Best Diets for Long and Short Distance Runners

Following the correct diet, whether you run short or long distance, is important for your overall performance. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, some healthy fats, and foods high in calcium are the fuel your body needs for optimum performance. Water is also non-negotiable. There are also other dietary stipulations that you should follow depending on your running style.

A Healthy Diet for Short Distance Runners

Short distance runners should ensure that they eat small meals frequently leading up to a run; skipping meals and a diet low in carbs should be avoided. Eating foods rich in carbohydrates such as fruit, yoghurt and whole-grain bread will give the body sufficient time to absorb all the nutrients and energy needed to run efficiently.

A Healthy Diet for Long Distance Runners

Long-distance runners will have to do more preparation when it comes to their dietary requirements. The majority of their diet (around 60%) should consist of carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk or yoghurts.

Foods rich in iron are also super important to ensure that you don’t develop anaemia, experience an increased heart rate, become short of breath, run out of energy and get fatigued much quicker.

Always remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

What to eat before your run/race

If you are running shorter distances (5km to 10km) then carbo-loading before your run is not really necessary, so long as you ensure that you are following a healthy well-balanced diet. For long-distance running carbo-loading must be done a couple of days in advance to ensure that the body has ample time to break down the glycogen reserves into energy.

An additional energy source is also needed to combat the depletion of glycogen when into your run, so make sure to take along a snack of sports beans or gel for a quick source of energy. Energy drinks can also be used as a carbohydrate supplement.

 A well-balanced diet and lifestyle are crucial for any runner. Making sure you tweak it to suit your running style will ensure you have the physical energy to complete your run and finish well.

Benefits of Joining a Running Group

Have you ever found yourself staring longingly at a group of early morning runners as you drive passed or taken a few extra minutes to gaze at social media pictures capturing a trail running event from the day before while sighing from FOMO (fear of missing out)?

Then you are showing all the signs of wanting to get involved! And although hitting some takkie to tar for a solo sweat is many people’s preferred workout, joining a group or club can do wonders for your physical and social well being. Here’s why:

New Horizons

If you have mostly been running on your own, then you tend to become stuck doing the familiar routes over and over. Getting familiar can also mean getting a bit ‘too comfortable’ and possibly bored. Joining a running group is a great way to move out of your comfort zone by meeting new people and experiencing some different routes! How refreshing.

Staying on Track

This comes down to accountability. If you have decided to join a sports group who have scheduled runs or activities, then the chances of you bailing are much lower. You don’t want to let people down and you’re ensuring that you are still getting your workout in. It’s a win-win situation.

Making Friends

It can be daunting to show up to a group of people you have never met before and join them on a run. But once you are over the initial phase of introductions and polite banter, you’ll start to feel more and more like a family. These are likely to be similar minded people who are going to motivate you and keep you inspired.

Sharing Tips

Every runner has tricks and techniques that work well for them and others that don’t. When you are part of a group, there is room for sharing and comparing with the other runners whether it’s about nutrition, stretching, gear or gadgets. It’s an opportunity to share knowledge and get feedback from fellow runners.

Improvement

Many runners fear joining a group because they believe they are not fit enough or fast enough to keep up. Rest assured that in most cases, there will be someone running a similar pace to you or someone who acts as a sweeper to make sure no one gets left behind. Plus, you will notice how quickly your running and fitness start to improve as you get comfortable in the group. This is because you’re probably pushing yourself a bit more and not even realising it. Or that competitive streak is coming through!

Safety First

The bottom line is that running in a group is far safer than running solo and for more reasons than one. There’s the comfort of knowing people are around if you get injured or feel sick, you are better visible to drivers on the road and you are less likely to be a victim of mugging.

These are a few of many reasons we think joining a running group is a great idea. Not only will your fitness improve and you feel safer, but you will also gain knowledge and make new friends along the way.

What is Your Favourite Workout Playlist?

Listening to good music can be the ideal motivator when you need an extra boost or that push to keep going. It helps us in most situations to de-stress, unwind and re-group. So, it’s no surprise that listening to good tunes can kick start a great fitness workout or boost it to the next level.

