Logic of Running

The logic of running:

Running strength grows only if enough recovery and adaptation is allowed between runs.

I know I should rest tomorrow.

I know too I won’t. Gotta feel I’m working and not indulging as I might easily do.

Running Logic 101

More extracts from Running Logic© a book not yet written on, well, the Logic of Running.

Running Logic 101

  1. You can’t do what you can’t do.
  2. You can’t do better than your best.
  3. If you’re dehydrated, you’re dehydrated
  4. If your sugar levels (your energy supplies) are low, they are low.
  5. If you are doing too much, you are doing too much
  6. If you are injured, you are injured
  7. If you are sick you are sick
  8. If you are not enjoying your training, you aren’t enjoying your training.
  9. Comrades race distance of near enough 90 km, is nearly 90 km.
  10. If you run a personal best marathon 4-5 weeks before the Comrades you will have a personal best marathon time.

Running Logic 102

1. You can’t do what you can’t do, so base your training on what you can do and build from there.

  • You can’t for example run the Comrades 90 km at 4 min/km if your 10 km personal best is 40 or more minutes – unless your 10 km PB was set during Comrades while running it at 4 min/km.
  • You can’t jump to and sustain 60 km/week if your current 6 week average is 40 km/per week – unless that was a rest break in consistently running 50 km/week or more.
  • You probably will try to do more than you can cope with. It’s how we are. Maybe you will cope for a few weeks. But sooner or later something will break; that will set you back more than what you gained.

2. You can’t do better than your best. You have limits. Also you have a good chance of doing worse than your best.

  • The closer you get to doing your best the more satisfied you will be.
  • One way of doing your best is to maximise your training, plan your race carefully and be a bit flexible on the day to make the most out what you have.
  • The more you rely on coaches, competitors or pacers to bring out your best, the less control you have over your run and the better chance you have of not doing your best.
  • Your very best is entirely dependent on what you put in and how you manage your run on your chosen day; and then build on that base to do better the next year.
  • If someone else’s best is better than your best, well, you have to accept that. If you both perform to you best level, the other will gt there first. You will always feel satisfied if you did your very best. [It’s Logic 400 that gets into getting the most of your run, balancing the achievement with all the others parts of the run.]

3. If you’re dehydrated you won’t perform at your best

  • Dehydration means you don’t have enough liquid in your system.
  • You need to top up, to drink the right things.
  • Your body uses water to keep your body cool. Running heats you up. It also uses liquid to keep your mouth, throat and airways moist.
  • Even with 1% dehydration you will not perform your best over 90km. Your heart rate increases, the volume of blood you heart pumps with each stroke drops, the amount of energy you deliver to your muscles decreases, your performance level drops. The liquids in and between cells in your muscles decreases and the cells get damaged. Even drinking the wrong things can make this damage worse.
  • You can’t practice to overcome dehydration. You can train yourself to drink while running
  • It’s Logic 300 to work out what you need to drink and to blend it with your food intake. In the meantime start with water and learn to take in the right amount of the right kind of liquids

4. If your sugar levels (energy supply) are low, they are low. You won’t perform your best.

  • Low sugar levels mean you need to ingest foods. Equally it means being able to digest and absorb them
  • You need to know what foods you need and how to ingest them.
  • You also need to know what it takes to digest and absorb them.
  • You can only store so much glucose in your body. Comrades will require more. You will need to eat.
  • You have stored a lot of fat. If you are relying on it you have to know how to mobilise it and that often means going much slower than what you want.
  • The harder you are working, the harder you are running the less likely you are to want food and too digest it.
  • Much as they are well used, colas are not energy drinks. They do give a boost. They can’t sustain ultra-runners. You need more than colas

5. If you are doing too much, you are doing too much.

  • It’s easy to do too much.
  • Too much training for a short time and you may recover before Comrades but it’s unsustainable.
  • Too fast, too much effort when you set out on the run is also not sustainable. The thing is that you may not recover from the exertion even if you do survive it.
  • Too much isn’t the same as a hard workout, even a very hard workout.
  • It’s easy to do too little hoping to do a harder workout next time.
  • It’s also easy to do too much of the too little to get your through the race you are actually doing.

6. If you are injured, you are injured.

  • Get fixed. Then get training again. Running with injuries makes them worse. It further erodes the best you are hoping to do.
  • Most injuries are fixable. Many come from overdoing what you are doing.
  • If it’s an injury to your legs, stop running until you get professional advice. Go on exercising the muscles you haven’t hurt.
  • If it’s to another part of your body, keep running while you get it fixed.

