"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Blogathon - Word Cloud Day

Blogathon post 30/30

The end of the blogathon and I did it! I posted every day for 30 days! We end the blogathon with a word cloud.

I choose thoughts from this morning's trail run for my word cloud.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

My Blogathon Experience

The blogathon ends tomorrow and I can't believe another month has gone. I am glad I decided to participate and I am really happy with how it went for me.
It was quite a challenge to post every day but I did and in the end it wasn't all that hard to think of what to post. For me the real challenge was to find time every day to write a post. Between work and life in general this was easily the hardest part for me.

I did the blogathon mostly to get my head around writing a bit more. I am glad to say I definitely achieved that. I have a writing project that I need to get into gear soon and the blogathon certainly provided motivation for this.

As far as blogging goes I think I have seen that I will never try to write a daily post. I might post a little more than before the blogathon, but I don't see myself posting every day.

I suppose it depends what you look at. The blogathon did increase the number of hits my blog gets daily. However, the number of comments per post decreased quite a bit. I have always found that with my blog. If I leave a post a little longer before I post the next one, it gets more comments.

So it depends on what is important for you...more hits or more comments? Personally I don't mind all that much as I don't try to make any money with my blog, in which case I suppose more hits/traffic would be important.

I think I prefer more comments above more hits. It feels more personal. I've met some amazing people through this blog and I am now friends on Face Book with many of them and regular e-mails are written between a lot of us. I really have great friends from all over the world because of this blog.

Participating in the blogathon was certainly beneficial and I have made a few more friends. I think it was definitely good for my blog. The only negative for me would be the fact that many of my good blogging friends missed a lot of the posts because there were just too many too often.

The same applies from my side. It is difficult to read someone's blog every single day. I don't often have the time to go back to catch up on earlier posts and I think we all are in the same boat. Maybe it is different for people who makes a living from writing and reading blogs and other articles, books or whatever else.

So my verdict...

The  blogathon was fun and challenging at the same time. I wanted motivation for writing and thinking more about writing and like a writer. I achieved all of that 100%. I do encourage you to participate next year and I will also do so if my job and life allows the time.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be part of the 2013 blogathon. I achieved everything I wanted and learned a lot.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Running with sunglasses…no thanks!

Blogathon post 28/30

In my post yesterday I mentioned how meticulous I am about what I wear for running. A comment by Lauren from “On The Run” made me smile. She said she laughed because we are so similar with our running but then there are so many things where we are the complete opposite,

She wears anything and doesn’t really care so much about the details. Except for sunglasses… There she is meticulous. Funny enough, this is the one thing I never wear when running.

I once tried running with sunglasses back in 1998 and hated it. I wore sunglasses in a 32km (20 mile) race in 1998. That was the only time I ever tried running with it and never ever again. It is just such a huge nuisance. I’m a sweaty, wet, muddy mess when I run. Sunglasses are just in the way.

I have these two gem photos to prove that at least I did try it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Everything must be perfect

Blogathon post 27/30

I am someone who likes to pay attention to detail. In my job and with life in general I like it when all the little things are perfect along with the big picture stuff. This definitely applies to running as well. Everything must be perfect.

I am meticulous when choosing new shoes, socks, pants, shirts and even underwear. If it doesn't feel right I won’t run in it. If my socks, underwear or shirts get old and don't feel right anymore I stop running in it immediately.

A few weeks ago I suddenly experienced some chafing in my groin area. I didn’t know what caused it but eventually found it to be one pair of underpants that was showing some wear and tear. This just reiterated the whole case of being meticulous for me. Everything must be perfect and the longer the run the more attention to detail is needed.

Do you pay attention to detail?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Fixing Your Feet

Blogathon post 26/30

I have quite a collection of running books and refer to all of them regularly. They are all good and I decided over time I will do a quick mention of them.

First up is one of my favorites and certainly one of the best books I have.

Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof

This is a must have for any runner and marathon and ultra runners will find it very useful. It is devided in 5 parts and covers everything there is to cover about your feet and their care.

Part One - Foot Basics

Part Two - Footwear Basics

Part Three - Prevention

Part Four - Treatments

Part Five - Sources and Resources

A brilliant book for any athlete of any sport that abuses the feet.

"One thing is for sure: when one's feet hurt...
it definitely gets one's attention."
- Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

How far do you run?

