How to approach Comrades after a failed attempt – Michael do Carmo’s one on one coaching call

How to approach Comrades after a failed attempt – Michael do Carmo’s one on one coaching call

On today's episode of RUN with Coach Parry, Lindsey and Brad are joined by one of our Coach Parry Online Training Club members Michael do Carmo as we chat to him about his running and give him some advice to get him across the Comrades 2020 finish line.

Michael tells us about his attempt at Comrades 2019, his race day experience and the struggles he faced with injury during the race.

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Transcription

BRAD
Welcome on to this edition of RUN with Coach Parry. My name is Brad Brown. It's great to have you with us once again. Thank you so much for joining us. Coming up on today's show we're joined by Lindsey Parry. It is post Comrades. And we've been celebrating a lot of successes here in the Coach Parry Online Community.

But I know there's a large percentage of the Comrades field that don't get to achieve their goals every year and I thought it was important to chat to someone who didn't have the best of runs, things didn't go according to plan and sort of look back and see why, so that we can put a plan together, going forward to make sure that he does get his medal next year. We are joined by a member of the Coach Parry Online Community on today's podcast to chat a little bit about his failed attempt at Comrades in 2019. And it's a great pleasure to welcome Michael do Carmo on today's podcast.

Lindsey, how's it, nice to nice to touch base on the podcast once again.

LINDSEY
Yeah, always good and especially cool to chat to runners and help them along and in this case, hopefully get Michael across the finish line at Comrades 2020 next year.

BRAD
Absolutely. And I think that's a great segue into our guests today who's a member of our online community, Michael do Carmo. Michael, welcome on to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

MICHAEL
Thanks, Brad, good to be here.

BRAD
Michael, you're based in Pretoria, tell us a little bit about life in Pretoria outside of running, what do you do? Tell us a little bit about what you get up to?

MICHAEL
Computer geek here so sitting on my tush all day. And that's how I was most of my life. And then I started picking up with running and that's where I've been the last few years, running slowly but surely increasing the pace and the mileage.

BRAD
How did you get into running? What was the catalyst?

MICHAEL
It was a friend actually, a friend asked, well challenged me rather, and I said anyone could do it and unfortunately that's also where my first mistake was, I literally just went from couch to 10K and yeah got my first injury from that.

BRAD
Lessons we learn. How long have you been running? When was that?

MICHAEL
That was, I'm really not good with time things, but probably about six years ago.

BRAD
And other than the odd injury, have you been pretty consistent over those six years or has it been stop start?

MICHAEL
I ran initially for about a year. And unfortunately, I ran through the injury. You know, once again, lesson learned, and then I just took some time off to fix the injury. And then I got back and I've been consistent.

BRAD
Alright, cool. Lindsey, let me bring you in here. We send out a sort of questionnaire just to get some running background and history for these calls. Your initial thoughts on what Michael sent through to you?

LINDSEY
Yeah, so I mean, very, very decent level of running that you've achieved Michael so yeah, if the Comrades finishes and medals were dished out at the start you would have got one. So yeah, I mean, I'm interested just to hear a little bit about your race day experience. And you know, you said in your questionnaire that you followed the the finishers programme pretty well, except for a bit of the last week I think I remember in the forum something about illness or I can't remember that detail too clearly. But yeah, I mean, I do remember in the forum also not being concerned that you wouldn't finish. I'm interested to hear a little bit about exactly what the detail of it was when you felt sick, or a slight niggle.

MICHAEL
Yeah. So leading up was because I did the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon I think. Yeah, and I think I just did a bit too much too quickly there or something. And what I picked up was about two weeks from Comrades, where we were already tapering I started getting a bit of a niggle on my lower calf muscle, I believe it's called the soleus calf muscle, and that was on both legs and I remember the one day I was supposed to do three hours of running and only ended up getting a 10k because of that niggle. And from there I started tapering much more than what the plan said, I literally rested entirely the last week.

LINDSEY
Yeah, and when you lined up on race day, were at least able to start the run fairly pain free?

MICHAEL
Pain free. Hundred percent. After a few k's, instead of it being on both legs, I did feel it a bit on the right leg, but nothing to worry about. It didn't bother me too much. Yeah, so it wasn't because of that.

