new to ultra training

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Dubai Dave    pirate
21/10/2009 at 09:09

Tricia: Run / walk?

Well when I was running Comrades in around 10 hours I used to walk all the hills and all the aid stations. When I got serious about it I started run/walking the hills, walking the aid stations.... so in reality very little changed.

Your going to walk in a ultra unless your a elite athlete and clearly neither of us are! I don't like run / walk strategies for Comrades when you say I'll run 8 mins / walk 2 or whatever your plan is.  I don't like them because to maintain such a stratergy you are going to have to run up some pretty steep hills when tired. Therefore I much prefer a scheme where you walk up hill and through the aid stations but its what suits you.

21/10/2009 at 11:44
Thanks Dubai Dave, I think that sounds the best strategy for me then, to walk up all the hills and through the aid stations. How easy is it to work out what running pace to do, I know what my pace is for a marathon, half and 10k but not sure about 56miles! Thanks for your help by the way - and sorry to have hyjacked the thread
Dubai Dave    pirate
21/10/2009 at 15:14


Seem to remember that the formula for comrades is 2.48 x Marathon time (certainly spot on for me). so take a 4 hour marathon and you have a 10 hour comrades. Which you a average pace of  10-42 minute miles. Allowing for walking then were probably looking a t somewhere around 9-45 running pace.

My average pace in 2009 was 5.8 min/K i ran uphill at about 6.2 min/K and down at around 5.3 min/K. I didn't walk very much!

Good luck

21/10/2009 at 16:14
Thanks for that
21/10/2009 at 16:28

Hi Tricia, no problem any questions answered by the experts on here is fine by me  If you have read back I hope to do Draycote in Feb and the grantham canal run in March as my 2 over 26 training runs, figure easier to be with others and not having to carry so much water etc. Good luck in New York with the sub 4 by the way

Final decision for me Friday after club meeting. (another member also thinking about it)

21/10/2009 at 23:05

50km in March sound fine to me.

As DD has said I would definitely go for the run/walk strategy that suits you on the day. The only thing I would add is that you need to be disciplined in when you start to walk and when you start to run. I find that if I start walking just because I'm tired, I lose my mental discipline and it becomes all to easy to stop running at the slightest excuse. You need to say to yourself "I will run until that road sign/lamp post etc....' and if possible when you get to the landmark say "I feel good so I'll go just to that next lamp post" before walking and whilst walking you need to set a target of where you will start running and keep to it.

One mental game that I play is to know how long it takes me to walk a kilometre (11min when I'm really tired) and as I pass a km marker try and work out how long it would take to walk to the finish - then add that time to the time on my stopwatch to see if I will make it before the cut-off. The numbers are usually very frightening until well into the last quarter of the race which keeps you focussed on the task in hand. However, it is a geat feeling when you know that you will finish in time even if you walk to the end. Having said that there was one run when that didn't happen until the "1km to go" mark - in the old days when the cut-off was 11 hours I finshed in 10:56:03 - just 236 seconds to spare!


Hope you're successful in convincing your clubmate to come too.


Are you marathoning in the UK this weekend?

Edited: 21/10/2009 at 23:09
22/10/2009 at 08:45

Thanks Slow Duck. Another question for all of those of you experienced in ultras. Doing the marathon I survive on water and gels every 30 mins which I cope with fine. What do you all do for hydration and food? Also do you take electrolyte tablets? Do you carry everything you will need with you or do you rely on the aid stations having what you want?

 Thanks in advance


Dubai Dave    pirate
22/10/2009 at 14:15

SD: Yep beachy Head on saturday

Tricia: they have loads of food at Comrades but I run on gels and coke. They have water / gatorade / coke at everyaid station, gels you need to carry.

22/10/2009 at 20:48

The way I see it is that everyone walks in Comrades except elites! I did this event "early" in my running career and it still holds true, walk thru the picnic spots (in any race), train slow.... sounds easy but train slower than what you can do.  Then use the HM or Marathon event as a "training" run. The idea is apparently that when you finish a long run you should not be should have been able to keep moving, if not you're training too fast.

All the best and I wish I could be there!

Enjoy the event and try not to eat too many sanwiches (only expirement on training runs). 