Sure, some people enjoy listening to birds chirping as they run, or they get energised by the sound of weights hitting the floor at gym. Nothing wrong with that. But for the rest of us, music can make or break a workout. For example, playing a slow, low beat tune is not going to jumpstart your motivation to do hill sprints. That is why a good workout playlist is a necessity.

There is no one-size-fits-all playlist when it comes to getting the best workout results. It depends on your own music preferences, your goals, the mood you are in and state of mind at the time. Are you bursting with energy or are you in need of a kick up the butt to get motivated? Seeing results during your health and fitness journey is all about being consistent and establishing a routine that you stick to as much as possible. Planning your playlist can certainly work in your favour here.

When it comes to choosing the best playlist for your workout, consider the following:

1.Your Heart Rate

Depending on the type of workout you do, you’ll want to choose songs that contain a higher BPM (beats per minute). In general, anything over 120 BPM can help you get into the zone but for high intensity workouts find something in the 145 BPM zone.

2. Choosing lyrics that make you feel Strong

Choose songs that are positive and have inspirational lyrics that focus on courage and being fearless. Listening to catchy and empowering songs can help keep you in a positive mindset.

3. Choose Energetic Songs

By choosing songs that have a high BPM and are also energetic and upbeat, this will help improve your mood and encourage you to keep pushing yourself.

We did the dirty work for you and found some of the ‘best’ fitness workout playlists and tunes.

  1. Autumn’s Cardio Crush. This is an upbeat, positive vibes playlist full of inspiring pop anthems that will keep you going strong to the end.
  2. Sagi Kalev’s Weightlifting Playlist. This ‘beast’ workout is packed with a mix of throwback rap, wrestling theme songs and motivational tracks. No chance of a wimpy workout here.
  3. Joel Freeman’s Hardcore Motivational Playlist. This is a great playlist for the heavy metal fans who are in search of a pick-me-up and an energy boost.
  4. Running Workout Playlist. These tracks help make the time fly by while you are running the distance. With a bit of everything, it helps break up the monotony of a long run.
  5. Jericho McMatthew’s Pumped-Up Workout Playlist. Includes a mix of dance tracks.
  6. Tony Horton’s Cardio Mix. A feature of alt-rock anthems from bands like Imagine Dragons, Awolnation and the Decemberists.

It’s a good idea to keep changing up your playlist to keep things interesting and keep you working at your hardest. There is no longer an excuse to skip a workout because you wake up and don’t feel like it. Not when you have the tool of motivational music at your fingertips!

Running In The Cold Tips

I hate being cold. If you do too, take heart. Your outdoor running routine needn’t go into hibernation for the winter. With a certain amount of planning and preparation—and the right cold weather gear— you can safely lace up and continue training in the fresh air.

Here are my tips to help you run in the cold and shake off the winter blues:

Dress In Lightweight Wicking Layers.
• How you dress can make or break your winter runs. You want to be warm without sweating so much you get a chill. So avoid overdressing.
• Wear several thin layers of clothing to trap warm air between each layer. This includes socks: Wearing two pairs of polypropylene socks keeps your feet warmer and drier than one heavy pair.
• The most important layer of clothing is the one closest to your body so make sure it’s made of fabric that wicks moisture away from your skin.
• Your outer layer should be a wind- and water-resistant jacket or vest. It’s critical to protect yourself from the wind and rain.
• If it’s really cold out, you’ll need a middle layer, such as polar fleece, for added insulation.

Cover Exposed Skin As Much As Possible.
• On moderately cold days, wear running gloves that wick moisture away.
• Once the temperature dips below freezing, a hat and gloves are absolutely necessary.
• When it’s really cold, wear a facemask or scarf over your mouth to warm the air you breathe and to protect your face.
• When running in the snow, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare and snow blindness.

Start Your Run Into the Wind.
To avoid a chill, head out into the wind and it will be at your back at the end of your workout once you’ve broken a sweat.