LINDSEY
Okay, so then out on the road then, because I mean, I've had a look on the Comrades app, out on the road you were pretty good until halfway but then that section to Camperdown you really struggle and I assume from there you just couldn't, I mean you didn't make it to Umlaas Road or got cut off at Umlaas Road so was it just like a general slowing down? You know, what were you experiencing on the road that left you falling off?

MICHAEL
I felt I didn't have the strength. Even on the flats, I was trying to run because I know I have to run on the flats and I just couldn't really push myself to do it. I was running but it's something at eight minutes, eight to nine minutes a km. And that was me pushing to you know, get that pace. I don't know if maybe it was because of nutrition as well. I did post some updates today and over the weekend. It's something I didn't religiously do as I've done in other races is my nutrition. I did change that slightly but I still feel I was getting enough.

LINDSEY
Yeah, so looking through your stats and you followed the finishers programme which that in itself should not have handicapped you. In fact, because although you've now been running for five years, it should have actually been a good thing because you were being a little bit more conservative than you perhaps needed to be, which should also have in theory prevented the injuries that you did experience. So yeah, I mean your one question you had for us was, is your goal realistic to run a sub 11 Comrades and look it absolutely is. I mean your shorter distances, your 5 and your 10 and your 21, all of those point to a sub 4:30.

Now there is a sliding trend from your 5 to your 10 to your 21. And just so people listening can get a picture of what I'm saying is that your 5k PB predicts that you should be able to, which is 25 minutes and 40 odd seconds, says that you should be able to run 10K's in 53 minutes and you run it in 56. And it predicts that you should be able to run your 21 K in 150, something high, but you ran it at 2:06 and your marathon you should be careful of is about 4:11 but you ran it at 4:44. So yeah, there's absolutely this trend that kind of slides away as you go longer.

But even taking that into account and even that you have been running at the shorter distances for a little bit of time, I certainly believe that you're capable of a sub 25 5K, and that if we get you on the right balance between running your runs easy enough and doing enough volume, then you should be able to translate that sub 25 into pretty close to a 4 hour and you know, a 4 hour marathon points to 10 and a half hour Comrades. So your goal is a realistic one.

As you've experienced this year, unfortunately, you know, we don't get the medal but before we start, and i would definitely follow the 11 hour, I mean that will come later. What I would do if I was in in your shoes now is make sure obviously that I am fully recovered from Comrades. And, you know, even though you only got cut off, you basically made it to Umlaas Road. So you essentially ran like 60/66 of the 86K. So there is still going to be some damage there, particularly as you described, you had to push yourself really hard just to get yourself from the 50k mark to that 66k mark. So you do need to recover from that. And then I would set my sights on getting faster over the short stuff.

But bearing in mind that your weakness is not actually the short stuff, it's the longer stuff. So therefore, although I believe you can go under 25 minutes for 5K's, I wouldn't make that my goal, I'd work on half marathon time. And there's enough time in this year for you to essentially have two cracks at a half marathon and to really get your half marathon time down to like a low 1:50, somewhere in that region, and then early next year to get your marathon time, close to four, even sub four, if it's doable, and that then gives you absolute freedom to focus between the middle of February all the way up to race day on only focusing on Comrades.

So you build up from the middle of February into March, which the Comrades programme would do. So essentially, in a nutshell, if I was advising you what to do it would be to work on 21k for two events this year, then to climb onto a marathon programme up to your qualifier and I'd say I'd aim for, I'd probably aim for Johnson Crane at the end of January. And then take a little breather, let your body recover from that and then jump on to the Sub11 or maybe we do get sub10, a sub 4 hour marathon in which case I'd then say we go onto the sub 10 programme, but either the sub 10 or 11 programme and we target a between 10:30 and 11 hour finish. And obviously that can adjust as the programme is as successful as we would like it to be or not quite. But that's kind of where I'd go towards.

