muzhingi5h23

Words of a Comrades Winner

Everything is Happening!!!!

This may sound a little far fetched but this is in fact what has happened in thelast 6 weeks.

My passport expired in December 2010, so I had to get a new one, and with getting a new passport, when I went to South Africa to finish my training I only got a 3 month visa. So this expired on 1 May 2011, so I would have to leave the country and then re-enter. We drove from Durban to Swaziland to cross the boarder, and then discovered my visa had in fact expired, so had to pay a fine of R1000.00. I have to say the officials didn’t give any lea way or care that I was the defending Champion. I do give them credit, they were only doing their job.

They gave me 31 days on this visa. So my Visa would expire on the Tuesday 31 May. Tuesday came and I had to leave the South Africa or pay another fine, and I didn’t want a black mark on my name as it may hamper visa applications down the line.

So unfortunately I had to leave SA in a bit of a hurry. I arrived at home and things were great. Had a reception which was put on by Bakers Inn. My coach and manager wanted me back in SA for sponsors etc. My family was reluctant to let me go, but I had no choice, as this is my career, my job. So I made the trip back to SA for the awards ceremony for my club, as well as to get my new sponsored car from Barrons VW. (Nice car indeed)

Coach and I then had to drive back to Zimbabwe with my new car, name on the side and all the nice things. He had to drive with me as it is as long way and I haven’t driven on my own for such a distance. Once back in Zimbabwe, we stopped at a cross roads.

Attempted hi – Jacking

Coach was looking in one direction and out of no where two guys rush up to the car and start trying to open the door, which was locked, and then started banging on the window. I just shouted “Coach my car, my car, drive, go go go go go go.” He then seriously drove, and for the next 30 minutes we were in a bit of a state of shock. I hear of car jacking in SA, but not really in Zimbabwe. The way these guys were knocking on the window, I knew they weren’t just trying to greet me, THET WANTED MY CAR!, Sorry for them, they were unsuccessful. A South African friend said to me once – “Africa is no place for sissies (the weak).” Its sad to think that people out there would rather just take from another persons hard work!

Coach then returned to SA, and I have been resting and spending time with my Family and friends.

The Zim Government have promised me a diplomatic passport and cash incentives for winning, so lets see what transpires from this. It would be great to be recognised in this way by my Country.

In case you didn’t know as yet, I received an Invite to New York Marathon in November. Running this and hopefully doing a PB of sub 2H10 will just cap off a great year for me, and will go down as the greatest year of my life.

My first race outside of Africa will be in September where I will be running in Switzerland. That’s going to be great too. Will let you know how we get on there.

So a lot has happened since beginning May 2011, and it keeps coming! Who knows what tomorrow brings??????

Until next time

Stephen Muzhingi

3 Time Comrades Winner (I like to say that 🙂 )

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June 23, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

New York Marathon – WooHoo

Hi, Just an update, i received the second best news of my running a couple of days ago. I have been invited as an Elite Athlete to participate in the New York Marathon in November this year.

Wow, this is like a dream come true. I have never had the speed to qualify for this status, but since winning 3 Comrades I have neen included.

All I can say is thank you to NYRR for the invitation, and to Craig for making this happen for me.

I do have a Sub 2H20 marathon time, but have never really raced a martahon properly, so this will be a true test for me. Nevertheless my aim is to run a 2H10 or sub at NY, which I know I can do.

Thank you and please continue to support me on this new quest.

Cheers

Stephen

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

More on Me & My Support

When I started running it was because I loved it, and I wanted to be the best. Yes I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to make a living from it. For me running is my job, but first and foremost I run because I love it. As a fellow runner, one can identify with the fact that the sense of joy, and feeling so proud and fulfilled when you run a Personal Best time, or even a finish position cannot be taken away from you. Running is a complete leveller, as it is you against a clock.

 

I have worked hard to get where I am right now in my career, and it is not without the help of others, but ultimately my desire and passion to keep improving each and every time i lace up the shoes. Your job should never feel like a job. My manager said to me once, that if I ever feel like running is a burden and I feel like this is just a job, then I should quit and do something else. This i find so true, as if you don’t enjoy what you do and it is a burden, then why do it at all. You have to love what you do to do it well.