Be Visible.
With limited daylight, chances are you’ll be running in the dark so wear reflective gear and/or a headlamp to ensure people can see you.

Take It Easy.
You’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly, run easy and forget about speed.

Change Quickly Post Run.
If you’re wet, change your clothes —head to toe—as soon as you can and get warm by drinking something hot.

How To Recover After Comrades

By now your race strategy has been tried, tested and perfected. But have you thought about what happens after you cross the finish line? It is vital to do everything you can to help your body recover. And, no matter how tempting, hobbling with a beer in hand to the nearest patch of grass is not a recovery plan.

The Comrades exerts a huge toll on your muscles, tendons, hormones and cells. It damages your legs and severely taxes your immune system. Here’s what you can do straight after the race to recover faster:

• No matter how tired you are, you need to keep moving. This is not the time to sit down or take a nap. Walk through the finish area, get some dry clothes on and keep walking for a few minutes.
• Concentrate on rehydrating and rebalancing electrolytes and nutrients.
Eat a high quality balanced meal rich in complex carbohydrates and high quality, lean proteins as soon as you can tolerate it.
• Eat eggs to replenish your body’s supply of choline to avoid those post-marathon blues.
• Reach for the milk: Milk is one of the best foods for recovery after an event, because it provides a good balance of protein and carbohydrates.
• Treat any blisters that have cropped up.
• A gentle massage might make you feel better.
• Icing down sore and injured muscles can help with localized tissue recovery.
• Stretching might make your muscles feel better and improve circulation.
• Putting on compression garments aids muscle recovery.
• Sitting for 30 minutes in an Epsom Salt Bath can soothe sore muscles.

And, once the dust has settled and the medal has been safely stored away for another year, don’t rush to get back on the road. If you don’t recover properly, you’ll increase your injury risk and limit your long-term potential.

• In the days after a marathon, your priority is re-fuelling and hydration.

• You will experience a degree of muscle soreness for up to 10 days. The cause of this is microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. Tendons, ligaments and the sheath around muscles are also damaged and will need time to rebuild. The microscopic damage and breakdown of tissue is also the mechanism by which your body gets stronger, since the muscle repairs itself to be stronger than before. If you don’t allow the body time to complete this cycle, the muscle and connective tissue will instead get weaker, leading to continuous injuries. The damaged cells can also die completely and form scar tissue, which is not as strong or elastic as muscle and connective tissue, making the muscle weak and prone to injury.

• Mental fatigue, or mild depression might be experienced a day or two after the race, probably caused by the depletion of neurotransmitters in your brain during such a long event.

• You may also develop symptoms of infection or inflammation in the first two weeks, often in the form of sore throats, sinus, cough and fever.

Don’t get back on the road too soon: The post Comrades recovery is a slow and deliberate process and cannot be hurried.

To come out the other side stronger, keep off the road for about two weeks with no running at all. It is better to do no physical training even in the gym or on the bike. Don’t think as soon as the post race stiffness has worn off you have recovered and can start training again. When your legs tell you they are back to normal with no soreness, pain or tiredness, ignore them. They are not telling the truth. Rest for another week before you go out. When the spring is back in your legs, build yourself up slowly. Make certain that you have fully recovered before running hard again.

Remember you were also drained during those 9 weeks heavy training and by the pressure of having to meet targets each week and at each race. Both your body and soul need to recover: Just as training was a combination mental and physical, so is the recovery.

To come to terms with a disappointing Comrades results – whether it be a missed time goal or the dreaded did not finish – ask yourself what you could have done differently but don’t beat yourself up about it. The reality may be an injury, illness, a poor pacing strategy or just not quite being ready for the task – whether it is physical or mental, acknowledge these things happen but don’t dwell on it.
Take stock and use the experience as motivation and inspiration to make yourself a better runner. Come back next year and get your Comrades medal.

And last, but not least, a huge WELL DONE to all the novices who will collect their first medal and to all those who will earn yet another medal! I hope you finish with enough breath to tell yourself that was good fun and that you will be back again next year, knowing that each year is never just the same old race but rather a new set of challenges and exciting experiences.

