Why the wait is worth it…
Training for Two oceans half marathon!
Congrats! You managed to get your hands on one of the elusive 16 000 online entries for the Two Oceans half marathon and now you need to train for it. Your late night bet with a fellow runner has just turned into reality and now you need to upgrade from a comfortable 10km weekend warrior to training for one of South Africa’s premier half marathon events.
What to expect
The Easter long weekend is synonymous with the Two Oceans marathon. Tens of thousands of runners from around South Africa descend upon the Mothercity to run the most beautiful race in the world. Singlets, earphones, chamois cream and multi-coloured shoes are par for the course for the weekend that sees about 30 000 runners competing in races from the International Friendship run of 5km all the way up the 56km Ultra marathon. It’s a weekend full of excitement, nerves and enough pasta to feed a small Italian village. Its easy to get caught up in all the on-goings leading up to the big weekend which is why this race is such a big highlight in the calendar of most runners around SA and even the world. These are a few reasons why so many runners spent 2-3 hours last week waiting patiently in the queue in eager anticipation of securing a half marathon entry.
3 Ugly sisters
For many runners taking on the Two Oceans half marathon for the first time, you would of heard of the thigh burning climb called Southern Cross drive. This is indeed something to be weary of as this climb wedges itself half way into the race, leaving you quite depleted for the remainder of the run. However, the long winding route to the top gate of Kirstenbosch followed by the speedy decent to the M3/Rhodes drive robots does provide some relief on the those tired legs. You must be warned though that there are two other hills that come into play during the run. The first big climb is up Edinburgh drive which, as challenging as it is, it’s still early into your run, so your fresh legs should allow you to run most of this stretch with minimal walking. As tough as Southern Cross and Edinburgh drive are on the legs, the real knee-tester is the short stretch on the M3 thats about 3km from the finish. This small climb tests even the strongest of thigh muscles and knowing that you are so close to the finish, the mental strength is also stretched to its limits. IGNORE THE DESIRE TO WALK!
Introducing hill training into your training program will give you the competitive edge needed to take on the three hills of the half marathon. At least once a week, give the thigh and calf muscles a real workout by doing repeated hill runs over varied distance and intensities. Below is an example:
Choose a hill thats long enough to do at least 400m and that the elevation grade is about 10%. The Rhodes Memorial stretch (bottom parking lot to right bend) is between 9% and 14% gradient and ±450m.
6 x 400m @ 50% intensity
5 x 200m @ 75% intensity
4 x 100m @ 90% intensity
Total distance – ± 4km of running
If this is your first Two Oceans half marathon, the likelihood of you of securing a good seeding is slim. This unfortunately will result in you being part of the mass exodus at the start. The run/walk pace for the first kilometre can be very annoying and result in early panic as you rush to make up all this “wasted” time. Thankfully, the speed training you have been doing will come into play as you scramble to make up the lost time from the start of the race.
The benefit of pushing your anaerobic threshold through speed training will allow you to not only make up lost time for slow starts but also give you the final kick needed at the end of a race for that PB. Below is an example of speed training:
5 sets of:
500m @ 4min/km (work) followed by 500m @ 5: 30min/km (recovery)*
- based on a runner who wants to pace closer to 4:30min/km during a race.
Run the first 500m hard and then recover the following 500m with a slower and more comfortable pace. The short time spent running at your near maximal pace challenges your energy systems and conditions your body to be accustomed to running at a tempo close to but not quite all out. This type of training is generally unpleasant but results in a greater improvement is racing speed!
You have trained consistently and stuck to your training program and the benefits are paying off as you are on course for a personal best. As you charge down the finish line straight, don’t forget how you managed this feat. Yes, a great percentage of your success is due to your hard work but the crowd definitely pulls you through. Having a stranger in the crowd shout your name out, encourages the tired like no other. The sense to prove your worth in salt inspires the weary to muster up the energy and trudge on even though your body is screaming the opposite. So acknowledge the stranger in the crowd, the announcer encouraging you at the finish and the big smiles of the staff as they place that hard earned medal around your neck. Its not just race, its an experience. Its worth the 3 hour wait at your PC and its definitely worth all the time on tar, training for the most beautiful race in the world.
If you want more info on preparing for your first half marathon or whether your training program needs an upgrade, drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and lets get you that PB!