 42km, Peninsula 42km, Pick nPay 42km, or perhaps the Vaal, all of which tend to provide relatively fast times, since this choice will tend to be run quite hard in order to achieve a particular seeding.
The effort in the marathon means the build up races should be carefully selected. Avoid races with long steep downhill or that are long distances above 21km as these will tend to cause muscle damage, which will not recover in time for the qualifier or take too much out of you. By comparison a controlled run in a half marathon or a fast flat 5-10km can be good preparation for the qualifier.
Bottom line is simple – If you want your goal on 2 June, keep your focus on the long term and don’t compromise for smaller achievements in the short term.