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

Saturday 26 December 2009

Inspired By A Stranger

There’s this girl I see running often when I run in the morning. I’m always inspired by her guts as she runs with shoes closer to ballet shoes than running shoes and normal clothes…no running or gym type outfits. But she toughs out the road and hills and keep at it day after day.

This morning she was on her way back home so I passed her coming from the front. When I greeted her she actually stopped me saying she wanted to ask me something. Her question: how do I stay motivated and keep on running week after week? Losing weight alone was not motivation enough. She also said that I inspired her and always looked focused and motivated.

I was taken by surprise and didn’t have any great answer. I run because I love it. I suggested that she should by Runner’s World and look for a 5km race to train for. Get a goal to train for and read about running and others with goals and dreams.

I’m sure she’s the kind of girl that will do it. As for me…it’s great to know I inspire strangers just as I’m inspired by strangers all the time. Inspiring someone is one of the greatest gifts of life.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Happy Holidays!

So there I was out on my midweek long run (15.1km) at 05:30 this morning when I realized, hey, this is great! It’s the holiday season and I’m on leave, yet, here I am early in the morning doing what I love…run!

I got this feeling of achievement. It can be difficult to keep up the training during the holidays. Everyone and everything is in a festive mood and plenty of good food is everywhere! Being on leave doesn’t help as sleeping in can be an option every day. But I’ve been good and have been up early as required by my plan. Heck, I’ve even done a 25.5km training run on my own this past weekend and plan another for the holidays! Wow, I last felt this good when I didn’t miss any training through the winter earlier this year.

Yes, I’m enjoying the holidays and I owe a lot of it to running. I realized again this morning how great running makes me feel. Nothing beats starting the day with an early morning run. And what can be better than actually losing weight during the holidays? Well, I have to if I want to qualify and be ready for the 2010 Comrades marathon, but for now I’m just sucking up the joy of running. Happy holidays!

Me back home after my 25.5km run.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Runner's High

I don’t experience runner’s high very often. I have regular good runs, but a real runner’s high happens seldom. So I was very happy yesterday when I had a perfect run. I ran 7km and experienced a true runner’s high. I suppose everyone experience this differently, but for me it is a run where I feel great from the first stride to the last. I feel as if I can carry on forever, never tiring, gliding up the hills without any effort at all. Running has been rather difficult the past three weeks so this was a great relief. At last the hard work of regular training is paying off.

I go through these difficult periods from time to time when running always seems to require extra effort and my legs and body feels tired and the strain of training. I’ve learnt to tough it out and stick to my routine, running when I have to run and resting when I have to rest. Eventually the good run will come and at some stage a true runner’s high.

This morning I ran 14.1km. No, there was no runner’s high or even a comfortable run. It was a tough run, but I felt good and positive. That great run from yesterday did the trick and I feel ready to tough out the difficult runs ahead.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Carrying Water

I’ve always taken some water on my longer training runs. I don’t run more than 10km without taking water with me. I’ve done this for many years so I’m really used to carrying a bottle while I run. I have two bottles that I use. The one is a 350ml “running” bottle designed with a grip to hold the bottle while running. The other is an old mineral water bottle, 500ml, which I use when I run more than 15km. This at the moment is 18km or 21km and I’ll also do some 25km runs in the next few weeks. I’m not planning any training runs longer than 25km on my own at the moment.

I take one of these bottles with me and would not easily try to carry two (a bottle in each hand). This has been fine for training runs up to 18km, but for 21km and more during the summer it is not enough. Yep, I know I’m not in shape yet and all the things that go hand in hand with that, but if I want to do 25km runs on my own I need more than 500ml water with me.

I’ve been looking at various hydration packs for some time now and so far the price has been the only reason I haven’t bought one. Paying R400 to R600 to carry water is just too much for me. I think you pay a lot more for the names on these packs than for the pack itself. There are also some alternatives like carrying water on a belt around your waist and some pouches for water bottles that fit in your hands and make holding the bottles easier, but none of these really appeal to me to solve my long run water problem. Most of these also have some pricy label attached which I just won’t pay. That was until I visited the local Mr Price Sports store last week and came across their hydration packs for R70.00! This was on sale with the normal price around R130. Now that’s more like it for me. No fancy name, no fancy price…perfect! Seventy rand was worth spending to try the water on the back idea.

