Archive for Comrades Marathon

Does your running define you?

I’ve been asking myself this question for the past couple of weeks leading up to this years Comrades Marathon – which incidentally I decided not to run based on the fact that I have just not done enough training because of my injury, to have an enjoyable day – which would make the 11 or so hours it usually takes me, rather long and tiresome.

But, having made that decision I have been plagued with feelings of being left out and thoughts of ‘just trying’ although my reasons are purely valid.  My mom said it is my heart saying one thing and my brain (logic) another, which has led me to this question – Does running define me?

I don’t think I’ve been a runner for long enough to have it feel like my life however it does feel like a large part of it, and sitting on the sidelines this year I have no doubt, is going to be a battle for me.  Why do I feel like this?  I had said to myself at the end of last years run that I was done for a while with the Comrades, and wanted to focus on other things – which I have (I did the African X a few weeks ago, but that deserves a post all of its own), but then why the angst about not taking part this year.

I certainly am happy that I don’t have the nerves which seem to take over at this point, and the various aches and pains which plague runners leading up to the race.  I’m also happy that I get to spend the whole day with my dad supporting other runners from our club, including my mom!  I’m not going to miss the battle with my brain to shut out the noise from my body when  nearing the 70km mark and you really start feeling the distance on your feet and legs.

I guess if I look at what I am going to miss, it may not sound like much but I guess they all have their role to play:

  • I’ll miss running with friends and making new ones on the way (Yes Julie, I’m going to miss running with you my friend)
  • I’m going to miss the excitement and anticipation at the start, standing in a crowd of over 10 000 people, listening to Chariots of Fire with the whole day ahead of you.
  • I’m going to miss the camaraderie at 75km when you have less than 18km left and although your body is saying “I’ve had enough I’m sooo tired”, your brain and everyone around you is saying “Almost there, come on now not too much longer”.
  • I’m going to miss running into the stadium to thousands of screaming people and crossing the line with friends (That’s you Craig)
  • But I think most of all, I’m going to miss that sense of achievement and the absolute certainty in knowing, as you get that medal around your neck, that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to.

I guess this leaves me asking – Does running define YOU?

Comrades Runners

This is that point where your friends keep you going

Iron Man vs Ultra Runner

I have a few friends who do Iron Man – given what I went through on the one and only triathlon I did, I can safely say that I will never do it but I have seen that there is some rivalry between the people who do Iron Man and the people who do Ultra distance marathons.  Modern Athlete had this video they found on YouTube in their magazine this week depicting a conversation between the two disciplines – I couldn’t stop laughing!!

This video is a bit crass but very, very funny…

Marathon Checklist

I have quite a few friends running their first marathon this year which is really motivating and exciting for me to be part of.  A couple of questions have come up in terms of what to remember to take, especially if the marathon is not in your home town, so I decided to make a list for beginner marathon runners.  Feel free to add to it if you feel I’ve forgotten anything…



Make sure your laces are tied properly and that if it is a Champion Chip or timed race, that your timing chip is on – you will be surprised to know how many people forget these little things.

Running Shirt and pants/skirt/shorts

Secure your number onto your shirt the night before to make sure you don’t forget.  You should have done some long runs in your gear before marathon day to check for any chafe spots and comfy fits.

Hat and/sunglasses

I always run in a hat, it helps when there is wind and will stop it from raining right in your face if the weather decides to be miserable.


Make sure you smear a thick layer of Vaseline wherever your clothes might chafe you and on your feet in places you usually get blisters.

During the Race

GU or Energy Pack

I usually take one GU every 10km on a long run.  You will need to figure out what works for you.  I almost never take all of them because by the end they start making me feel a little ill but I do know some people who take them every 45 minutes.

Lip-ice (Lip balm)

I get very dry lips while I run so I like having lip-ice on hand.  This also doubles up as  lube if I start feeling my clothes snacking on my skin.


I usually take my iPod incase I can’t find anyone to run with or if I’m having a bad day, it just helps to motivate me and drowns out all the unhelpful noises in my head.


Ok this is something which some people frown upon (all non-runners) but if something comes up which doesn’t feel serious then a painkiller usually just dulls it until the end, like ITB or sore shoulders.  You have to drink lots of water if you take any, so keep that in mind.  I haven’t taken a painkiller in ages but I do take them with me just in case.


Recovery Drink

I have written about recovery drinks before.  At the moment I’m using Hammer’s Recoverite but if I don’t have that then it’s a strawberry/chocolate milkshake.  I have also been known to have a beer but I’d recommend having a proper recovery drink or Rehydrate within an hour of finishing.


