Taking on Comrades for the first time – Betsy Rabie’s one on one coaching call

Taking on Comrades for the first time – Betsy Rabie’s one on one coaching call

Coach Parry Training Club member Betsy Rabie joins Brad and Lindsey on the podcast today as we talk about how she feels leading up to her first Comrades and answer her questions.

We talk about how to deal with missed training sessions and whether or not you should try catch it up on another day. Lindsey and Betsy also chat about the discipline needed to run at a slower pace than you want to and the different methods you can use to check if you need to adjust your pace on a run.

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Transcription

 

BRAD
Welcome on to another edition of RUN with Coach Parry. My name is Brad Brown. It's great to have you on board. Thank you so much for joining us today. And on today's podcast, we are joined by another member of the Coach Parry Online Training Club. It's like the inside circle if you want to get on this podcast and you want some one on one help make sure you check out the Coach Parry Online Training Club all you need to do is head over to coachparry.com/join. That's where you can find out all the details, you can become part of one of the most supportive and interactive running communities on the interwebs. Okay, go check it out. That's coachparry.com/join. And today we're joined by Betsy Rabie and Lindsay Parry joining us as well to talk Betsy through what she's struggling with. So great pleasure to welcome Betsy Rabie, on to the podcast. Betsy, welcome.

BETSY
Thank you, Brad.

BRAD
It's great to have you on, you're in Centurion, and I'm in Cape Town as we record this, Lindsey's up in Joburg as well. Betsy, before we get into sort of answering some of your specific questions. Tell me a bit about you. How long have you been running?

BETSY
Okay, Brad, I'm Betsy, I'm 37 years old and I started running I would say about two years ago with a couple of ladies in Littleton. And they introduced me to marathon running, but I would officially call myself a runner about two years ago when I completed my first marathon, the Cape Town Marathon. And I was very, very chuffed when I passed the cricket captain Graeme Smith and the rugby legend Francois Pienaar on the road. And I couldn't help thinking to myself, I was born to run.

So that was super cool and then a couple of months later, a friend of mine Reiki introduced me to [***03:19]. And everybody knows if you're 15 minutes in the Comrades giants presence you can't help but to put the Comrades Marathon on your bucket list. And so yeah, I had the dream. I had the legs, the heart and the muscles. But I needed the experience and the plan and who better than the official Comrades Coach Lindsey Parry. So I joined the Lindsey Parry forum.

BRAD
I love it, what a cool story and outside of running, you've got a pretty hectic life as well, you're a mom, you've got your three kids, how do you balance it?

BETSY
Well some days I don't, I must be honest. But yes, me and my husband, we have a family business, which is quite demanding. And I have 3 little ones who's 5 and 8 and 10 years old. But the thing about running, it really makes you strong for every area in your life. And as well as it can be challenging and it pushes you to shift your boundaries a bit, it also brings a bit of freedom, you know, in a quite stressful life. I love running.

BRAD
Betsy, is this your first Comrades that you're going for now?

BETSY
Yes, it is, Brad, it's my first.

BRAD
Not too long to go now, how are you feeling?

BETSY
I must say I'm counting the sleeps. And you know, Comrades is close when your 10 year old is quoting Coach Parry when she talks to her siblings, and when your son is looking for hills for you to run when you're driving in the car. You know, Comrades is around the corner, but I am feeling confident, I'm pleased to be on the forum and to get information and to be accountable and, you know, be among runners with the same fears and the same ideas. But I must say that the closer the day's, the nerves are a bit hectic.

BRAD
I love it. What a cool story. Lindsey, let me bring you in here as well, you've got Betsy's sort of training questionnaire that we send out for these calls. And there's a whole bunch of questions on there too. Your initial thoughts of where Betsy is right now?

LINDSEY
She's in a good place. I mean, if we look at your runs, your kind of PBs along the way, then you should be coming in close to 11 hours. Maybe under 11 hours will be just tad optimistic at this stage, but certainly not slower than 11:15 is really where I think you are on race day. And that should give you just a little bit of peace of mind that you know, you shouldn't really be under too much pressure in the last 20k's. I mean, I know 45 minutes doesn't feel like much when you're in those last 20k's but you shouldn't be under much pressure getting to cut off points. And it does look like you've prepared fairly well, you've been able to do reasonably consistently 45 to 60 k's a week.

So you've got good reason to be confident and the fact that you do feel confident now, I think you know this, and you had a really nice Two Oceans. So that should also give you some really good confidence. And importantly, you haven't mentioned anywhere and certainly not while we've been chatting now, any niggles or pains, obviously some illness in in your house, but so far not you and really being uninjured and healthy at the start line, it massively increases your chances of finishing the race.

BRAD
Yeah, absolutely.

LINDSEY
Yeah, so you've got a couple of questions you wanted to ask me. And hopefully you've got those in front of you. Let's get through those.

