Comrades is something of the past, what now…?

So Comrades 2017 is something of the past. Some runners started training again, others are still lying low and taking it easy.

Image result for guy resting

I have learned during my years of running that recovering from a marathon or ultra-marathon is a critical component of a perfect training plan that runners often neglect. Unfortunately, if you don’t properly recover from your long run, you’ll increase you injury risk and limit your long-term potential. Simple as that.

For those who have done a marathon or two before will know that these events are really tough on our bodies. From muscles and tendons to hormones and cells – almost every system in your body is pushed to the max and undergoes extreme physical exertion during these runs. It therefore makes perfect sense that we should do everything you we to help your body recover once the long run is over.

I am not going to tell people what to do and what not to do, there are a lot of resources out there that can help with that, all I can say is do not be in a hurry to get into the full swing of things too soon. Give your body a chance to recover and especially, like before your marathon or ultra-marathon, avoid being around sick people. Remember putting your body through the paces at these endurance events gives your body’s immune system a massive knock. Athletes who participate in endurance events like marathons and ultra-marathons, are therefore at an increased risk of picking up minor illnesses or infections – most commonly upper respiratory tract infections.

I personally know a lot of runners who fell ill after Comrades, some serious and others not so serious, but it just underlines the fact that it is a reality.

You can try to limit this risk by avoiding deficiencies and ensure adequate intake of carbohydrates, proteins, fluids and micronutrients like iron, zinc, Vitamin B6, B12, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Also make sure you stay hydrated.

For the past week I’ve been dealing with an ankle injury, yes nothing to do with hydration or stacking up on the vitamins, but it is simply because I did what I decided not to do, and did a half-marathon as my first post-comrades race. Stupid ! So now I am taking it easy, making sure I get rid of this injury so I can start with my proper training at the beginning of August. I am already back in gym for about four weeks now, but beginning of August the focused training starts so I can be ready for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on the 17th of September 2017 and hopefully this will be my Comrades 2018 qualifier race.

Well friends, time to sign off. I hope all of you are doing well and are still on track with your training plans and busy doing what you have to to make those dreams come true.

Happy weekend everyone !

Advertisements

OMTOM2017 Success !

IMG_7702Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon is without doubt one of my favorite event on the running calendar. I just love this race, not only because it is definitely the most beautiful marathon in the world, not only because it is in Cape Town, not only because it is well organized, not only because it was my first ultra-marathon and not only because it gives us a chance to take a short break, but also because of the unique challenge of this race.

This year I arrived here in Cape Town with one goal for OMTOM2017, to just run my race and decided that I will be happy with a comfortable sub 6, but most importantly I wanted finish without issues, without injury and feeling good. Race day offered me that and more. My unofficial plan was to try and get a PB in the bag, with a possible 05:47 (previous personal best was 05:50 in 2014 ).

As race day unfolded along this amazing breathtaking OMTOM route, I realized that I was on track to make it happen. At 17 km I had to stop because of severe nausea, but once I’ve taken care of that, it was back to the road pushing towards the finish line. When I got to the bottom of Chapmans Peak I was still on track and felt great. I maneuvered my way up ‘Chappies’ with caution, worked in three proper stops, with about three minutes of walking and then made up some time down the other side. I knew ‘fly now pay later’ will soon be a reality if I was not cautious. Getting into Hout Bay I felt great. I passed the 42km mark and almost fell over when I noticed it was 04:11 into the race. This where I got little positive booster, realizing the plan for the day was busy playing out really well. I planned ahead for Constantia Nek and I once again wondered, can one really be prepared for Constantia? Anyway, I continued and knew every step was a step closer to the finish.

The plan changed slightly when I caught up with Melinda Smal and Esti Kemp from Magnolia about 7 km from the end. Drill Sergeant Smal was not interested in excuses whatsoever so Esti and I just had latch on and run. There was no mercy whatsoever. But it was all good, at this stage I knew the PB was in the bag it was just a matter of what time it was going to be. Turning into the UCT grounds is always a joy, this time round, even more so.

