Einstein compared INSANITY to doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result!
For years runners have seen 1 January as the starting point for serious Two Oceans and Comrades training – Simple Logic says this CAN NOT be true.
For a start the race dates of both events have changed …
If 1 January was ideal for Comrades on May 24th then when it moved to 31 May it should have been 8 January – and then when moved to 16 June and now 9 June it would have needed to change:
Oceans is even more diverse as Easter varies from early March to late April…
There is absolutely no science or logic to commencing Ocean and Comrades distance training on 1 January ! None . zilch. Zero….
So let’s get real for 2019 and lets build a usable strategy to get your optimum performance – let’s get to the start line with fresh legs, a fresh enthusiastic mind, and the best shape to capitalise on our individual ability!
That word – individual – is key as each of us has and is subjected to different levels of stress, constrictions of time, and responsibilities and so while the key principles are common the final outcome needs to be tailored to individual circumstances (while keeping the principles):
Beware we all think we are special cases. … but we are all human and can’t do more!!!
Nor do we need to make excuses to do significantly less !!
What defines your Comrades or Oceans potential?
Its not the distance that determines what your fastest time can be – Its your speed over the short distance
A runner with a 10km PB of 60 minutes will never win comrades, nor make a silver, Bill, the new Bob, but may get perhaps a bronze, or Vic Clapham
What is the maximum peak distance you can run in a week?
Again it relates directly to your speed over the short distance: Why?
Research has proven that the amount of time the average club runner has to train in a week is between 10 and 12 hours. If you go over this you quite simply do not have the time to RECOVER sufficiently to gain the benefit from the training. Remember, training breaks down and recovery allows the muscle and system to adapt and get stronger.
Without recovery we constantly break down which takes us to injury, fatigue and overtraining!
Getting to a peak means balancing the range of training paces and distances, and ensuring sufficient recovery. Fail in either and you will not achieve your BEST.
From this our peak distance is our average training pace (over a week) by 10 to 12 hours
This is the great equalizer amongst amateur runners:
While a runner who runs a sub 3 hour marathoner (37 minutes for 10km) can perhaps average a pace of 4:22 per km in the quality period, his pace will drop to say 4:35 per km in the endurance phase.
With those paces the runner can have a weekly total of 90km from January to mid March, and a peak in May of 150km.
With exactly the same emphasis on quality and endurance a 55 minute 10km runner will only achieve 65km per week in quality, and a peak of 110km in May.
The time commitment is the same, but your ability at short distance determines how much you can do before over training!
How does distance change in preparing for the best race performance?
It’s clear then that short distance speed is vital to achieve your best performance and with this in mind changing there needs to be a change in emphasis as we get closer to the race day.
For instance a 55 minute 10km best runner will train short high speed (200m to 500m) at 4:45 per km, but long distance around 6:45 per km!
It is important initially to use the full range of the ‘gearbox’ and to keep the total weekly distance to a moderate level so that there is quality recovery from the quality work.
In the final 10-12 weeks before Oceans (1 February -15 February start) or Comrades (17 March – 1 April ) is (only!) your training focuses on endurance with the majority at the average pace you will be running in the race:
Progression from the early weekly distance to a 3-4 week peak distance is gradual with 10-13% increase over a 7-9 week period
Our 55 minute 10k runner focusing on Comrades may for instance train at an average pace of 10.5km per hours (5:40 per km) for the period of January to mid-March and total around 65-70km per week, but gradually increase and change emphasis towards endurance until last week in April where he or she would be doing 110km with an average pace of 6:20 per km and long runs would be at 6:25 with a sub 9 hour 40 minute Comrades finish in the cross-hairs!
The key issues here are:
- The current period from January to March are not using full time allocation allowing the stresses of family, work and social life to fit comfortably into life (hence only around 6-7 hours training time
- From Mid-march the quality paces reduce (never lost though) and the longer slower and comrades pace runs increase – so gradually increasing overall weekly distance from 65 to 110 km
- This means the time also increases towards 3 weeks at 11 hours.
- This peak period is when work, family and social life is compromised and can only be held for 3-4 weeks – otherwise life gets in the way!!!
A three week taper from 110km, to 55km to 35km to a restful race week, would ensure the runner is fresh, fit, ready and willing to tackle the Comrades Challenge.