Sub 3h15



  • VT - welcome. What marathon did you collapse at and what have you signed up for In Fall? I'm in a similar situation just done my second last week, was tracking sub 3.15 and the wheels fell off after 24, now signed up for Dublin in October and undecided on the programme to follow. I'm insulin dependent diabetic so the science is both fascinating and crucial...


  • marrowsmarrows ✭✭✭

    PJFrizzle, do you know this tiger?

    Weary 15 miles last night, with emergency poo stop and both achilles tendons blowing up (the kinvaras gnaw at them when I stop and walk so I'm back in skechers for now).  Much better this morning but still took it easy - 6M jog in to work.  I am calorie counting again to try to get back to marathon weight, not much to come off but I think it will help.

  • Marrows that is class...  He's a newbie whose pancreas still work a bit, mine on the other hand are totally gubbed! Sound like an eventful run last night, when is your race?


  • OO54OO54 ✭✭✭

    Welcome VT, you came to the right place image

  • Hi PJ. Sorry to hear about your race result. Yes, you definitely have a few extra variables to juggle. I live in the US and was running the Vermont City Marathon (was just a little over a week ago). I signed up for the Baystate Marathon which is down in Massachusetts on Oct. 19th (so am hoping for cool fall weather that day). When is Dublin held? My plan last time followed the structure of P&D in terms of LRs by week, but outside of the LR (many done as progressives) I also had two subLT sessions per week (usually 13 miles w/10 at subLT effort). The rest of the running is easy. So I ran a lot of miles at MP or faster (but luckily didn't break down). I think one benefit of all that is despite putting my body through the ringer in the race, I feel incredibly good (recovered?) just one week out. Not that I'll do any hard running (or longish runs) until the recovery period is done, but take it as a good sign I may rebound and keep a lot of what I built this past cycle.

  • VT Dublin is week after Massachusetts, so we should both be roughly at the same stages of prep. got a couple more easy weeks in recovery but like you feel fresh and struggling a bit to keep from delving into quality sessions so early. Plan is to just complete 3 runs this week then take it up a notch.


  • Leslie HLeslie H ✭✭✭

    VT- welcome in , sounds like you are nearly there with a 3:21 , it does a depend on the day much more with mara's than anything else .

    PMJ- nicely put and nice reps , onwards and upwards and 5min milling sounds good image

    Marrows - nice 15er watch those achilles.

    2 miles walked..slowly too  

    Got my 6 year old some nike's she is taking over running duties now image

  • PJFrizzle wrote (see)

    ...struggling a bit to keep from delving into quality sessions so early.


    My brain has been whispering to me too. At least I'm not the only one hearing the voices...

  • MsEMsE ✭✭✭

    hello VTr!

    marrows - what protocol are you following for your Achilles? I'm curious as mine have been chatty of late. Keep it easy as I'm sure you will. 

  • Gul DarrGul Darr ✭✭✭

    Abbers - Mablethorpe mara is on 5th Oct.
    SJ - Enjoy London.
    Mennania - yes, that must have been on one of the first few laps!
    Abbers - they all count!
    VTrunner - you're very welcome to join us - some of us are coming apartimage Unlucky with the DNF - at least you know what caused it. Will your next marathon be in time to qualify for Boston 2015?
    SB - good spot.
    PMJ - well said. Stonking reps.
    Marrows - ouch!
    Core session last night. 6 steady miles @ 7:46 m/m nearly killed me this morning. Feel like something is wrong.

  • Crikey - podcast and pin up boy all in one week. Fame and fortune at last! Rather ironic that it comes in the week when I haven't got out running since Saturday. Mrs L was on the MT podium as well!!

    Gul - doesn't sound too great. Any idea where the problem might be?

    Marrows - go easy as well. 

    VT - welcome. Just ignore all the tales of woe at the moment - we're normally quite a healthy bunch on here.

    Cracking pace there PMJ - I saw your name down on the entries for the recent vets champs at Epsom. I would have hoped to be there if we hadn't been away although definitely not flying round at your pace!

    Minni - I was thinking about Yorkshire when referring to heading down south!! How far away are you from the TdF route? Recovery permitting, I'm still planning on cycling up for it. 

    Where's that Poacher gone? Hope he's just putting the finishing touches on his report!

