MUTARE - Greed and impatience are destroying the careers of many young gifted long distance runners who “burn themselves out by participating in too many races”, a senior athletics trainer has said.
Joshua Matume, a seasoned athletics trainer who is also the Manicaland Athletics Board (MAB) chairperson, young runners are engaging in too many races before their bodies have full developed.
“An athlete should ideally only participate in three marathons in a single year while we do not encourage athletes in the Under-20 age group to run more than 10 kilometres,” Matume told the Daily News.
Matume said many talented young athletes were shuffling between races in South Africa and Zimbabwe trying to make as much money as possible but in the process destroying their careers.
He said while his organisation has always been warning athletes to manage their careers by pacing themselves through-out the year like the likes of Tendai Chimusasa, who however only retired due to a lung infection and Abel Chimukoko who raced until he was 40.
“Sprinters have better leeway than long distance runners who need more time to recoup,” Matume said.
This was also corroborated by Luis Tavares on his website Copacabana Runner.
Tavares says: “An athlete should do two or three marathons at the maximum, with an interval of 4 months between two marathons.
“For an acceptable recovery from the marathon, I recommend one day of easy training for each km ran in the marathon, in other words, you need 42 days resting with easy training without thinking about races,” he says.
Matume said while his organisation was trying to work with local academies and clubs on this issue but many runners were evading the restrictions as they are now operating as independent athletes.
He said previously in managing races they would disqualify athletes from participating in some races too soon after another race.
Matume however, said part of the problem was due to poor race sponsorships as some races only give athletes a pittance after labouring for 42 kilometres.
“Some athletes then try to make a living off as many races as they can but also cutting short their careers,” he said.