Improving your Comrades Marathon seeding batch is always a hot topic of debate…
…I’ve seen runners smashing marathons as hard as they can, as late as the final weekend of Comrades Marathon qualifying to try and get into the next seeding batch in the hopes that it is going to save them a few minutes on race day.
I have no problem with you trying to get the best marathon time possible so that you can take advantage of a better Comrades Marathon seeding on race day…
… BUT there is a time and a place for everything.
The great Bruce Fordyce always says that Comrades is a selfish mistress.
Run around behind her back in the build-up to Comrades & cheat on her for other races and she’ll come back and bite you.
The opposite is also true. Focus on her alone in the preceding months and she will reward you richly on race day.
What do I mean by this?
The serious business of Comrades Marathon training starts at the beginning of March. For the next 12 weeks, your main focus should be on running consistently and staying injury-free.
If Comrades is your main goal for the year, then ANY long runs from March until Comrades are purely training runs and should not be raced.
At this stage in your Comrades Marathon training, you’re probably fitter than you’ve ever been in your life so the temptation is there to test out this newfound fitness and run PB after PB after PB…
…But you need to show restraint if you want to run your best at Comrades.
Why you should stop trying to get a better Comrades seeding
I love the quote from W. Clement Stone that reads “Big doors swing on little hinges” and it is so applicable when it comes to running Comrades.
So often it’s the small things that have the biggest impact on your training.
When it comes to training for the Comrades Marathon, the small hinge that has the biggest impact is consistency.
It’s not doing massive mileage (If you’re interested in how much mileage is enough, then have a look at our Comrades Marathon Training Mileage guide).
It’s not doing crazy amounts of high-intensity running.
It’s also not running every single day (Recovery is just as important as your training runs, watch this video to discover why)
More than anything, it’s showing up, week in and week out and doing the sessions, at the recommended paces in your Comrades training schedule. (If you don’t have a Comrades Marathon training plan, you can use one of the Coach Parry Comrades training plans here)
Week after week, month after month just focussing on consistency.
As we like to say in the Coach Parry Training Club “all you need to do is turn the blocks green”.
Injury & fatigue are the enemies of consistency
The biggest dangers to not being able to train consistently at this stage in your Comrades training are injury and/or fatigue.
Being forced to rest due to fatigue or because you’re injured, negatively impacts the positive effects of training consistently.
Racing a marathon or ultra in March, April and May compounds the potential for something to go wrong.
At best you’re going to be fatigued so you’ll need to take some time to recover…
….At worst you may pick up an injury which will jeopardise your chances of finishing Comrades. (Did you know that over 60% of those who DNF at Comrades start with an injury?)
In order to race a marathon or ultra-marathon, you should, in theory, taper in the two weeks leading up to the race.
After the race, you are going to be fatigued so some recovery is required too. It takes at least a week to start feeling normal again after a hard marathon or ultra-marathon.
By racing a marathon or ultra to improve your Comrades Marathon seeding you’re basically taking 3 weeks out of your peak Comrades training to save yourself a few minutes on Comrades Marathon race day. (If you’re really interested to know how much time you’ll save in each seeding batch then you can read our extensive Comrades Marathon Seeding Guide – it also includes how much time it takes to cross the Comrades start line.)
Your peak Comrades training is just 12 weeks. By racing during that period, you’re losing 3 of them.
That is a quarter of your peak training in order to potentially save a few minutes on race day!
But what is the solution I hear you ask? Well…
Rather do THIS instead
As mentioned earlier, there is a time and a place to improve your seeding. From the start of the Comrades qualifying window through to the end of February is fine.
After that, this is what you need to do…
…Simply focus on consistency.
Focus on that small hinge that swings big doors.
You will be much better served by training properly over March, April and May so that you are better prepared for Comrades. By training consistently over the last three before Comrades you will make up way more time on race day than a jump into the next seeding batch.
I’m not saying your seeding doesn’t make a difference. It does. But not nearly as much of a difference as training correctly will make.
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