May 12, 2017 by DAVE JACK
Let’s pretend we’re just a week away from the big day. What must we do in this last week and what must we not do in that last week? Almost certain the nerves are shot and you’re not sleeping all that well.
We have basically finished all our work on the road. There is no way that we are going to get any fitter now if we get out on the road and put in any more kilometres. It’s too late for that. Our training programme may suggest a couple of days to keep the legs moving with a few very short runs but then again it may not.
Whatever it does, stick to it and don’t change it.
In fact don’t change ANYTHING at all that you have been doing in this last week. Don’t whatever you do try anything new. Some people will tell you about a wonderful “food” they use in races and that you should try it on Comrades. Well good for them but whatever you do don’t try it if you’ve never tried it before. I can’t emphasise this enough. If you haven’t used it before, Comrades is not the place to try it for the first time no matter what it is.
It’s just way too late to be experimenting with anything new at this stage. It’s too late to be trying out anything new for breakfast on the morning of the race because “your friend’s friend” has this great recipe for a breakfast that carries him through.
DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW.
There’s a lot to do before you set off to travel to Durban if you are from another province or even another country. Sit down NOW and start making a list of the things you need to take with you to Comrades. I have seen runners arriving in Durban and discovering that they have forgotten their running shoes at home and then the panic starts. Don’t start making that list the day before you leave for Durban.
Make sure that you have your most comfortable shoes, shorts, vest and every other thing you are going to be wearing. If you need Vaseline for the start put it on your list NOW.
It’s also during this last week that you will be going to EXPO to register. This is something that has to be done. EXPO opens on the Thursday before Comrades and runs through to Saturday. I know it’s not always possible but try to avoid having to go there on the Saturday. If it’s possible use Saturday to stay as far away from EXPO as possible and to rest and do nothing – or as close to nothing as you can.
What doesn’t have to be done at EXPO is to wander around for 5 or 6 hours on the legs and feet you are going to have to use to get you through 87Kms during Comrades so why put that sort of strain on them.
You will also find all sorts of wonder goodies on offer that will help you to get to the finish easier. THEY WON’T so you mustn’t try them. Not this year anyway.
You haven’t used them before and you have no idea what sort of reaction you are going to have to them. You have no idea whether you are going to end up with horrible nausea. By all means take the samples that are being handed out but try them AFTER Comrades and if they work use them for a year and then if they work use them for next year’s race but definitely not for this year.
I have even seen runners buying new shoes they intend wearing the following day in Comrades for the first time! Difficult to believe but true.
Try to limit your time at EXPO to an hour or two. Get your registration done and get out of there and go and relax and don’t get caught up in the excitement of all that’s going on and it is exciting and that’s what makes it tiring.
If you have the time and you can drive over the route do so. Hopefully you will have done a fair amount of study of the route (I’ve done my best to help you with this) but nothing beats actually seeing it and if you have studied it beforehand and studied it well, when you drive it you should be able to recognise the landmarks I have described for you in my Route Description.
Stop along the route and look at the Wall of Honour and gaze at the Valley of 1000 Hills and its splendour because you won’t have time on Comrades Day if you don’t want to waste time. About 200 metres from the Wall of Honour is Arthur’s Seat. Remember where it is so that you can have your flower ready to put on the seat when you get there and so you can be ready to greet the great man when you reach him and get his help in the second half of the race.
If you don’t know the legend of Arthur’s Seat now is the time to learn about it when you don’t have to be out there on the road and running. It has a wonderful history.
If you choose to relax by going to the beach, don’t whatever you do walk on the beach without shoes. Imagine standing on a piece of broken glass or a fishing hook left by a careless fisherman. That’s the end of all your training and your Comrades.
When it comes to food and if you eat out, remember that you are in Durban and don’t go out for a hot Durban curry the day before Comrades if you are not used to it. When Durban says “hot Durban curry” they mean exactly that and whatever you do forget about the famous Durban Bunny Chow until after the race.
These are little things you may not think about but I’ve seen them happen.
Try to get everything done by the Friday so that the day before Comrades, if it’s possible, you can chill completely and do as little as possible. I know that in many cases this isn’t possible and for some folk it’s the only day they have on which to travel to Durban and get to EXPO and registration and if that is the case, all the more reason to make the time at EXPO as short as possible.
Even EXPO closes earlier on the Saturday as the organisers themselves have a huge amount of work they have to do before the race starts the next morning and for many of those involved in the organisation sleep doesn’t even happen on the Saturday night.
On the question of sleep, chances are you are really going to battle to sleep the night before the race. Your nerves are going to be playing havoc plus you are going to have to be up very early on Comrades morning so sleep won’t come easy.
It’s always been said that the most important night for sleep before Comrades if the race is run on a Sunday as it is this year, is the Friday night. Make sure that is a good night in terms of sleep. Get an early night and sleep as much as possible on the Friday night because you are not going to sleep well on the Saturday night.
In fact you should try to have an early night every night in the week before Comrades if it’s possible because you need to get as much rest as possible.
That then pretty much sums up your last week before Comrades. And three words say it all for the last week.
TAKE IT EASY.
That’s pretty much it from me ahead of Comrades 2017 and all that remains is for me to wish you a great 4th of June. Remember to look after to first 25km especially and to remember my advice on controlled walking. It’s probably worth the better part of half an hour at the end – maybe more.