Archive for May 29, 2010

My Comrades 2010 Running Plan

My plan for every Comrades thus far has been simple – I just want to finish…  The first time I did it I started with my mom and then ended up running alone from about half-way, I had my iPod to keep me company but running alone can be tough.  Last year I had Craig and we ran in the sub-11 hour bus, it was MUCH better than running alone because Stuart our ‘bus driver’ was incredibly inspirational and kept up going, along with the fact that you feel part of a whole which makes it a bit easier when you are feeling tired and sore.

This year I will be joining the sub-11 hour bus again and I would advise all the novices out there who are already having sleepless nights, to stick to whichever bus is within your ability.  A group means you have support and the energy within each bus is easy to draw off of – that is of course besides the fact that you don’t have to worry about how fast or how slow you are going.  The bus will get you into the stadium and over the line in exactly what they advertise to do (ie if its the sub-11 hour bus they will get you in just before 11 hours and the same with the others).

Last year there were two sub-11 hour busses, I’m not sure what this year has in store for us but if I find out I will let you know here – and if you are in the sub-11 hour bus and you see a girl running in a skirt with pink socks, then say hi!!

Running BusPhoto Credit

Running your mind into submission

In my post about the Psychology of Running I told you what I do in terms of keeping control of my mind and my thoughts during an endurance event like the Comrades Marathon.  I also said that I have a little energy exercise which I do when it feels like my wheels are about to fall off, and here it is…

Note: This may seem a bit airy-fairy and hippy but I use it all the time and it works like a charm!

The aim with this exercise is to draw on energy which is all around us, for our own use.  This energy is essentially ripe for the picking, we just need to access it and the easiest way is to think of those things which inspire us and make us happy.  The way I do this is through the recollection of incredible things which I have experienced.  The way our brain stores our memories is to attach an emotion to the event before it is filed away as a memory – so in recalling certain events you have the ability to experience the accompanying emotion along with it.

To start this exercise, I cast my mind back to every incredibly moment in my life, things like your first kiss (although for some of us that is WAY to far gone), your wedding day, the day your child was born, your first Comrades finish, travel – whatever makes you feel good and can feel a physical response to.

Then you need to imagine the emotion of those memories as light which collects in an inward spiral in your solar plexis or just below your ribs, basically where you would feel what we call ‘butterflies’ if you are nervous.  You  need to imagine these emotions coming together to form a ball of energy (I usually imagine it being white or pale yellow) which is so tightly bound that it is reflecting intense light outwards from the centre of your body.  Now you can feed off this ball of energy whenever you need to.  You will probably find that in this process you will feel the hairs raise on your arms and you might even get goosebumps without it being cold – I have had it where it even feels like my hair is raising off my head like there is intense static electricity nearby.

I do this exercise before I get up on race morning so that my ‘ball of energy’ is already there for me to draw on.  The nature of energy is that it never dissapears, it just changes form so if you feel like your ball of light is looking a bit dull then all you do is conjure up those memories again, even things which didn’t happen but you know would make you feel good if they did – like maybe being the first to run into the stadium at the Comrades, or helping someone who is battling accross the finish line, or kissing Brad Pitt (oh dear, did I just say that out loud?).

If you use this during the race on Sunday, let me know how it goes – I’d be really interested to see how it works in other people.

Running your mind into submissionPhoto Credit

Comrades 2010 – Keeping Track

Just 3 days until 20 500 runners take to the streets of Pietermaritzburg, and make their way down to Durban.  If you are an avid fan who will be watching SABC 2 from 5am on Sunday, keeping your eyes peeled for anyone you know who may be running, then good for you!!  If you have some friends running but have better things to do on Sunday then you shall be forgiven, but let this go down in the annals of history – that you had other things to do while WE ran flor whatever cause (our own included 🙂

There are ways in which you can actually be updated with your runners progress throughout the day!  If you SMS the race number of the runner concerned to 38132, you will get an update of the runners time and where on the course they are at that stage, sent right to your phone.  These SMS’ cost R10 of which most of it goes to charity.

