JOHANNESBURG - Don't blow it now! You’ve worked too hard to get here. Now is the time to avoid injuries, sicknesses and any ill-advised tips on trying something new. Nothing you do now will make too much of a difference in your race.
This is the general consensus of a couple of Comrades experts as the 93rd edition of the Ultimate Human Race gets closer.
Thursday marks 30 days to go before the world famous KwaZulu-Natal ultra marathon starts in Pietermaritzburg on June 10 and panic is sure to creep in.
Questions such as “do I have enough mileage, have I done enough speedwork?” will swirl in runners’ heads as they anticipate their maiden run of the 90km race.
Relax, says 1991 winner Nick Bester, who is now in charge of the highly successful Nedbank Running Club.
“Most of your training should be done by now,” Bester said. “You must have done all your long runs and should now be working on your speed.”
Fikile Mbuthuma, gold medalist last year (the Nedbank Running Club KZN runner finished eighth in the women’s category) concurs.
“Don’t pile up the mileage now because it can cause injuries. Slow down, take it easy and do nothing more than 25km runs. Do a bit of speedwork but also don’t push yourself too much.”
Concern yourself, Bester also insists, on staying healthy.
“Flu is the big enemy for most runners, especially now that it is getting colder. So be very careful. Avoid going out to restaurants or places where there are a lot of people and thus risk catching germs. Boost yourself with lots of vitamin C. Eat well, lots of fruit and vegetables,” he advises.
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With the race getting closer, many a novice will be inundated with advice from all corners, and it can all get a little overwhelming.
“Of course when you are new to it, you try and absorb everything you hear. But it can be detrimental. Trust what you have done so far and stick to it. The one thing you should not be doing is trying new things now," Bester added.
"Stick to what has worked for you, from how you train, of course you should be tapering now (cutting down on your training), through your nutrition and what you wear."
"The one thing I’ve seen that has messed up many runners before the race, is that they buy just about everything at the Expo a few days before the race. Don’t do it.”
In these last few weeks before the big day, Bester says, runners should focus on working on their mental readiness.
“A lot of your success at Comrades depends on your mental strength. Use this time to prepare yourself mentally," he said.
"Envision yourself at the race, of course you will be thinking you might have to quit because it is tough, but build your mind up in such a way that you are going to be strong to keep on going when you feel like quitting.
"Read some articles about the race, in your runs think of the route, imagine yourself conquering that hill.”
Easier said than done. But both Bester and Mbuthuma agree that any novice should go to Comrades to enjoy themselves. “It’s your first race, go and have fun,” Mbuthuma said.