I crossed the finish line with Melinda and Esti at 05:42:54.

#OMTOM2017 mission accomplished !

18057001_10150802279204946_8391414820810149647_nIt is in moments like this that one can appreciate the progress made, when you see the results of hard work and commitment, many early mornings, endless kilometers in the road and hours in the gym. It all comes together on days like this. Hard work pays off, that is for sure. Fact is, good runs like this don’t just happen, you train for it, you work hard for it, but the reward is great when you reach your goals and that is when you move those boundaries a little further.

I want to thank everyone who supported me, all the messages, following me on the app and the calls, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

It is now a short week of taking it easy and then this coming weekend we will take on the Loskop 50km Ultra Marathon, now that is going to be interesting, to say the least. But we will be there and take it as it comes.

[ …more photos here ]

Comrades 2017 for Bibles – and more…

We are less than 80 days away from the running of Comrades marathon 2017. This race over the past four years became an integrate part of my life. After I managed to shake off 53kg I found myself on the road, became a runner and in 2014 lined up with thousands of runners to take on my first “Ultimate Human Race”

Over the ninety something years Comrades became part of a South African tradition and over years became one of those items on any runner’s bucket list, one of those must try items. Comrades Marathon definitely is, without doubt, an ultimate human race, the ultimate test of one’s character, challenging the human spirit, which explains why complete strangers from local and abroad and from totally different backgrounds help each other to conquer this hilly course.

This year’s theme is ZINIKELE, It takes all of you.

It does.

My Comrades journey, the decision to do it, started with a t-shirt I bought at the 2014 expo in Durban and the words, “Don’t promise, commit” sort of snookered me. I was a supporter that year, but when I left the expo in Durban I told my friends that I will run the down run in 2015 and the rest is history. Conquering that first Comrades, I remember coming into that stadium in Durban overwhelmed with a mix of emotions and with tears in my eyes and that indescribable feeling of achievement. That year I hang on to a favourite quote by Madiba, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Since then I’ve gone back for more and this year I will run my fourth Comrades Marathon. The first one was special but really tough, so much so that I was one of those who said, “Never again” just to find myself back at the start line in 2015 to try to secure my back to back medal, and I did.

To me Comrades never comes easy. Getting to the start line takes all of you, hours of training, endless early mornings, races, places, dealing with injuries, fighting off the flu, sometimes more than one attempt to get qualified and get your seeding right. Preparing for this iconic race requires hard work and ultimate commitment, just to get to the start. On race day, before you can experience and enjoy the moment you cross that finish line before the 12 hours cut-off, the long road between Durban and Pietermaritzburg is often lined with pain, discomfort, desperation, confusion, questions without answers, uncertainty, fear, self-doubt. But it is not all doom and gloom, there are also moments of sharing, solidarity, encouragement, comrade and even humor and laughter as runners navigate their way towards the finish line. It is the encouraging words from fellow runners and total strangers that push you forward towards the end.

The fourth of June is going to be another tough day on the road. It is again an up-run and this is a real challenge for me. I prefer the down run, but this is part of the magic I guess of Comrades, to always challenge you on some level. For us, the so called “normal” and non-elite athletes, this is not a race, and if it is, it is only a race against time, a race against that clock that “seize to work” at twelve hours, when the final cut off gun with sound and determine whether you made it or not. I have learned over the years that a Comrades runner can only claim success when success is achieved.

During every run so far I met my runner’s wall between 60 and 65 kilometer. This is where I go into mental overdrive where it becomes all about mind over matter, the will to carry on and finish what you’ve started arguing against your body that wants to stop. Fact is, the battle now becomes more with your head than your body because your head refuses to believe that you can make it. This “battle” also drains you mentally, emotionally and saps your body of what is left so I try to get this battle over as quickly as possible so I can carry on with the business of the day, getting to that finish line, in time.

