Old School

I seem to be going through my Frank The Tank stage. Click the video link and you'll get an idea. My life and Frank's seem to be inexorably linked. We both try avoid spontaneous parties and try get to bed early on Friday's for Saturday shopping at Home Depot (for Frank) / Builders Warehouse (for me). The club knows not to offer me anything with RedBull in, lest they wish to see my inner-Frank unleashed.

And yet, I go to one dinner with the Old School crew and my Frank days come flooding back to me. An Irish coffee at the tail end of a beers & steak dinner tends to get things started. I need to keep an eye on this especially as it's Cow season and Spring around the corner. Socialising picks up a bit.

One of the Old School guys, and regular attendee at the Runners monthly dinner, is a legend in the club. Mike de la Rey has done 10 consecutive Two Oceans Silvers. That's the equivalent of me becoming an astronaut in my lifetime, very unlikely. It's a sub-4 hour 56km run, and not just any run, but the Two Oceans ultra marathon. It's easier, so they tell me, to do a Silver Comrades than it is to do a Silver Two Oceans.

Mike is very helpful with his advice and was kind enough to send me his article showing you what it takes. It even looks hard on paper. So that you know, Steve who is mentioned in the article, is Mike's former running partner and organises the monthly dinner.

TEN CONSECUTIVE ‘TWO OCEANS’ SILVERS (Mike de la Rey 1996-10-04)

This article may be of some use to an interested Oceans runner:

I have chosen my best year (1989 03hrs48’) rather than my fastest (1986 03hrs47’). Training wise all ten years were much the same but in 1989 I achieved my best positions, overall (111th) and veteran (9th). The entire field (6124 finishers) was a lot slower in 1989 because of the intense heat that year. The winner and best Veteran were around 10 minutes slower than 1986. I guess at their speeds the heat takes a greater toll.

It is extremely important to remember that we all have a very different body make up and therefore training wise ‘what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander’. Individuals should only draw up basic guidelines from this article using common sense and must revise the scheme to suit their greater or lesser ability. Regarding training, I established by experimenting that I could substitute distance for speed work but only to a certain degree because for most of us mediocre runners, both are extremely important to run silver time in this race. As I got older I opted for distance as it became easier than speed work but the injury prone must be cautious of too many very long runs.

Other points which may be of value are: At no period during the year did I stop running altogether so at the start of my Oceans training I was in a reasonable condition; I have been popping multivitamin + iron pills and doing (5BX) exercises in the morning from the age of thirty, which was five years prior to the start of my running career; When I started running I also started stretch exercises before the 5BX and substituted the running on the spot section of the 5BX with my morning run. A training partner of similar or better ability is a big help! Speed-work must not be influenced by running partner (not to be dragged or held back). During hill training, never stop or walk at top of hill; get body used to recovering while running, as this is needed when racing. Every run and race was recorded (distances & times) including detailed fartlek data. My first ‘Oceans’ was one of my slowest (03h58) so I knew I had to be at least as fast at my B C C time trials, in any subsequent year, as I was at the same stage prior to my first. A big help to my training was having a dedicated reliable running partner in hill addicted Steve Weitz who always dictated the courses and without fail, went up every available f’ing hill. I cursed and threatened him every day but had to admit that in the long run (excuse the pun) it certainly paid off; It is very important to set realistic target times for the actual race and to make sure you stick to them. At sea level, a Highveld runner always feels great and is very tempted to run full bore on the ‘flat mega fast’ first 28 k’s of the race. This is a recipe for disaster and I have witnessed many running colleagues see their brown eye doing this. Good running shoes (& socks) are essential because of the rough non-slip tar and heavy camber on much of the course. Shoes should be worn in prior to the race but make absolutely sure that they are not worn out as your feet will follow suit.

Remember that this race has broken many ill-prepared runners.

I took guidelines from an article by Rod Dixon who was a very good runner in his day, and he advocated that downhill training was just as important as uphill. The article was given to me by Steve Weitz, who thought it was excellent, but never implemented it ??? Rod’s method is simple but it takes much practise and perseverance before it becomes natural and although I was fairly new to running and adaptable at that stage, it took me a long time to master it. It certainly worked very well for me especially in ‘Oceans’ and the down ‘Comrades’.
UPHILL : Shorten stride, lift feet high and breathe deeply whilst pumping with arms.
DOWNHILL : Lengthen stride, lean forward and allow your body mass (gravity) to generate your motion whilst relaxing your arms to a dangle (unclenched fist with fingers slightly apart for maximum air cooling) and your feet to a shuffle but beware of tripping!

Correctly done, this will spend energy sparingly and minimise leg pain. Don’t hold back as this uses energy and slows you down which is totally undesirable when racing. You need to conserve as much energy as possible for the latter part of this race which most of us know to be a real bitch! When you are looking for a P.B., take advantage of the down hills and don’t kill yourself going up. Remember that you can’t make up nearly as much time running fast uphill as you can if you save yourself for the down. Long legs can’t be bought but they do help! - Fartlek training sessions including 1km sprints are more suitable for ultra distance than say 400m sprints, as your body must get used to holding speed for long periods. - I firmly believe in corn syrup and used it on every ‘Oceans’. - Be sure to increase your weekly distance gradually.

The ‘Striders’ 32, approx. 7 weeks prior to ‘Oceans’, always served as a good indication of my fitness level as I used to target a P.B. The following scheme includes my ‘Striders’ training and three off flat out speed sessions per week which were ; 10.2k fartleks on Monday night and Friday morning and the Bedfordview time trial on Wednesday night. The full distance fartlek sessions only started approx. 11 weeks prior to ‘Oceans’. Greg Gunning, John Churns and myself would often race each other between one or two of the water points during our long Sunday club runs. This was good friendly worthwhile training although it did seem to annoy many of the other runners for some reason. I think they thought we were showing off?

The race times shown below are only to indicate my level of fitness at that stage. Beware of running too fast on long races during your final six weeks of training.

17 (November 1988) 97
16 110
15 INJURY 42
14 89
13 82
12 117
11 BLISS/REEBOK 21 01h22 120
10 135
09 JOHNSON CRANE 42 03h19 145
08 150
07 STRIDERS 32 02h01 62
06 PICK N’ PAY 42 02h58 63
05 124
04 160
03 136
02 SUN CITY 42 03h27 137
01 50
00 TWO OCEANS 56 03h48 87

Last run prior to ‘Oceans’ on Easter Saturday : Tuesday evening.
Friday supper : Approx. 16h30. The earlier you eat, the more chance you have of your stomach working at home, before the race. Eat anything that you like that you know won’t upset your stomach. I always had two glasses of wine with my meal.
Breakfast ‘Oceans’ morning : Two corn syrup sachets, three large bananas and 250ml isotonic drink.
During race : Coke up to the water point before 26k’s. From 26k’s, one sachet of corn syrup every 6k’s with plenty of water. Don’t drink coke with corn syrup unless you have previously tested that it won’t make you sick. Coke is not really necessary when you are taking corn syrup (Tim Noakes).

Train cautiously and have any injuries attended to immediately.

Respecting the Old School,


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