How to shape up for Comrades

Lindsey Parry knows the ins and outs of the Comrades
Lindsey Parry knows the ins and outs of the Comrades

With the entries for next year’s Comrades Marathon officially open, the challenge for some is how and when to start preparing for the ultramarathon that’s 87km long.

Comrades Marathon expert coach Lindsey Parry has warned the hopefuls to avoid being too “obsessed with the race too early”.

This applies to social and professional runners, he said.

“You don’t want to get obsessed with Comrades too early because it’s a long time to train and stay fit and free of injuries,” cautioned Parry, who was part of the coaching staff that guided the South African men’s and women’s teams to silver medals at the World 100km Championships in Croatia last month.

“With finishing the Comrades as the main goal; what we are looking for at this time of year – going into November, early December – is that guys who are trying to run for gold and silver should be looking at running a fast marathon now so that qualifying is out of the way.”

The rules say qualifying races must have been completed between August this year and May 2 next year.

“Your bronze [hopefuls] will probably also be looking to qualify, certainly their finishes are probably going to build up to something like 32 [minutes] or maybe improving their half-marathon [21km] times,” said Parry, who guided Caroline Wöstmann to a historic Comrades win in 2015.

Parry said January presents the last chance to run a good marathon before the Comrades on June 9.

The qualifying times are four hours 50 minutes for a 42.2km and 6:45 for those qualifying in the Two Oceans Marathon.

Comrades Marathon champion Bongmusa Mthembu leads a group of hopefuls at this year’s race in June Picture: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images

“There are still more opportunities to qualify, but, ideally, end of January, beginning of February, you want to get that out of the way.

“Then we start looking at getting ourselves geared up through February, early March – that’s when Comrades training months begin.

“March and April are main months for training for Comrades and a little bit into May, but then we actually start to cut back [on training], freshen up, taper and get ready for race day,” said Parry.

Taper means to decrease training before a race.

With the Two Oceans Marathon being a competitive race that takes place before Comrades every year, Parry advised hopefuls to use the Easter weekend race as a training ground.

“Next year’s Comrades and Two Oceans are very close together so anybody who is doing Two Oceans should do it purely as a training run. It’s about six weeks before the [Comrades] race day.

“That’s an ideal time for your finishes and sub-11 hours. But if you push too hard [in Two Oceans], it’s going to cost you,” warned Parry.

Meanwhile, 14 000 entries were captured shortly after registration opened on Friday, the race office has confirmed.

The cut off date is December 10 or as soon as the entry cap of 25 000 has been reached.

Next year’s race is an “up run” and will start at the Durban City Hall and finish 12 hours later at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

A total prize purse of R4.3 million is up for grabs.

The men’s and women’s winners will receive R500 000 each, plus an additional R500 000 should anyone break the record times of 5:24:49 (men) and 6:09:23 (women) in the “up” race.

Visit comrades.com for more information on the marathon

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