First Time Comrades Runner

This is my fourth post in the “Running Stories” series, you can read the first three herehere and here

I would like to introduce you Craig Vivian.  Craig ran the entire Comrades with me this year.  Our mothers both compete in many full and ultra marathons together and it is through them that we became friends.  Craig’s mom ran the Comrades this year with a broken foot – and she finished!

What made you decide to do the Comrades?
There were a few reasons:
(1) I had completed 2 Two Oceans and felt like I was ready to step it up a level.
(2) I was asked by a charity to run for them to raise money.
(3) I’m 27, my mother is 60 and she was running her 6th Comrades. I had no excuse really.

How long have you been running for?
I have been long distance running since the beginning of 2007 when I did my first marathon and Two Oceans. I’ve always been fit though throughout school and university, through shorter distance running and playing sports.

What was the most difficult thing about the training?
I found the two most difficult things about training were:
(1) The length of the training. It’s hard to train solidly for 5-6 months.
(2) The personal sacrifices – whether it’s not going out on a Saturday after the rugby because of a Sunday race, or just sacrificing on sleep. It was all worth it though

What was the most difficult thing during the race?
Being my first Comrades, it was difficult to get my mind around running +-90km. I always seem to have a bad period during a race, usually around the 3rd quarter. Your legs aren’t fresh anymore and you’re still not that close to the finish. My mind sort of goes walk about. Luckily in the Comrades, this period came with 18km to go, I knew that if I could hang on until 10km to go, I’d be alright which is what I did.

Was it as hard/easy as what you expected?
The Comrades was easier than what I expected purely because in the three ultra marathons (anything over 42.2km) I have done, there were stages where I got bad cramps in my legs. In the Comrades, I had a couple of scares but no painful cramping. The recommendation to go out slow in the beginning really worked.

Did you have any epiphanies about yourself during training or the race?
You have a lot of time to think when running for just under 11 hours. I ran the whole race with a friend and I definitely feel that the Comrades experience made us closer. I also felt after finishing the race that I shouldn’t be afraid of any challenge, being work, personal or sport related.

Would you do it again and what would you change, if anything?

I am definitely going to do it again. I have already told the charity I ran for this year to sign me up again. Training wise, I would concentrate more on quality training, this year I focused too much on just long distance running. You do need this but I feel that additional speed training and some strength training in the gym is also important. I would also like to a much better time, 10h:52 minutes is a long day at the office.

* I would like to add that it was such a change running with someone for the entire race.  Last year I ran half of the way on my own and it becomes very boring.  I’m really glad we experienced this incredible race together (that’s him on the left in the picture in case you were wondering)!


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  1. […] is the fifth post in a series of posts on Running Stories.  You can read the first 4 here, here, here and […]

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