Some history on the Comrades Marathon

It all began with the vision of World War I veteran Vic Clapham: He wanted to create a living memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives in the war and to the camaraderie he experienced on the battlefield. He chose the 90 km stretch of tough hills and valleys between Pietermaritzburg and Durban – the Comrades Marathon – as a fitting tribute to celebrate the human spirit over adversity.

The first race took place in 1921, and it has been run every year since, except from 1941 to 1945 when it was stopped during the Second World War. Forty- eight runners entered, but only 34 had the heart to race – not surprising as the course was tarred only the last few kilometers into Durban. Bill Rowan became the inaugural winner, clocking 8:59 to win by 41 minutes ahead of Harry Phillips. Of the 34 starters, only 16 completed the race.

Over the years several people have left their stamp on the race:

1922 is one of the most storied races in the history of the Comrades: Bill Payn, a Springbok rugby player, hosted Arthur Newton (a six-time winner) the evening before the race, and after a number of stiff drinks, was persuaded to enter. He arrived on time for the start, wearing his rugby boots. At Hillcrest he stopped for the first time to take in a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Not much further a fellow runner invited Payn for a chicken curry. After eating he continued on to Drummond. A spectator en route helped him keep his energy up by providing him with oranges, peach-brandy, water and tea. He finished eighth. The next day, Payn took part in a club rugby match, but because his feet were blistered from the long run in rugby boots, he played in his running shoes.

The first woman to run the race was Frances Hayward in 1923, but her entry was refused, so she was an unofficial entrant. She completed the event in 11:35 and although she was not awarded a Comrades medal, the other runners and spectators presented her with a silver tea service and a rose bowl.

The race of 1931 is memorable because of the efforts of runner-up Noel Buree. The taxi he had ordered to pick him up at Scottsville failed to arrive so he borrowed a bicycle to get to the start. En route he suffered a puncture and eventually arrived just in time for the start of the race. After a huge tussle with Phil Masterson-Smith, Buree was finally beaten into second place by a mere two metres. Masterson-Smith, only 19 at the time, remains the youngest winner in the history of the Comrades Marathon.

In 1948 a rousing Comrades tradition was born when race official Max Trimborn, instead of firing the customary starter’s gun, gave a loud imitation of a cock’s crow. That tradition continues to the present day – with Trimborn’s voice, recorded on tape, played over loudspeakers.

In 1962 the race attracted foreign entries for the first time: British runner John Smith won the up run in under 6 hours and, as he watched the stragglers come in hours later, he commented to former winner Bill Cochrane that the other people completing the race were getting as much applause as he had received. “You are now witnessing the spirit of the Comrades,” replied Cochrane.

During the 1980’s, the sight of blonde-haired Bruce Fordyce effortlessly pulling away from the field in the second half of the race played a big role in attracting more runners, as well as some of the world’s best ultra-marathoners, into the race. The legendary Fordyce won the Comrades in 1981 and again in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 (5:24.07 down run), 1987, 1988 (5:27.42 for the up run), and 1990, recording a total of nine wins. He missed only 1989, when he sat the race out – but another significant milestone was achieved that year when Sam Tshabalala became the first black winner of the Comrades.

The 75th anniversary of the Comrades Marathon in 2000 was the largest ever staged, with a massive field of 23,961 and, in 2010, on its 85th anniversary, the race gained a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the ultra marathon with most runners.

Today, 97 years and 92 races later, the Comrades Marathon remains the world’s oldest and toughest race. It is as famous for the challenge it poses as for the race day camaraderie it fosters: Year after year, the grit and goodness in humanity comes to the fore, reminding us that through adversity there is hope and love.

Running Successes: CARYN LATEGAN and LAUREN RANGER

I have known Caryn and Lauren for many years: Caryn was at school with my children, and Lauren was a close friend of my daughter. Furthermore, I ran with with her father, also a Bob (Rayment), many years ago!

Caryn Lategan came under my watchful eye in the early part of 2016. Lauren was not seen as often since she lives in Grahamstown, but she too became a part of the grand scheme in the same year.