22/10/2009 at 21:41
I'm no expert but...
...On top of the volumes of sound advice above, I reckon there's a cut off point around 40m when it stops being a marathon with a bit tacked on the end, and becomes a different sport requiring a diferent approach.   Yes Draycote is a good starting point to get the confidence that you can go well beyond mara distance.  But once you get beyond about 40m the other stuff mentioned above - like eating solid food - really comes into play.  As has been said, a lot of it is mental rather than physical and ultra running suits self-reliant people who are not phased by the idea of possibly running alone for hours and hours - it doesn't come on a plate like an organised road mara.   Time, not distance, is the challenge in many ways.   But mostly - have fun.
22/10/2009 at 23:34

Aid stations are brilliant at Comrades. I think there are 50+ on the route - works out at around 1 every 1.5km. They usually have water, powerade and coke. There is usually fruit and chocolates too (and potatoes in the second half).

I usually a small water bottle to avoid the chaos at the first few water stations (which you reach before sunrise in the dark) and I only carry enough gels to get me to half way on Comrades - it's because after that, I find that I can't even face looking at a gel packet, however nice it tasted to start with. I've tried with quite a few different makes and flavours too! In the second half of the race I just eat anything I feel like that's on offer and the drink that works for me is a mixture of coke and water (but I'm fussy the coke has to be ice cold - otherwise it gets donated to African kids on the side of the road...)


I'm running the Greensand on Sunday - you're not going for the Beachy Head/Greensand/Dublin triple are you?


Why not enter again for 2010? As a former runner you have until 31 October...


Very true - if you don't have the right mentality - physical fitness will only get you so far... The beauty of Comrades is that as it is the biggest ultra in the world in terms of participants, you very rarely run alone.

Edited: 22/10/2009 at 23:35
23/10/2009 at 19:39

Hi Slow Duck thanks for that info. Feel I have so much to learn.

Do you all stay in Durban or near the start?


23/10/2009 at 22:03

I usually stay in Durban and take a coach to the start (it leaves at around 3am!) - you can buy tickets for it at the Expo and costs around £5 (not bad value for a 56 mile journey!). But other runners book into Pietermartizburg for the night (not too practical if you're on your own...)

23/10/2009 at 22:07
Thanks SD. I will be with my OH so I could stay in Pietermartizburg - don't think I fancy a 3am start !!
23/10/2009 at 22:13
It's not so bad really - as I find that I can't usually sleep much on the night before - too scared of oversleeping...
Blisters    pirate
23/10/2009 at 22:39

Draycote was mentioned.

When is it, exactly?

Their website only refers to the 2009 date.

24/10/2009 at 00:16
Yes generally middle of Feb - 7 laps of a reservoir on the road.  Well organised and you are never more than 2 1/2 miles from race HQ.  There's a simultaneous mara.
24/10/2009 at 11:29

Hi guys, firstly excited I seem to have got a thread up and running

Brilliant that some real experts have come on and thanks for all the great comments so far.

SD- Im sure you have worked this out but yes its me "darkhorse" from FETCH

The news is in looks like Im going to SA, long chat with the wife and got a "your mad" but OK plus club member has said yes to. So its next Sunday/monday 

Next question for the experts wieght. For my first 6 marathons I became terrible and was on the scales every day, and got down to the lightest I had ever been but hit the wall. For Leicester I was about half a stone more but felt great the whole way round. There is part of me thinking I had gone to far (13.5 and 6ft) which is by no means slim. I have also stopped drinking leading up to a marathon but even had a pint the night before. Whats the expert view. Thanks

24/10/2009 at 18:35
Runners come in all shapes and sizes, does it really matter if it feels right to you? Personally I'm taller than you and nearly 3 stone lighter - must start drinking more lovely pints of high-carb lager  preferably with chips
Dubai Dave    pirate
26/10/2009 at 10:12

Martin: I'm not exactly slim, life / running is a compromise. Sure I could lose a stone and probably be a few minutes quicker, but then I like beer and life is to short. Most runners (particularly those training for Comrades) have to make compromises as running / life clash adding another dimension worrying about my weight is something I can do without.

SD: Just Beach Head though I considered the double of BH/Green sands for awhile. Glad I didn't do it now as was trashed at the end of BH. How did GS go? One of your club mates run with me for miles at BH

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