    Still no running for me as I've still got the remnants of whatever it was in my system. Hope to be ready for a short run / spin out on the bike by the weekend.

  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭

    Calling Achilles victims - I have a lump on the back of mine which I'm told is probably a bursa. Anything I should do other than ice/rest?  Do they go away for good or recur?  It was grumbling a little before last week so probably quite lucky to get away with just the one niggle.

  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭

    So, The Comrades Marathon – the 89th running of the world’s oldest and biggest ultra in S Africa. The direction alternates; this was a “down” run, i.e. from Pietermaritzburg in the hills to Durban on the coast. That’s about 7,000ft down and 5,000ft up over 56m.  In practice there is almost no flat ground, it’s just relentlessly up & down on tarmac.

    Training was as random as ever with travel/work/family stuff in the way. 3 x 3.2X marathons in 15 days in December was useful but I did little quality hill stuff & no core/strength work. Nor enough miles.
    Jan: 155
    Feb: 157
    Mar: 232, a good month. Jan & Mar included a few uphill (3%-5%) treadmill sessions in a hot humid hotel gym in Khartoum. Tedious at the time, but worthwhile.
    Apr: 117
    May: 103

    The only decent LRs were 1x20m & a 4hr trail mara in Mar; London (3.11) in Apr; & a 40m trail ultra in May (7hrs TOTF).  Not enough, I would have to wing it on race day, rely on experience & try not to be sh*t.

    Arrival in Durban (long flight!) last Thurs. The city is buzzing, this race is a huge deal in SA, there are runners from all over the world too. Friday is taken up with the expo & a bus tour of the course. This is chastening as 56m is a long way, it’s really hilly & rather hot.  No hiding places. Quite scared by now. Saturday is for eating, slobbing & getting kit together, I’m in bed by 1700 but sleep little until the alarm goes off at the ridiculous time of 0130. A bit of food, wrap up warm, & off to the buses at 0230 to drive to PMB.  Already a big atmosphere.

    The start is like nothing I have ever seen – a city centre, at night, with floodlights, & thousands of people getting into pens. Some optimistic, some worried. Vets & novices. Time for a schoolboy error – I lose my hotel key/painkillers/emergency cash/plasters in one of a large number of identical portaloos but find them later, phew. 

  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭

    Now one of the best bits of the day – in the countdown to the 0530 start the runners & supporters sing the national anthem, then the beautiful Ndebele song Shosholoza which is really spine tingling, some people are in tears & my eyes are definitely moist.  Google this and you will see what I mean. I’ve waited a long time for this – will I make it?  Will I be sh*t?  Then Chariots of Fire – the crow of a cockerel – a big gun is fired – and 14,620 men & women are on the move.

    It’s pitch black & the priority is to stay upright in the pack, avoid injury, not set off too fast. It’s a bit humid and within minutes I’m dripping. From the start the course undulates relentlessly. It’s some time before the sun comes up over the hills – it can only get hotter from now on.  Got to focus on keeping the right pace – you could blow the whole day by getting it wrong in the early stages.  The distance markers count down rather than up – any sign that says “ 88 KM TO GO” is going to be sobering.  Keep your nerve.

    The tyranny of Comrades is the strict cut-off times. Over 12hrs and you are not even a finisher – no time, no medal, you may as well not have been there. Medals are awarded according to time too, with cut-offs at 6hr, 7.30, 9.00 & 11.00.  The vast majority of runners finish in 10.00-11.59 but I was expecting 9.30 for bronze but would have preferred sub-9 for the much nicer Bill Rowan medal (half silver half bronze).

    The early stages are overall uphill, not always steeply so but enough to be challenging. I fall in with another Brit & we keep pace for an hour or so.  Past mara distance in about 3.50 then halfway (45km) in 4.11. This seems suicidally fast at the time but turns out to be spot on.  The other lad then falls off the pace (more later) & I’m running the rest alone. There are more big climbs after half way, the hills can be several km long and many people are walking all or part of them by now as the temperature rises.

    The race proper begins later on. Hitting the first of a lot of downhill sections is genuinely alarming – every step is smashing the feet into the tarmac/concrete & sending shockwaves through the lower body. Almost immediately old Achilles, ankle & knee ligament injuries start to grumble. It’s more painful than going uphill and the steep camber on the roads is treacherous. With 35km to go, the first signs of cramp appear & the rest of the day is going to be about managing this & the injuries while maintaining relentless forward progress towards Durban.