In 2016 I started to run for charity when I joined hands with the Bible Society of South Africa and ran my first Comrades for Bibles. I read a lot about people supporting charities through their sport and I decided to give it a go, and this was without doubt the best move I could ever make. That runner’s wall again came at around 60 kilometers, but the battle was short lived. When the going got tough, I reminded myself why I was doing this, so someone somewhere can get a free Bible and then suddenly the tough got going again and I had my best Comrades ever. I really think this is a tradition we as runners need to make part of your running journeys, running for something more than just a medal or personal achievement, but to also support a local charity and bring change to people’s lives.

This year I will again run Comrades for Bibles – run the 87 kilometers raising funds for Bibles – sowing my support for Bibles, one kilometer at a time.

However, there will be an added challenge. I have committed to run Comrades 2017 with a friend to try and ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Lourens will be by my side on race day. The special challenge here is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. For fear of damaging the sensitive and expensive transmitter unit, Christo chooses to compete in his runs without it. When he runs, he is thus literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world. The main challenge for hearing-impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners have to be aware of their surroundings constantly. This includes not only motor vehicles but pedestrians and other runners as well. It all revolves around safety. For this very reason I have committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside him – hopefully all the way. Although Christo and I will be taking on Comrades together and hopefully navigate our way to the end together, both of us will run our own race and we as individuals we will have to get to that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. [ …read more ]

People say what I do is very noble, but to me this is all about Ubunto, meaning, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Running for a cause and this year, also for a friend, is a real blessing to me and means so much to me that it is not just about me, it is not just about my medal, my personal goal, dream or challenge, but it extends over boundaries and horizons much further than that.

My Comrades for Bibles charity drive is now open and you can show your support by donating to this cause. Every R50 donation will make available one FREE Bible to someone who really needs it most and goes to the poorest of the poor.  It was Paul who said, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” ( 1 Corinthians 3 :16 ) Each Bible we can place in the hands of the Bible Society of South Africa and ultimately in the hands of a stranger somewhere will not only bring a single person, but potentially a whole family, one step closer to a living relationship with God.

Today I am so glad that I am not forced to support one of the official and accredited charities associated with Comrades, so I decided to dedicate my kilometers to the Bible Society of South Africa. I have a dedicated web page for my Comrades for Bibles charity drive and I invite you to visit this page to learn how you can support this cause. I tried to make the process a little easier and hopefully we can top last year’s R14,323.40 ( 311 free Bibles ).

Thank you for your support and for being part of my journey to Comrades 2017 !

[ InstaGram ] [ Twitter ]
Follow me on these platforms for ongoing updates and inspiration

The balance between training runs and weekend races

tv

TeamVitality at Garbie 32km Race

To me there are basically three important races if you are training for Comrades Marathon, your weekend races, then your qualifier and then the biggy, Comrades. Those three, in that order.

I get really nervous when I hear people talk about their personal bests, week in and week out. Your Comrades training runs and weekend races are not to set up personal bests.

It involves a huge commitment when you decide to take on the iconic ultra of all ultras, “The Ultimate Human Race”, Comrades.

We usually meet up with running buddies and get so caught up in the hype of Comrades and before you know it you are onto it, convinced that you have to go all out on every run and run one PB after the other. Not so. Not necessary. In fact, you will gain less by doing that.

Races are an important part of Comrades, but they are not there to see how fast you can go or how many PBs you can run, they are then to keep you focused, they are there to bring that balance between a casual training run and a little more effort and to test your progress.

In my training runs, over the past three years of doing Comrades, I have always believed in a good mix up of runs. During my training runs I do speed work, hill training, some gym work ( although I have to admit, I am lazy with this ) and also do some slow runs and finish off the bouquet with some nice pace runs. PB’s do not make you fast, focusing on specifics during training do. Most Comrades runners will tell you that the only thing you will get from going all out at every single run is probably a good dose of fatigue and burnout and if you are one of the unlucky one, you can and often will end up with some injuries too.