I watched Caryn’s running over the next few months and I immediately thought: “she has such an easy style with good pace and thus huge potential.” While I never saw Lauren’s running in training, I knew she had always been competitive in whatever she did, so was also engaged with in respect of her running.

Caryn in action at a local race!
Watching a 10km race in Beacon Bay in about April 2016, I was enthused to see how close Caryn came in behind the first placed woman on that particular day. I approached her after the race and said, “You are going to beat runner X.” “No never” she replied. I merely smiled and the training commenced albeit without much direct engagement to start with.

That changed and so too did Caryn’s hunger for success.

The PWC 10km race in January came around and Caryn’s hard work and dedication to racing at the top of her own game paid dividends when she was second only to Hanlie Botha and she beat the targeted opposition by 51 seconds. The plan had taken a mere nine months to effect.

A great run at the Surfers 10 followed.

That was just the beginning as at the Masters Half Marathon she would finish, together with her sister Lauren, ahead of the opposition by 8:29 and finishing 2nd and 3rd, a minute behind Steph.

The big test lay ahead as the sisters were still new to running marathons and Buffs was the ultimate goal.

Tactics were discussed, but went a little awry, meaning that some real character running would become necessary. Again the two sisters ran mostly together as they lay in 3rd and 4th position. A 23 second lead over the same 5th placed opposition athlete was whittled down to just 16 sec at the Merryfield circle.

Caryn and Lauren running a marathon side by side.
Their dad Bob, who had been seconding his daughters, was engaged in Abbotsford and given some extra provisions, while I chased after Steph.

The three rivals hit Willasdale together where their nutrition clicked in and at the top of this mean hill, Caryn made her move with Lauren staying as close as she could.

Brilliant racing ensued over the final six kilometres with Caryn finishing strongly in third position and in a pb of 3:10:33. Lauren finished in an impressive 4th in 3:11:04, also a pb and with both of them comfortably ahead of all their rivals.

CARYN’s TIME IMPROVEMENTS since joining the programme:

10km – 46 to 44 to 40:01

21,1km – 1:42 to 1:38 to 1:28

42,2km – 4:00hr to 3:38 to 3:12 to 3:10

LAUREN’s TIME IMPROVEMENTS since joining the programme:

No 10kms of late

21,1km – 1:42 to 1:39 to 1:32 to 1:28

42,2km – 4:11 to 4:00 to 3:38 to 3:12 to 3:11

A first Two Oceans has been completed in a highly respectable time for both girls SO watch this space for 2018!

Lauren at the finish of the Two Oceans 2017

Comrades Down Debrief

By now, final preparations for the 2018 Comrades Marathon are underway and Race Day is looming. It is a long tough day of daunting challenges and monstrous hills and valleys. It is also a day of small margins: Small wins help build confidence while, on the flip side, small losses throughout the day can have a massive negative impact on your run. Here we give you 12 tips to maximize those small wins and limit the losses to get the best possible chance to finish:

1) Taper
Your overall training load should be dramatically reduced over the final three weeks before the race, allowing your muscles time to fully recover. In the last week before the race, get as much rest as possible.

2) Pace Yourself
Don’t start Comrades too fast: It is hard to change pace after a fast start but a walk break will help change the pace to a more realistic one.

3) A Run-Walk Strategy
Regular walk breaks give your running muscles a chance to recover and help you conserve energy. A good starting point is to use an 8km run and 3 minute walk schedule. Coach Parry suggests more walking breaks on the big climbs: Umlaas Road, Drummond, Inchanga and Cowies Hill.

4) Prepare
Having the right kit is vitally important and by now you’ve tried and tested everything in long runs. If not, use these last days to test anything you will wear or use on race day. Make lists of everything you need and check it off before you leave for Comrades.

5) Don’t Experiment
Do not try anything new in the days leading up to Comrades – especially no new foods.

6) Rest
Don’t spend the day before Comrades on your feet. You may not sleep well the night before the race, so ensure you get adequate sleep beforehand.