And then in terms of that kind of feeling of not having any strength, I would definitely look at putting in one of our beginner strength and conditioning programmes now, but probably intermediate going forward, and then you know, start working on nutrition again. And then on race day, look on race day, you probably do need slightly less than you normally take but you obviously need it for a much longer period of time. And because of that fact, I generally try to fuel exactly the same as I would in shorter races. Knowing that after four, four and a half hours, I'm probably going to struggle to get in the nutrition that I need so you're essentially building yourself up a little bit of a buffer so that over the next four hours you can be quite sporadic. And then of course when your body starts to demand 'Hey, I want some more' normally it's easier to then pick it up with some slightly different things. So yeah, I mean I've done a lot of talking on this one.

MICHAEL
No, it's funny you mentioned the PB's because I only sent you the recent PB's. If I go as far back as two years, I have actually managed a sub 25 for 5k and a 53 for 10k. So it does actually quite line up with that.

BRAD
You're selling yourself short here, Michael. We've had guys that have sent us PBs from high school like 30 years ago.

LINDSEY
Then absolutely, then what we've got to do is get that 21 k time in line with your ability and we've got time for that. Look, you could do one half and then a marathon this year but my gut feeling is that in terms of keeping your mind fresh and your body fresh for next year, I would really try and get that 21 k down in line with or better than it's predicted at the moment with your 5 and 10s and then crack a marathon next year, recover, focus on Comrades.

MICHAEL
Hundred percent. Okay, I'm happy with that.

BRAD
Michael, if I can just throw my two cents worth in there as well and I feel for you, because I had exactly the same experience in my first Comrades. Missed the cut off with with about 20 to go and you almost just living and breathing that for the next year because you want to go back and you want redemption and Lindsey makes such an important point is sort of keeping your mind fresh because if your focus from now until Comrades next year is just going back and running Comrades, by the time you hit the peak training in sort of March and April you're going to be so sick of Comrades, you're going to be so tired you want it just to be over so yeah, I mean if I can sort of just echo what Lindsey says, focus on getting slightly faster on the shorter distances now and worry about Comrades next year It will take care of itself if you can hit those goals this year.

MICHAEL
I'll do that, definitely.

BRAD
Cool. Any other questions? I mean, what's anything I mean? How's the body feeling post Comrades? Are you are you still sore? You feeling good?

MICHAEL
It's okay, but it does feel a bit fatigued. I find myslef sleeping more and just waking up generally a bit more tired than I know I should be. But otherwise no pain no niggles, nothing. I'm all right. Yeah, it's all good.

LINDSEY
Cool, then look I would definitely give it at least one more week and then you can think about slowly getting back into it and three weeks before you download the the 21k programme. And look there's some nice, there are some good options to race coming up particularly in Pretoria and of course the are some 10s like the, what's it, the Spirit of Flight on the Swartkop military base so there's a couple of 10s that you can do as part of that 21k build up to a race but there's some good flattish, nothing's flat in Gauteng, but there's some flattish options that come up in the second half of the year.

MICHAEL
So you think I should take a 10k training plan from the site and work from then in about a week's time?

LINDSEY
I'd work on a 21k programme but just knowing that they are some 10ks that you can chuck into, you know, say halfway through the programme just to kind of gauge how you're going. Yeah.

MICHAEL
Okay, perfect.

BRAD
Cool. Cool, Michael, any other questions while we've got you or are you happy days?

MICHAEL
No, not really, you know nothing I haven't heard answered before in one of your webcasts so I'm good, I'm good with that.

BRAD
Cool. Well, Michael, I'm looking forward to following your progress to Comrades 2020 and beyond I know the next year is going to be hard because you're always going to have that thing hanging above you and you need to go and finish that off. But I've got no doubt that if you stay injury free and train consistently over the next 12 months, you will definitely come home with a Comrades medal next year. So yeah, we look forward to following your progress, any questions, just pop them in the forum, and just while we got you on your experience of the Coach Parry Training Club and being on the platform and being in the forums?

MICHAEL
It is great. I do like the community and especially the forum. It's been a great help to just be able to post a question, especially when you're doing the training plan. You know, I remember Lindsey answered my one question regarding the ultra marathon, the Two Oceans ultramarathon, and tweaking the training plan on the fly and all that was great help.

BRAD
Awesome stuff. Well, Michael, we love having you in there. Best of luck in that. Yeah. If you need any help you know where to come.

MICHAEL
Great, thanks a lot Brad, thanks Lindsey.

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