Your training runs during the week should be the more relaxed ones where you get your needed kilometers on your legs and where you can test all your supplements, new running gear, your drinking habits etc. Your weekend races, because it is organised and more structured, will be more intense and ideal to focus on a little more pacing and rhythm and also help you to see how you manage the crowds at the start and on the route off course. It is important to finish your races feeling comfortable and more on the fresh side; not strained and definitely not sore. In fact, when you’re done, you should be able to turn around and do an easy four of five kilometers recovery run.

The weekend races form a really important part of your training and preparation for Comrades and should not be neglected. The training load you get from them is in general higher than what you get from your training runs during the week. Oh and it is a great opportunity to meet up with your team mates and friend and enjoy the time out on the road.

Know this, if you apply variety to your training program, your times will actually come down by themselves as you approach Comrades.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

So, to recap, train hard, focus on your speed and stamina and then get your qualifier out of the way. A good qualifier will not only set you up for a Comrades start with a little more peace of mind, but it will also give you a good idea of where you are in terms of training. After that it is a good healthy balance between variety, quality and quantity. I am not going to get into details of how many kilos you should do a week, there are a variety of training guides out there for that and they also vary depending on what kind of runner you are. I do not think there a generic and single plan for all, in fact I know a few people who tried those and got into trouble at Comrades. Use these as guidelines.

Whatever you do, learn to apply self-discipline, be focused and do what is needed to get you first to the start line and then to the finish. And last but not least, do not underestimate Comrades. It is not called “The Ultimate Human Race” for nothing.

Happy training everyone.

Unexpected detour on the #Road2Comrades2017

img_0894

Sunday morning I lined up at Johnson Crane Marathon for my Comrades qualifier race, but I was alone. My running buddy Christo had to withdraw from the race because he was sick during the week and I advised him not to run the marathon, but to do the 10km and he did.

On the #Road2Comrades there will be some detours. Fact is, in the moment, we don’t understand this, and we don’t know why this has to happen. We most likely won’t know how valuable such detours will prove to be, but I have learned that life has a way of revealing the hidden magic in these moments down the road at the appropriate time. There has to be a reason why we face these challenges.

This is the #Road2Comrades2017 and detours are inevitable.

I knew this was going to be a solo run for me and I focused on the task at hand, I had to better my Comrades seeding. I qualified at Cape Town Marathon last year already, but I wanted to secure a F seeding for Comrades, and I did. I took some renewed focus and hard running to maintain my sub 6 min per km pace. I kept most of my run at around 5:50 min per km but settled into my planned 6:06 per km as I got closer to the finish. My planning was to not dip below 6:08 min per kilometer, this was to keep me safe from that 04:19:59 qualifying time. I crossed the finish line at 04:16:09. Mission accomplished !

img_0878

Thanks for the support guys.

This unexpected detour, Christo not being able to run with me, is something we will deal with in due time. For now he will focus on strength training, getting stronger and faster to get himself to a place where he will be able to also secure his F seeding for Comrades. That is the plan and I know he will work hard to achieve this. It is important for us to be in the same starting block at Comrades because of the unique nature of our running partnership.

A last thought. If Christo decided to attempt the marathon on Sunday and tried to keep up with me (and I had a tough day) I am almost 100% sure it was going to be a bad day at the running office for him. It is tough, I know, but it is better to deal with the decisions we make rather than succumbing to the unexpected curve balls and be disappointed in that way.

The #Road2Comrades2017 continues. Watch this space !

[ Also Read This ]

As a Team – We will tackle his dream!

blog

I (me Douw) was more walking than running when I survived my 5 km race way back in January 2011. That experience was, however, enough to convince me to lace up permanently and develop into a full-fledged runner. I loved it. Here I am, six years later and still enjoying this wonderful sport.

Throughout my running years I have learned that runners and walkers are not made from a single blueprint. We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, sexes, ages, colours and abilities, each one having his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

During Comrades 2016 Cornelia Hutchinson and I ran for more than our own medals by supporting the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run4Bibles charity drive. We were overwhelmed by the love and support we received from our friends, family and even strangers. In the process we managed to raise a stunning R14,000 plus for Bibles.

