Never Trust A Fisherman

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By Shaun Wewege

If you have been following my blog posts in recent months you will be familiar with my situation – a bit low on mileage, a bit out of shape, not feeling motivated and a schedule that seems to hamper training. The plan I hatched a few weeks back was to enter races, logic being that I would be forced to get out of bed, run fairly hard (I hate being the last to cross the finish line) and not be able to cut my run short.

So far the plan has worked. I have managed a few challenging events, notably the Bruce Fordyce Suikerbosrand Reserve Ultra Marathon and the first two events in the Randburg Easter 100. I managed to bump my Comrades seeding up by one group and have shed a few pounds. I’m not yet at that Twiggy level of thin but am far from the Benni McCarthyesque figure I had at the start of the year.

At this point last year I was unsure about my ability to complete the gruelling 90km between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. I would like to say that this time around I am more confident but, in fact, I still have some doubts. Last year I was probably over trained, this year I may still be a bit short on mileage. I have had a few runs where I have just not been able to move my legs a bit quicker and have had less mental focus than a goldfish.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Though I am still closer to tortoise, rather than hare, speeds over marathon distances, I have managed to shave some minutes off of my previous times. I have at least managed to complete races before they roll up the finish line and run out of post-race drinks. I have also managed to recover much quicker between long runs. Last year my legs were about as useful as raincoats in the Sahara two days after a lengthy run whereas this year I have felt far stronger.

The biggest lesson I have learned, and it’s one that most endurance athletes can easily forget, is not to be freaked out when discussing training or mileage with others. On more than one occasion during races I have chatted to folks who have spent more time on the tar than traffic police with speed cameras. People who planned to run three ultra marathons in four weeks. People who train six days out of every seven. While I know my own mileage is a little low, I refused to let their tales throw me for a few reasons.

A – I am not trying to beat them or race against them. I am doing what I feel needs to be done with the time I have available.

B – I have been exhausted and over trained before and paid dearly for it with ill-health at critical times.

C – They could be lying. One chap mentioned he was also a fisherman so I am quite confident he embellished the enormity of his training runs. Why should I change my routine to match that of someone I barely know? My philosophy is, if he or she is running at the same pace as me, then all those extra miles can’t be helping.

I prefer not to use clichés (they’re a dime a dozen), but when it comes to training quality supersedes quantity.


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