7) Shut the noise out
There is information galore all over social media. Fordyce advises not to read it or watch it because it will only make you confused and nervous. Instead, trust the people you’ve been training with and enjoy the race.

8) Arrive Early on Race Day
Family cannot go up to the start, so rather have them drop you off. Give yourself enough time to get into your correct batch or you’ll be starting at the back.

9) Slow Down
Hold yourself back – the first half of the Comrades should feel like you are going too slowly. That time can be made up in the second half.

10) Avoid Muscle Cramps
Cramping is mostly caused by fatigue. You can delay the onset of cramps by following a run-walk strategy. If you start cramping DO NOT stop. Transition slowly from a run to walk but do not stand still.

11) Prepare Mentally

Mental preparation builds confidence. It helps you prepare for the things that may go wrong and develop strategies to cope with them. Start by driving the route beforehand- it may scare you but it will also give you an idea of the distance and what to expect. The drive will show you:
• The ‘down’ part of the down run actually starts at the last garage in Hillcrest and not at Inchanga or Botha’s Hill.
• Most of the first half is a tough uphill pull. The climb up 45th Cutting is one of the last major hills on the “Down” run.
• After a challenging run up for about 39km, the next 10 km does most of the damage to already tired legs.
• From Inchanga Village through Hillcrest – just before 40km to just after 60km – is very hilly and can determine how you finish. Tackle this part of the route so you still have enough energy for the final third of the race.
• There are also some very nasty hills in the last 8 km of the race

HINT: When running downhill: Lean forward from the hips, not the shoulders and avoid the urge to lean back. Engage your core and don’t over-stride. Look
down the hill, not at your feet. Let gravity pull you down hill – but keep nice and comfortable. Conserve energy by taking lots of short walk breaks..

12) NEVER STOP
Don’t pause at water stops – walk them. Don’t stop to chat to family and friends – they can walk with you for a bit. Don’t stop for a massage – rather grab Arnica Ice at water stops and slather on for temporary relief.

Just stay in the game! There will come a point in the day when you ask yourself what you’re doing there. You will just feel like bailing. Please don’t! Set yourself manageable goals like running (or walking) from lamppost to lamppost. Do whatever it takes to keep moving forward – It doesn’t have to be pretty!

To run and complete a Comrades Marathon is a HUGE honour: You will forever be changed, and a Comrades medal is the most valuable in the world of running.

Some history on the Comrades Marathon

It all began with the vision of World War I veteran Vic Clapham: He wanted to create a living memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives in the war and to the camaraderie he experienced on the battlefield. He chose the 90 km stretch of tough hills and valleys between Pietermaritzburg and Durban – the Comrades Marathon – as a fitting tribute to celebrate the human spirit over adversity.

The first race took place in 1921, and it has been run every year since, except from 1941 to 1945 when it was stopped during the Second World War. Forty- eight runners entered, but only 34 had the heart to race – not surprising as the course was tarred only the last few kilometers into Durban. Bill Rowan became the inaugural winner, clocking 8:59 to win by 41 minutes ahead of Harry Phillips. Of the 34 starters, only 16 completed the race.

Over the years several people have left their stamp on the race:

1922 is one of the most storied races in the history of the Comrades: Bill Payn, a Springbok rugby player, hosted Arthur Newton (a six-time winner) the evening before the race, and after a number of stiff drinks, was persuaded to enter. He arrived on time for the start, wearing his rugby boots. At Hillcrest he stopped for the first time to take in a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Not much further a fellow runner invited Payn for a chicken curry. After eating he continued on to Drummond. A spectator en route helped him keep his energy up by providing him with oranges, peach-brandy, water and tea. He finished eighth. The next day, Payn took part in a club rugby match, but because his feet were blistered from the long run in rugby boots, he played in his running shoes.

The first woman to run the race was Frances Hayward in 1923, but her entry was refused, so she was an unofficial entrant. She completed the event in 11:35 and although she was not awarded a Comrades medal, the other runners and spectators presented her with a silver tea service and a rose bowl.