The packs sell with a 1 liter bladder and this is also available in 1.5, 2 and 2.5 liters. The bladders go for R65 each. Not bad at all. So I took my chances while stock lasts and bought a pack with an extra 1.5 liter bladder. I doubt I’ll ever carry 2 or 2.5 liter with me. After all, this is 2 or 2.5kg to run with!

I didn’t expect too much from the pack under test. With a R70 price tag I honestly expected some bad design flaw to hamper my running and explain the low price compared to the “designer” packs of R400 to R600. I was very surprised!

My plan was to do my 21km training run with the pack on Sunday. I took the pack for a short test on Saturday morning to make sure I can run with it at all. I ran 4.2km with the 1 liter filled. I didn’t even feel the pack! This was great and made me really happy. Maybe the fact that I carry a heavy back pack up 6 flights of stairs every morning and run down with it after work has something to do with it or maybe some army memory is still buried somewhere in my brain. Anyway, I did my 21km run on Sunday with 1 liter of water on my back and had no problems at all. Nothing irritating, no chafing, no bouncing around or anything. I did set it tighter on the left side once, but that was all. The rest was perfect.

I’m really happy about this as I will now be able to comfortably do my 25km runs on my own. One down point is that you don’t really know how much water is left. I had some of the 1 liter left after the 20km run. For the 25km I’ll take the 1.5 liter and that should be plenty. I’ll probably do away with the 500ml bottle and only use the 350ml one for runs from 12 to 18km. Anything longer and I’ll be carrying my water on my back. This was a really good buy!

Monday 30 November 2009

Soul City Running Morning

Peer pressure from my eight year old son got me to attend the Soul City half marathon this past Sunday instead of doing a 20km training run at home. The highlight of this very difficult half marathon was not my run, but my son’s first 5km finish. The race started and finished at the Sentech tower in Johannesburg.

This broadcast tower is situated on one of the highest hills in Johannesburg so the start was a steep downhill and regardless to say, the finish included the same road back up to the top. This was the same for the 5km run as well so I’m very proud of my boy for finishing his first 5km on such a tough route.

This half marathon is one of the more difficult ones in Gauteng and the route included some very tough hills. The highlight on my run was running over the Nelson Mandela Bridge while watching a steam train with six passenger cars below as it left JHB station. I’m a bit of a train freak so this was a bonus for me.

All in all it was a very enjoyable morning and a good way for me to get my long run for the week done. This completed a 59.2km week for me as well as a 221.5km month. Next month I’ll run between 250 and 270km and then the serious buildup for Comrades will start in January. Sounds like fun and I must say I’m really looking forward to it all.

Thursday 26 November 2009

2010 Comrades Entries to Re-open


Comrades Entries to Reopen for 2010!

Due to the overwhelming response from previous Comrades Marathon Runners and Novices alike, the available 20 000 spaces for the 2010 Comrades Marathon were snapped up in record time. Since the close of entries was announced earlier this month, the CMA has been inundated with requests from runners to reopen entries.

After careful consideration and the weighing of appeals from hundreds of runners and interest groups, the CMA Board, after consultation with key stakeholders, decided to reopen entries for a limited number of 2 000 additional entries only. Entries will open on Saturday morning 30 January 2010 at 09h00 and will ONLY be accepted at Mr Price Clothing, Sport and Home Stores countrywide. Entries will close as soon as 2 000 entries have been received. This means that if the 2 000 available spots are taken up within the first hour, entries will then close as and when the 2000 mark is reached. This is the FINAL ENTRY INTAKE and no further opportunities will be created after this period.

In order to work on a fair “first come first serve” basis, NO FAX, POSTAL OR ON-LINE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. Entries will also not be taken at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg. The CMA therefore appeals to those runners who still wish to enter for the 2010 Comrades Marathon, to make sure that they are at a Mr. Price Store early on Saturday 30 January 2010. No correspondence will be entered into if runners miss this opportunity.

“This has not been an easy decision for the CMA, as we do not want to send mixed messages and signals to our runners or compromise the decision making process, but we do have an obligation to all the Comrades athletes and CMA stakeholders to ensure that the 85th Anniversary race is a true celebration, especially with the fantastic response to the “early entry initiative”. It is therefore that the decision was made to accept an additional 2 000 entries.” Dave Dixon, CMA Chairman.

