Comrades Training – for the novice – July to December

With grateful thanks to the Late Don Oliver

The winter period and beyond – covering July to December, is the time to lay a solid foundation for any serious Comrades training. That starts on January 1st every year. In July there are many different runners out there, with different levels of fitness and preparation. They will all do different types of training, depending on their past performance – ranging from the well-trained, successful Comrades finishers, to the TV viewers who were so stimulated and challenged by the coverage. All they want is to be part of the action next year, notwithstanding they can hardly call themselves athletes at this stage.

There is a programme for everybody on this blog. Just select the type of runner you are, and you will find a programme taking you through to the end of the year. Then you will be ready to embark on a solid 6-months programme of well-constructed training for next year’s Comrades.

Novice Comrades runner –  
“Haven’t run much before but want to be part of the action in next year’s Comrades, and get a medal.”

The very first thing to do is to go to your doctor and break the news to him of your latest ambition. Let him check you out with a stress ECG and all the other tests, so that you start off with confidence.

The second thing to do is to make a firm commitment to your family, friends and colleagues that you will be a Comrades runner next year. The dedication and persistence you have to develop and the sacrifices you will have to make means that Comrades is not for the faint hearted. Believe you me.

The third thing is to get the kit. As a start, get a pair of good recommended running shoes from a specialist shop, and suitable clothing for winter running.

Fourth thing is to join a running club or a group of local running friends, some of whom have done Comrades before, and arrange to train regularly with them. They will help you run on safe training routes in good company.

Fifth thing is to allocate time for training in your already busy life but not at the expense of family, friends and your job.

As with all road running training, you have to start off slowly and build up gradually to adapt to the new lifestyle. Your heart and breathing will develop more rapidly than your muscles and bones. As a result, injuries are an ever-present danger and must be avoided at any cost. Progress gradually. Only do as much as the programme asks. To get ahead and do too much too soon will land you in the physiotherapist’s rooms. You will be set bi-monthly targets – settle for just that and no more. Please note that you start off with walking/jogging sessions only. You will run or jog all the way later.

Part I – July and August

Table 1

Thought for the month: “At least I’ve made a start:

Part 2 – September and October

Now you can take on the role of a regular runner. Spring has arrived and that makes it so much easier for running than those dark, cold winter mornings. The training runs are classed as running but, like all road runners, you can slip a little walk in now and again when you are battling a bit. If you want to see runners walk, look at that Comrades TV video again! Your routes should be varied and include a couple of hilly ones, but there must also be a few far easier ones for those days when you must take things easier.

You can do races twice a month and go up to 15km only, trying each time to walk less and improve your race time. If it is hot, learn to take in fluids. Recover after the weekend with a day off and two or three days’ really slow running. We have a rule: “Hard day – easy day”. If your legs are stiff or you are a bit tired, you should run slowly for a few more days.

Go to the club Time Trial and have a short, sharp 8km run. Race against your friends and rivals or run against the clock. This will improve your running immensely. Map out several training routes and measure them accurately with the car trip meter.

Note 1: The Sunday runs in italics are club training runs and the others are road races.
Note 2: Have a drink of water on all your training runs. That is the only stop now.

Table 2

Thought for the month: “I never thought running was so much fun! No wonder so many people are out there!”

Part 3 – November and December

By now you are finding yourself and where you fit into the scheme of things. The club seems to be made up of very fast lean serious runners, fatter slower ones who support the bar, some who are friendly and others who seem to run in a world of their own. Some are really competitive and ask your times and tell you they beat you in the race on Sunday. They are all good people – road runners.

During this period we are beginning to prepare ourselves for some fairly serious training next year. The kilometres go up and the objectives are slightly harder but still really quite easy. We didn’t realize training for Comrades was this easy. Well, wait for April next year and speak to me then. The idea of achieving an objective and moving on to the next slightly harder one is called “biteable bits and chewable chunks”. You get used to being an achiever.

Note 1:    Sorry that I took away the second Rest Day. You will need to get used to six day a week running from January next year.
Note 2:     If you go on holiday, don’t do more than the programme, but and also don’t do nothing for the month. Road runners never have a holiday from running. They would miss it too much.

Table 3

Thought for the month: “I am feeling better about everything in life!”

Published by Tom Cottrell

A struggling author, pilgrim and citizen of Planet Earth.

2 thoughts on “Comrades Training – for the novice – July to December

  1. Thank you so much Tom. Going to give this a try as hubby stopped running and I am on my own now for training


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