 

I have spoken about my Coach in previous blogs, who has helped me achieve on the road, and continues to do this. There are others with me now making sure I make the right choices and receive what I “rightly” deserve.

After my 2009 Comrades win, my coach introduced me to my now Manager Craig Fry, as for Cliff he is first and foremost my coach and has other athletes too, so could not sacrifice all his time to do everything for me.  So I signed a contract with Craig to look after and manage my business affairs. The things like, sponsors, media, marketing and my finances. At the time I thought well, what do I need this for, I can just keep doing what I do. I have to say that now I can and have seen the importance of a professional athlete being taken care of with all the other things that go on.  One statement he said to me I will never forget, “We will never chase money, unless its is for the benefit of your  career, and does not negatively impact on your running. “

I have a great relationship with my manager and i don’t see him as someone that works for me, but someone that cares for me, and has my best interests at heart.  I have complete trust in him. Yes I always have the final say with things so I am always in control of my own destiny, but have guidance to hopefully make the right choices.

 

I never knew how difficult it all was. I spent a few days with him and all day he is on the phone and internet , e-mail, etc all day,,,,,,  all for me.  HEY I didn’t realise I was a full time job, HAHA. Since setting up my twitter, face Book and Blogs, I have learnt how to use a computer, and do these fun things. Although its fun, and this is how I see it, I have been completely blown away by the amount of people that send me messages and want to know about me. For me this is just awesome.

 

Since winning my 3rd Comrades just under a month ago, things have certainly stepped up. New potential sponsors, and race invites. I have even been promised a diplomatic passport by my Country, and promises of incentive payments from various companies. So all good things are on the horizon, and hopefully I make the right choices to benefit me and my family.

 

For me I know I am in good hands, which allows me the freedom to not worry about anything, and just run, and that is what I am going to do, JUST RUN, RUN, RUN until I don’t want to.

 

So watch this space and I will let you know more as we go

By the way you can also see info on me on www.squidoo.com/stephen-muzhingi – Very nice indeed.

Happy running all!!

Stephen Muzhingi (I have to add this below)

3 Time Consecutive Comrades Marathon Winner

2009, 2010, 2011

June 19, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

#Muzhingi Newspaper Reports #comrades 2011 Slide Show!

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Comrades 2011

Comrades 2011
On Friday before the race I was contacted by a representative from Bakers Inn in Zimbabwe and they advised that they would make arrangements for my Wife and Baby to come to Comrades race day and be there for me at the finish. Initially they weren’t going to come but I then felt I would like some family there for me. So this helped me get very focused and determined as I didn’t want to let them down. So the arrangements were made and they paid for everything, which I am eternally grateful for. Thanks Guys
Race Day!!!!
I woke up early on Sunday morning, not that I slept much anyway, around 2H30. Did the normal routine for race day and then it was off to the City Hall in Durban. Once I arrived there I ran a few laps of the hall and got the muscles warmed up. The nerves started to kick in. Having my Coach and Manager there really was a huge help as their support and belief in me kept me from thinking too much.
05H30 was standing in the front of the field. The SA National Anthem was sung, the traditional cock crow, and then the gun. We were off. The pace for the first 2km was really fast and I think we went at about sub 3 min per km, before we settled down into a decent stride and rhythm.
We were running in a big bus with about 25 to 30 guys, and you could feel how each one was eyeing out the others, sizing up who was going to be there at this pace for the long haul. Most of the top ten would come from this bus. But you always knew that the Bus just behind was also a threat as some of the top guys started at a slower pace and would make a surge from 70km. But that didn’t really concern me as I had a good team of seconds on the road who would advise me of any surges coming later on. My main concern was that I ran at my planned pace and had to not get sucked in to the early surges from the guys trying to burn me out early. But being the current Champion I did take a lot of confidence that the guys around me were probably more concerned what I would be doing, so I kind of blocked everything out.
I was very focused, so want to apologise to any friends out there that cheered me on during the race, that I wasn’t ignoring you I was very focused and concentrating on my task at hand, but I do hear when you call out words of encouragement.
I did struggle to get a rhythm going, as I was feeling a little uncomfortable, but worked really hard to get the breathing, arms and legs going all at the same time, this came right at about Pinetown, where I saw my seconding team for the first time. Wow the crowds through Pinetown were awesome as well as going out of Durban. Although you are concentrating, you do notice the crowds, trust me.
Fields Hill – This was the first real climb of the day, and we would soon see who was there with their “A” game. As we started the climb a surge came on, and I stuck to my pace, it was early in the race. It was a hard climb, but nevertheless it was early in the race. A few guys fell off the back, and this is when I noticed Fanie, he looked very determined and strong.
Going through Hillcrest my stomach felt bad, and I did vomit, but after that I was 110%, and felt comfortable. The pace was really fast, and I looked at my watch and could see that we were about 4 minutes faster than scheduled. But I had prepared for a fast race and stuck to it. As we started to climb out of hillcrest I knew then that Fanie was the one who would be with me for the long haul.
I think at this time we both knew (Fanie and myself) that it would be between he and I at the end. We flew up to half way and most of the guys fell back or off the pace. I kept the pace and ended up going through half way 7 minutes faster than planned.

