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One of the most famous races in the world, the Comrades Marathon, is almost here! For those newbies planning on tackling the event this year (taking place on the 2nd of June 2013), here are our top nine tips to get you started.

1. This is an extremely hilly race so train for the hills. Hill training means running uphill and downhill. In many cases it is the eccentric loading of the down hill that will start to take its toll later in the race, so do hill reps with a difference i.e. sessions like 8 x 2 minutes down hill (or vice versa), then walk uphill when training.

2. Train at your race pace. This is true for all races, but especially so when the event is 90km long. The cut off is 12 hours. To get a 10-hour finish you need to average around 7m45 sec km pace. If this is your goal, learn to run at that pace. Remember that your ‘real’ race pace will need to be faster than merely looking at the distance and time available. A slow start, many toilet stops, congestion at water tables, being forced to walk due to cramps etc. will all reduce your time available.

3. In the build-up you will need to run a marathon to qualify and get your seeding identified. A standard 42.2km marathon build-up is a good way to train for this.

4. Back-to-back runs are an excellent way of getting distance in. You may wish to do say 40 minutes steady during the morning and 40 minutes steady in the evening, with longer runs on Saturday and Sunday.

5. The race starts at 05:30, so wear something warm at the start. An old long sleeved T-shirt that you can give away on the route is a great idea. Black plastic dustbin liners are good for keeping the chill off, but please don’t run in them, you run the risk of dehydrating quickly, and a wet dustbin liner is very uncomfortable!

6. The water tables on Comrades are fantastic and although you may want to carry some energy bars or gels you can pretty much rely on those water tables for all your needs.

7. Once the start settles, try to stay with a group of runners that have completed Comrades previously. You can tell from the colour of the race numbers how many times they have finished. These runners will know the route, know the endurance required, and know not to go too fast too soon. Follow and learn from them, talk to them.

8. If you want to truly “race” Comrades, it is suggested that you do the race at least once and preferably twice, once in each direction, to learn what it takes before your big attempt at a certain pace.

9. Be prepared to dig deep but be inspired by the experience.

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