It’s only 10 sleeps till the Ultimate Human race 2018. Damn, that sounds good.
After many months of hard training you get to the point when you kind of just want it to be over. But you also don’t want to just whimsically wish it away.
All the hard work is deserved of a special finish. I’ve often heard coaches tell their athletes that training for ultramarathons like Comrades or Iron Man is the real journey with raceday just an opportunity to go out and ‘enjoy’ all the hard work put in.
And what is hard work. What do 1,317kilometres and 124 hours of training even mean?
When I decided to run this year’s Comrades, the goal was to go for a Bill Rowan medal (sub-9 hours). I missed it in my first ever Comrades in 2012, a down run, by 20 minutes. It wasn’t a goal in that run. I was just hoping to finish. That year I followed Norrie Williamson’s Two Oceans program on the Old Mutual Do Great Things website and then his follow-up Two Oceans to Comrades program. Between January 1st and raceday on June 3rd, a general measure of training success, I logged a respectable 1,250 odd kilometres.
The following year, I opted for a different, more ‘scientific’ approach under the guidance of Zac van Heerden of Exercise Solutions. The ‘science’ I refer to, is that the whole program was based on heart-rate training and Zac’s training philosophy was quality over quantity. He was adamant that most people tended to overtrain for Comrades and that better results could be achieved by training smarter. I loved the program – which involved cross training with weekly swims and cycles to slowly gear me up for Iron Man the following year. Between January 1 and raceday, I clocked a significantly lower 850 kilometres. Again, I missed a Bill Rowan by 20 minutes. However, I felt good on the day and was definitely on track. Were it not for what were widely considered some of the toughest conditions in over 30 years with high temperature and brutal warm berg winds, I think I would have done it.
Fast forward 5 years, and how have I fared this year. Up until today, I’ve logged 1,318km’s with probably another 30-40 odd to run in the next week which will take me to 1,360.
How does that leave me feeling you might ask? Well barring a big training faux pas at the end of January which had me miss about 50km’s and being sick about 3-4 weeks back which had me miss a big 90km week, I couldn’t have done more. I stuck religiously to every single session. So my total would have been about 1,500, which might have had me feeling much more confident, but if I’m philosophical about it, I think the enforced rest probably did me a world of good and could well have me feeling a tiny bit fresher on the start line.
Interestingly, as I was leaving the gym a few days back and thinking about this year’s Comrades training effort, I wondered how it compared to my preparation for the ABSA Cape Epic last year. I obviously can’t compare distances covered, but in the 5 months from 1 November 2016 to raceday (18 March 2017), I did 106 training activities, covering 221 hours, compared to 90 run sessions this year and a total 124 hours.
Shoo. They’re both stupid hours. While I’m incredibly chuffed I’ve done all I can and excited about next Sunday, I feel I might need another longish break after this one.