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Running: A celebration of life

  • Ultra Marathon
  • Training

The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is one of those truly South African running events that you have to experience at least in your life… So why have I never been able to participate in it?

Well, as a professional athlete, I was always racing internationally at that time of year, and when I finally decided to participate a few years ago, I fell pregnant with my first son! 

So you can say that this year the timing is perfect – finally – and after having been fortunate enough to travel extensively and participate in many races around the globe, I am really excited to finally run the world’s most beautiful marathon in the city that is the closest to my heart!

But it’s more than just good timing…

It has always been my dream to uplift the profile of and performances within endurance running in South Africa. 

Athletics and distance running have sadly seen a decline over the past two decades, and I would love to see more South Africans competing at international marathons and the Olympics.

With this in mind, we launched a non-profit company called Endurocad that aims to boost the profile of distance running in South Africa, while nurturing talent, boost performance levels and support athletes in their endeavours to get ready for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and beyond. 

So running the Two Oceans Marathon is much more than a personal dream come true; it also allows me to raise awareness of endurance running and to generate sponsorship and support for Endurocad’s efforts.

It’s about juggling, motivation & commitment

Anyone preparing for an Ultra Marathon will know that it takes a lot of commitment, and even though I have been running and active over the last few years, it is quite a challenge and hard to fit everything into a day.  I even follow an Ultra Marathon training programme now!

Previously, as a professional runner, my whole day revolved around training and it was easy.  This time it is different though, and I have to do a lot of juggling – running, feeding my children and getting them to school, my work schedule and spending quality time with my partner – to fit everything in. 

I have come to realise that, as a professional athlete, it was about me and my goals.  But now it’s about much more than the pace or position; it is about purpose, running for a greater good and the sense of participation.

The good thing is that I love a great challenge as it gives me a purpose.  The challenge of running my first Two Oceans Ultra is filled with so much purpose, which gives me enough reason and motivation to maintain my mileage and training.

The training has been quite tough though, and while I feel more energised in some ways, I also feel a lot more tired in others.  I have a huge appetite again and am hungry all the time, but I have also found myself to get a bit moody when I have just done a long run and then still have to run after the kids (just kidding!).  The reality is that, as a professional athlete, I was always able to take a long nap after training to aid recovery, but those days are gone!

Training & targets

Having a big target, following a set programme, having a running companion and having fun are all important factors that will continue to drive you when you get tired of training.

In my case, knowing that I have committed to doing my fist Ultra keeps me going when the run gets a bit long.  I know I should stick to the programme if I want to be prepared for the race, especially because I know how long and tough a marathon is.

It’s also important to have some structure within your personal schedule.  Bruce Fordyce, the King of Ultra, gave me some really good pointers with regards to my training.  I also signed up with Mauritz and Jacques Jansen van Rensburg of Soul Running who formulated a running programme around my fitness levels, speed capacity and the amount of time I had been able to commit to running.  It is a wonderful programme and tailor-made for me!

I find it interesting that people tell me that I would be able to “walk” the run with my athletic background!  The reality is that “muscle memory” is a myth!  I ran well when I trained exceptionally hard, but I have to be more flexible now.  Thankfully motherhood has taught me how to be more flexible with my time, which helps a lot!

But it goes beyond training…

Your body has to be in good balance and I ensure that I have a few sessions with my chiropractor.  I always listen to my body and when it is tired I will things easier. 

Food is also important, and if you don’t eat right or hydrate properly, you are not going to be able to recover.

Other than that, I am very lucky to have an in-house massage therapist who will give me a regular massage (if I ask very nicely), while compression socks help with injury prevention and recovery.

Running is a celebration

I always say that running is a celebration of life.  It is an affirmation of being healthy and, in my opinion, health is the only wealth that really counts.

Why do YOU run?

**Support Endurocad**

I will be running the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon as part of a fundraising and awareness campaign for my non-profit organisation, Endurocad.  I would like to see people supporting this amazing cause by making a donation, sponsoring an athlete or simply by supporting the Endurocad team on race day.

Visit www.endurocad.co.za to see how you could help raise the profile of distance running.

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