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Archive for July, 2014

Comrades Marathon

It’s crazy, I know. I’m touching 40, I smoked cigarettes for half of those years, and now I’m thinking of running nearly 90km in one day!

But I am quite serious about doing this so, at the beginning of May, I started running again. I say again because I used to run when I was in school. Never bothered to ‘train’ much, but running was something I knew my body was designed to do, so I did it. And enjoyed it.

But the first run in 20 years I did NOT enjoy. It was torture. I use Endomondo to track my running and decided to start of with one of its ‘Cooper Tests’. It’s a fitness test that uses the distance one can run in 12 minutes to determine one’s fitness level. So, that was it; I ran for 12 minutes and felt like I could die. I covered exactly 2km in those 12 minutes which isn’t fantastic, but wasn’t too bad either considering my physical condition.

I used the result of this test (a fitness score of 30) to create a training plan for running a 5km by 30 June. The training plan started 1 May, and I could not believe how much I enjoyed the first run! I felt on top of the world! My body started remembering how awesome it felt to run. I completed my first 5km 3 days later on 4 May!! It took 38 minutes, but I finished it. From there, I was running 5km parkrun’s every weekend. I stuck to the training plan, but because I hit my goal long before intended, I shifted the goal to running a 5km in under 25 minutes by the end of June.

On the 24th of May, I entered and ran an actual 5km race. It was tough. Really tough. But I finished in under 30:00, so I was satisfied. I also had my first taste of a proper race and loved it.

On the 31st of May I quit smoking. I chose the 31st because the Comrades Marathon 2015 will then be on my 1 year anniversary.

Then, after some thought and ‘pep-talks’ from friends, I decided to move on and ran my first 10km race on the 7th of June. I had 2 goals for that race; 1. Finish the race, and 2. do it in less than 60 minutes. The particular race was an easy one. Good for someone to cut their teeth on. I succeeded in both goals, finishing the 10km in 55:33. What’s even more awesome (and astounding) was that I finished 90th which earned me a silver medal!

The rest of June saw me running 2 more 10km races, 2 more parkrun’s, and joining a running club. I did not make my goal of running a 5km in under 25 minutes by the end of June, but I was OK with that. I have already exceeded all of my expectations regarding my running.

On July 5th I ran my first race as a running club member. It was an important race for running clubs in Gauteng North because it was a league race. In a league race, each runner gets a score toward the club’s league standings. Our club was in third position in the first division league, trailing second by one point and first by two. I had a consistent 10km time and knew I could score 3 points, but I was only 2 minutes away from 4. It was a fast race. A so-called ‘PB route’. Maybe I could get those 2 minutes. It’s only 12 seconds per km. I did not want to let the club (or myself) down so I ran hard. It was tough. The last 2km was brutal. But I did it! I completed the race in 51:43 and scored the 4 points. Our club won the league event, which moved us into second place. Endomondo also found a section where I completed 5km in 24:53 so my sub-25 minute 5km goal was hit, even if it was 5 days late.

Since 5km runs have become warm-ups, and I’ve become comfortable on 10km races, I’ve shifted my attention to the next hurdle in my way towards the Comrades Marathon; the half-marathon. There seem to be a big shift here. The 5 and 10km races seem to be more speed oriented while the longer runs (let’s make it longer than an hour at my pace) are the endurance races. I like endurance races. You run at a comfortable pace for a long time. That’s it. The secret to winning and good times is to get your comfortable pace to be fast. But it remains comfortable. I have not had a run that lasted longer than an hour. But it’s coming. For endurance training, you need to get distance in the legs. That means long, slow runs on the weekends.

I’m still running 10km races on the weekends. If my long, slow run is 12km (for instance) I’ll finish the race and add an extra 2km to the end (or I might warm up with 2km, but I don’t know how that will go). My first half-marathon is scheduled for 27 September 2014. I have 2 goals for this race; 1. Finish the race, and 2. do it in less than 120 minutes.