Robert Mtshali Medal Programme


Comrades 2020 Robert Mtshali Medal Program by Lindsey Parry – Official coach of the Comrades Marathon Association:

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As with 2018, we will continue with the changes. The major change bringing the Marathon into November, this aligns better with 2 of South Africas big end of year races and also fits in better with the Northern Hemisphere Marathon Season.

Our goals for 2019 are 3-fold: 1) to continue to improve your consistency and capacity to do work 2) Make you a stronger and faster runner 3) to qualify with a sub 4:00 Marathon.

On the way to achieving the sub 4hr Marathon we will look to break the following times:

5km: 24:40
8km: 40:35
10km: 51:00
15km: 1:19:15
21.1km:  1:54:00
20 Miles/32km:   2:59:30

Moving the qualifier forward slightly means we can get into a better training groove early in 2020, opening the door to either improving your speed a bit more or doing another qualifier if necessary. Particularly with Comrades falling on the 14th of June in 2020.

For the 2020 Comrades, I have also taken into account the stats, kindly provided to me by Mark Dowdeswell and Comrades to plan the programme. The main changes will be seen in Jan to June 2020, and to plan the pacing charts.

Training for a Robert Mtshali and getting a Sub 4:00 Marathon are no Guarantee for achieving a Bronze finish. Based on my experience and discussions with runners who were not successful, this year and in past years, I have come up with a few possible reasons for this.

Your Robert Mtshali is at risk if your Sub 4hr was:

  • Achieved at Sea Level (3:50)
  • Achieved on a downhill course (3:50)
  • Achieved in temperatures lower than 19 degrees Celsius (3:50)
  • You do not follow a very strict, conservative race plan (3:50)
  • It is compounded by combing 2 or more of these factors (3:44)

(In brackets, I have put down what I believe to be more appropriate times in these conditions)

Who should follow this programme?

  • Comrades finishers who have run sub 10hrs30
  • Comrades Novices who can run a half Marathon in sub 1hr55
  • Comrades Novices who have come close to/or have broken 4hrs for a Marathon

If you do not fall into these categories then read through the introduction to the other programme options to select the appropriate programme. DO NOT follow this programme thinking that the extra mileage will guarantee a finish. The biggest single threat to you finishing Comrades is getting injured, place a premium on recovery and ensuring this through following the appropriately designed programme for you.

This programme is time based so people of more experience and greater running ability will get relatively more out of the programme and progress faster. Time based programmes also prevent you from settling on a route that you need to run faster every time you do it. It is easier to maintain discipline and run easy on the easy days. I must again emphasise here that being injury free and consistent in your training is the key to a successful race, easy days are there to ensure full recovery so you can get the most out of every days training.

There are recovery weeks built into the programme every 4 weeks, do not be tempted to do more as this will only compromise you later in the programme, leading to injury, illness and under performance in goal races.

Training days are interchangeable, if your club has Time Trials (TT) on a Tuesday or Wednesday you can swap Thursday with one of these days.

If you did not run Comrades and have been training consistently for a number of weeks already, you can adapt this programme to focus on races in September and October.

For the dates of races in your area you can go to www.runnersguide.co.za for a full fixture list.

In closing, the down run offers a unique challenge in terms of the eccentric load (Pounding). It is therefore highly recommended that you start following a strength programme now to ensure your legs are very strong come 10 June 2020.

Training Paces:

Easy (E): 5:40-6:15/km
Long (L): 5:45-6:30/km
Recovery (rec): 6:20-6:45/km
Hills: 5:06-5:13/km
800m: 3:37-3:48 (4:30-4:45/km)
RP: 5:41/km

Start at the slower end of the training paces and move towards the faster end as you progress through the coming months of training.

Enjoy the training!

Download the 2020 Robert Mtshali Medal training plan Jul - Dec 2019: Download

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8 Jul REST 40min E run  REST  35min E run   REST  45min E run  50min E run 
15 Jul REST 45min E run   REST  45min E run  REST  50min E run   1hr E run
22 Jul REST 50min E run  REST  50min E run   REST   1hr E run 1hr15 E run 
29 Jul  REST  10min E; 4x2min hills; 10min E REST   

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