This year my journey will be somewhat different. I have committed myself to run Comrades 2017 with a friend and to try ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Kris Lourens will be by my side on race day. Our special challenge is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. When he runs without the transmitter unit, he is literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world.

The main challenge for hearing impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners always have to be constantly aware of their surroundings and watch out for traffic, not just cars, but pedestrians and other runners too. It is all evolves around their safety. For this very reason have I committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside with him – hopefully all the way.

Due to many factors, first and foremost the length of the events and the resultant exposure to numerous hazards, disabled athletes comprise a small minority in endurance sports. Christo and I decided that he can use this opportunity to inspire and motivate others and afford him the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for this minority group. It’s a role he shied away from at first, but he now understands that having overcome the odds for himself, he now has the added responsibility to defy stereotypes that exist about deaf people in endurance sports.

Christo is such an inspiration to me, because he is living his life to the fullest while he just happens to wear a hearing aid along the way. He has successfully completed various road races, half and full marathons and he has also hiked the Fish River Canyon trail twice.

Sport is a great equalizer. We may not all finish at the same time, but our efforts and the end results are often not far apart. Our times may differ considerably but that is not the final benchmark. We have to embrace and respect the diversity of everyone’s own challenge, and refrain from judging other athletes by ingenuous criteria alone. When we truly find out about the other person’s challenges, the chances are that they may just surprise you.

Christo runs all his races without wearing his transmitter. Cochlear implants are sensitive pieces of electronic equipment and they are at risk of breaking if they fall out of the ear during vigorous activity. Furthermore, it is not only the transmitter that can be damaged, a sportsman with a cochlear implant is always at risk of suffering a blow to the head on or around the site of the internal package – which may damage the internal package or external parts or the skin around the area. This can happen during a fall or a collision with another person. These risks may seem small, but they are certainly real and any injury would have severe consequences.

I met Christo through mutual friends and we ran our first race together at the Castle Walk 10km on the ninth of August last year. Little did we know how our friendship would develop and what was lying ahead. That single certainly led to an amazing journey towards Comrades 2017. Another proof of the unique ability of this wonderful sport to create meaningful friendships.

When the entries for Comrades Marathon 2017 opened last year, I told Christo that if he entered for this iconic and amazing race, I would commit myself to be at his side and assist him in any way possible on this journey to make his dream come true. And here we are in 2017, Christo has entered and we are on our #Road2Comrades2017. The TeamVitality and Magnolia Road Runners duo is now pushing forward towards the forth of June 2017.

To date we have run various races together, most of them half-marathons – but we are literally only days away from our first joint marathon, the Johnson Crane 42.2km on 29 January 2017. Needless to say, it is important for us to get the qualifying race out of the way first so that we can then start working on the finer details of seconding someone. As a running duo we have to work on our communication, figure out how we will get one another’s attention, how to keep eye contact while communicating, work out brief and simple instructions and start using pre-agreed visual signals to navigate our way safely though the massive crowd on the road. On all the races, but more so on Comrades race day, I have to be sensitive in order to pay attention to many aspects: how we run as a pair, our pacing and running conditions, and the physical and emotional state of my running partner. The responsibility rest firmly on my shoulders to get Christo safely over that finish line in Pietermaritzburg and I am determined and motivated to do just that.

Our running together is based on commitment and dedication but as we got to know one another better and started doing longer runs, I have noticed how the bond of trust has grown between us.  I realised that Christo entered Comrades on the basis of this trust and if it wasn’t for me he would have not done so. I am feeling blessed and so fortunate to share this amazing journey with him and to help him achieve his Comrades dream.

Meeting this amazing individual has forever changed my life and in the process added a new dimension to my own personal passion for running. Last year was a special Comrades Marathon when Cornelia and I ran for Bibles, this year will be double the blessing, running for Bibles again and helping a friend to realise his Comrades dream.

