Reaching my limits

I must be getting to my limits.

I’m not sleeping right. I go to sleep early to get a proper sleep and wake, after 4 hours feeling awful but unable to sleep again
Nor am I eating right. I pick at food, eat junk and less healthy food because its easier and don’t make sure I get the right variety and quantities of food as I would other times
I keep bumping into things that should be easy to avoid, like the corner of our kitchen counter.
My wife says maybe I am doing too much.

Other things are right though: I still want to get out and run, my zip and zest, my libido if your like are okay, the crispness of early bird calls is still thrilling.

So I know I am not breaking down yet. but I know that must be careful

So it’s time to make sure

  • not to push too hard
  • I eat right and drink enough liquid
  • get proper rest
  • monitor my running, my body and maybe adjust the targets

Pushing these limits is where I want to be. I must just watch that  I don’t push myself through them


Number Stories

What stories do the log-book numbers tell?

1-Weekly mileageDistance

77 km in the Two Oceans week, 33 easy the next, then 56 and 65 km building to 80+ km longest week. It’s not a lot by the hero runner standards by it is more than the minimum and just a tiny bit less than what I can handle, I hope.

The tension: Two weeks of longer running left before this years Comrades. The old dilemma returns: I want to do more but I don’t want to do too much. Just 1 km, even one step can be too much and push me into  overdoing. overcooking territory. With that too much training flies out the window. I’m nervous.


Another story is how they add together. All theose kilometers, those training miles, add together. If I don’t do too many, they’ll get me to the Comrades’ finish line. They are great enablers those humble, foot on the road steps


The pay-off :  And then there is the richness of the long running moment. The song of waterfalls, the flap of feet on tar, the belly-filling warmth of the rising sun, a mind unclogged, a soul tuned to the song of the universe, tight,rippling, responsive. And still more ….


Rest day

Don’t know if I like rest days.

Part of me says “Run … just a bit”.

Most of me restlessly rests. I get up at the same time as running days anyway. Sleep just isn’t a comfort thing. Or more accurately, my comforts don’t need to sleep – but that’s another story.

The real me is looking forward to the long run early tomorrow morning. Two maybe three and a bit hours of free running and roaming.

My running conscience nags. “Enough of this morning running. Run late afternoons,” it says and goes on and on. “You’ve got this early morning rising routine and running at 5:30 am ingrained. But it’s not enough. You might end up running at 5 pm too.” It is a bit encouraging. “Don’t worry, you won’t have to still be running at 5:29 pm. You’ve done enough.” 

But I do like rest days. One thing is I don’t have to do anything about running, no lace up shoes, no extra washing. I can relax with the first coffee and orange of the day. I know it’s doing me good not to run again.


5 miles-8 km

Good miles or junk miles?

Sure there was a time when I wouldn’t run less than 12 km at a time. That’s a memory I can’t do now.

The thing is, these 5 mile runs in the morning are working for me. They are short enough to recover from before the next run.

They are also long enough build decent mileage. Four mornings a week gives me 32 km. W a weekend run of 25 to 28 km, I am nearly at 60 km a week on just 4 days of running. And not wearing out …. yet anyway.

Actually this morning, the third run of the week, was faster with less effort than the Monday and Tuesday runs. And that’s got to be good.

And MapMyRun says they are actually 8.72 which means another 2 km every 3 runs.

As I build up now I’ll change n of the 8km runs 12, maybe 13 or 15 km, add in another 8 km run and then I’ll be doing over 70 km a week.

On that I used to run Comrades in less than 9 hours. Then. In those days.

And now?  Should get there in less than eleven hours at least. Except I don’t want the time. I want the run and to share it with my friend, no matter what time we do.


Mind matters

As I go out now to get more miles in my legs, my mind turns to the Big Day. The good thing is that the agony comes later in the run. I’ll start happy. Let the hanging-in creep up, take over the closer to the end the better. After Polly Shorrts is okay. Please!


1935 Comrades Marathon humour

 “As one would expect in an atmosphere charge with common suffering and endeavour, there is a lot of spontaneous, unconscious humour of the type that the written record cannot adequately capture. One pictures the exhausted 1935 athlete lying on the roadside on Alverstone Hill with his legs stretched up the bank for greater relief.”  

A motorbike came racing around the corner. There was to be a bike race the next weekend on the same route. It nearly hit the nearly upside down runner.

The writer remembers how the athlete “promptly forgot his weariness and ran off as hard as he could”.  

(Story from The Comrades Story, Morris Alexander)


Two Oceans Marathon 2013 – after the run

Two Oceans 2013 – the experience

As always being part of a great event is enriching. Two Oceans has the great South African ultra razzmatazz: big field of runners, screeching loudspeakers,  anticipation, seeing old friends – always a treat at the start, during the run and after; the count down, squash up of bodies in the starting pen, boom of the start gun and nothing happens. Two minutes to the first shuffling.

