'Add strength training to succeed at Comrades Down Run' - Lindsey Parry
While talking to room packed with runners aiming to complete the 2022 edition of the race, official Comrades Marathon coach Lindsey Parry was at pains to emphasize the importance of strength training for those who want to enjoy a successful outing on August 28. The 95th Comrades Marathon which takes place for the first time since 2019, will be the 47th Down Run in the 100-year history race. And Parry says the key to doing well on the 90km from Pietermaritzburg to Durban is to spend more time on strength training during the next 10 weeks.
"Whenever people come to me and they want to train more, I always encourage them to add strength training first," he told scores of runners in attendance at the Central Gauteng Comrades Roadshow hosted by the Run Zone Athletics Club at the Randburg Golf Club. "After climbing 1100 metres in the first half of Comrades, you then get the long road from Hillcrest into Pinetown - Field's Hill. And that's literally the stretch of road where we want strong quads, strong glutes and you can get that from strength training. I would say for the Down Run you want to make time for this."
Parry's advice is targeted at 95% of the Comrades field who will compete the race in seven and a half hours of more. A sub 3-hour marathon runner himself and coach to top runners such as Olympian Sbusiso Nzima, Parry says most Comrades runners only need to train a maximum of four days a week and then try and fit in two additional weekly sessions of strength training.
In addition to spending more time in the gym, he also spent time labouring the issue of injury prevention. With the shift in the traditional Comrades date from June to August, Parry says the new high mileage season now begins on the 1st of June during which time athletes must do everything they can to avoid injury. That can be done by sleeping well, having good nutrition, allocating rest days and making sure that you are doing the correct amount of mileage based on your time goal.
Whether the plan is 45km-50km a week for sub-finish; 50-65km for Bronze; 60-70km for Robert Mtshali; 75-80km for Bill Rowan or 100-120km for Silver the Comrades Coach suggests that 85% of this mileage be completed at what he calls talking pace. This is done to avoid the injury that comes more intense sessions of hard running.
"Speed is not the thing that's going to prevent you from finishing Comrades. But the your speed work and hill work - those are your highest single risk for injury. Don't be too concerned with intensity. Be very careful about when you add and how you add it. Rather focus on building consistently because your long runs are the ones to prepare you mentally and physically for what you are going to do at Comrades," he explained.
For more Comrades coaching tips from Parry visit: https://coachparry.com/