When I was in my 30s, and early 40s, life was all about running the Ultra Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. We had a large, fun loving club with the whole spectrum of running abilities. Training for such an event requires plenty of self-discipline with lots of time allocated for training (and extra sleep!). My personal training would peak at about 120k per week whilst others would hit 100 milers.
The big trick, with such intense exercise, is to listen to your body: all sorts of inner muscles are stressed, or torn, duringa long run and one needs time to heal – most of the guys that just went for mega mileage ended up at the doctor’s surgery. These days I sleep with a Garmin watch and check my overnight sleeping pulse. If it is more than 10% above my refreshed 39 pulse then I know I should not be training that day.
With so much time spent out on the road one has lots of time to both think and talk about how to change one’s world. I worked out, for instance, that running uses the same old muscles all the time with neighbouring tendons and similar lacking any attention. So, I started swimming on Mondays to stretch tight muscles and then, one day, I was talked into a cross country cycle – both so very different to plain old marathon running. The net result is that I competed in lastweekend’s All Africa Standard Triathlon at Troutbeck. Such a well organised event – so good that international, professional athletes use it for Olympics qualifying points. Nyanga is so beautiful at this time of the year and we had perfect weather for all the events on Saturday. I stayed in an out of the way cottage some 9km from the hotel – one minute there were clear blue skies with resplendent views of Nyanga Grasslands awash with Protea flowers; the next, I was driving home, in the evening, over a winding, hilly dirt road through thick clouds dipping lights to see just a few metres ahead.
200+ runners were then out early Sunday morning for the very steep, 18km Worlds View run. Great weekend – make sure, your name is placed on the entry form for one or more of the activities at next year’s event. Start training this weekend.