Blogathon post 25/30

I’m asked this question quite often and was asked again yesterday. It usually goes hand in hand with how far do you run every day?

Well, let me answer these questions for you.

How far do I run every day?

During the week I run between 4AM and 6AM in the morning and this is anything from 8km to 17km. I do all my runs during the week on the road.

On weekends I run basically any distance depending if it’s in a race or training. My longest training run on my own was 51km and I’ve done 50km twice in training.

Races can be any distance and goes into answering the other question. 

What is the longest run I’ve ever done?

If we are talking non-stop without sleeping the answer is 173km (107.5miles) in a 24hour race. If it includes sleep breaks it is 689km (428miles) in a 6 day race.

So there you have it...how far have you run?

Monday, 24 June 2013

My Haiku for 24 June 2013

Blogathon post 24/30

Today is Haiku day for the blogathon. Before today I did not know what a Haiku is. It is a short, three line poem with 5,7 and 5 syllables for each line respectively. I read many examples this morning because I was clueless what to write or do.

I thought about a moment on yesterday's trail run and that inspired this Haiku:

The dassie watches
I try to tiptoe past him
Gone, I am alone

That's all folks! Have a great day!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Some things I do while I run

Blogathon post 23/30

I'm often asked what I think of or do while I'm running.

It depends on where I’m running. I do 99.9% of my training alone and during the week this will be early morning (04:00 – 06:00). The week runs are on the road through the suburbs but on weekends I do lots of runs on the trails in nature reserves in our area.

(1.) I make sure I relax. Even when I’m pushing it I’ll still make sure to stay relaxed.

(2.) I focus on upcoming races and specific things to try and train for. For instance, I focus on how and where I carry water, gels and other food/drinks/goodies. Sometimes I’ll carry something on a short run just to make sure it doesn't bother me where and how I carry it.

(3.) I think about work and how to solve any problems I might be dealing with. I often solve problems while running.

(4.) I never look at my watch and always estimate my pace. At the end I’ll stop and look at my watch to see how far off or how correct my pacing was. During a run I often think about what pace I’m doing. I haven’t looked at my watch during a run for many, many years now. I only take my total time at the end.

(5.) On trails I concentrate on running technical parts and downhills faster. I also take in the nature around me. That’s why I run trails in the first place. It brings me close to nature. I love the bush and wildlife and grew up close to it.

(6.) I sometimes count wildflowers if the trail and season offers them. I always do this when hiking, but running makes it difficult.

Well, that's a few things I do while running. How about you?

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Trail running...it's all about ascending and descending

Blogathon post 22/30

I wrote about my stair climbing yesterday and how important I find it as part of my training for the trails.In general we think hill climbing when we talk stair training and that is absolutely right. Stairs build the legs for the climbs on the mountains.

However, 99% of the trails we run have a descent to equal all the climbs we do. I find the descents just as important and just as hard as the climbs. Just as important as strong legs for the climbs are, good downhill legs are a must as well. I've learnt over the past years how much time I save and make up by knowing how to tackle the descents on the trails.

Where do I get a lot of these skills...? The stairs! Running down stairs definitely gives me better descending skills on the trails. The key is to lean forward a bit and go with your momentum. I practice this on the stairs and love flying down without slowing down anywhere.

Tim Long (Footfeathers) is one of the trail descent masters. I've read a lot of his articles and watched videos to learn how to descent better. On the road I am a terrible downhill runner and I am passed by many runners when we run downhill. On the trails this is the opposite and I descent really well, passing many and making up lots of time.

Footfeathers on the run.

Footfeathers gets his nick name because he makes it looks so easy as he floats over the trails. Light as a feather and that is the key. I practice this as I run down the stairs with my coffee. No spilling...by keeping it light under foot. This also ensures that your back and knees don't strain while going down.

You need to work at this, just as with anything else. Train for climbing and train for descending. That's what trail running is all about.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Stairs, my good friend.

Blogathon post 21/30

I've never gone out to do a specific stair workout, but I do climb a lot of stairs daily. I do this deliberately as part of my training and I can tell you that it works wonders. This is more specifically for my trail running and I can say with certainty how much stairs help for that.

At work I park on the 8th floor of the parking garage specifically to run down on my way into the office and then run up again to my car at the end of the day. I also walk the stairs everywhere else I go during the day and never get into a lift. This has the added bonus of not sucking up everyone's germs during the lift ride as well.


