About Tom Cottrell

A struggling author, pilgrim and citizen of Planet Earth.

Comrades Marathon training – August 15 to August 28

Based on training schedules of the late Don Oliver, Comrades Coach. Adapted and edited by Tom Cottrell.

Properly prepared, finish with confidence   

Your Final August Training Programme

Objective: To get your Comrades medal feeling good, wanting to get one next year.  

How to measure if you have achieved it: Looking at your medal and reading your name in the results on the next day.

How to achieve it:

  1. Read these tips carefully and think about them.  They are tried and tested and all work.
  2. You have trained very hard for this day, don’t blow it!  Do not try anything that you have not tried and tested in your training.  85% of the completion of this race is in your mind.  You can do it!
  3. Have three full days rest before the Comrades, eat plenty of carbohydrates, but only the foods you are used to.  Get to Durban/Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday before the race. Register at the Expo. Don’t try new things.  Just look.
  4. Prepare your mind for minor disappointments on the big day.  We are tough trained athletes now, so even if it rains or blows or is very hot or very cold, we will put our heads down and quietly get on with the job.
  5. This will be the shortest day in your life.  Although you start the race at 05:30 and are considering doing 12 hours, time flies during the day.  So don’t mess around and let all your movements be forward until the finish.
  6. Have great confidence that you are better prepared than most of the novices, and in our opinion you are entitled to a Comrades medal.
  7. Have a plan on how you want to run your race, start slowly and build up.  If you run at an average speed of 6 mins a km, you will break 9¼ hours.  That is too fast for you.  Go through halfway in 5hrs 05 mins and not earlier than 4hrs 55 mins.  Walk before 07:00 a.m.  Remember Time Management.
  8. Keep checking the kilometre boards and your stop watch to make sure you don’t fall too far behind, or get too far ahead of your schedule.  The Km Boards show “Km to Go”.  Use your pacing chart every 10km.
  9. Drink before the start and take a bottle with you.  You can save a lot of time if you fill up your bottle at alternate drinking stops for the first hour.  Take a disposable Tee Shirt to wear at the start.
  10. If you think that you are really hurting, remember that it will never get worse, walk a bit, stretch if you have to.  Take stock of yourself, it’s all in your mind.  “Let’s get going again”.  That’s what to say.  Walk with Pride and Dignity.  Swing your arms.
  11. Do not try to run the whole distance in your mind.  Run from a visible point to point.  The short sections soon add up to a long way.  Try and relate a distance to the training runs you do at home.  Your markers are Halfway 45 kms  –   5 hrs 05 mins : 20 kms to go – 8 hrs 17 mins.
  12. If you are feeling tired or going through a bad patch, worry about the runner next to you, you are not alone in this race.  Make a friend, that’s the Comrades tradition.
  13. You owe it to yourself, your family, your club and to all the people who helped you to finish it.  Look around you others are in as bad a state as you are.  Don’t quit, hang in there!  Make absolutely sure you go through the five cut-off’s with plenty to spare.  59 kms to go 04 hrs 30 mins; 45 kms to go 5 hrs 45 mins; 31 kms to go 8 hrs 00 mins; 20 kms to go 9 hrs 00 mins; 7 kms to go 10 hrs 30 mins.
  14. There are unregistered hills  – If you get unexpectedly tired in between registered hills, don’t panic.  Go slower, have a longer walk at the tables. Make a friend.
  15. “In the mind” means just keep going even though you are very tired.  You’ll get to the end in time and to a Hero’s welcome.
  16. Tell us if you made it.  It helps us to know, so we can help next year’s novice.
  17. The Medal – Wear it to bed and to work for one week.

Good Luck.  Remember all you’ve learned.  We know you’ll make it.  You were a good class.