The race of 1931 is memorable because of the efforts of runner-up Noel Buree. The taxi he had ordered to pick him up at Scottsville failed to arrive so he borrowed a bicycle to get to the start. En route he suffered a puncture and eventually arrived just in time for the start of the race. After a huge tussle with Phil Masterson-Smith, Buree was finally beaten into second place by a mere two metres. Masterson-Smith, only 19 at the time, remains the youngest winner in the history of the Comrades Marathon.

In 1948 a rousing Comrades tradition was born when race official Max Trimborn, instead of firing the customary starter’s gun, gave a loud imitation of a cock’s crow. That tradition continues to the present day – with Trimborn’s voice, recorded on tape, played over loudspeakers.

In 1962 the race attracted foreign entries for the first time: British runner John Smith won the up run in under 6 hours and, as he watched the stragglers come in hours later, he commented to former winner Bill Cochrane that the other people completing the race were getting as much applause as he had received. “You are now witnessing the spirit of the Comrades,” replied Cochrane.

During the 1980’s, the sight of blonde-haired Bruce Fordyce effortlessly pulling away from the field in the second half of the race played a big role in attracting more runners, as well as some of the world’s best ultra-marathoners, into the race. The legendary Fordyce won the Comrades in 1981 and again in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 (5:24.07 down run), 1987, 1988 (5:27.42 for the up run), and 1990, recording a total of nine wins. He missed only 1989, when he sat the race out – but another significant milestone was achieved that year when Sam Tshabalala became the first black winner of the Comrades.

The 75th anniversary of the Comrades Marathon in 2000 was the largest ever staged, with a massive field of 23,961 and, in 2010, on its 85th anniversary, the race gained a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the ultra marathon with most runners.

Today, 97 years and 92 races later, the Comrades Marathon remains the world’s oldest and toughest race. It is as famous for the challenge it poses as for the race day camaraderie it fosters: Year after year, the grit and goodness in humanity comes to the fore, reminding us that through adversity there is hope and love.

How Speed Work Can Help With Long-Distance Running

As a long-distance runner, maybe you don’t do speed work, it just doesn’t appeal or sound like fun. Like most, your focus is on logging lots and lots of miles and you don’t pay too much attention to your speed.

As a result, you may go years without running faster than 5K pace in training. Unfortunately, it is a great myth that in order to run distances well, you must simply run far. If you train at the same pace day after day, week after week, year after year, that’s the kind of running your body adapts to.

But break out of that rut with speed work and your body will adjust to the new demands.

If you want to see progress in your running for the long-term, you need to incorporate regular and consistent speed work into your training. If you are sick of doing the “marathon shuffle” or if you are frustrated that your times keep getting slower – then speed work can help. To get faster you need to do some of your training at substantially faster-than-marathon paces. No surprise there: The body has an uncanny ability to adapt to new physiological demands.

How does speed work benefit long distance running?

1. It improves your running economy

Short, fast repeats train your body to burn less fuel and improve your oxygen processing. This helps you run more economically, and therefore faster and farther with less effort.

2. Speed work trains the body to activate a greater percentage of muscle fibres with each stride

This makes each stride more explosive and generating more power without extra effort. This increased muscle power makes your stride more fluid and allows you to propel yourself farther with each stride, making easier distance runs.

3. It helps you overcome the pace rut

Fast repeats train the nervous system to adjust to new demands and challenge the muscles to function at full force. This translates to greater strength, faster times and helps avoid the “marathoner shuffle.”

4. Speed work increases your lactate turn-point

The lactate turn-point refers to the point at which lactic acid build-up exceeds removal. A higher lactate turn-point will improve your endurance capabilities and running efficiency.

5. It improves your overall fitness level

It does this by increasing your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular function. A stronger heart and more efficient cardiovascular system means you will be able run longer and faster without getting tired.

Everyone can benefit from speed work. Incorporating speed work into your training will make you noticeably stronger and your distance running smoother and faster while taking less effort. So let’s get to it! Let’s break out of that comfort zone, ease into speed work and enjoy easier distance run!