Sport scientist & Otter combatant Ryan Hodierne
The flat sections toward the end of the Hi-Tec Otter African Trail Run, that 42km up-and-down epic along the gazillion stairs of the spectacular Garden Route’s Tsitsikamma National Park are the nemesis of most runners, including me. By that time I am absolutely poked – but that is possibly primarily due to my lack of specific training distance and terrain.
It’s crucial to save your legs in the beginning. Walk the climbs steadily and don’t expend too much effort. Keep your heart rate down.
Save half of your Smarties for the final third of the race. This will require going through halfway with relative ease. The only way you can do that is by having a decent training base and to be technically sound on the rough stuff. You can lose a lot of time in the final stretch if you work too hard through the first 2 thirds.
Try your very best to run your own race. Don’t get caught up racing other people. The telling factor here is to run your prologue cleverly. Run too hard and you set yourself up for failure, run too slow and you will struggle to settle down on route as you will keep catching people. The idea is to run the prologue the day before at maximum speed but with minimal effort.
If you have been working on your skills over technical terrain like pebbles, sand, through low lying branches and over roots, and feel better here, you are guaranteed to shave a considerable amount of time off. Fitness counts, but fitness with added technical skills and an efficient ability over the rough stuff counts the most.
Have a great Otter!