The CMA is dedicated to ensure that the 2010 Comrades Marathon adheres to all the required safety and quality standards and we believe that by extending the invitation to a further 2000 runners, this would not be compromised. The CMA Board has taken the following into account when the decision was made to allow a further 2000 runners to enter: based on statistics gathered over the last 10 years we have found an average attrition rate of +-10% from entry to starting line each year. This is primarily due to factors such as when runners fail to qualify or pick up injuries or fall ill before the race. Taking this expected attrition rate into account we expect to see approximately 20 000 runners lining up at the start on Sunday 30 May 2010. The Host Cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, as well as the various Disaster Management structures within the local and provincial government structures have been alerted to the magnitude of the 2010 Comrades Marathon.

“One of the main reasons for limiting the field to 20 000 starters, was that during the millennium race in 2000, when 24 500 runners started the race, many runners complained about congestion on the route. As a result, in order for all runners to have an enjoyable and safe race, the CMA decided to limit the participation in the 2010 Comrades under advisement from Disaster Management specialists.” Gary Boshoff, CEO CMA.

The CMA wishes to thank all runners for their patience and understanding, and we look forward to celebrating the 85th running of the Comrades Marathon on Sunday 30 May 2010.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

A Dedication

A colleague of mine got news at work yesterday that his brother passed away suddenly. The news was a shock and totally unexpected. This got me thinking about my life and everything I’m busy with at the moment. It can all come to an end in a second at any moment in time. It was the old realization of, live every moment to the full. Make the most of each second.

I do this in general and try to make the most of everything I’m busy with. I’ve got a lot of “life projects” going and set myself numerous goals to achieve. This includes numerous running goals as well. The experience of someone’s brother suddenly passing away motivated me to look at my goals again and review my milestones to get there. My reaction: go for it with all I’ve got!

So this morning I was up at 4AM for a 14km run. I dedicated this morning’s run to Eugene’s brother. No, I don’t know your name, but you gave me new inspiration to reach my goals. The run was great, the morning beautiful and I felt privileged to be out there. I started a new day, you didn’t. Thanks for the inspiration and may you rest in peace. God bless you and your family.

Monday 23 November 2009

There's no letup

Last week we had proper winter weather in Johannesburg where we usually have good summer weather in November. Average maximum temperatures were around 10°C instead of 30°C for this time of the year. With that it was really wet with rain the whole week. I’m glad to say I still did my required training because for me, there is no letup.

I remember Don Oliver using this phrase at one of his Comrades talks and also reading it in his training program. There’s no letup. This refers to the six day running per week in the buildup to Comrades. At the Comrades talk someone asked Don about the six days per week plus the increase in distance for the long runs from 32km, 42.2km, 50km and 64km for that year. His answer was: “Yes we continue with our six days per week, there’s no letup.”

I still do this, not only for Comrades training, that’s how I always run and train. Last week got me thinking about this again. The cold and wet mornings made getting out of bed more difficult, but once I’m out on the road I’m always happy to be there and enjoy the fresh air. I always try to run the six days. From time to time something will happen anyway that make running on a specific day impossible. This is usually some family or work related issue and sometimes really bad weather. When this happens I’m always glad I’ve been running six days a week as the impact of the missed run is then minimal and mostly just good rest and recovery time.

So this week, when the alarm goes off at 4 AM, I’ll get out of bed and onto the road, building up and working towards my next goal, because there’s no letup.

Thursday 12 November 2009


I mentioned working on my walking in the previous post. To me, as a below average runner, this is a very serious point. I never thought it to be necessary to do any training for walking. After all, I’m a runner. It was only when I started running ultra marathons that I realized the importance of walking. Before that I thought walking was for the weak. I never really thought about it as part of a race, not to mention a part of training.

My big eye opener came some years back when I was seconding (crewing, pacing) friends in 100 mile races quite frequently. What I realized then was “wow, these ladies can walk!” Today I still think the ladies walk better than the men, but that’s a topic on its own.