BETSY
Yes, the first one I want to ask you, Coach Parry, you know, some days you miss a training run, due to a little one getting sick or a deadline at work that have to finish him. I know that you're not supposed to play catch up with runs that you've missed. But you still feel like man, I have to make up you know, for a run that you missed. How do you capitalize on training time that you've missed due to unforeseen circumstances? How do you so you don't feel that you know, regret?. I don't know how to put it different, yeah.

LINDSEY
So, yeah, guilt. So that you not feeling guilty about missing training or anxious that you missing out on training and therefore not getting as fit as you possibly should. So like you are following the sub 11 Comrades programme, which is a four day a week programme. And so it does allow for a bit more flexibility. So if something pops up on a day, it is possible to catch up around on another day, you just have to be a little bit careful how you do it, you know.

If you miss your Monday run, for example, you don't want to now squeeze that in on a Friday because then you're going to be running Thursday, Friday, and then two massive runs on the weekend. And then the following Monday, you're going to run again, so then that's five days in a row. So you just want to be a little bit careful how you do catch it up. And if it ends up in that scenario, then you would, you could still probably do a run on the Friday, but you don't want to catch up the full missed run, especially because that's the day that you in particular are doing your hills. So you definitely don't want to be running Thursday hills, Friday long run, Saturday long run, and Sunday hills again, because then you're going to risk injury.

So there is some flexibility, where you can juggle around the rest of the week, so that you can catch up some or part of that run. But if you're missing one every week, that might be problematic. But if you are missing a run every two to three weeks because of, as you said a child's sick or work emergency or something that just takes up your time, the impact it's going to have on your fitness is so negligible that you don't need to get yourself stressed out about catching it up. If your week is fairly easy to juggle, or reasonable to juggle after that point fine, catch it up on one of the other two rest days that you normally have. Just be sensible about it.

BETSY
Thank you so much. And then the other question I wanted to know is, and I tried to run with my watch on, on watch mode, and sometimes I know, one things I really respect about you is that you preach to go slower to get faster and it really takes a bit of discipline and control to go slower. So sometimes I catch myself going a bit faster than the prescribed training pace for the training schedule. How do you learn to know from your body that you're running at the ultimate training pace for endurance run?

LINDSEY
Look, it's got to be pretty easy, so you also mention here that you run on your own quite a bit so obviously if you're running with someone, the easiest test is to be able to hold like a really robust conversation, so to be able to chat and catch up and talk about what's going on at home and at work and you know, so if you can really have a good conversation, chances are you are running easy enough. When you're running on your own, you need to think yourself would I be able to sing a song to myself now out loud, if you're breathing too hard that you know that singing a song would actually be too difficult, then you're probably just a little bit too hard, but if you'd be able to belt out a couple of lines of a song, then you probably running easy enough, cause then you're not breathing too hard.

BRAD
I think we need to start that, we need to get people who are running on their known to be singing songs. That would be amazing. I love that. Cool, Betsy, does that help?

BETSY
Yes definitely, it does help.

BRAD
Next question?

BETSY
I love that the training sessions is time based and not kilometre based, it's really a shift in your mind a bit and for planning as well. And I would just like to know because the Two Oceans has been my furthest run as yet, and I ran 6:21 minutes. But now with Comrades, it's a bit more. So what will I be thinking about the last six hours because everybody keeps on telling me that from 60 K's onward your mind is going to start playing tricks on you. And it's difficult to imagine what your mind will be telling you. So just what do you put in your mind when your mind wants to tell you to stop? I'm a bit scared about that.

LINDSEY
So there are two tricks that I try and employ deep in a race and one of them is much easier than the other for the part of the race that I run in but then for part of the race where you run I think it will be more manageable. And then there's a third little one that I'll also give you. But the first one is that once you get into, you know, you are through those six, seven hours, is not to think much further than the next watering station. Okay. You literally just break the race into, do not think about how far you have got left to go because that's when the Gremlins start to to get born. When you start to think about where or how long do I have to go now.

My very first Comrades, I can so clearly remember getting to 50 kilometres and thinking to myself, wow, 50 kilometres that didn't feel so bad. And then I did the next thing which was ridiculous, which was to go 39 k's left, I've got a marathon left to run and that, for me, that was just too much to process and I literally battled all the way to the finish because mentally that is too much. So what I learned out of that was you don't think about how much you've got left to go. You only think about getting yourself to the next water point. Okay. So that's the one trick.

The other trick that works, and as I said where you'll be running in the field, it'll work even better is to, you either tell someone else a really long story, or you try to find people that will tell you really long storys so that you can you know, if someone tells a story that lasts 15 to 20 minutes, that's two to three kilometres that you actually don't really think much about, you just completely focusing on something else. So storytelling is a is a tactic that my friends and I use, but in Comrades often we've been separated and it's a little bit lonely.