This is for any chafe you may have gotten and only realised you had once you got in the shower – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you have every had stealth chafe before.


There are usually massage tables with physio’s at the end of the bigger marathons so try and get in to one of those when you are done – the difference it makes is amazing.  You also want to try and get a rub-down before your legs start getting stiff otherwise it’s too sore.  I usually book a massage for a couple of days after a long race just to loosen the muscles again and to make sure all the lactic acid has drained so that my legs don’t feel heavy.

Everything you need is already inside…

Sometimes as a runner, motivation can become an issue – especially during the last few weeks leading up to a big race which you have been training for. It’s at times like these when I turn to other sources to help motivate me, and this is one of them…

Nike Running Advert

I’m not a technical runner, so I don’t salivate at the prospect of a gadget which will tell me all the stats of my run BUT I loved what they had to say about why we run.

Running Anniversary

On Sunday I ran the VOB Grape Run which is what I like to refer to as my ‘Running Anniversary’ race.  The Grape Run was the first half marathon I did and was basically the race which helped prove to me that, in fact, running the Comrades was achievable.

Now I know the race is just a half marathon (21.1km), compared to the 89km of the Comrades, but it was on this race that I realised the key to distance running (and  most endurance sports for that matter), is to manage your mind effectively because most of these races are won or lost in the head.

I walked away from this race thinking, was that if I could finish a 21km race after never having done more than 10km in training, then the same concept would hold true for the longer races.  As it turns out I was right, 7 months after my first Grape Run I did the Comrades marathon, my longest distance in training being a 56km training run…

Now, 4 Grape Runs later and 3 Comrades Marathons under my belt, I feel that unless you can master those voices in your head which tell you how tired you are or how your knees are aching, or overcome the belief that distance running is 100% based on your fitness – then you will always struggle, no matter how many km’s in training you do.

Happy Anniversary to my running – sometimes I hate it and sometimes I love it but above all, I have learned a great deal about myself and the extent to which the human body can be pushed!

Grape Run Views

Modern Athlete Article

For those of you who don’t know Modern Athlete, it is a newish running mag which has come out in competition to Runners World.  To be totally honest I’m not a Runners World fan – the airbrushed perfect people on the cover make me feel like a troll and I find the articles too technical.  Of course I think it is a good magazine (based on the number of people who rave about it), I obviously just fall outside of their target market.

At this stage Modern Athlete isn’t a glossy mag yet but you can subscribe and I read it online because it’s just easier for me.  What really got me going this month was the fact that one of my friends Julie has her story in there…  Julie and I  have finished a number of races together – we also ran the Comrades together this year, so we know each others lives pretty well at this stage given that we have had ample time to swap stories – but reading her story again gave me the same feeling of intense motivation as the first time I heard it, so I would like to share it here with you.

Here is the link to the story, you have to sign up to be able to read it but it is worth the extra 3 minutes 🙂

Julie and Me

Julie and Me

Comrades 2011 Entries Open

For those of you wanting to enter the Comrades Marathon for next year, entries open today September 1st and close on November 30th, or until the maximum number of runners, which is 18 000, has been reached.

I would suggest entering just in case you decide you might want to do it – or just enter and then you have to do it because you have paid 🙂

(Jo I’m speaking to you my friend!!)


Motivation in Endurance Activities

Last night I found myself discussing, once again, the topic of running motivation to a fellow runner.  He was telling me about his first marathon experience in Knysna and asking how you then imagine yourself running not just another 14km in the Two Oceans, but double that and then some, for the Comrades…

I have said this before and I will say it again and again – when we run a half marathon or a marathon and then think about going further  – your mind knows exactly how far you are going and so after 21km or 42km, to think about going any further once you are done, just feels impossible.  Yet, when you know you are running 56km or 89km, you get to the 21km or 42km mark and feel perfectly fine (speaking in relative terms) and keep on going.

Lewis Pugh, an endurance swimmer illustrates this perfectly in the video below and with the statement  “There is nothing more powerful than the made-up mind” – which is what I’m going to leave you with for now because it describes what I’m trying to say, perfectly.

Comrades News

It has just been confirmed that the guy who came third in the Comrades this year, Sergio Motsoeneng, has tested positive for a banned substance.  The Comrades Association only hands out medals and prize money (in this case R90 000) after all doping tests have been complete.  Sergio has been found guilty of cheating at the Comrades before when he had his brother run half the race for him in 1999.

If you want more information I’d suggest you read it at – a South African news site which puts a funny (that’s haha and not weird) spin on breaking stories, helping us see the humour in the sometimes outrageous, sometimes scary and sometimes totally unbelievable events which can only come out of South Africa 🙂