Considering the planned event this coming Sunday and being in a similar position to where you are today, I thought it may be helpful to share some of my experiences in what I can only describe as an amazing personal journey… the journey to Comrades!
Whilst the pinnacle is race day, Comrades is a journey that transcends much beyond race day. It is in my mind, a truly amazing journey and one where you will in all likelihood go through a process of reflection, self-discovery and awareness of the body, mind and soul. You will push beyond the limits and boundaries that you have sub consciously set and will push your body, mind and perhaps even your soul beyond these self-imposed limits.
I think that beyond naturally gifted athletes, who are few and far between, most people who set their minds on running Comrades have distinct personality traits. Many Comrades runners would be considered Type A personalities and may even have a hint of OCD. I certainly saw this side of me when I made the decision to do Comrades. You will become extremely focussed and driven towards achieving the goal of Comrades. You will develop an extreme single mindedness of purpose, to the point where it would become obsessive.
This obsession is likely to turn your days, weeks and months ahead into one of following a strict training programme… sacrificing sleep for early morning runs… going to bed early so that you can wake up for an early run… excusing yourself from late night social and family functions due to a race or early morning workout… fatigue…diligently keeping a log-book…core strengthening exercises… stretching … deep tissue massages to avoid injury….the smell of deep-heat and …and …and. Being the type of personality who has the courage and strength of mind to undertake this journey, you will in all likelihood never throw in the towel and will not quit. The journey to Comrades will most likely consume part of your life. It will be hard balancing family, work and training, I think more so as a woman. You need to get buy-in from those close to you or it may prove to be very difficult.
You will be referred to with the irritating title of “Novice” but the support from Jozi X and your training partners will be amazing. Old Comrades stories and experiences will be told with such passion that “you will feel it” and you will realise what this race means, even for those who have done it numerous times. The passion and excitement of these stories will energise you and keep you motivated. However, despite all the support, advice and encouragement that you receive you will need to put in the hard work and hard miles. Nobody can do that for you.
I applaud you on your decision to do Comrades. The Comrades and running in general is a very humbling experience. I have been “humbled” by men and women old enough to be my parents, by runners who are overweight and by runners who look totally unathletic, many of whom have effortlessly passed me on races. Draw inspiration from those around you in the Club, but please do not compare yourself against anyone else in the Club or against any of the thousands in races. Run against yourself!
The Comrades theme for 2016 – “Izokuthoba – It will humble you” is most apt.