It seems that the above account carries two very important messages for everyone out there. When I started my own journey way back in 2008 I never thought to be living the life I do now. I literally afforded myself a second chance, gave myself a new lease on a happier and healthier life; started to run; lost 53kg; completed various half- full- and ultra-marathons, including three international marathons; and I will line up for my 4th Comrades this year.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The impossible is possible! Through my running I also hope to inspire others to improve their lives. Sharing my humble wisdom and experiences through my own personal web page www.myownjourney.co.za and other social media interactions is aimed at achieving this. Christo also has a simple, but powerful message: “I love challenges and nothing needs to stand in your way to make your dreams a reality. I’ve been dreaming about doing Comrades for a long time, and this year I am going to do it with my friend and wingman Douw next to me.”

You will be able to follow our journey through my web page at www.myownjourney.co.za or find me on social media, Twitter and Instagram ( @myownjourney_sa ) You can find Christo on Facebook and Instagram

Written by DOUW PRINSLOO
Edited by DIETER GLOECK

PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race 2017 : My Six Year Anniversary Run

This morning’s PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race marked my six year running anniversary. This is where my running journey started, on the 29th of January 2011.

Let me take you back to that day real quick. There were more than 3000 athletes lining up that morning for the 10km and 21.1km races, but there was also the walkers and more specific, the 5km fun run group; I was lined up there. Although I was already two years into my weight loss journey, I have never done a single race in my life, and there I was, hoping to make the 5km with a combination of running and walking, hopefully no crawling. Well, I did finish with an ‘accomplished’ time of 00:30:20. For me the time was not important, I was just very happy to finish. I loved the whole vide of this event so much that I joined the Running Inn running club, bought my first running shoes, got my first ASA license that very day ( after the race ) and I guess I could then call myself a ‘runner’.

That morning Pieter Venter was also there, doing his first 10km race and also he never stopped. That day marked the beginning of new chapter for the both of us.

Following this event I started doing races on a regular basis and looked forward to every weekend because it meant, like I called it then, ‘races and places’. That gave birth to my current slogan I love to use – ‘Making Miles and Moments Count

thenandnow

This morning, lining up for this very same event, I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude, feeling so blessed, that I can still do what I love and love what I do, running, sharing the road with so many awesome people and maintaining my healthy lifestyle and in the process encourage others to do the same, to live their best possible lives. Standing there at the start of this morning’s race I was taken back in time for a split moment to thàt first 5km fun run just a few blocks away from where we were this morning ( back then the race started at the back of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre ) and then an announcement by Pete brought me back to this morning’s event. I looked at Christo Lourens standing next to me and immediately thought of the #Road2Comrades2017 we are on, the road to his very first Comrades Marathon, my fourth. I thought to myself, ‘Here I am, six years down the road of my very own running journey and in a privileged position helping a friend to realize his very own Comrades dream.’ On the 4th of June I am determined to cross that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg with Christo Lourens next to me.

My message to everyone reading this is simple, ‘Let no one ever tell you that something is not possible, because it is.’ My favorite quote, the quote that carried me through my very first Comrades, are these words by the late Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ If you dream it, chances are pretty good that you can achieve it. With hard work and commitment the impossible is very possible. It is always within your reach to achieve extraordinary things. Believe it. Always remember, there are always something out there to help you achieve your goals, you just have to find it. For me, joining Discovery Vitality made a huge difference, helping me to stay focused, committed and determined to carry on and then also rewarding me for doing so. Never was it so simple to work out and get rewarded all at the same time.

Let me also take this opportunity to just thank everyone who was and still is part of my journey for your love, support and encouragement. No, it was not always easy and no things did not always worked out as planned, but, I never gave up, never quit, never opted for second best, I worked hard, pushed on, set new goals, leaned forward and reached out for what was ahead. All of you made that possible for me. If I had to do this alone, I am not sure that it would have played out this way at all. I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a friend of fellow runner, because they are the people who lift us up when we need it most, when we are tired, discouraged and weary.

Happy running everyone and have fun chasing your dreams !

[ Read more about my journey here : http://www.myownjourney.co.za ] and follow me on Twitter or Instagram @myownjourney_sa ( links on my web page )