11Global Triathlon

Get to Comrades Injury -free

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Most
injuries incurred during this crucial period leading up to Comrades are most
likely to be from doing too much or not listening to your body. Remember,
almost all running injuries are gradual in progression. They become gradually
and progressively more debilitating through various stages and it’s important
to recognise when treatment is required.

 

At
this stage of your Comrades training, it is common to become more aware of
every niggle or ache. The pains that appear after a run, or at the start of a
run but settle quickly, will often respond to self-management, namely rest, ice
and stretching. Professional treatment should be sought as soon as possible if
the same pain presents every time you run, if it gets progressively worse as
you run, interferes with the way you run, or prevents you from running.

 

Complete
rest is seldom the best treatment, as the pain can return once running is resumed
even after an extended rest period. It is often possible to continue training
within the limits of pain while having treatment. However, rest is required if
the pain is present even during normal activities, or in the case of a stress
fracture.

 

CONSISTENCY AND TAPERING ARE KEY

By
now you should have completed your last long run and started your taper for the
big day. Consistency is essential to making it to Comrades and a successful
finish. Sometimes pushing through fatigue is needed to achieve your goal, but
it’s better to know your body and to recognise when it’s safer to back off and
rest. So tapering is an important part of your training, and the higher the
volume and the intensity of your training, and the longer the event you are
preparing for, the longer the taper. Considering the training for Comrades and
the length of the event, a four-week taper is advisable.

 

During
training, your muscle power diminishes and muscle fatigue increases. Tapering
minimises the negative effects of long distance running, reducing fatigue on
race day and greatly reducing your chance of injury. Your muscles get a chance
to repair all the micro damage caused by the high mileage. The taper makes you
physically stronger on race day and helps you perform to your optimum. Tapering
will also strengthen your immune system, making you less susceptible to a
pre-race cold. It also helps to eat a balanced diet.

 

Some
runners use this time to sharpen up by increasing the pace of their running.
This should only be done if speed work is a regular part of your training, and
should be done at a decreased amount. Novices should rather use this time as a
recovery period and as a means to simply keep your legs moving, limiting the
chance of injury. Not tapering serves no additional benefit except risking your
final result. Listen to your body. Don’t worry about missing a training workout
if you are feeling tired or sluggish.

 

The
gradual build-up and consistent training over the last few months is what gives
you a successful finish, not the training during the taper period. Having said
that, even if your training has not gone perfectly to plan, now is not the time
to try make up lost mileage – it will not improve your fitness for Comrades,
and will likely end badly, whether it be an injury or tired legs. Remember,
it’s better to get to the start undertrained than overtrained, or worse,
injured.

MORE ESSENTIAL ADVICE

?        
Avoid all other activities that have a high potential
for injuries, and definitely don’t introduce new activities. Now is not the
time to participate in sports that may end your Comrades before you even get to
the start, e.g. soccer, mountain biking, etc.

?        
If you are worried that your shoes are a bit worn,
it’s probably still better to settle for your old, tested shoes than buy a new
pair too close to Comrades. This is also definitely not the time to try a new
brand of shoe, or to get new orthotics.


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