As the Marathon registrations open, I am filled with the desire to improve my running. I want to get strong and fast and fit and light and....fly.
My friend Naresh Nana, a 23 Comrades veteran from South Africa, sent me a book, ‘Run the Comrades’ written by Bruce Fordyce, the 9 time Comrades Champion, the King of Comrades. And I think....If I can replicate his program, perhaps I can do really well not only at Comrades but also at the Mumbai Marathon.
Fordyce writes that he starts training for Comrades from Jan and trains consistently until Comrades which takes place in May. That’s a 5 month training program.
For the first seven days of January he writes: “Not too serious, just ticking over – no great distance work. Try not to think of Comrades.”
This sounds very encouraging... the not too serious part...So, I quickly look-up his log-book for January (Which is printed at the end of the book) and the first week of January goes..
1st Jan: 12 km morning, Weights, 7.2 km evening
2nd Jan: 11.2 km lovely evening run
3rd Jan: Morning 8km, very hot, 8km evening easy
4th Jan: 5km morning, Weights, 6.4 km evening
5th Jan: 32 km with friends
6th Jan: Morning 9.6 km, Weights, 5km evening
7th Jan: Morning 8 km, 5 km evening (very very fast)
NOT TOO SERIOUS ?? JUST TICKING OVER ??
OoooookkkkkK ! Over 110 km first 7 days of training! So perhaps I need a back-up plan.... Well, I need ANOTHER plan.
I go over to my extensive library of Running books and pull out my old favourites, books which are considered the last word in training ingenuity:
1) Lore of Running by Tim Noakes
2) Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels
3) Brain Training for Runner by Matt Fitzgerald
4) Marathon: The Ultimate Training guide by Hal Higdon
And I am again swamped by all the terminology: Base Training, Pace Training, Threshold Training, Interval Training, Hill Training and Repetition Training... and I also look at all the charts and tables for VDOT and pacing... Even at my fastest speed for 400 meters, my values don’t even appear in these books.
And I am confused and wondering...What is the key for me or for that matter for any Novice, when he starts Marathon training? (According to me anyone who has not run over at least a dozen challenging marathons is a novice)
What is the KEY to Running? What must a guy like me, a slow back of the pack runner (who has almost zero natural ability, no speed or hill running ability) do in these first few months of training ?
What must I think, ponder, analyze, invent and infer from all these training and running masters?
I am reminded of a Parable once told by Osho:
A wise king wanted to pick the wisest man among his subjects to be his prime minister. When the search finally narrowed down to three men, he decided to put them to the supreme test. Accordingly, he placed them in a room in his palace, and installed a lock which was the last word in mechanical ingenuity. He also gave them, detailed specifications and technical drawings of the lock. The candidates were informed that whoever was able to open the door first would be appointed to the post of honor.
The three men immediately set themselves to the task. Two of them at once began to work out the complicated mathematical formulas, the permutations and the combinations, to discover the proper lock combination. They poured over the specifications and drawings.
The third man, however, just sat in his chair doing nothing. Finally, without bothering to put pen to paper, he got up, walked to the door, turned the knob, and the door opened.
It had been unlocked all the time.
Sometimes, I think that as a Novice runner there is no need to sit and ponder, think, analyze, invent or infer.
The key in the early stages of training, for a novice runner like me is to simply have the discipline to wake up in the morning, wear my clothes and shoes, push something down my throat and then turn the knob, step-out and start simply Running.