JOHANNESBURG – See you in Pietermaritzburg on June 10 next year. That was the general refrain out in Durban as runners from all over the world, the country and different walks of life parted ways.
Medals dangling down their necks as most of them limped about, men and women were already looking ahead to the next Comrades Marathon. Such is the addictive nature of the famous KwaZulu-Natal ultra-marathon won by Bongmusa Mthembu on Sunday.
Comrades Marathon trainer Lindsey Parry is not surprised. He knows that while the bug has bitten those who were doing the race for the first time, simply watching the race – be it on the television or throughout the route – would have got non-runners to want to be a part of the event.
“Be proud that you have inspired a whole new wave of people back home to tackle the Comrades in 2018,” he says.
And to anyone considering to take on the race, Parry has some great advice.
“Act while the desire is highest. Tell people about it and rope in some recruits. Every adventure is more fun with company.”
Along with Comrades sponsors Bonitas, Parry has shared some of what he believes are the "golden rules" to Comrades success – that is starting the race healthy and injury free and finishing it.
Start out slow
The slower you go, the lower your risk of injury and the more sustainable this new life will be. Build slowly, very gradually building up the time and distance.
Walk before you run
If you are not a runner and especially if you were many years ago, lay a proper foundation. Walk more and run less, slowly moving over from walking to running more.
Get the right equipment
Make sure you are in the right trainers. Spending a little more money up front will save you lots of money, pain and heartache in the long run.
Hit the gym. Building a strong body where the right muscles do the right job, with stable joints, will save many Rands of physio and months of injury frustration. During the first 12-20 weeks, if time is limited, you are better off sacrificing a run or two a week to make yourself strong before increasing the running. Strength training can include yoga, pilates or other group training.
The “unnatural” runner will, almost without fail, suffer from an overuse injury. As a beginner, you will be surrounded by athletes who are doing “big” mileage and the pressure is on to run more, more, more. Resist this pressure. For most running four days a week with recovery will give you the best chance of an injury free run. For those with more time to train, add strength and cross training (cycling, swimming, rowing and other non-impact cardiovascular exercise) to complement your training.
Treat injury early
68% of the people who do not finish the Comrades start the race with an injury. If you have pain it is best to stop and rest and find out what the problem and cause is so that you can heal and continue stronger than before.
Get onto the Comrades website
There are programmes that kick off from July 1 that will guide you through your first 10km run, then a 21km, a marathon and beyond. Comrades Marathon Association and Bonitas want you to start and finish the race. I’ll amend that here,’ concludes Parry, ‘we all want you to start the race healthy and injury free and finish it.