Running with someone in a 100 mile race was always easy for me. Slow pace next to a very tired runner shouldn’t be a problem anyway. When it came to the walking it was a different story. More than once I struggled to keep up with the 100 mile runners when they decided to walk for longer periods. This was a much bigger problem when I walked with women runners. They walked really fast, still racing, and not taking a break as I used to do when walking. I realized very quickly that if I wanted to do long ultras, I’ll have to learn to walk much faster.

This applies to running Comrades as well. More so if you are an average runner that just want to finish in the best time possible. On Comrades day we normal people do lots of walking. You can save a lot of time if you train to walk faster. For me the problem is to walk, not stroll. I have to concentrate to walk properly and when I’m really tired this becomes difficult. My other problem is while I drink or eat I forget about the walking and end up strolling again. That’s what I work on when I train. Not to stroll. I don’t worry about race walking, but I do try to power walk or walk as close to power walking as possible. It was during one of these walking sessions in a 50km race once that I started the mantra, run tall, walk tall.

So if you’re building up towards Comrades and maybe your first ultra, work on your walking. Don’t leave it for the ultra and then you see everyone flying past when you have to walk. You don’t have to lose a lot of time because you take a walk. Concentrate on this during your long training runs. You’ll be glad you did one day.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Relax and Run

Sunday morning I went for an 18km run and really had a tough time. The first 7km was ok, but after that I really struggled. I did this as a LSD (long slow distance) run so apart from the 2 hour battle I was actually quite happy with my training. I’m a firm believer in the LSD run and feel time on the legs is always good for the longer runs I’ll do in the future. I think these tough training runs also help a lot to get a stronger mind. I do most of my training alone and think it’s good to struggle alone from time to time. I do however try to answer the question of why I battle on some days and other days any training is a breeze.

Sundays are usually my 6th run of a 6 day training week and I often feel the week’s training in my legs. This Sunday’s battle was a result of that and also, I think, a result of not sleeping enough during the week. My average sleeping hours for last week was 5.5 hours per night. Then again, it might have been the result of Saturday’s digging and tree planting in the garden. The reality is there are so many factors that might contribute to how a specific day’s running will go, that I never predict this for my runs anymore. I just get out there, relax and run. I then handle the run, good or bad, as it plays out on the day. I try to take something positive out of each run, even the tough battles like the one I had this Sunday.

I used to worry about these tough runs and always felt it was a negative sign of my progress or fitness. Luckily I don’t do that anymore. There’ll be a good run soon and if there’s another bad one I’ll be ready because I trained for that tough run this Sunday. I also worked on my walking…faster and stronger on the hills and keeping that effort while I’m drinking or eating.

Then there is the stopwatch factor. I start my watch and only look at it again when I stop it at the end of the run. I never look at my watch during a run or even a race, but that’s a different story that I’ll get to another day. I record my total running time in a log for reference, but never worry about it. Not worrying about time also adds to the list of positives that help me to just relax and run.

Thursday 5 November 2009

OFS Syndrome

My running comeback is still going well and everything is still on target. Luckily I didn’t set any impossible goals as I predicted the progress would be slow. It is actually a bit slower than I hoped it would be. I definitely suffer from OFS syndrome. No, this is not Orange Free State Syndrome. This is Old Fat Slow syndrome. Those of you who’ve been around will know what I mean.

Apart from this I’m happy with my progress and just feel a bit frustrated with the slow part. This is improving, but not very quickly. The fat part wasn’t changing much as well, but since I’ve upped my weekly distance to between 50km and 60km I’m starting to lose weight a lot quicker. I’m confident this will help with my speed as well. Less to carry will definitely equal faster times with the same effort. The old part…nothing I can do about that, but I feel great as not many 46 year olds are out running between 4AM and 6AM 6 days a week! 

Monday 2 November 2009

2010 Comrades Entries reach 20000!

I’m quite shocked, as I think most people are that the entries for novice runners for the 2010 Comrades marathon already closed with 5000 entries. This is after just one and a half days! Entries opened on 1 November at 09:00 and closed at 14:00 on 2 November. This is truly amazing!

There must be lots of very disappointed runners out there. I’m not sure how the CMA (Comrades Marathon Association) will handle this. What about the people that can’t enter online? Surely they have to cater for this in some way. Maybe if you mailed an entry on 2 November you’ll be accepted…? Anyway I’m just glad I got my entry in and confirmed as processed. I doubt that the CMA ever expected such a huge response. This is surely going to be a great event and I’m very happy that I’ll be part of it!

