“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” – Dr Seuss
It’s easy to get so caught up in the end goal that we forget to have fun. Getting stronger, getting faster, beating a previous time, doing better.
It occurred to me recently that the motivation behind some of the most common goals are actually pretty damn negative. I am guilty of getting caught up in that mind frame- the one that basically implies you are not good enough until you reach that next goal. That is so silly.
We ARE all good enough. In fact, we are all incredible, wonderful, amazing, whacky unique indivduals following different paths so isn’t it about time we let go and enjoy the journey?
Side note- I just got these super cute shorts from vivolicious. I love this brand, I also have their Capris and their gear is AMAZING.
I like that their garments last- I’ve run ultra trails, sky runs and trails on rugged terrain and they last. It helps that they are super comfie, light and have a UPF30+ rating that ensures protection from harmful rays.
But what I love the most is that a percentage of their sales go to the Flower Valley Conservation Trust for fynbos flower conservation.
That was my New Year’s resolution for 2018 and it really came to the forefront recently.
I hit a bit of a slump at the start of the year.
Having always been genetically predisposition to bouts of depression and anxiety, it is bound to catch up with me every now and again and I entered the year feeling very far removed from myself, which in turn affected my physical performance. It ended up being a catch 22 because I was not performing how I would like to, which made me feel worse about myself.
You get so used to feeling a certain way and it was only a few days ago that it dawned on me that I have been going through a bout of depression and I remembered my resolution.
The band I love the most, Rise Against, have a song that says “how we survive, is what makes us who we are.”
The thing about life, it inevitably ebbs and flows and emotions come and go, like waves, but how we face these challenges define us.
So today I choose to rise out of the ashes. I choose to be strong. I choose to be brave.
Big thank you to the people in my life who have been there by my side, supporting me through it all. VivobarefootVivobarefoot South Africa is such an incredible brand of shoe that has kepy me running strong the whole time.
This weekend was a whirlwind of emotions and experiences: breathing takingly beautiful scenery and mountains, joy, love, happiness, anxiety, despair.
Drakensberg Northern Trail is a special race to me. Last year it was my first skyrun and this year I hoped to better my time and to take it all in… but you cannot always predict what is going to happen on the day.
About 19km a loose rock ended in a tweaked knee and strained the ligament. The remaining 20kms I spent in excruciating pain. So by the time I hobble jogged to the end I was in tears and pain, feeling frustrated with myself for deciding to push through the last 20kms and for allowing the disappointment to affect me so badly.
A message from my coach Clinton Hunter of RacePace Coaching really helped put things into perspective though, and its something we could all probably hear at times.
How you handle the disappointment is important and provides you with an incredible learning experience. When things go wrong we don’t appreciate the massive mental barrier we have overcome, but sometimes we need to celebrate those victories too. And celebrate out mental toughness.
So I finished the race in the same time and position as I did last year- which is not what I was hoping for, but I finished it and sometimes we need to allow things like that to be good enough as well.
I’ve been so absorbed with training and trail running, so much so that this post is way overdue *cue dramatic sigh*
Still, better late than never right?
The bulk of my year has been focusing on training for my first Skyrun, 50km ultra trail and stage race- three things that have been on my bucketlist for ages.
Words alone are not going to do much justice describing the emotions leading up to and following these momentous occasions but what I can say is that it has been the most incredible, revealing, trying and wonderful journey.
If I could use one word to capture my 2017 I’d go with raw.
Raw because the year kicked off on a heart breaking note. Raw because I went into the new year mourning my old life and dreading massive change.
Raw because that is how I felt: broken, bleeding, tender.
Raw because I was so far out of my comfort zone already that it seemed like the perfect time to tackle the things I had always wanted to do but feared.
Raw because I quickly realized how that independent girl I once was had disappeared, I had lost my identity and sense of self over the years, and that was probably the hardest pill to swallow. But running has always been my saving grace and it led me back to that former self.
That first sky run was where it all began.
I was petrified to make the trip alone, then to go run a distance I have never run in mountains I have never been in and add to that the fact that it was pouring with rain, it was freezing, I didn’t really know anyone… I was scared. So conquering something like that, it was the most empowering gift the universe could have delivered. I found a bit of myself in those mountains.
Doing that 50km was another moment that defined me- but it was also raw. A different kind of raw.
Training for that run was intense and I found myself out on the trails alone for hours on weekends. That kind of solitude will strip you down emotionally and mentally. It forced me to visit some dark places and learn some hard truths about myself but it also forced me to build up a different kind of strength- one that I would need on race day, which is exactly what my coach, Clinton Hunter of RacePace Coaching, knew.
He always seems to sense exactly what I need in order to be a better athlete, which is why he is so phenomenal. He and my strength and conditioning coach, Rhain Hoskins of Paragon Fitness/Crossfit Ried have this uncanny ability to see parts of my mind that I don’t let anybody see, which is how they know automatically what I need as an athlete, and how they can also cut past my bullshit.
They see the insecurities, the strengths and weaknesses, those self-limiting boundaries and help you past them- THAT’S what defines a good coach.
Their guidance has been instrumental, not just in me achieving my goals, but in helping me realise so much about myself as a person! All the training, all the hard days, the blood (literally!), sweat and tears really helped me on race day.
This run was in aid of Child Welfare Durban and District (CWDD) and thinking about those children really pushed me through the hard moments. Everytime my energy started to drain I thought about their beautiful, smiling faces, I thought about the amazing work CWDD are doing to help these kids- it was enough to elevate me.
I finished that run feeling so happy, relieved…emotional! And it’s weird but something changed in me that day.
There has always been this little girl somewhere deep inside my heart who has been afraid: of being alone, of failing, of life, the future. But that day I felt that fear drain away. I cannot really explain it but I have heard athletes say it before, that a single experience can change you.
For me, I think I found my inner strength in that run, and it was only magnified when I finished my first stage race.
Strangely enough, I found that run the hardest of the lot, something I was NOT expecting. I probably went into the event cocky and over confident that it would be a breeze compared to a 50km trail run. How silly.
That race was RAW.
Day 1 was hot as hell and day 2, the last few kms were really testing. I fought back tears that last km: I was tired and sore.
Then I fought back a different kind of tears when I crossed the finish line and saw all the familiar faces of people I had met this year, some who have become my closest friends, and my heart just filled with so much love for these crazy people.
This race was a different kind of lesson. I realised how lucky I was to have such incredible people in my life, to have such wonderful, supportive friends, and to be able to feel such overpowering love for them, it was humbling to be able to feel that kind of real human emotion again.
That day I realised that life had put me on this insane journey this year and it may have shaken my world up, but it also allowed for me to meet the most important people in my life who I love with all my heart. Interestingly enough these relationships were all forged on the trails or through trail running, which goes to show how special this community is.
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 areputting 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.
Endurance 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 VivobarefootPrimus Trail shoes and UltrAspire hydration vest, and it made a huge difference.
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!!!