Consistently working my way back to Comrades…or somewhere
Consistently working my way back to Comrades…or somewhere
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, but have been quite nervous to put my thoughts and intentions down on paper...
...It was 10 years ago that I met Richard. It was in July 2019 when Richard’s story find me up to start training for my first Comrades.
If you missed that story, this is the abridged version:
Richard's story is what drove me to train for and run my first Comrades in 2010. On paper, the last 10 years have been amazing athletically.
I’ve been lucky enough to go on and run two more Comrades after my first two runs in 2010 and 2011 to take my Comrades medal tally to three.
As any Comrades runner worth their salt will tell you I'm halfway to 10. I’ve also been lucky enough to finish five Ironman triathlons in the last decade.
Looking back at the 10 years doesn’t tell the whole story though.
The second half of the last decade, things haven’t quite gone according to plan. A move across the country, a major job change and then starting a new business.
Life has just continuously got in the way...
Consistency has been the missing link in my training
As much as I’ve been training on ann off, there has been very little consistency over time. My mind still thinks I’m an endurance athlete but my body is far from it.
That being said, in building what we’ve been able to build here at Coach Parry, I’ve been inspired by some of the athletes we’ve been able to help achieve some pretty amazing things.
Like Ria van Wyk, for example, who went from supporting a friend at the Two Oceans Half Marathon to not only training and running the race herself a year later, but since then running a10km PB of 45:47 and showing some incredible ability at the age of 58.
Geoffrey Abrams from Klerksdorp who has been putting in a ton of hard work and has been running PB after PB after PB as he inches closer to running a sub three hour marathon.
Like Lizáhn Oosthuizen who has taken up running again after a long time away from the sport and has built up slowly over the last 18 months and will run her first half marathon in a few weeks time.
Like Rachel Clark who was told she probably would never run again after massive knee surgery as a teenager. But after a slow and steady build-up finished her first marathon in a time of 4:45 this weekend.
Like Diana Baird who ran the Edmonton half marathon in 2:23 recently 62 years young.
Jack Damon who ran his first half marathon in 10 years and Roger Dickson who ran his fastest in 6 years (a 75:35 in his mid-forties!) this past weekend...
...But it was being at the Comrades Marathon Expo where this changed.
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How things changed at the Comrades expo...
..Being at the Comrades Marathon expo in 2019 for the first time in a few years fired the passion inside me once again for a race I love so much. I arrived back home in Cape Town after Comrades with the seed planted that I want to go back and run the Ultimate Human Race again.
Seeing scenes like this at expo the day before race day...
...While there got to meet so many incredible runners and hear so many inspirational stories at the Comrades Coach stand at the expo that I couldn’t help but be inspired myself.
I got to speak to Carol Jarvis, who has had to overcome some incredible obstacles on the way to finishing Comrades for the first time since 2010.
I was able to meet Nabila Mulla, who struggled with injuries in the build up to Comrades this year but kept persevering and eventually qualified and then gritted her teeth and showed incredible tenacity to finish the Comrades in 2019.
Like hearing Shaun Simpson’s story of how he had to juggle his training around spending much of his time on a boat and then still managed to run a phenomenal Comrades in 2019. He is a testament to what happens when you follow the Coach Parry training program to the T.
I can list all the stories, but I’ll share a compilation of some of the videos that I was able to shoot at the expo that fired me up:
In June, as a business, we created a whole bunch of new Comrades 2020 training programs for next year's down run.
One of the programs I asked Lindsey to write was a 2020 Couch to Comrades training plan, to get someone from doing absolutely nothing all the way to comrades in the space of 12 months.
When I decided in 2009 that I wanted to run comrades, I knew that it was going to be a tough ask. I needed to go from 165kgs to running arguably the toughest ultra marathon a year later.
I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be successful, but I keep telling myself that what ever happened, a year from now I’ll be a lot fitter than I would be if I did nothing.
That’s exactly what I’m telling myself once again.
At the end of June I decided I would turn myself into a guinea pig and follow the Couch to Comrades training program for 2020.
I've always been one to break things down to their simplest form. The program is 52 weeks long and has 4 training sessions per week.
That's only 208 training sessions.
My training started on the 1st of July and I knew the only thing I needed to focus on what is being consistent.
Showing up day in and day out and turning the blocks on my training schedule green...
...I’m pleased to check-in, two months later, having just turned my 63rd block green (including rest days, because they are important too - See point number 1).
I haven’t missed one training session in the last 2 months!
208 training sessions to start with, minus the 8 I missed at the start of the program in June, minus the 36 I've done in the last 9 weeks, means that there are only 164 left.
How crazy is that???
My late mom always used to say that in order to eat an elephant you need to do it one bite at a time.
In my mind, that is how you train to run a race like Comrades...
...One training session at a time.
If I don't run the 16 sessions scheduled in September, what I do in October won't matter.
I’m nowhere close to being ready to run Comrades, or even to run a marathon, but I am fitter than I was two months ago and I’m feeling like I’m on the right track.
The last five years have been pretty tough on my waistline too. I’m on a mission to lose some of the weight that I’ve picked up over the last five years.
The plan is to work closely with our resident dietician, Nicki de Villiers, to lose some weight as the mileage increases towards what should be my first half marathon in a while, in November.
I’m still not 100% sure I'll make it to the start line form Comrades 2020, but whatever happens between now and the 14th of June 2020, I’m going to be a lot fitter than I would be if I didn’t go on this journey.
I'd love to hear your thoughts...
How do you break your training up for a big race? Is it session by session or training block by training block?
Have you made a comeback after a prolonged time off? What did you do to keep yourself motivated and accountable?
Comment below to let me know...
About Brad Brown
Brad comes from a radio background having worked for some of the biggest radio stations in South Africa including 947 Highveld Stereo and SAfm.
Comrades has played a big role in Brad's life. His Dad has run 11 and he finished his first Comrades Marathon in 2011. He is a Spirit of Comrades recipient and the founder of the Comrades Marathon 'Race for Charity' initiative which has raised millions of Rands for the official Comrades Marathon charities since its inception in 2011.
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