And then the third thing is that if you started out, run your own race, everything's gone reasonably according to plan, then in those last 20 kilometres, that for me is then the ideal time to latch on to one of the Comrades pacing busses so that someone else can do the thinking for you. Someone else will do the singing for you. And that will really just play as a big distractor, and keep your mind off the things that it shouldn't be on and keep your mind on the things that it should be on.

BETSY
Perfect. Thank you so much, Lindsey, I'll do that. And then another question, I was supposed to do my long run last weekend, but with little ones being sick, and I actually wanted to do it with the Wally Hayward, but it was too close to Two Oceans, I still haven't done my last Comrades long run. So now I'm thinking, what's the pros and the cons? And should I still try to do it tomorrow? Or should I rather leave it?What would you recommend?

LINDSEY
No. Look, I think from here on in a more moderate approach is absolutely fine. There isn't a good physiological or physical reason for doing another long run after having done Two Oceans. All these things, we're essentially doing for our head. So from over the next two weekends, 30 to 36 kilometres absolutely are far enough. And you know, with everything that's going on and I'd venture and say that 30 kilometres is absolutely enough. It'll keep you know, you're not going to de-train on 30 kilometres tomorrow and next weekend. And it's going to be far more manageable for you. Far less stressful. And I think it'll get you to Comrades with your best chance of being injury free, healthy and with fresh legs.

BETSY
Thank you, Lindsey. And then the last question, I can't help, you know you don't want to meditate it, but some moments you just catch yourself thinking, what if I don't make it? Is that normal?

LINDSEY
I think so. And I think Comrades has a good degree of, fear is perhaps too strong a word, but it is a fear, it causes a lot of anxiety because it's further than most people have run. The up run has an incredible amount of up running, especially in the first 36 kilometres. Of course, it's normal to dwell on that from time to time. But I think the most important thing for you to hold on to is, what you said to us, kind of just before we started offline is that you feeling quite confident about race day, and that's because you've trained well.

So I think whenever those sort of moments come upon you, think about the positives, which is how much training you've done, how comfortably you finished Two Oceans, and channel that energy. And on race day, if those thoughts do start to arrive, I can't do it or I feel like giving up, you've just got to remind yourself that as long as one foot is landing in front of the other, and you keep on taking steps towards Pietermaritzburg, you still have a chance of finishing.

BRAD
Betsy, if I can add something in there, too. And this is coming from experience of my own, where I've had a failed attempt at Comrades. And the thing about Comrades is, it's not easy, it's going to be one of the toughest things physically and mentally that you'll do in your life. And if it was easy, everyone would do it. But like Lindsey said, you need to take confidence out of your training, you've done the training to get to this point. And on race day, and particularly with a race like Comrades, nothing is guaranteed. You need things to go your way in order to succeed. But you need to do everything in your power.

And the first thing you've done is you've done the training. So you're getting to race day fit and healthy and physically in good enough position to finish the race. And then whatever happens on race day happens and there's no disgrace in having failed at a race like Comrades, just getting to the start line is a triumph in itself. Particularly for someone if I say to you, 10 years ago, when you weren't running that in 2019 we'd be having this conversation, three weeks out from you running Comrades, you probably would have told me you crazy, like you need to stop smoking your socks but you're here and you're in the position where you are physically in prime shape to finish Comrades.

And it's a case of like Lindsey says, on race day, there's going to be times where you're going to want to quit. And that's normal. Everybody goes through that. You're going to go through patches where you feel fantastic. And the crowd support's amazing. And you're going to go through patches where you absolutely hate yourself. And you're wondering why you're doing this. The good news is those bad patches don't last forever. The bad news is those good patches don't last forever, either. You've just got to keep moving. And if you keep moving, and you take everything in around you and enjoy the experience, you're going to have the most amazing day out, regardless of whether you finish or not. And with great risk comes great reward, you're putting yourself out there, you're trying something really difficult. And when you cross that finish line, the reward is amazing. So yeah, that's my two cents worth on it.

BETSY
Thank you, Brad. Thank you. Great.

LINDSEY
Cool, well put.

BETSY
Thank you, Lindsey, I just want to say it's so awesome to be able to be in the presence of people with such, I mean, the people that you coach and you know, be able to get advice and knowledge and with your experience. Thank you for everybody at Team Parry, that the normal folks can tap into that experience and yeah, thank you so much. I really really enjoyed being part of the Coach Parry forum.

BRAD
We love having you around and it's an absolute pleasure and from all of us, I speak for Lindsey and myself we love what we do. And yeah, I mean one of our favourite days is Comrades race day and particularly the day after just seeing all the medals and the selfies and the pictures of the blisters and the chafing and all the hard work over the last sort of 12 months have pretty much come to fruition so it's an exciting time ahead. Best of luck with the taper and I know it's tough with three kids to stay healthy but your fingers crossed that everything goes according to plan the final run in and we can't wait to see the celebrations after Comrades race day.

BETSY
Thank you so much, Brad. Thank you, Lindsey.

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