Half Way to Finish:
I knew this would be one of those races if I took my foot off the pedal and let Fanie get away and rested a bit, that it would be very hard to catch him again. I was very keen to break the record, but going at this pace it would be hard to do this. Securing the win was more important. We got to the top of Inchanga and made the right turn towards Harrison Flats. I remember thinking to myself that this man is strong and I am going to have a real “street fight” now. The plan was to run Half way in 2H48, and then from top of Inchanga would turn it on and go home in 2H44.
Coach told me to hold the pace and recover down into Cato Ridge. I was told the 3rd place guy was Claude Moshiywa and he was 6 minutes behind. So no real threat at the pace I was running to have a threat from behind.
Cato Ridge came and went and we were on our way to Camperdown. I was well rested now and ready for the climb out of Camperdown. The third Hot Spot mat was looming and you could see it. Fanie increased the pace and I went with, and we ended up sprinting for this and he crossed the mat by about half a second before me. Ok so that crazy part over, and the pace decreased but only slightly. Fanie has a good coach, in John Hamlett, and he is a very clever and a good tactician, and this Fanie was sticking to. Went through Camperdown and the crowds were huge and the noise was unbelievable. I thought I would go hard at the Climb out of Camperdown to see what Fanie had left in him. He stuck to me up this, to my surprise. We made our way to Umlaas Road, and past the Highest Point on the route.
So only climbs left were little Polly’s and then the BIG ONE, Polly Shortts! But I had about 10km of down and flat section to recover and get some supplements in. Going past the Chicken Farm, Fanie put on a huge surge. We were probably going at about 3 minutes a km. I thought I would let him do the running here and just check his every move, as this would play on his mind, and may break him mentally. Past Lion Park and down the hill, I could feel the pressure, and sensed Fanie getting a little uncomfortable. At this time I knew I would get away up either of the climbs but Fanie has guts and determination, so I knew he would come back. So I would have to keep going at this crazy pace.
I maintained the pace that Fanie set and to my surprise he started falling behind. I knew I had to keep going, and that this was my chance to get away. He could be falling behind on purpose to get some strength for the climbs ahead. I decided to carry on, so if something bad happened I would have some breathing room to recover. Little Polly’s was hard and my legs were feeling heavy. But as you get to the top at Ashburton the crowds were so noisy that although you want to walk you know you can’t as these people have come out to cheer you on, and you don’t want to disappoint.
I recovered down the other side and then the 1.8km Polly Shortts monster was upon me. I remember thinking that I would kill myself up this hill but I won’t walk. This is make or break time, and where Champions are made! I worked harder than have ever worked, and got to the top on my own. I had opened a sizeable gap now, and checked the time and it was here that I knew that the record was out of reach. Went past Market Road where I took on some ice cold water which woke me up.
One forgets about the slope from bottom of Market Road, and this felt like running up a mine shaft, but the end was close and I just had to put out any negative thoughts and pain I had. I knew my family was at the finish for me, and my country was supporting me so I just kept my head and dug deep to keep going.
I knew Fanie was coming back and was putting in a surge. I entered the last mile and down into the Stadium. Wow, what a feeling, I was tingling and felt pretty emotional with all of this. I thought please don’t trip when you get onto the grass! I then have my biggest fear play through my mind, and that is being passed whilst in the Stadium, so I moved my legs as fast as they would go, and as I turned the last corner I saw the finish tape and all the officials and cameras behind it.
The noise was just awesome and I forgot just how sore my legs were for this brief time. It was over! Crossed the line and one cannot explain how you feel. Relieved, happy, ecstatic, and if I am being honest you don’t want to cry out of pure joy.
My wife came up to me with my baby, and this was just the icing on the cake. I hadn’t seen them for 4 months. But I was finished in every way, so I had to sit down with my baby for a few seconds.
Fanie finished and I must say that I have huge respect for him, as he ran a great race and pushed me to limits that I didn’t know I could achieve. So I learnt a lot from this race.