When I go to the bathroom or go to get coffee I walk up 4 flights of stairs every time instead of going on the floor where I work. Running down is also great practice. On average I climb 54 flights of stairs daily. That might not sound like much, but do it 5 times a week and I promise you will find yourself stronger on those hills. The 54 flights down definitely helps as well.

The best about this...it's all done as part of my daily routine and I don't have to make time for it!

What this means is that I do 270 flights of stairs up and 270 flights of stairs down on average per week. I see this as a key part of my trail training. It certainly shows in the long term. Last week on the trails I could feel the strength in my legs on the climbs and this was after I've been away from the trails for a long time.

The stairs are my friend, are they yours?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Throwback Thursday - April 1996

Blogathon post 20/30

With the blogathon already two thirds done I'm thinking it won't be complete without a Throwback Thursday.

I throw back to April 1996. The Jock of the Bushveld 54km was one of my all time favorite races. Sadly this race is no more today. Luckily I have some great memories of it.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Any advice for cold weather running?

Blogathon post 19/30

I need to be prepared for the upcoming Rhodes Ultra and that means I need to be prepared for very low temperatures. Much lower than I am used to. I like the winter and love running in the cold, but running in temperatures of less than -10°C (14F) with the possibility of snow is new territory for me.

How do I dress warm enough without being too warm? The race starts with a very hard 21km climb. This will surely work up a sweat. Then I will be hit by the ice wind on top of the mountain. I need to be geared for this. I have never run in snow and the coldest run I’ve ever done was -7°C. And that was a dry, windless -7°.

So what do I wear? The lower body is easy. I have some great second skin tights and I will wear my trusted Nikes and socks. No problem there. I am not sure about the upper body though.

What type of jacket/wind breaker will be best? Water proof or just wind proof? I know water proof jackets can become very warm during exercise.

How many layers? The top layer must obviously be easy to take off and put back on again if needed. It must also be easy to carry with me while I’m not wearing it.

My current plan is to wear 2 x long sleeve tech shirts over a short sleeve tech shirt under a water/wind proof jacket. A buff for my neck and mouth, beanie for the head and ears and of course gloves for the hands. I got great Nike gloves for Father’s day.

I think this should be fine. Any ideas or recommendations?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Technology Tuesday

Blogathon  post 18/30

Technology has become such an integrate part of my life and I must admit I have mixed feelings about this. I am a bit of a technology geek, but at the same time I don't like the way technology has taken over our lives.

That I say while writing for my blog, something I would not have been able to do without technology. I use technology all day, every day. Whether I like it or not, I run a huge part of my life with technology.

My trustee Samsung computer...one of 4 I use, 3 of them daily.

I have embraced the reality of social media and social networks. It took me some time even though I work in the IT industry and have been a computer geek since 1987. I am now connected...everywhere and all the time.

My trustee Samsung S3.

I have a large network of friends and colleagues. Somehow I must keep it all together and connected. This is not always easy and takes some doing at times. I must admit it is not always easy to remember who is connected through what or who knows each other and who likes running and who I only know from work or school or whatever else forms part of this network of mine.

My trustee Samsung S3 Mini.

I am certainly dependent on the devices on this page to help me with all of this. Actually they do more than help me.They are part of my daily life. Like it or not that's how it is. Technology is here to stay.

My trustee Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Now, what camera do you think I used to take the photos above? :)

Monday, 17 June 2013

For the other half that drives and motivates me

Blogathon post 17/30

As I sit and think about today's blog I think about what motivates me and what keeps me going. I see myself as someone with drive and lots of things to do all day every day. That's on top of what this blog is all about...my running.

As I sit here I realise that I will not be able to do what I do every day without the other half of my life...my wonderful wife Anette.

Today's blog was going to be about some of the things that drive and motivate me. My thoughts could not go further than Anette because she is what drives and motivates me. Without her I would not be able to do what I do. She is the force behind me.


This is for her, for always being there and supporting me in everything I do. Thank you Anette! I love you with all my heart.


Sunday, 16 June 2013

My encounter with a Mongoose

Blogathon post 16/30 - guest post by my wife Anette

As you all know Johann is currently participating in the Blogathon and asked me to write a story as a guest. Well, I gladly accepted the invitation.