Saturday 31 October 2009

To cut or not to cut

I’ve been lucky over the years with running shoes and have had very few shoe problems. I found my brand many years ago and stuck to it. I believe in “if it works, why change it?” It seems to me that certain shoes work better for certain feet and running styles. Some just don’t work at all and over the years this hasn’t change much. However, for some unknown reason, shoe manufacturers often change a fantastic shoe from one year to the next into a very bad shoe. For some reason the model from one year to the next never stays exactly the same, even if the current model is absolutely perfect.

This has happened to me a few times and it really irritates me. Why change a good thing? In the past I’ve tried different models or brands when this happens. If possible I stay with the same brand and go for a different model, but I’ve never been able to change brands successfully. By the way, I run with Nike Pegasus. Years back I noticed Bruce Fordyce running with shoes that had the toes cut open. He obviously wasn’t paying for his shoes like us normal runners, but this got me thinking. Why not stay with my favorite shoe and just cut away the area that bothers me. This obviously only applies if the problem is something that can be removed physically.

I tried this with an older pair of Nikes years ago and cut away a piece of the upper sole that was giving me blisters. The results were great! I now had my perfect shoe…my favorite without any problem areas. Luckily this doesn’t happen very often, but the current models of my favorite shoes have a black “support structure thingy” between the actual sole and the upper part of the shoe. With my style of running I find that after some time (about 500km), the inner sole gets lower and the black thingy presses against my foot and leave me with blisters.

So, after careful consideration, I decided to cut the thingy off. I’ve done this on the oldest pair I currently run in, but will most probably do the same with my newer pair. The shoes are now great and I wonder what the black thingy actually does. Older models didn’t have this and were fine. Well, I suppose they had some reason for introducing it, but for now, I’m cutting. So my shoe has gone from this…

to this…

very similar to the older models without a black thingy.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Comrades Entries - 15000

So the entries for previous Comrades runners have reached the 15000 mark 4 days before the closing date. This is quite remarkable and I’m sure the 5000 places for novices will fill up very quickly. I’m glad I entered early as I’m sure there must be a lot of very disappointed runners out there who didn’t get an entry. If you are a novice planning to run next year, make sure you enter early to avoid disappointment. Remember, 1 November entries for novices will start!

I’m sure we can now look forward to a race with 20000 entries. I think there will be about 18000 starters in the end. It’s still a long time away (214 days) and one can’t really be sure that you’ll be there yet. Well, I’m training hard and so far everything is looking good. At the moment I’m 100% certain I’ll be there on 30 May 2010.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Running Races

Runners are always warned not to race to often. In South Africa we are spoilt with many races and I usually have a few to choose from every weekend. Yet, this warning doesn’t apply to me at all. The main reason is that I just run to slow and that’s that. I can’t easily overdo the racing at my pace. So I do lots of races throughout the year, but these are run as normal training runs with the added bonus of great company and water points with nice goodies. I do however run a lot less races than I did 10 – 15 years ago.

There was a time when I would run 2 to 3 and sometimes even 4 races per week (Wednesday night race, Friday night race, Saturday morning race & Sunday morning race). This was all about chasing the race kilometers. But that was in a different life with a different body. Nowadays I choose to run a training run at home more often and don’t go to every possible race anymore. I don’t often run more than 15 – 20km on my own and don’t plan to run more than 25km like that this year. My plan for the rest of 2009 includes 2 x 20km and 2 x 25km training runs. I’m not likely to run further than 25km as a training run alone, although there are a 50km and a 100km run in the back of my mind, but that’s a different story.

From January 2010 to Comrades I’ll run quite a lot of races, but I’ll only treat one as a race. That will be my qualifying marathon and I suppose the Comrades itself, but I’m definitely not planning on racing the Comrades. All the others will be normal training runs with no tapering or other race specific stuff. They’ll be part of my normal weekly training and run at normal training pace. In my case this means there is no chance of overdoing the racing.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Be Flexible

Being flexible with my running schedule is very important to me. I’m very committed and will not miss a planned run easily, but due to a busy life between work and home I have to change my running plans form time to time.