7. If you are sick you are sick.

  • Get better. Wishing, hoping, taking a chance won’t make you better. Weakening your systems by running more, makes it worse.
  • It’s funny. No matter how obvious this is, in the grip of Comrades training it can be hard to stop running when you should. We are all guilty of it. The more aware we are of its negatives, the more likely we are to do something positive.
  • Making the mental effort to make the right tough decisions, is one of the best things you can do for your training.
  • Accumulative training over time depletes your immune system. You get a bit sick. You don’t want to stop training. You think you will recover from your illness while maintaining your running. The risk of running while ill are big and will set you back more than you gain by carrying on training

8. If you are not enjoying your training, you are not enjoying your training.

  • If you are your happiest when you are your most miserable, keep on going. If you think of running as a punishment, or are convinced that being uncomfortable means you are training properly, keep going.
  • The other view is that training should be fun, build strength, add energy and zest to your life. So when you stop looking forward to a run, the next week’s training, the race, you are doing it right.
  • The power to make the most of your training is in you. You have the right to know that and to make it work for you.

9. Comrades race distance is 90 km. It is not 8 km, 10 km, 21.1 km,  42.2km or even 60 km. It is, near enough, 90 km

  • The things that happen to you on or you need for shorter runs, are not the same as those when you run for 6 to 12 hours.
  • Its gets harder to keep going with the further you have run.
  • You need to train for the last kilometres when your legs are tired even shot, when you’re most depleted.

10. If you run a personal best marathon 4-5 weeks before the Comrades you will have a personal best marathon time. You will have jeopardised your personal best Comrades.

  • You may also set a personal best Comrades time, but that time will always be less than you could have. It won’t be the best you could have done and could leave a little hole in you.
  • Comrades training can make you very strong and feel very powerful and to some extent invincible. But all that strength can only be used for one event run at your best. Your choice is whether you want it for a marathon or for Comrades.

Running Logic-Assumptions

Excerpts from The Logic of Running©,  a work about,well, the logic of running.


Training for Comrades is simple really.

  • You need to run. Training takes place outdoors, well out of bedroom-, office-, pub- and other-distraction-doors, preferably on tar, preferably on hills.
  • Training means putting distance and strength in your legs.
  • You need to get your drinking and eating right before, during and after every run, to support your running.
  • You need to get your internal systems from the cardio-vascular to the endocrine systems in shape to support your ultra-running
  • You need to allow your body to adapt to the training
  • You have the option of doing more than merely going out on the road following a predetermined schedule in pursuit of mammoth mileage. You are not obliged to do more. It’s just a marvellous opportunity to make the most of your time out on roads and trails and finally on the run itself.


Underlying this view on training are the assumptions that:

  • Those enter and train for Comrades actually want to get to the start line and complete the event, really want to get a medal.
  • They want to do if not their very best then at least their best.
  • They understand what they can do now and work to get the strongest they can, then do the most with what their training allows.
  • Those who want to run know that marathon and ultra marathon running are extreme events that carry health risks becasue they are going beyond their design limits. They therefore know or will take steps to ensure that they are healthy enough to take on the challenge. They will equally know that training for ultras carries its own health risks that they will take steps to manage them.
  • They understand the irrational element of ultra-running is merely that they don’t know in detail why the challenge appeals to them. That irrationality isn’t something they need to apply to their training methods.
  • Runners understand that no matter how obvious a problem is it sometimes takes a lot of effort to correct it; that no matter how logical and simple the solution, the desperation of wanting to be strong enough for Comrades can, though it shouldn’t, override the rational easy solution
  • Runners understand, however vaguely that training for and running Comrades is more than just running, more than physical exercise and want to explore a little of the “more”.
  • Runners understand that the full book of training hasn’t yet been written. And even if it has, it would needs to be adapted to each of us, each of us as we train and age and enjoy.
  • All forms of running are good. There is no lesser Comrades or ultra-finisher. Bucket-list runners have a reason for running Comrades as valid as those aiming for a time-driven goal. Even the sundry masochists, chancers and other personality disorder runners are allowed and empowered to run.
  • That completing the training for, doing Comrades and getting a medal is good for your soul even if you get a blister or ten or worse.

Ultras and rationality

Running has a logic that is simple rational and gets you where you want to go.

It is possible to apply a rational logic to what can appear to be an irrational activity. The logic of running doesn’t require irrationality because the activity of ultra-running can appear irrational.

In any event all it takes to change ultra-running to a rational activity is to extend the context in which to judge it  far enough. That which in normal terms looks irrational, becomes, on a grander stage, rational.

Sometimes when running you have to remind yourself of this. Sometimes deep in training you have to take a deep breath and remind yourself of this. Sometimes deep in a long run, you should forget all this and focus on running.