I would like to thank all my supporters, coach, and Manager for everything thye have done and continue to do for me.

Most of all thank you to my beautiful wife and baby who I adore.

Cheers

Stephen

June 2, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is it Possible to Run a 5H10 Comrades?????

I was asked the other day, if I though it was possible to run a 5H10 Comrades Marathon? This got me thinking and I am sitting on the fence here. (I do think from time to time, despite what some of my friends may say, or tell you). 89km in 5H10! hmmmmmmm

Well if i said it wasn’t possible then I would probably be lying as anything is possible if you have the right frame of mind and the right training, you can do anything. If we take into consideration that to run a 5H20 which is the current Down Run record, which is held by Leonid Shvetsov, the man was in prime physical condition and the weather conditions on the day were almost perfect.

One had to run at a pace of in the region of 3 minutes 40 per kilometre. Which is a tough ask over that distance. But it was done, and not many at the time thought it was possible to run a 5H20. That was in 2007 and I came in 3rd.

If we look at the times of winners over the years, 85 of them to be precise these have come down from 8H59 (the first race 1921 Bill Rowen) to the 5H20 mark in 2007. The first time the 6H00 mark was broken was in 1975 by Derek Preiss, 5H53.49, and in the last 34 years the average winning time has only come down by 25 to 30 minutes. If we take this into account it would probably take another 20 odd years to get to the 5H10 mark. Yes these days we have supplements and energy boosters etc to assist us, but back in the 80`s there weren’t all these funny gels etc, so what makes the accomplishment of Bruce Fordyce so good, is that he was running consistently in the late 5H20 and early 5H30 bracket, with water and coke!

To run a 5H10 one would have to run on average 3 minutes 18 per kilometre over 89km, which is pretty much at almost full pace for the elite athletes, and not even on the radar for the average runner. So almost near impossible.

But, ahhh yes there is a but! And I am probably going to get beat up for this by the serious analysers of Comrades, I do think that within the next couple of years the 5H18 mark will be broken which will see a whole new ball game come into play going forward. Athletes train harder each year and this pushes everyone else to do so. In times gone by one would start training 6 months in advance but now days training starts almost 8 months in advance.
Is the key then to start training 11 months in advance, without running the year before?
In my humble opinion I think it is not possible in my lifetime to see the 5H10 mark achieved but I do think that the 5H15 mark will be achieved within the next 10 years!

I have included below a table of winning times, which was supplied from the Comrades Marathon Association, museum curator, Sian Theron. It just makes for interesting reading.

3 and a half weeks to the big day!