My general schedule is to run six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday, with Monday a rest day. I’ve made this a rule, I never run on Mondays. So if anything happens and I can’t run on Sunday, I’ll have two rest days. I never use Monday to “catch up” on the run I missed on Sunday. I also rest Sunday and Monday when I do a long run or race on a Saturday.

This weekend turned out to be one of those. I planned a 4km run for Saturday and 15km for Sunday. I was looking forward to this since I’ve been feeling really good after the few days break at the beginning of the week. It turned out that I had to work this weekend though…Sunday morning 2am to 6am. Not the greatest hours of the day for work, but from time to time I have to work some odd hours. Luckily I’m one of not that many people who are passionate about my work and the only downside to the odd hours is the conflict with my running plans.

That said I’ve learnt over time that the downside runners tend to see when something messes with their running plans is actually a positive most of the time. More rest and more recovery time are never bad. I see any missed run as more rest and more recovery and always feel the benefit in the weeks to follow.

So I did my Sunday 15km on Saturday and will run Tuesday again. This means I get extra rest time and only miss 4km as result of the weekend work. The two days without running also helps me to recover from the lack of sleep over the weekend. All in all, by being flexible, I’m a happy camper with a great balance between work, running and life in general.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Best Time of Day for the Best Performance?

Well, the 3 days rest did the trick and my legs are feeling good again. My run this morning felt great and I can once again remind myself of the benefits of resting. Although I felt great and everything was perfect my time was not particularly fast. This got me thinking about a question I’ve always asked. When is the best time of the day for the best performance?

I run early in the morning, usually somewhere between 04:00 & 06:00 on week days. On weekends I run an hour or two later and find that my times are always better when I run a bit later. Between 06:00 & 08:00 seems to be my best time for good performance. If I run later than 08:00 my performance drops again mainly because the fuel tank is empty by then. This is worse when I didn’t eat a proper meal the night before. If I take in some fuel for the run all is fine again and performance is much better than very early in the morning. Some of my best runs have also been at night races and one or two races run in the afternoon.

I suppose this has something to do with one’s internal clock. It seems that I can run a faster time later in the morning or day with the same effort I have to put in for a slower time early in the morning. I don’t worry too much about this because I’m a slow runner anyway, but I always wonder if it is better to go for fast times a bit later in the day. That is of course if it isn’t the middle of summer with very high temperatures. For me the perfect time seems to be late morning in the colder months.

Monday 12 October 2009

Rest When You Need To Rest

Over the years I’ve learnt that resting is very good for any runner during any part of training. I suppose all runners know this and we know how good we run after some rest. Yet, we don’t like to add some extra rest to our running schedules. I’m really guilty with this one and very seldom rest more than my regular rest day on Mondays.

I try to follow a rule that I came across in one of Bruce Fordyce’s books. If you’re not sure whether you should run or not, always choose not to. If you’re not sure whether you should run a longer or shorter distance, always choose the shorter distance. Whenever I have doubt about running or not or how far to go, I follow this rule. If I don’t have doubt about any of these two, I just go out and run what I planned. There are no excuses then and I do what I have to do.

This works well for me, but it’s still difficult to take rest when needed and not as part of the plan. My upper legs are currently taking some strain and this past weekend I decided to skip my long run on Sunday. I’ve decided to rest until Wednesday when I’ll take a short run to see how I feel. So that means 3 days with no running. The benefit should be great. I’ll also skip a midweek long run and only go for a long run Sunday again if I feel recovered. If there is any doubt, I’ll follow the rule again until I recover completely. I’ve run 6 days a week for 7 continuous weeks now and taking it easy for a week or two will work wonders.

Friday 9 October 2009


I ran a relaxed 6km run this morning. My upper legs are sending a few messages of taking it easy so I decided to listen. It was a beautiful morning with some loose clouds in the East. The sunrise was spectacular changing from red to pink to gold. As I enjoyed the moment I couldn’t help to think about Bruce Fordyce’s latest article on www.runnersworld.co.za called “Running with music”.

