Rest, more rest, then some speed ….

So the month of June was a proper REST month, my highest weekly mileage of 60 km being 4 weeks after Comrades with my longest run being 15 km. Rest and recovery being so vital to enjoying your running during the second half of the year.

If you are struggling with your running and feeling “flat” or carrying a niggle that you took into or developed during  Comrades  2015, then the best advice I can offer is to back off and don’t force the issue. Many runners make the mistake of trying to run through injuries and more often than not the injury gets way worse than it would have been had a more conservative approach been taken, medical or specialist treatment combined with rest will always produce the best possible outcome.

Hopefully, you have all bounced back from Comrades feeling strong and excited about the goals you have set for yourself for the months that lay ahead. For the next few months us ultra-junkies need to get the bounce back in our stride, something that we tend to lose with the high mileage months that form part of our build up to running an 89km race! Speed work in the form of intervals, fartlek, time trials and strides should now feature regularly in our training with a sprinkling of hill sprints thrown in for good measure. Short & fast, not too steep or too long, 100 meters. The benefit of doing these short hill repeats is to recruit fast muscle twitch fibres which in turn improves our ability to race faster.

My goal for the remainder of 2015 is to race a few half marathons aiming to dip under 80 minutes before I tackle the Cape Town Marathon on 20 September where I would like to break 2 hours 48 minutes. So, I was pleasantly surprised to be selected to represent KZN at the SA Half Marathon Champs on the 25th July in Port Elizabeth. The 21.1 km event is the only distance that I hadn’t represented KZN in at SA Championship road running events, so I was understandably excited at the opportunity offered to me. June was low key as I mentioned, so I only had 3 weeks to try sharpen up a bit and aim for a decent time with stiff opposition in the Masters Category.

The trip down to PE was interesting to say the least. The cost to fly our team down was too expensive so we were driven down by bus, leaving at 18:30 on the Thursday evening with race day being on Saturday. Our anticipated time of arrival was meant to be Friday morning around 8 am. Unfortunately our bus experienced problems about 20 kms before King Williams Town. After limping along for an hour we ground to a halt only 5 kms further down the road. A 22 seater Sprinter arrived another hour later and we took off for PE, the driver seemingly trying to make up for lost time. I put my head between my knees and said a silent prayer that we would arrive safely in PE in one piece.

Rain was forecast for the weekend in PE, lots of rain with the prospect of snow in other high lying areas around the country. Our managers presented us with our race numbers and briefed us on the course details on Saturday evening, we all had rested well during the day so we were pretty much ready to go. It had rained quite a bit during the evening and when we got up at 5 am it was pouring and didn’t look like letting up. Team Manager Norrie Williamson had told us that we had to jog the 3 km to the start as part of our “warm-up”, that didn’t appeal to anyone, arriving at the start “wet & warm” only to be freezing cold waiting for the gun to fire. Miraculously the rain stopped suddenly and the race was run in near perfect conditions, only to resume after the event and flood PE properly.

The race was run up and down the beachfront so it was flat as a pancake and some good times were run, I managed 81:29 which was pretty close to what I managed at the Deloittes Half just before Comrades, the ultra probably still “in my legs” but more than happy with my time, the winning time for the 50+ age group was 75:16 and there was 7 athletes in front of me!

Plans for August include regular speed and hill work culminating with the Mandela Half Marathon at the end of the month, not a fast course but run in my own back yard and which provide a good indicator on how my preparation is coming along for the Cape Town Marathon.

Train smart and don’t forget to listen to your body for tell tale signs that you may be overdoing things, when in doubt, REST!