A comfort zone is a beautiful place, or is it?

This past weekend was once again a double whammy weekend with a half marathon on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. This is all part of my Comrades training. People often ask me how I do this and I guess there is a long and short answer to this.

In short, you just do it.

This has a lot to do with pushing one’s boundaries and breaking through the walls of our comfort zones. I saw a quote the other day saying, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” This is so true. Fact is, getting stuck in a routine is easy to do. After all, we humans are creatures of habit.

Back to the weekend’s races. Saturday I did the BestMed TUKS 21.1km race. My friend Naomi asked me to pace her so she can better her seeding for the Two Oceans Half Marathon. Naomi realized that there was only one way she could better her time and that was to push harder, run faster and more efficient. She had to leave that comfort zone and she did. The plan was to finish the 21.1km with two hours and twelve minutes on the clock but we ended up crossing the finish line at 02:11:41. Mission accomplished.

Fear is often the one single thing that stops most of us from breaking out of our comfort zones. It is the fear of failure that cripples most of us. We will never know what we are capable of doing and what success is within our grasp unless we try it, unless we step out and do it. In order to do this we have to redefine our feelings of fear and focus on what lies beyond the here and now and then, in the process, look through the window of opportunity, see the possible end result and replace the feelings of fear with excitement.

When we decide to break out of comfort zones and decide to do something that will challenge us, we will end up with a whole different outlook on life and we will become much more receptive to change and this will push us forward towards our goals and dreams. It is only on the outside of our comfort zones where dreams come true, where magic happens and where we grow as people. It is outside of our comfort zones where we will meet success, excitement, self-discovery, fulfillment, fearlessness, passion, confidence and a feeling of purpose. Here you will find no regrets.

The question today is, when’s the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and took on a new challenge?


Having a Plan A, B and possible C


Recently on the route with friends and running mates Mercia and Naomi at the Johnson Crane Hire Marathon I thought about this topic, a lot. I was reminded about words Lindsey Parry said at the Comrades road show – about having a plan B, and even a plan C on race day.

I think most people are going into a race, especially the longer ones, having some idea of how they want race day to play out and with this the finishing time they wish to achieve. Nothing wrong with that. We enter into these races with a good idea of how our training runs have been, we have a general good idea how our bodies responded to certain things and what we are capable of on race day, but this can all change in a split second.

Friends, you need a plan B, and sometimes a plan C. Often I see that runners have a really almost undoable plan A, a plan that is almost doomed from the start, maybe a too fast finish time compared to your training averages, maybe an idea to race someone else to the end, maybe to set up a PB knowing you’re not really there yet, but believe me, and I have said this over and over again, “Race day is your day”, and especially when it comes to the big brother races, Two Oceans, Om die Dam, Loskop and of course, Comrades.

I think most people going into a run have an idea of a finishing time they’d like to achieve. They know what their training runs have been like, they have a general idea of what their body is capable of and a great run is a great acknowledgement of that training. Sometimes you want a nice achievable goal and sometimes you want an aggressive one.

I think plan be should be the most reasonable and doable plan – the one you are most comfortable about achieving. That should be your target plan for the day. Going into a race with an injury, with a possible viral infection, a simple flu or an almost sure possibility to cramp ( if you tend to cramp ) then you are almost guaranteed to end up settling for plan B or even C in a worst case scenario. Most of the times it is the things you have very little control over that force you to lower gear and settle for the alternatives.

Remember, if you start ticking off your race plans, A, B and get to C, this is where you are getting into trouble because after this there is nothing to fall back on and that is why plan A must always be the most doable one, so the ones you fall back onto don’t increase the stress levels too much allowing your goals and targets to slip away from you too far. I have heard many runners say things like, “I will take race day as it comes…” or “I will see what happens on race day” or “I am just going to run”. That is maybe so, but you need some idea of time, average pace, what to do in order for you to get to that finish time, on time, I mean, that is the main goal of race day, right, to finish.

Let me use Comrades as example. Believe me, when you hit that runners wall, wether it is at 40, 50 60 or even later, you are so tired and it feels like you running through quicksand. It is hot, your legs are tired, they are heavy, it is really hot and you are really doubting yourself and wonder why the heck you are doing this, asking yourself all those questions Lindsey referred to. Well, that is where you will have to regroup, rethink and this is where you race plan will change and believe me, there is at this time no time to figure out a plan, you needed one already.

My A plan went to C plan in no time – “Do your best and see how it goes” soon changed to “slow down and walk the hills” and again changed to “now I just have to run an average of 8 minutes per kilometre to finish.” And it was not plan A or B that got me to the finish line, it was plan C. I finished my comrades with a nerve-racking 3 minutes to go to the 12 hour cut-off time, but the point is, I made it and the back to back medal is in the bag. I cannot express enough the importance of a Plan B or Plan C. It is so important. If I hadn’t had that I could have never reached the finish line or maybe by grace gotten to the finish line and been disappointed. And how awful would that have been? Reaching the finish line disappointed is never a pleasant experience, believe me, I was there before. My plan C was great. Under the conditions, Plan C was something I could be very happy of and I could be proud of what I’d done crossing the finish line.

Friends, learn the ABC of running and increase your chances of having a better experience at the end.

Happy running everyone.

Note :


This week I launched The Marathon Club where marathon runners can give a R50 donation to The Bible Society of South Africa and then get a plaque the virtual wall of honour and some great bragging rights that goes with that. This is currently only available to South Africans and more specifically only for marathon runners ( who have successfully ran and competed a 42.2km race ) ; this is because of internet payment issues

BUT, we have a great feature where we invite marathon runners from all over the world to  share with us their first marathon stories and these might feature on the web page.

You will find details on the web page at www.themarathonclub.co.za