It all squiggles and wriggles into my curly corners and I like it.

With that comes the 56 km of tar road, supportive people cheering along the way, a bit of moon light and a good sunrise. and this year a gusting, gale-ing wind that didn’t bother me too much. My plop-plop is strong and anyway for the last part of the long flats towards and past the halfway, it was behind and chilling.

You get the views of Long Beach, up Chapman’s Peak and over Hout Bay. My  family, Robyn, Michael and Emily met me this year there, maybe 39 km into the run. Great for me, wind-chilled and uncomfortable for them.

Still not convinced that bigger is better. 56 km is always 56 km

Still not convinced that bigger is better. 56 km is always 56 km

Run right, the effort part of this ultra comes after Hout Bay village – pushing through still another 18 km, past the 42.2 k marathon mark, sometimes relentlessly hot, but this time breezy-cool. My ~4:40 marathon time is worth noting because less the stops along the way, its roughly the same time as my 4:34 training standard marathons earlier this year.

So this year’s long-run running pace is set in my legs – hills, flats, pic-taking, falling, pee-breaks and all. It’s what I’ll do in Comrades with extra walking … if the hills get too big.

Finishing through a channel on a crowded, loud field, banners, balloons, helicopters, tents and occasionally being cheered has to be good.

Two Oceans does it well. You feel the buzz and strain, the anticipation of family waiting for their special one at the end of the ultra-long finish chute, the grins and strains of the runners, simmering and bubbling on that field of dreams.  

Doing 56 km is an achievement for me and for most I suppose. Because of all the effort  after-finishing is a good as the running; finally being able to sit down and relax, ease on home to a just-right shower and meal; feel life swirl through me for a while, then slip into a just right snooze. 

Other tastes

There are bits about the event that aren’t to my taste – the endless re-numeration of “overseas” runners before the start – as if the out-of-south-africas are a trophy for us poor stay at homes, as if its a particular thrill to be running with those numbers; the old fish horn designed not to be musical but to chase away cockroaches and bigger urban game, the endless hype about being the most beautiful marathon in the world which of course it can’t be – even just one route like the Big Sur marathon, which is like Chapman’s Peak the whole way, must compare; combining the ultra with much shorter runs, and now this spirit thing.

Oh and of course, the giant medal. I mean they should have told us to bring a supermarket trolley to push it to the car to get it back home.

But, hey, its not my event so I can take what I want, including the medal, leave the rest and everyone’s happy.

So, Two Oceans 2013, thanks

I’m especially happy with what I took. Especially because its a big part of dealing with what’s coming.

Now the next phase: Recover. Run for a bigger one – not the medal, the run. Recovering. Then more.



That medal

That Comrades Marathon Medal

Even before my old shoe-box was full of medals for doing runs between 10 to 160 km, they had kind of lost their value.

Not the running, the medals.

At best I could see myself old, one had holding a rattling teacup, the other hand in the medal box lingering in the residue of running.

The story of me

The story of me




My Comrades medals aren’t in that box. When others want to see, I get them.

It’s a funny thing looking at those unassuming medals, rich with the story of me.


Four days before the long run

Here come the old, not-too-wrinkled vigour boys, well this one anyway; and for ~5 km this morning, anyway too.

The first 5 are always easy. It’s just the other 55 to worry about for Saturday’s Two Oceans.

Actually the first 20 km and hopefully probably the first 40. It just the last part that’s hard.

Anyway, I’m not allowed to worry about those either. Comrades is a whole ~32 km further. Those last km after 56 km the real worry-mes.

But even those hard last Comrades km, I have learned to deal with.

I put off worrying about the hard bits until after I’ve finished the run.


Carbo-loading practice

Tapering, carbo-loading practice

Got the taper and carbo-loading, such as it is, going for Two Oceans on Saturday. Not so much to perform there, but just practicing for the taper and carbo-loading before Comrades which is still a couple months away.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s no good just sitting or lying around in the last week. Gotta keeping moving, doing short, faster runs, nothing that will damage muscles, everything that will keep my heart rate pumping, my blood-volume up and waste-removal pipes working.

Another thing I know is that it doesn’t help to pour in or push in all sorts of stuff in to me, in the hopes that it will carbo-load something somewhere. All that does is upset my systems completely.

Part of the carbo-loading trick is eat only when the muscle-glycogen-store receptors are working, in the 45 min or so after exercise, or after a couple of days of carbo-depletion.

For the rest I eat less.

Because I need less on daily basis as I am not running so much.

Also because my body is far too good at turing excess carbs into fat. I have enough of that for many Comrades Marathons