Overcoming the slump

To be honest, these past few weeks I have been feeling really blah lately. You know when you feel sluggish and stagnant on your runs? Like you are  putting in all this training and yet your performance is stale.

It is probably because I have been feeling very nervous about running my first SkyMarathon this month (this is the furthest I have ever run, let alone at altitude). However, after weeks of slogging along feeling desperately demotivated, everything just came together on Sunday and I know it is because of the amazing team that have been working behind the scenes with me.

On Sunday morning I was still whining to my coach, Clinton Hunter from RacePace Coaching, about how despondent I was feeling. You have to admire a coach who is at hand at 5:30am on whatsapp to give you a much needed pep talk, which I really appreciated.

He has just had massive success with one of his athletes,  Stewart Chaperon, who clinched an amazing second place to Ryan Sandes at the 76km Addo Elephant Trail Run.  He has a way of nurturing the best in his athletes and he has been a key component in my performance last year. When I am exhausted I know that there is method in his madness and I can now see the gains.

kettlebellEndurance running is a whole other ball game to me but I have been lucky enough to be working with Rhain Hoskins and his team at Paragon Fitness/Crossfit Reid, a really awesome gym based at Durban High School that focuses on various training styles from Hardstyle Kettlebells to Crossfit, TRX suspension training and functional training.

rhain
Rhain killing it at Paragon

Rhain has been offering me custom one-on-one training designed to meet my specific needs as an athlete and a lot of our focus has been on Hardstyle Kettlebell training with some functional stuff thrown into the mix. The training techniques use maximal explosiveness, high tension and power breathing, and this has translated directly into positive results in my running in a few short weeks. I can feel my endurance has improved, I have more power and my overall strength and fitness has improved drastically.

Training aside, I have wanted to take a more holistic approach to my life. I have gone through a stressful time in my life and admittedly, have neglected my body a bit. I have been feeling a need to nurture body, mind and spirit and finally decided to get my butt into gear and explore a more natural way of eating. Laura May, an incredible dietician, athlete and fellow vegan, has been so incredible in helping me in that aspect.

She sat down with me for hours, chatting about my training and dietary needs, devising an incredible meal plan with the most delicious vegan recipes that are healthy and easy to make. The results were immediate. I was no longer feeling dizzy and sluggish on my runs, I was sleeping better, feeling less hungry and loving food again.

I have a history of eating disorder from my teenage years that included bingeing and purging as well as starving myself. It was a long time ago but you will always have a timid approach to food. Which is why it is important for me to work with someone who can understand this, why I am so pedantic about certain foods and and the role ‘trigger’ foods play in my life. To have Laura by my side really means the world to me.

exploring in vivo
exploring in my Vivos

The correct equipment is paramount to any athlete and I have been so fortunate to have the encouragement and support from Vivobarefoot, an incredible brand that shares my love and passion for barefoot running and natural movement as well as concerns about the environment. I have been running in Vivos for over a year and would never go back to a regular shoe brand. I have to admit that every run has been a comfortable one in these shoes and I am stoked to tackle DNT in my Vivos.

Our evolutionary success as humans is directly related to our ability to run but that natural talent isn’t foolproof. 50 years of padded running shoes and poor posture mean about 80% of runners suffer from injury every year. With its complex system of springs, levers and nerve endings, the foot is one of the body’s major sensory organs. Humans are naturally good at walking, running and sprinting. Jogging, or, slow, sticky heel-striking in padded shoes is not a natural movement and is responsible for countless runners’ injuries.feet

This is why I am such a big advocate for Vivo, because they make shoes designed around your natural foot shape, to give your feet the space to function naturally and gain the strength, flexibility and sensitivity needed to live barefoot.

Fun in the mud at Hilton

It was a wet, muddy day of fun at the KZNTR Hilton College Trail Run on Sunday. This is such a lovely route and the cool, misty conditions just added to it’s charm and intrigue. Still relatively new to the trail scene, I first tackled this race last year, finishing up in third place on the 12km. So I was excited, and nervous, to try my hand at the longer distance in preparation for my first upcoming Sky marathon next month.

me

Admittedly, I have been a bit weary about the slightly longer distances, it is something I am still tentatively exploring, but it was reassuring and calming to line up at the start next to so many good friends and familiar faces. The camaraderie and spirit of the trail running community is what makes this sport so special, and there was tons of that going around as we all stood in the rain, waiting for the race to get underway.

Last year, when I first ran Hilton, I was in a completely different place physically and mentally. I had literally just began working with my coach, Clinton Hunter from Racepace Coaching, so my strength and endurance was not up to scratch (he quickly changed that!), and my health was suffering from poor eating habits (I switched over to a plant based diet and my health and performance increased dramatically).

paragon
Paragon Fitness tribe!