Cheers

Stephen

Year Race No. Name Up/Down Record Time
2010 55925 Stephen Muzhingi D 5:29:01
2009 55925 Stephen Muzhingi D 5:23:27
2008 49670 Leonid Shvetsov U R 5:24:47
2007 49670 Leonid Shvetsov D R 5:20:49
2006 49673 Oleg Kharitinov U 5:35:19
2005 51570 Sipho Ngomane D 5:27:10
2004 39358 Vladimir Kotov U 5:31:22
2003 14084 Fusi Nhlapo D 5:28:52
2002 39358 Vladimir Kotov U 5:30:59
2001 35782 Andrew Kelehe D 5:25:51
2000 39358 Vladimir Kotov U R 5:25:33
1999 4889 Jaroslaw Janicki D 5:30:10
1998 4673 Dmitri Grishine U R 5:26:25
1997 1741 Charl Mattheus D 5:28:37
1996 4673 Dmitri Grishine U 5:29:33
1995 6845 Shaun Meiklejohn D 5:34:02
1994 5802 Alberto Salazar U 5:38:39
1993 1907 Charly Doll D 5:39:41
1992 7532 Jetman Msutu U 5:46:11
1991 13617 Nick Bester D 5:40:53
1990 2403 Bruce Fordyce U 5:40:25
1989 6051 Samuel Tshabalala D 5:35:51
1988 2403 Bruce Fordyce U R 5:27:42
1987 2403 Bruce Fordyce U 5:37:01
1986 2403 Bruce Fordyce D R 5:24:07
1985 2403 Bruce Fordyce U 5:37:01
1984 2403 Bruce Fordyce D R 5:27:18
1983 2403 Bruce Fordyce U R 5:30:12
1982 2403 Bruce Fordyce D 5:34:22
1981 2403 Bruce Fordyce U 5:37:28
1980 1704 Alan Robb D 5:38:25
1979 1834 Piet Vorster U R 5:45:02
1978 1704 Alan Robb D R 5:29:14
1977 1704 Alan Robb U R 5:47:09
1976 1704 Alan Robb D 5:40:43
1975 417 Derek Preiss U 5:53:50
1974 417 Derek Preiss U 6:02:49
1973 475 Dave Levick D R 5:39:09
1972 307 Mick Orton U R 5:48:57
1971 303 Dave Bagshaw D 5:47:06
1970 303 Dave Bagshaw U R 5:51:27
1969 303 Dave Bagshaw D R 5:45:35
1968 9 Jackie Mekler U 6:01:11
1967 168 Manie Kuhn D 5:54:10
1966 62 Tommy Malone U 6:14:07
1965 300 Bernard Gomersall D R 5:51:09
1964 9 Jackie Mekler U 6:09:54
1963 9 Jackie Mekler D R 5:51:20
1962 300 John Smith U 5:57:05
1961 184 George Claassen D 6:07:07
1960 9 Jackie Mekler U R 5:56:32
1959 17 Trevor Allen D 6:28:11
1958 9 Jackie Mekler U 6:26:26
1957 19 Mercer Davies D 6:13:55
1956 5 Gerald Walsh U 6:33:35
1955 5 Gerald Walsh D 6:06:32
1954 2 Wally Hayward U R 6:12:55
1953 2 Wally Hayward D R 5:52:30
1952 17 Trevor Allen U 7:00:02
1951 2 Wally Hayward D R 6:14:08
1950 2 Wally Hayward U 6:46:25
1949 7 Reg Allison D 6:23:21
1948 15 William Savage U 7:13:52
1947 41 Hardy Ballington D 6:41
1946 44 Bill Cochrane U 7:02:40
1940 67 Allen Boyce U 6:39:23
1939 92 Johnny Coleman D R 6:22:05
1938 41 Hardy Ballington U R 6:32:26
1937 92 Johnny Coleman D R 6:23:11
1936 41 Hardy Ballington U R 6:46:14
1935 44 Bill Cochrane D 6:30:05
1934 41 Hardy Ballington U 7:09:03
1933 41 Hardy Ballington D 6:50:37
1932 15 William Savage U 7:41:58
1931 45 Phil Masterton-Smith D 7:16:30
1930 2 Wally Hayward U 7:27:26
1929 26 Darrell Dale D 7:52:01
1928 2 Frank Sutton U 7:49:07
1927 77 Arthur Newton D 6:40:56
1926 17 Harry Phillips U R 6:57:00
1925 77 Arthur Newton D R 6:24:00
1924 77 Arthur Newton U R 6:58:00
1923 77 Arthur Newton D R 6:56:00
1922 77 Arthur Newton U R 8:40:00
1921 23 Bill Rowan D R 8:59:00

