Are We There Yet?

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By Shaun Wewege

At the time of writing there is less than one week until the start of the 2012 Comrades Marathon. While tapering and take it easy is a welcome relief from early morning runs, mental strain is one that begins to take its toll. Have I trained enough? Were my sessions a respectable quality? Have I over or under trained? I have found that a glass of wine or beer helps relax these fears but it is rather difficult to sneak a quick drink at the office or in a queue at the bank.

I always chat to runners who have run Comrades and although this can be a dangerous thing to do, particularly if you fall into the trap of comparing your training to theirs, you pick up some good advice. Don’t dawdle at water points and try beat the early cut-offs with a fair amount of time to spare are a few tips I was given recently. I was also told that any runner who is not unnerved by the task ahead is either totally unprepared and uninformed or perhaps needs to visit a psychologist. I must admit, this made me feel a great deal better. I would have thought that crossing the line once would give me steely resolve yet I write this post as concerned and uncertain as I was at this time last year.

Still, limited experience is better than none at all and my expectations this time around are probably a bit more realistic. I might not join a bus but will certainly be mindful of where they are. It turns out that I am a rather anti-social runner who prefers solace. I find this odd – you would think gingers would only be too happy to have people to speak to. I might take a more scientific approach and keep a laminated card with cut-off points and times so that I can better stick to a schedule.

Last year I ran wildly and was never quite sure where I needed to be to keep ahead of the cut-off. I have also managed a season of running without drinking fizzy drinks that are dished out at water points. I found this has helped me feel stronger while running though it does mean I have to carry sachets of powdered energy drinks. It’s not convenient, but I highly doubt the extra few grams are what will keep me off the podium.

At this stage the best I can do is avoid illness or injury and try not to pack on any unnecessary kilograms. Though my training has tapered, my appetite most certainly has not! I plan to use my ravenous need for food to my advantage though. Once again, I have promised myself a reward in the form of an eisbein and beer.

You would think a finishers medal would be all the motivation one needs but after a few months of keeping portion sizes in check and avoiding restaurants that serve rich cuisine, a large chunk of meat and beer that is served in a glass that is bigger than my head is not to be sniffed at.

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