  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭

    By now the sub-9 finish is a possibility but the distance is coming down slowly as I’m walking even the gentlest uphill sections – also some of the downs to control the cramp. I’m drinking as much as possible  but still getting dehydrated; also taking electrolytes at every opportunity, plus salted potatoes & salted oranges (image). A man holds out a huge tub of salt so I take a handful and try to swallow it, which isn’t very clever.

    Most people are now walking or moving steadily with the classic, very slow, ultra-shuffle. I can’t do this so resort to a mixture of walking interspersed with fast running to make up time until the cramp says stop.  Half death-march, half 8m/m, sounds odd but it works.

    It’s now a question of defeating the fatigue & pain.  For sub-9 the clock says 3hrs to do 27km. Then 2hrs for 17km. It’s getting hotter and with just 8km to go the pain is such that I decide to throw in the towel and walk to the finish for a bronze medal.  But this is extending the agony – I’ve worked so hard to get this far so it’s back to walk/sprint, live with the pain, the distance is being whittled away and finally in the city centre I’m left with 25min for 2k as I approach the finish.

    Entering the Kingsmead cricket stadium is like being part of Cup Final day – noisy spectators, a big screen showing the action. It’s considered bad form to walk any of the last 300 metres to the finish so I stop at the gate & repeatedly punch the calves into submission.  Then a painful run through the crowds – stumble over the finish line – I’ve done it.   8.49.43 (gun), 8.48.49 (chip) and the Bill Rowan medal is mine. 

    Wobbly now.  Slightly disoriented.  Pain.  30 minutes just lying on the grass like a corpse, trying to drink very sweet tea.  Then I hobble off to join a load of other Brits to watch the rest of the action.  The countdowns to the medal and final cut-offs are exciting.  And there's free beer & curry! Some time later the guy I’d run with earlier finishes, he’s toughed it out but is in some distress so I seek out the paramedics who carry him away on a stretcher.  Respect, he’s left absolutely nothing out there.

    Scores on the doors: 1931/14620 overall & 120/1983 MV50. It’s the smallest medal in the world but who cares?

    Upsum: for some reason, Comrades is much harder than it looks. 56m is not an unthinkable distance; we can all run on tarmac, in hills, in heat & humidity. But put all this together with the time pressures and the race becomes far more than the sum of its parts. This was my 12th ultra and I found it relentlessly hard.

    The best aspect is the people. South Africans really embrace Comrades. The official and unofficial feed/drink stations are fabulous. Ditto the supporters & fellow runners. It’s an unique experience to be part of this.

    For anyone thinking of being there next year I’d say
    1  There’s a cost – apart from the training, it’s going to take at least a week + £1k
    2  It would be hard/impossible to do Comrades-specific training while targeting a flat out spring mara PB attempt. However, anyone with a few maras under the belt and some determination can finish.
    3  Ultrarunning is very marmite – you really do have to love the idea of it in order to take the commitment & pain to achieve your goals


  • Poacher - I am in awe. Brilliant effort and brilliant result - The honesty and detail of your report is making me question my goal of doing this one day..

    Re Achilles - Pads in your shoes, cool/heat packs and NSAIDs are what Ive had recommended but my lump is an inch or so above the bursar area and more on the tendon itself. I also put my thumb either side of it with some oil and massage it (it hurts like a bugger to start with) until the pain goes off, normally 30 secs or so. That has kept anything serious at bay but I still suffer with tightness particularly on the easier sessions

  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭


     Dead man not even walking, and all for this....



  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭

    Damage much less than expected....



  • PoacherPoacher ✭✭✭

    Diolch Menna, the lump is on the tendon rather than the heel,  might just nurse it for a bit and see what happens.  Don't let me put you or anyone off Comrades, it's very doable and any typical poster on this thread would have the ability to finish. As one of few people who have done Comrades and the GUCR, I'd say the latter is harder and far more damaging.

  • Fabulous stuff, Poacher.  I really enjoyed reading that.  Here's hoping the Achilles isn't too chatty.  Maybe treat it with some of the MsE protocol?


  • Amazing Poacher and a terrific account of what sounds more like an episode of Band of Brothers than a race.  and shout out to the Scot Ellie Greenwood that managed to keep a 6.45 pace. Just stupid stuff that. 