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Comrades Build Up

My build up and preparation towards Comrades 2011 began in November 2010, where I ran the Township to Township 50km race in Durban. I then went back home to Zimbabwe for a few months to be with my family, as well as to do my “Zimbabwe training,” which I do every year. I pretty much follow a training programme based on Mileage for stamina, Strength training and then lastly speed work.
Although Comrades is run every year, the Up and Down runs are completely different and I do very different training dependant on which direction the race is going. The Up run is all about strength and stamina, so I have done a lot of strength training and included the speed endurance side of things. It has been a hard 6 months of total dedication where all I do is concentrate on running and have little time for anything else. My family plays a big part in my preparation for Comrades as I am not able to spend quality time with them during the preparation months and for this I am eternally grateful.

My Coach (Cliff Chinnasamy) and Manger (Craig Fry) have equally important roles in my life. The Coach from keeping me on track and making sure that I develop and peak at the right time, and not to soon and not to late. The timing has to be just right. My manager takes care of all my business such as making sure I have the right shoes and kit from my sponsor, Nike and that I have the correct supplements to keep my body from breaking down from the stresses and strains of training. He also makes sure that I am able to have an income so there is little for me to worry about.

Winning in 2010 was a lot harder than winning in 2009, despite the fact the Leonid Shvetsov was not running. The mere fact that I was the defending Champion so the expectation from most was that I would win again. There was a lot of media exposure which I wasn’t used to at that time, and on race day many of the top athletes were watching my every move. But as they say, thats all History as I overcame all the pressures and know what to expect this year. I do however think that the competition will be very stiff this year, as everyone wants to win the “Ultimate Human Race” and all the top guys have trained harder than ever.
Initially I was concerned with the contenders from East Africa, (Kenya & Ethiopia), but seeing what happened at Two Oceans last weekend I don’t think these athletes will be a big threat. Make no mistake, athletes that come from these countries are of the best in the world, but that is over the Marathon and shorter distance races. Comrades is more than Two Marathons in one race. I would say the biggest threat will come from the Russians, and from the local guys, such as Bongmusa Mthembu, Claude Moshiywa, Petros Sosibo, Prodigal Khumalo. One can never write off an athlete like Fusi Nhlapo – the man has had 9 starts at Comrades and has achieved 1 win and 8 top ten places. So the competition will be steep but on the day the best prepared athlete will win, and I hope to be that athlete.
I have not finalised the race plan as yet, but will do so now that Two Oceans is out the way. I now have a good idea as to where I am since Two Oceans, and we can now get the strategy finalised. I watch previous Comrades Races at least twice a week, which helps with my mental preparations as well as studying other athletes so on race day I am mentally 110% ready and from simple body movements of the other athletes I know how they are feeling and what they are going to do, so can counter what they do during the race.

Two Oceans last weekend was very good for me, as I ran a personal best time by two minutes. I had a time of 3H08 – 3H09 in my mind and I knew if I ran that time I should be in the top 5 places at the end. Although I finished really strong I did hold myself back a bit as I didn’t want to hurt myself for Comrades. But since the race I feel like I haven’t even run a 56km race a few days ago, so I am really happy with how I feel at the moment. After all from the Comrades runners that took part at Oceans, I was the first home, as well as in 2009 and 2010 so maybe a good omen.

Since signing up for twitter and face book and have my own blog, I have been completely overwhelmed by the support I have received from the public. The amount of wishes and messages I received after Oceans has really made me feel pretty special, and to receive this type of support fires me up to want to win Comrades, not only for me, but to give something back to all the people that support me and have shown their faith in me. One thing about me is that I love top make people smile and be happy, so if I win again, then I know that I will bring smile to many faces. So to everyone that has supported me I will give 200% this year that I can assure you.