So I had a few thoughts around what I would like to share such as:
  • What is a dilemma?
  • What is the purpose of blogging?
  • Maybe about a midlife crisis

And then yesterday I was walking on the trails while Johann was running in preparation for the Rhodes Challenge, I had the encounter with a Mongoose. During this encounter I thought this is what I would like to share with you.

We started off just after 09:00 in the morning and my thoughts wondered around the work, the kids, the family, politics and just life in general. I noticed the birds singing and chirping, the sky a perfect blue, seeing a few planes. Other than that, nothing really significant!

 On my way back I saw the grumpy Black Wildebeest Johann wrote about yesterday in a distance. Then literally a few meters before I completed my walk, the mongoose was sitting on the trail, scratching some fleas and grooming his tail.

 I stood still to observe him. I was certain the minute he noticed me he was going to run for “safety”. However, he just stayed put. I started moving foot by foot slowly forward not wanting to give him a fright. Eventually he ran into the bush, but not too deep because we stared each other in the eyes. I told him he was a magnificent animal and walked on.

It was about quarter past eleven while waiting for Johann in the car to finish his run that I noticed the little bugger walking across the entrance with no fear. I grabbed my phone and took photos of him. He posed like my daughter in front of the camera. He came closer and I got a “photo shoot” of him from all angles.

Once he was sick and tired off all the attention, he ran off. My eyes following him, he ran across the field. There he met up with a mate and they were very playful with each other. What really astouned me was his fearlessness. I suppose that is the story of his life, enjoying the sun, friends and freedom.

I always want a moral of a story and for me this one was that fear holds you back and limit you. I love the lessons nature teaches us!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

On the trails!

Blogathon post 15/30

This morning I was out training on the trails and I was reminded again why I love the trails so much. I've said it before, but I got that feeling again...this is where I belong! With all the challenges I have lined up and the Rhodes Ultra that was thrown into the mix yesterday, I have to get my trail feet in gear very quickly.

I ran on my favorite trails in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, 11km south of Johannesburg. It was a perfect winter morning with bright sunlight and blue skies.

This is a great place to get some technical runs in. There are trails with all kinds of terrain here. Some easier and very runable, some very technical with great rock hopping sections. There are also quite a few steep climbs and descents. Training here prepares me very well for the trail races I do.

There is also good game spotting on offer and this morning I had a Black Wildebeest snorting at me, scratching and stomping the ground. He was really grumpy!

This fellow was very grumpy today!

All in all a great run and I'm already looking forward to my next run there. Nothing beats running on the trails!

I want to share this quote that my brother left in a comment on yesterday's post: "Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second!"

Have a super weekend everyone!

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Pleasant but Scary Surprise

Blogathon post 14/30

This morning I got a nice but also somewhat scary surprise. I finally get a chance to go and run the Rhodes 52km Ultra Marathon! I've been on the waiting list of this race for many, many years.

I'm still on the waiting list, but I can run as a substitute for someone who wants to sit out this year. Awesome but what is the scary part...?

The race is on 6 July! Yes, that is 4 weeks from tomorrow! High altitude on a very hard trail in very cold conditions with some very hard climbing. That is what Rhodes is. Probably the coldest race in our country. Most years the race is run in snow and some years the course is changed because of harsh conditions.The average temperature at the start of this race is -10°C (14F).

So I am very excited but also very scared. I am not in top condition and will rely on my base fitness a lot. But there is no way that I am letting this chance go by.

Time to put some emergency plans in place...because Rhodes, here I come!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

I'm a morning runner

Blogathon post 13/30

I’ve always been a morning runner and can’t see myself ever changing that. Since I can remember my dad always ran early in the morning. When I was at school and university he used to tip me out of my bed somewhere between 4 and 5 AM every morning. I was not amused but it seems to have stuck with me and I still get up between 3:30 and 4:30 AM for my morning run.

The best part of it is how great I feel afterwards. The whole day is so much better if started with a morning run. The knowledge that I’ve done my training for the day is always motivating. Nothing can happen during the day that can interfere with my training.

I must add to this that I am also lucky to live in Johannesburg. This means I can run outside throughout the year, including winter. We do have very cold mornings with temperatures dropping below freezing, but it is still very manageable. If you dress warm enough winter morning runs are really pleasant.

So I’m a morning runner for life. It is in my blood in the same way that running is. Without it my life is missing something.

When do you prefer to do your running?