If you would like to keep track of me, my race number is 43099.  For those of you who need more details you can call my dad (aka Worlds Best Second)  or you can leave me a message on my phone and I’ll call you back when I’m done.  I will hopefully have someone updating my Twitter account with my times if anyone prefers that medium of communication 🙂

I think that covers it…

RunnersPhoto Credit

The Psychology of Running

With the Comrades less than a week away, I have had a fair share of people asking me how I manage to run for so long (around 10 – 12 hours) and so far (89km), so I thought I’d share what goes through, or more accurately what doesn’t go through my mind during this race…

The biggest thing about being able to do endurance events is how well you are able to get into the ‘zone’ or to the point where you body is doing what it needs to do automatically, and the mind is still.  You need to stop all the doubt and frustration going through your mind because I believe this is the factor which determines whether you have a good race or not.

I have said this before and I’m going to say it again, this is just one day!  One day of pain and fear and exhaustion, but just a day, not a week or a month or a lifetime.


Before the race I try and stay as calm as possible.  It is very easy to get caught up in the mayhem at the start and it is also very common to feed off the nervous excitement and anxiety of other runners.  I try and block all of this out and focus on the fact that I am standing at the start of the oldest Ultra Marathon in the World and the fact that I am finally at the point where all my months of hard work are going to pay off.  I try and stop negative thoughts before they have even had a chance to bloom and gain momentum.  I would suggest basking in ‘Chariots of Fire’ and the fact that you have loved ones watching from all corners of the country.  It is too late at this stage to stress about the training you didn’t do, focus on what you did and trust in your power of will.

During the Race

The way I see it is that to get through the day, you have to become pretty damn good at ignoring what is going on in your head.  Your legs will be sore, your feet will be aching and there will be various other aches and pains which will occupy your mind – if you let it.  It basically becomes a battle between you and that noise in your head (mind).  My first line of defence is usually to find someone to speak to – this distracts your mind from focusing on what is sore and other negative thoughts by concentrating on someone else.  If there is nobody in sight I will put my iPod in and crank it up depending on how much my mind is protesting.

If this doesn’t work, and there is usually a couple of points in the race where you will need to step it up a notch in running your mind into submission – this is where I will try and connect with my senses which shuts the discursive mind (that part of your mind which is making a noise) right up.  A simple running through of your senses, from feeling your feet in your shoes and your clothes on your body, taste, smell and sight to hearing your heartbeat and the sound of the footfalls of runners around you.  This does wonders in reconnecting you with that part within which is capable of anything.

As you run into the stadium

You need to remember to be totally focused as you run into the stadium at the end.  You need to enjoy and remember what it is like to run into a stadium where thousands of people are shouting for you because YOU have just run 89km, you need to be with it enough to plant this memory into your brain, although I must warn you, it is usually due to this feeling at the end which makes people do this race again and again 🙂

I have a little energy exercise I also do when I’m REALLY feeling like I might lose the battle with the noise in my head, but that is for another post.

The Psychology of Running

Running in Pink…

Boobs, breasts, numbies, jugs, tits, udders – we all have different names for those two mounds on every woman’s chest.  They are regularly spoken about in the running world because for some women, restraining them can be a bit of a mission – luckily I don’t have that problem, my pre-pubescent boy’s body makes sure there is no movement on my chest area – ever!  Sport’s bra, running bra and over-shoulder-boulder-holders are hotly contested subjects on forums and blogs and that is just in the running world!!  I’m not even going to delve into the dark underworld of the mans mind when it comes to mammary glands.

Either way there is one thing which is guaranteed, you either have breasts of your own, have access to breasts and have almost certainly suckled on breasts in your lifetime – so just imagine finding out that these sometimes flattering, sometimes the object of your lust are effectively the cause of your sickness or even death…  I know its a less than savory subject to talk about, but it is for just this reason that there are so many women out there that are uneducated on the seriousness of this disease, which can be checked for and any irregularity found early on and treated.