I agree 100% with Bruce on this one. Everything he mentions is exactly my thoughts as well. As I looked at the pink clouds I could hear dozens of birds enjoying the perfect morning. I realized again, this is why I run. This is why it’s easy to get out of bed and onto the road every morning. I felt so motivated and knew then why I don’t need anything else to motivate me. Music would have spoiled that moment.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Where am I now?

As I’ve said the main focus for the next 8 months will be to build up for the Comrades marathon on 30 May 2010. That seems far away, but for someone like me with a total lack of natural running ability it’s not that long before the race.

So where am I now? I’m currently in a process of building up from scratch after a long lay off from running. I now run 15km with ease and will progress to 20km in the next few weeks. My plan is to be able to run 25km comfortably by the end of the year. I’ve decided not to go further than 25km this year. I plan to do 3 x 25km runs towards the end of the year. This should give me a good base to start the serious buildup in January.

I’m using Don Oliver’s training program as a guide
and my monthly distance will be very close to his plan. See www.alsoranrunners.info for his training program and some great advice for Comrades. His plan includes the 32km RAC Tough One in November, but I’ve decided to skip that this year. I’ll probably be able to do it, but I think I’ll do more damage than good to my body if I run the race. I want to be 100% injury and niggle free at the start of 2010. I used Don’s program in the past and it works well for me.

I run 6 days a week with Monday a rest day. I run early in the morning and my wakeup time is anything from 04:00 to 04:50 depending on the distance I want to run and where I have to be at what time for work. I love the mornings and really find this the best part of the day. It’s a great feeling to get to work knowing I’ve done my training for the day.

The biggest challenge for me at the moment is to get a body that is 13 years older than it was with my last Comrades in shape. Everything seems to be happening a lot slower than before. The main problem is loosing weight. 10 – 15 years ago I lost weight 10 – 15 times quicker…or so it feels anyway. I know I reached higher fitness levels a lot sooner as well. But this does not get me down. I’m very motivated and everyday I look forward to the next day’s run. Dedication has never been a problem for me and getting back to a complete running lifestyle is very exciting.

Monday 5 October 2009

So, I’ve started my “big return”

In 2010 the Comrades marathon in South Africa will be a very special event. It will be the 85th Comrades and will also be run shortly before the FIFA soccer world cup starts in South Africa. For these reasons the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) decided to make it a special year. Entries will be capped at 20000 and a special medal will be on offer.

I decided that this is a good year to make a very long overdue comeback to the race. I finished the race in 1997 and now, 13 years later, I plan to do it again. I also decided that this is the perfect time to start another overdue affair, a running blog.

I’ve been thinking about starting a running blog for some time now. I suppose it can be a good thing as this will act as a motivation tool as well. After all, I can’t blog about not training or not running or not going for my goals. So in that sense it can only be good. Where it can be bad is that I’ll most likely update the blog a lot more than I would my performance testing blog, which might suggest that I’m more passionate about running than performance testing, or work for that matter. And that is not true at all. I’m one of the lucky people that have a passion for what I do for a living.

So I’ve made the decision to start this running blog at last. Now where to start? I’m not going to blog about the past, but maybe as a start I can give a short history of my running and why I’m so passionate about it.

Running has been a part of my life since I can remember. I was not at school yet when my dad started running for a low blood pressure problem. He ran early every morning without fail for many, many years. Just for the blood pressure. He didn’t train for a race or anything like that. His dedication still inspires me today. The only race related memory I have of those days is that of listening to the radio commentary of the Comrades marathon in the 1970’s. I remember hearing names like Alan Robb, Graeme Frazer, Tony Abott and of course later Bruce Fordyce. I remember picturing the race in my mind while listening to the radio.

In 1981 my dad came home one evening with entry forms for the SABC TV road race. There was a half marathon and a 10km race. He decided the whole family would run. And that’s exactly what we did. Dad, my brother and I ran the 21,1km. Mom and my two sisters ran the 10km. That’s where my running career started. My first official race, the 1981 SABC TV 21,1km road race. I was in standard 10 (grade 12), my last year at school.

So here I am, many years later, 46 years old, training to run the Comrades marathon again after 13 years. I call this blog “Run Tall, Walk Tall”, a mantra I’ve been using for many years when I battle or go through a bad patch on a run. The next eight months will be primarily focused on the buildup to Comrades on 30 May 2010, when I’ll tackle the 89km run.