On Comrades day you can follow live updates from my Face Book and Twitter sites and this I have arranged for my followers and friends. I am doing this so my friends can get exactly what is happening as it happens, so hopefully you will see another part of what goes on during the race.
A huge thank you to all my sponsors, Nike, 32GI, Rudy Project eyewear, Future Life, Bluff Meats for their support and most of all to my followers and supporters, thank you.
What I really want if I win Comrades this year is a new Double Cab vehicle! Lets see!
All the best

Stephen Muzhingi

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

A Good Race

I have been running for some years now, and the 2009 South Coast Marathon is one race that stands out in my memory. There are many but this one came to mind.
I had won my first Comrades Marathon that year and had taken a couple of months off to recover. If I remember correctly the race was in October and I really wasn’t in any great shape, ad I had done little or no running since Comrades. But as I was still in Durban with the team, the Coach wanted us to attend this race as start of my preparations for 2010 Comrades.
The race started in Scottbrough, South Coast Kwazulu Natal, and goes up the coast towards Durban, finishing in Amamzimtoti. Its not the easiest course to run as all the way up the coast is rolling undulating hills, but as you pretty much run along the coast line it has great scenery.
I started this race not expecting much, but I did want to have a good showing as this was the first race with my new sponsor Nike. As I was Comrades Champion the guys in the front of the race were putting on the surges early and I have to admit I was struggling to keep up. At the 15km point I had dropped off the lead pack and was about 2 minutes behind. The thought did cross my mind to just pull out.
I came past my coach at about 17km and I saw his face, and he was not impressed with what was going on. As I came past to collect an energy drink, he said to me “Muzhingi are you running the mens race or the women’s race, because the women are going to beat you, move your A…..”
This made me angry and I then put aside all the negative thoughts and just put the hammer down, and it was like something just switched on inside me. I thought I would win this race or die trying. I started to catch the guys and within the next 8km I was with the front pack again, and then just carried on pushing to get away. I was surprised that the guys didn’t come with me. But then I was in front and I made use of the lead car to pace me, as it always stays slightly ahead of you, so I didn’t have to concentrate on the pace making. So much for pacing is not allowed, but lets be honest the officials of the race actually do it for you anyway, with the lead vehicle.
I did finish in first place in a time of 2H25 (I think) so it wasn’t very fast, but a win is a win. I now sometimes think back on this race when I am running other races as it helps me know that even if I am feeling tired, if I just hang in there and push through it, I can still run at my best and get a good result, as this is what I did here.
Nike were happy with the win as it was my first race in their shoes so it also justified their signing me, and winning Comrades wasn’t just a one off thing! Coach was happy and so was my Agent, as this was also my first race with him so I had to get a good result.
All worked out just great!

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Southern Africa Runners cant run sub 2H10

Running in Southern Africa is for one thing pretty hard especially with the weather conditions, but from a financial side it is extremely difficult to be a full time professional athlete.
For one thing races here do not pay appearance fees for the Elite Athletes, and we have to run for prize money. This in itself is not great either, as there are pretty much four races the whole year that pay anything substantial, such as Comrades (89km- ZAR250 000), Two Oceans (56km – ZAR250 000), City to City (50km – ZAR50 000), Soweto Marathon (42.2km). But this is the winners prize money, and only top 10 get paid and this drops drastically down to R10 000 for Comrades and Oceans for 10th place. Other than these races average prize money for a marathon is less than ZAR 2 000, and for the shorter distances even less. The shorter races also pretty much only pay the top 3.Running is seen as an amateur sport and does not receive the TV coverage or media coverage as Soccer, Rugby, and Cricket does. So therefore not much attraction for sponsors of the athletes.
Yes some of the Elites are lucky enough to have monthly retainers paid to them by clubs, such as Mr.Price, Nedbank, Formula 1, Bonitas. Although the clubs pay retainers these cannot be compared to salaries of other sports codes, and the elite athletes have to race for little prize money to just survive. Basically if you don’t run an Ultra, such as Comrades or Two Oceans, and come within the top 3 at these races then you seriously will struggle financially. But you can understand that without the exposure from TV for races, the clubs are pretty much paying monthly (small) salaries to the elites for 2 races a year, without much exposure or return for them.