The Pink Drive aims to educate women and provide  mobile mammogram units to those who either don’t have access to medical facilities or who have never thought to have lumps in their breasts checked.  This campaign is vitally important if we are going to keep the women behind each set of breasts alive and well to keep caring and nurturing the generations to come.

So, if you would like to show your support then go to my Pink Drive tab and donate some money – then comment on my blog, my wall on Facebook or send me an email so that I know who to think about while I run the 89km from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on May 30th, clad in pink!!

The Pink DrivePhoto Credit

Running Photos

Yesterday I was notified that my pictures from the Two Oceans had been uploaded to Action Photo – these are the official photographers at all of our races and you can buy your pictures online after the race if you want them.

It is always great to have a photo to remember your race by, well the big ones anyway, but most of the time they are not all that flattering.  In my Two Oceans pics Jason, my running buddy, looked like he wanted to punch someone in every single one (on asking him about this he did confess to wanting to punch himself) which made me think about the letter I wrote to these running photographers, trying to give them pointers as to when they should and shouldn’t take a photo and the warning signs of when we are about to be consumed by running rage.

Have a look at that letter and if you know anyone who is a running photographer then please pass it on, its time we started educating these guys.

Running Photo

Photo Credit

Comrades Marathon Course Route

For those of you who haven’t seen the course route, this video goes through it all along with the profile.  Listen when he says that although this is a ‘down run’ there are still many uphills!!  If you would rather ostrich this then that is fine with me, just skip this video 🙂

This year’s cause

As most of you know, every year I raise money for a particular cause with running the Comrades Marathon – last year you guys helped pay for some children to be able to attend school, the year before you helped raise money for Reach For Recovery – an organisation dedicated to helping women suffering from breast cancer.

This year I will be running in pink socks with a pink wrist band and pink shoelaces for the Pink Drive.  This organisation raises funds to finance mobile mammogram and breast cancer educational units which visit the rural areas, bringing these services to women who would otherwise not be able to afford it, or who haven’t realised the seriousness of this disease yet.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for many South African women even though the treatment is so incredibly effective.  Mis-diagnosis, late diagnosis and lack of education are to blame for this which is why a mobile mammogram and educational unit is so important.

Reebok is donating money to the Pink Drive for every runner they see coming into the Kingsmead Stadium wearing pink gear.  You can donate by SMS’ing ‘breast’ to 36560, this will send 50c to the Pink Drive.  If you are feeling generous then head to the Pink Drive tab on my site for their banking details.  If you would like to run for this cause please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the organisers.

There are some fun things for spectators too, if you are going to be in the Newcastle, Pietermaritzburg or Durban areas supporting your runners then you can also play a part in this drive for awareness, details are here or you can just email me and I’ll put you in touch with the relevant people.

Early detection saves lives so lets band together and all play a part in helping save lives!!


Only 24 Days to go…

I came upon this realisation this morning while deciding whether or not to get out of my nice warm bed and head out into the cold and wet Cape Town morning for a run at the gym – unfortunately instead of spurring me into action, I just turned over and went back to sleep…

It’s not that I’m unmotivated because I have been training, more so I think than previous years.  I did a 21km near Stellenbosh 2 weeks ago and then a 56km on Sunday, both of which went very well although I still don’t think I’m anywhere near 1000km, but I can live with that.

I think many people who are doing this years Comrades Marathon are reaching the same point, its getting harder and harder to motivate yourself to get out there and its not just because of the weather.  This is normal, or at least I remember feeling like this before, where you are just sick and tired of running – or if you are not running you are thinking about running or stressing about how to fit it in.  This all forms part of the pre-Comrades stress and I wish I could tell you that it gets better… it doesn’t, actually it peaks at round about 5am on Sunday May 30th 🙂

Anyway I hope you have all sorted out your flights, accommodation, pick-up points etc – if not and you still have questions then please give me a shout and I can see what I can do for you.  Oh and Rescue Remedy really comes in handy these last few weeks, go and get yourself some!!

Say Cheese!