Define YOUR 2017 Maritzburg Marathon Objective

Define YOUR 2017 Maritzburg Marathon Objective.

The Witness Medihelp Maritzburg City Marathon, powered by Clover and Khayelile is six weeks away, but how you approach the next month and a half will depend on your objective for race day.

Those runners aiming for Personal Best (PB) times in the half, full or even the 10km should reach or be reaching their peak training period over the next 3 weeks.

There are many possible objectives for the Maritzburg Marathon and how it features in your longer-term goals:
* Your goal could be to record a PB – then the next 3 weeks will be your best peak weeks of training
* You require a qualifier for comrades or Oceans and you simply need to finish comfortably below the seeding or 5 hour cut off – then the next three weeks will be your largest in the overall build to the marathon, but will be around 80-85% of the peak week that you can handle in your build up to Comrades / Oceans
* The Maritzburg Marathon is simply a long training run towards Oceans (Comrades) and then it should be taken at low heart rate (about 45 minutes slower than your best marathon time) and in which case you will not have peak weeks. The race week will simply be higher distance than normal for this time.
There are other scenarios for the desired outcome of the Maritzburg marathon but the above is probably the most significant for most runners.

Those in the 21km event will tend to drop into three similar categories:
* An all-out PB for the distance – Again the next 3-4 weeks will be your peak training
* A test of marathon pace (often called a Tempo run) as part of a build to a fast marathon in March – This means the upcoming weeks are still building to peak training, which is likely to be around the Maritzburg Marathon date.
* A long slow – low heart rate run where they can share the road with other runners and have the convenience of water tables, road closures and race facilities. In this case, there is no change to the normal training week. This option takes extreme discipline by the runner in order to stay at his designated pace while others are racing alongside. Typically, this will give a time 25 minutes slower than his or her best 21km race time.

The majority of those in the 10km will (should be) going for a hard, flat out effort as it is this sustained intensive work that sets the foundation for ability at the longer distance.

The 5 and 10km distances are severely underrated in South Africa and KZN in particular. It takes only 4-6 days to fully recover from a hard 10km race, and the benefits of improving time or performance over this distance is actually the key to improvements at every longer distance.

It is ironic that the passion for distance events in South Africa and KZN has resulted in so many runners ignoring the very aspect of their training and racing that could deliver their biggest improvement in performance.. More 10km, road relays, XC and 5kms races would see a return to a greater number of sub 3 marathoners and silver medalists in Oceans and Comrades.

The above is intended to give each runner some possible ideas as to what his or her focus should / could be for the remaining six weeks.
The very first step is to clearly define what your intention is for the Maritzburg Marathon day and how it fits into the bigger picture and your long term goal.

Where there is any intent on running the distance as a PB, or even as a hard tempo (21km or 10km) then remember to plan in both a period of taper prior to the race and recovery after the race.

The taper for a marathon is typically 18- 21 days and this involves dropping from peak distance to around 60% of the peak week effort for the first week, to 40% in the second week, and around 25% of a peak week in the final days.

However, keep in mind that the race day will add in 42km so in fact that final week will jump back up to around the same sort of distance as the peak week!

The following table gives an indication of the total distance that can be achieved in a Peak week based on the ability of runners and compared to marathon times.

Tapering distances for Witness Marathon based on Max Peak weeks
Marathon times
Peak Distance
115 – 130km
100 – 120km
85 – 100km
1st week
2nd Week

From this runners can determine roughly the sort of distance they need to be doing in the next 3 weeks and also plan their taper towards race day if they are intending to the race at full level.

These maximum distances (under each marathon time) will not change when trying to peak for Oceans or Comrades, but remember that you can only peak about twice to three times a year and with around three months between.
This table will therefore also serve as a guide to stop runners from over training when they are simply wanting to run the distance at a lower effort and so their maximum weekly distance in the next three weeks should be about one category lower.

So by example if the runner has a PB of 3:22 but only wants to qualify for 3:40 Comrades seeding, then the maximum over the next three weeks will be around 100 / 110 km and the taper will follow the 4:00 hour guidelines.