Final countdown: strategy, state of mind are vital

2010-05-25 00:00

THE final five days before Comrades are about planning and preparing the race strategy and the mind. There is no physical training that can change a runner’s condition for the better: doing more than gentle exercise now puts the athlete at risk of injury.

Where the major improvements can be made is in the strategy and belief the runner takes into the race. The latest scientific studies show that it is the power of the mind that is the key factor in determining a runner’s final time in an event like the Comrades.

What runners believe, in their conscious and subconscious minds, set the tone for how they will perform as the mind guides the pace, feelings, and feedback systems to achieve what the belief system is comfortable with.

By reminding themselves of the training they have undergone, their previous race performances and their experience of past runs, athletes can build confidence levels.

Some runners, particularly novices, enter Comrades without a real feel for what they can realistically achieve. In the hype of the moment, few will start too slow and the biggest, but most natural mistake is to go off too fast. This inevitably means that runners are forced to grind their way over the final quarter into the finish.

The Witness and LineBreak are providing access to a Finish Time Predictor for the 2010 Comrades, which is available at www.witness.co.za under Norrie Williamson training tips.

By entering three race performances from the past nine months, runners receive an accurate prediction of their best ability over the 89,28 km 2010 down run. This is essential information for the planning of a race strategy.

As noted previously, it is the runner’s view of what he or she can achieve that has a major impact on the result on the day.

Armed with a realistic target time, runners can begin visualising their run along the Comrades route. To assist them in this, there is a down run podcast on The Witness website, which takes the listener on a step-by-step trip down to Durban.

The mind cannot differentiate between reality and visualisation. Training the mind in this way allows the runner to plan what to do along the route and how to handle simple challenges that they might face.

If this method is practised sufficiently, runners will find themselves so prepared that Sunday’s run will be a case of déjà vu!

The Witness wishes all runners the best in their final preparations and a great run in the 85th Comrades on Sunday.

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