That is why the marathon runners have to run at least 1 marathon and a 21.1km or even two marathons a month and have to do well to get some cash to survive. And we all know that you cannot run 2 marathons a month and do the training required and expect to run a sub 2H10 marathon. Because the Elites have to race so often they loose their speed and therefore the serious fast guys win races in Southern Africa in 2H20 on average. Your body needs to recover from the stresses and strains.
Its a vicious circle between athletes and potential sponsors and clubs. Because there is very little money floating around, an athlete will leave one sponsor for a mere ZAR500 per month if he / she can get this from another sponsor or club. Its not a case of an athlete not being loyal to a sponsor or club its a matter of survival for an athlete. An athlete cannot run at the highest level for many years with having to race as much as they have to, but if they didn’t have to race as much their careers would be a lot longer. So when you do badly at one of the key races there is no other race where you can make it up to your club, and therefore at the end of the year you are out, or have your contract cut drastically. This then creates additional stress and pressure for the athletes.

In know some seriously top runners that have to have a full time job, and their average day is like this – Wake up at 3am to train, then go to work for the full day, 9 hours, then train again and go home. By the time he / she arrives at home it is after 8pm, then eat, bath relax and sleep. Therefore not much sleep for the body to recover, as its up again at 3am to start the day.
So therefore if athletes in Southern Africa are to run faster than a 2H10 marathon there seriously needs to be some major restructuring and greater support from the corporate world. We have the athletes with the talent and potential, but just need the support.
As the classic saying goes, “Africa is no place for sissies.”
So I suppose I have also come to a crossroads in my running career, so after Comrades this year, I will too be considering my options to further my career abroad, as I have no alternative but to!

April 5, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mental Preparation for Racing – Mind vs Legs

As we are now less than 60 days to Comrades 2011, and 22 days to Two Oceans, I will now begin my tapering programme in order to be at peak fitness and strength for the 24 April.
As in any sport these days mental fitness and strength is a key to your performance on race day. So as I enter the tapering programme where there is no heavy long runs or speed work training on the road, I find this the ideal time to get my mental strength in line. There are numerous ways to do this, I could go see a sports psychologist, (head doctor), but I choose to do this on my own.
How do I do this? I have sat with my coach and we have decided pretty much on the game plan and how I will run the race (talking Two Oceans here), things like what times I need to run to certain points, and when to increase the pace or just stay as is. What I like to do is watch DVD footage of my previous races, especially parts of a race where I felt a little off or weak, and I try and remember what I was thinking at the time that got me through the rough patches. I take this and use it as my motivator, and tell myself things like “I will not have to work hard mentally as I won’t put myself in that position again as I am better prepared.” I also look at what I did the previous year. In my case I was 4th at Oceans, and I know I had a good race there, I was just beaten by 3 guys that were on top form that day. So I play the race over and over in my mind and there is always a part of a race that you would run differently, and I use this as to correct my mistake from the previous year.

The key for me is to visualise myself running the entire race and play out all the possible scenarios, such as surges from other competitors, the hills up and down, and the key parts of the race. I do this often so that come race day I am mentally strong as I have run the race 15 times in 3 weeks in my head.

During the race, when I am feeling tired or hurting, my mental strength comes into play, as when I was visualising the race I didn’t feel like hurting or being tired so it almost becomes a non entity for me, as I also know that my preparations have been so good that I will recover as long as I keep moving at my pace I will come out of it.

It is a battle between the mind and the legs. The mind saying run, and the legs say walk. So at the time you think well if I walk a bit I will be able to recover and run again and will make up the time that I walked. So you have a little breather and walk. It takes a strong mind to tell your legs to pick up the pace after a walk and keep it constant again. Yes I have had these battles between my mind and legs – Often – but in my case my legs loose out and just have to keep going!

Prepare physically and mentally for all your races, and on race day make sure your mind wins the battle over the legs. Then you wont say at the end of the race – I could have run faster. If my mind wins then I win!

Cheers

Stephen

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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