  • JoolskaJoolska ✭✭✭

    Fab report, Poacher.  Hope that the Achilles settles - the massage you describe is what I was told to do when I had AT problems years ago, although I didn't have a bursa.

  • GerardMGerardM ✭✭✭

    Poacher - Classic report and nice pics too. Really enjoyed reading that and you have re-affirmed my decision that to run the Comrades is a great achievement but I shall leave greatness to others. I have my eye on the Two Oceans as I love the Cape and think it's about 30km less.

  • Gul - sorry to hear of your bad experience in your marathon. I know you put in lots of effort in all the training you did. I would echo PMJ's post and just keep going and get another one booked for the Autumn. you already have all that training in the bank, so it shouldn't be too much of an ask to get back on track for the Autumn. Leicester do a marathon in October BTW.

    Great achievement Poacher, and a good report too. I guess it just touches on the wave of emotions you went through too. I think my body would give up after 26.3 miles, so big respect for going twice the distance in one go! Your feet look in good shape, although your big toe looks very big!

  • BadbarkBadbark ✭✭✭
    Rennur wrote (see)

    Badbark, thanks for that reference. I've been puzzling over nutrition (generally and pre-race) recently and that book looks interesting. Does it talk much about teaching your body to burn fat more efficiently (as opposed to simply burning simple carbs)? Good skill (since you don't need luck) on the upcoming ultra.


    Rennur – Yes that’s the idea behind fat loading for 5 to 10 days before the carbo load. This certainly suits me better than trying to eat high fat and low carb all the time.

    VTrunner – Welcome aboard! I ran between 3:10 to 3:18 in marathons for several years with about 50 miles a week training. Since (slowly) increasing my weekly mileage to about 70 to 80 I can now comfortably run sub 3. My advice to anyone would be to increase their weekly mileage including running doubles.

    PMJ – Thanks for the heads up about my mention on Marathon Talk. Very wise words in regards to your marathons and training. Nice fast reps!

    Gul – I imagine you haven’t recovered completely yet.

    Poacher – Fantastic race report and photos apart from the foot one.image

    11 miles for me this morning including 5 at MP all on grass. It all felt very comfortable and I’m glad to report that the niggle in my quad has completely cleared. 9 days until the 100k now and I can't wait.image

  • AbbersAbbers ✭✭✭

    VTR - welcome. Sounds like you're heading in the right direction with your mara times and are nearly there. Should be achievable in the autumn, all being well. Keep churning out the miles!

    PMJ - Nice 400s there. Going well at the moment.

    Marrows - careful with those Achilles. Same for MsE as well.

    Leslie - starting them young! The smallest Ms A keeps saying she wants to go running with Daddy too, but I reckon 4 might be a bit young to take her out on a weekend LSR.

    Gul - harbouring some bugs maybe?

    Poacher - epic achievement (as stated before) and love the report. You should be very proud of that Bill Rowan.

    BB - good news on the disappearance of the niggle. Keep that cotton wool well attached!

    The 1-3-2 tempo session for me again, with the 3 coming out at 19:16.

  • Excellent effort and a great report, Poacher! I do love to read a good report, gives me the chance to run all sorts of events vicariously image

    What ho, VTR, guess I'm not the new boy any more image

    Hours of pain and pinching seems to have fixed my Achilles; took ages and probably whinged a bit for about 5 years, but all is quiet now...

    BB, sounding good

    Abbers, that's a speedy 3 miles, it's looking good.

    LSR 15 for me today. Might do another 5 with MrsCH later (sloooowly!) I'm counting that as a double, BB!


    Lorenzo wrote (see)

    Crikey - podcast and pin up boy all in one week. Fame and fortune at last! Rather ironic that it comes in the week when I haven't got out running since Saturday. Mrs L was on the MT podium as well!!


    So are you going to change your forum name to Gherkin?

    Well run poacher, 10/10 for the report, 0/10 for foot photos.

  • Thanks everyone for the welcome!

    Gul, no, my next attempt would qualify for Boston 2016 I believe. But that’s fine. Just want to run it once and not particular about when that might be.

    Poacher, riveting read! Well done. I’m vicariously knackered…

    Badbark, interesting advice. Over the past couple years I tend to be in the upper 50/lower 60 mpw range. Might finally be ready to slightly up that but finding the extra time is the challenge.

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