I am dividing my training plan for Comrades 2010 into three parts or phases.
Phase 1: Base building phase
This will be the first 3 months of my training, May to July, and will mostly be oriented towards bringing regularity to my running, ensuring that I am running 5-6 days a week, that too in the hot summer months. Another focus area would be to build up speed for Phase 2. I am trying to do most of the running in the mornings, unlike other seasons where it is mostly evenings, and which is a bit disruptive in the daily scheme of things. I am following Hal Higdon’s Spring training programme (Intermediate) for this phase.
Phase 2: Improve pace
The second phase is another 3 months duration, August to October. The focus in this phase would be to improve my pace so that I get a reasonable time at the Comrades. This phase will have a key element, which is to prepare well for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, which happens on Nov 1st. The target time for this would be 1:45. This will also be an incremental step towards getting a good qualifying time for the Comrades marathon (Yes, Comrades does require a sub 5 hours qualifying time, and have different gradings/starting positions for qualifiers based on their times. I would be following Hal Higdon’s Half marathon training plan (Intermediate) for this.
Phase 3: Qualifying for Comrades
This is less of a phase, and more of an intermediate goal from Phase 4. I am targeting qualification with a sub 4:20 marathon time, intending to do this at the Dubai marathon on Jan 22nd, 2010. This will place me in Batch F starters. An alternate / exceeds goal here is to qualify with a sub 4:00 marathon time, which will put me in Batch D, and saving precious minutes waiting to cross the starting line. Why Dubai, and why not Mumbai marathon (which happens on Jan 17th), from the weather statistics I can see Dubai at 15-20 degrees C, while Mumbai can be anything like 25-30 degrees C or beyond, and that I am sure will make one big difference to the qualifying time.
Phase 4: Core Comrades Training
This will be a six to seven months training phase starting November, where each and every run would be oriented towards doing well at Comrades. There are two popular training plans for Comrades available on the web.
- Don Oliver’s training plan : This is more on the lines of Hal Higdon’s plan, where emphasis is to gradually build up weekly mileage by small increments to the weekly run, and small increments to the one big long run in the weekend. Started in August for 2010.
- Norrie Williamson’s training plan : This plan is different in philosophy, advocating a variety of runs like hill repeats, track repeats, fartleks, and the load of the one big training run is spread over 2-3 runs, mostly one mid-week, and two long runs over the weekend. 2010 plan awaited.
- Lindsey Perry’s training plan: Lindsey is the Official Comrades Coach nowdays, and his plans are quite popular on the discussion forums and there is a separate section called ‘Ask the Coach’ there. Lindsey’s plans are for sub-9 hour, sub-11 hour, and a Finishers training program. Started in July for 2010.
I have yet to decide on which one to go for. All above seem to be equally popular with the running community, but I am probably more inclined towards the Don Oliver plans.