5 weeks to go …. keeping it together & some mental preparation to be done

I’ve ticked a few boxes in recent months, including my 20th Two Oceans where I managed to time my finish to perfection (that’s my story and I’ll stick to it!) – earning my 18th silver medal with a 3:59:38. No drama this year, thank goodness, I just had to work hard the last 7 km when I realized that a silver is never going to be a breeze and you have to concentrate right until the finish line!

The 31st March brought my total for the month up to 576 km and year to date up to 1,433 km. I enjoyed a consistent April achieving 572 km and passing the 2,000 km for 2018, something I haven’t been able to achieve in recent years due to persistent niggles and the serious plantar faciitis injury in 2017. My weekend long runs were 4 x 40-42 km with one 50 km in the 3rd week – no racing but at least one speed session and sometimes two in a week in the form of fartlek, intervals or a short time trial.

This weekend I ran another 42 km training run, trying to relax and focus on form and also using the opportunity to visualize a bit of how I may feel on race day running at a similar pace. I find these long runs, especially when I’m on my own, perfect for preparing the mind for race day. In the latter stages of a race like Comrades, when the going gets tough and you are literally on your own, it takes an enormous amount of “self-talk” and grit to work through these tough patches and push harder. It does help to have spectators encouraging you on and even fellow runners, but at the end of the day it’s going to be how well you have prepared for this stage and how hard you are prepared to work at it on the day that gets you the results and goals you have set for yourself.

I’ve seen on all the various social media platforms that thousands of runners also used this weekend to fit in what I’m hoping is their last long run in the build-up to Comrades 2018. This coming week should signal the beginning of what we all look forward to, the pre-race taper phase. That is cutting back on our weekly mileage, mainly in the form of that long weekend run, which should bring about a spring in the stride, and by race day we must be rearing to go.

I would typically base my taper on my highest weekly mileage that I achieved and cut back by 80%, 70%, 60% and 50% from this week until the final week where I will run 75 minutes, 60 minutes and 50 minutes (Monday – Wednesday) and total rest on Thursday & Friday. On Saturday I do a very light jog for 25 minutes, but you may choose to give this one a miss.

To wrap up this blog post I would just like to share with you all that although this is a very special Comrades for me, being my 30th, I will be dedicating my run to a fallen Comrade, Piet Vorster, who sadly passed away this year, losing the battle against motor neuron disease (MND). Let’s remember a fellow runner that has fallen; Piet will be watching down on us come 10 June 2018, and I will draw some strength knowing this and that he will be encouraging one and all towards their individual goals and to arrive safely at the finish line.

ASIJIKI and safe training for the last month …..

Shaun