An exercise to get your mind right for the Comrades Marathon
Accept that its going to get tough out there.
It is going to get tough. Accept that. Facing up to and going through the effort is what ultra-running and Comrades is about.
Unless you run way behind what you could be doing, it’s unlikely to be a dance out there. And even then 87 or 90 km is a long way to dance
It’s okay. It’s meant to get hard, uncomfortable. It can even get sore and awful. But equally is not so tough that it can’t be done. Comrades is meant to take some of your grit and determination.
So know too, that Comrades can and has been done by thousands of ordinary people, who, like me are not unique, exceptional world-record running ultra athletes.
Also I am not one who glories in tough. I don’t want to over-eulogise tough. If you want tough then there are longer, harder runs, even a couple of impossible runs to do.
But still Comrades will make me dig deep. And I know that bit of effort, grit and a good few months of putting miles into legs, its quite possible to get through the inescapable toughness of Comrades.
Comrades Marathon: always hard but doable, with a bit of effort and grit. In doing and sharing the hard is a marvel.
Know too that you won’t crumble at the first sign of discomfort or at the 20th. Your resilience rises to meet the run.
I also always take comfort that its not the first bit that hard its only the last bits, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the run too. Except for one year when it was hard from even before the start. I think I know what caused that so it shouldn’t happen again. The way I feel now it definitely won’t happen again. And anyway, I got the medal so I know I can cope with even that.
Dealing with the discomfort or pain
The right thing to do when feeling uncomfortable or in pain is to go into it. Work out where and what it is, how bad it is and what you can do about it. While you are moving forward.
Bring the issues to light, to your mind and they already lessen.
Once you have the measured that it is not life-, limb- or organ-threatening, the pain doesn’t have to hold you back As Ann Trason, supreme ultra-athlete who did so well at the Western States 100 miler, once said, “There is a time that the pain doesn’t get any worse.” And that’s true. Unless something is seriously broken.
If there is a real problem deal with it. You can put plasters on blisters; a lube on chafes. Water into dehydration, food into energy, foot after foot on the road. You can go slower if you are starting to cramp to let your muscles recover a little.
Going slower and eating/drinking is often good. Less stress and your body can work better – digest, feed, cleanse.
It maybe as simple as getting in more sugar-carbohydrate-gels. It’s also often that you need more, so electrolytes always help, so do the oranges, bananas and potatoes you find at the aid stations. Solid food -something salty with protein, is always good – peanuts and raisins, a whole-food energy bars.
It may be that you even have to consider bailing, quitting before the end, if what troubles you is bad enough
Comrades is doable
Always Comrades is doable.
If you run to your training, eat and drink right early and often in little bits, deal with problems you encounter, keep your sense of humour and keep going forward nothing will stop you getting there. Just dodge the cat’s eyes the reflectors built into the road to help misted drivers and trip runners.
And if its really hard, take the Comrades heart from the runners around you, from the spectators along the road, from your family, friends and colleagues. They all want you to keep going. They want you to succeed. So do you. So, keep going. Your rivals may not want you to but here’s a good opportunity to put one over them.
At the end, medal around the neck
And afterwards the pain is not so bad. That earned medal glows nicely, polished by the discomfort and effort.
I am one of the ordinary and know that the Comrades has made me ultra-ordinary, in that nice Comrades phrase, even extra-ordinary at times. And that gives me the strength to cope with the inevitable discomfort.