With all this in mind, I ran the first half of this race rather cautiously, only kicking it up a few notches by the tenth km. Recently, I have been working closely with Rhain Hoskins from Paragon Fitness, who has been overseeing my conditioning and strength training, and it was really great to run this event with him (although he was way ahead of me for most of the route). He is really inspirational, and somewhat of a mentor, always talking about digging deep and giving 100% effort, and that was what I drew upon to help me through moments of fatigue (I am still relatively new to longer distances remember).

The course was pretty tricky to navigate, with all the mud and some technical sections and climbs at the start. Again, last time I ran this route, I did not have the greatest shoes or equipment with me, which really made it more difficult. This time round I returned armed with my Vivobarefoot Primus Trail shoes and UltrAspire hydration vest, and it made a huge difference.

prize-giving

By the last km, I was feeling stronger than ever and was so excited to come home as the second lady. This was such a wonderful event and I really take my hat off to Lauren and Andrew Booth of KZNTR for putting together such well run events. I also need to give a special shout out to my mom who stood in the rain and cold for hours, supporting us. And to all my wonderful friends for always making this such a fun day out. Massive respect to the podium winning ladies, Puseletso Dladla and Kirsty Bomford who finished in first and third respectively. such phenomenal athletes!!!

Epic finish for trail series

img_4900

Media Release: The KZN Spur Trail Series culminated in an epic finish at the Aloe Wildlife Estate recently as top athletes competed for top spots. Comprised of four long (Championship) and four short (Challenge) courses taking place throughout October at venues in and around Durban, the series drew a strong contingent of runners eager to explore the trails at the four newly selected venues.

win

Competition was stiff in both the Championship and Challenge courses and, with three of the four races counting towards the final standings, it was a close finish. In the men’s Long Course Championship overall standings, Mandla Zulu achieved top honours, finishing ahead of Jonathan Korb and David van der Veen.  Meanwhile, in the women’s Long Course Championship overall standings, national running champ, Puseletso Dladla secured first place ahead of Zoe Papadakis and Kate van der Bank.

Happy runners

untitledDladla is a strong cross country runner who has represented South Africa in track and field 10 000m in 2010 and travelled to compete in Germany, Mozambique and Reunion Island. Speaking about the event, she was full of praise.

“The series were fantastic as usual,” said Dladla. “It was so well organised and the venues were very exciting. I am so excited to have won the series last year and this year again.”

Dladla said she was now looking for a few weeks down time from racing before starting preparations for next year again.

Papadakis, who is a Fry’s ambassador and has been making a name for herself on the trails, was elated with her finish.

img_5430“For me, this series was more about spending time with amazing people and exploring new trails, so I was so happy to have finished second,” she said. Papadakis has been using her performances as a way to promote healthy and ethical living through a plant based lifestyle. She has featured strongly at trail events this year and credited her strong performance to the guidance of her coach, Clinton Hunter from Race Pace Coaching, as well as changing to a plant based lifestyle.

“My coach has been been phenomenal,” she said. “And I also need to thank the team at Fry’s, who have been so amazing in helping me get the message across that you can be healthy and fit and not have to resort to eating animal products.”

Podium finishers

img_5455

In the men’s Short Course Challenge, trail legend, Owen Bengo, bagged the win, finishing ahead of William Dyer and Craig Hallowes. In the women’s Short Course Challenge, Malu Zuma finished top of the log, with Victoria Coetzee in second and Hendrika Liebenberg in third.

The veteran men’s Long Course Championship division saw Grant Cummings finish first, with Donovan van Gelder in second and Ryan Smith in third while, in the veteran ladies, Anita Pohl finished ahead of Sihle Kraai and Leona Lamont respectively.

The master men Long Course Championship saw Martin Birthwhistle in first, with Rammy Govender in second and Gordon Truluck in third and, in the master ladies, Karen Bargate, Alison Chadwick and Kim Robinson rounded off the podium.

The veteran men’s Short Course Challeng division was won by Steven Gossman, with Kevin Williams in second and Wayne Dos Santos Niz in third while, in the masters ladies, Sharon Geeson finished in first, ahead of Charmain Shandu and Adele Wickerson.

The master men’s Short Course Challeng division was won by Patrick Wynne, with Kurt Landsberg in second and Jacques de Rauvill in third. The Master ladies was rounded off with Suzanne Dos Santos Niz in first place, with Wendy Constantine in second and Adrienne Champion in third.