Archive for August 31, 2009

My First Spinning Class

How many of you have done spinning before?

The concept of cycling, balls-to-the-wall and not actually covering any ground has always seemed a bit bizarre to me, but I put this aside last night and joined Nicola for my first spinning class.  “Its only 45 minutes” said Nicola which sounded a lot better than the 90 minute class which I thought was our only option.

I felt like such a beginner when I walked in and had to be talked through the bike set-up by Nicola (it is quite technical), then I settled in not really knowing what to expect from the super ripped, all muscle guy who was our instructor.

The first 10 minutes was a bit of a warm-up which had me a little worried about how the rest of the class was going to progress considering I was already battling,  although I had at that stage made a mental note NOT to wear the shorts I was wearing to cycle in, ever – I’m not even going to go into my views on camel toe.

Before we ‘really got going’ I was picked on by the instructor because he said I looked funny on my bike and needed to change the setting – a small dent in my already fragile ego.

And then…  Well lets just say that half the time I was totally lost with increasing and decreasing the intensity, trying to work out what 70% of my max was (with nothing to compare it to) and there was something about cadence – whatever that is – that I just ignored because I was concentrating on not flinging sweat onto the person next to me or melting into a little puddle on the floor (which was already there and belonged to me) from exhaustion.

And yes, the class was only 45min – with a 10 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down…


Reluctant Runner turns Reluctant Swimmer – and Cyclist…

I’ve been keeping a secret from you guys and I can’t keep it in anymore!! You all know my tendency for saying yes to things I shouldn’t say yes to right??  Well I’ve done it again…

A few weekends ago Nicola (she is not new here) asked if I’d like to do the Half Ironman (or Ironman 70.3) in January with her and Jess. At the time I was rather bored with my life so it sounded like a great idea, but when I actually looked at what we have to do – I started thinking that I should perhaps book myself in for some shock therapy:

A 1.9km swim (in under an hour)
A 90km cycle
A 21.1km run

Individually they don’t seem too hectic (especially when compared to the Comrades Marathon) but I need to point out that the last time I got into a pool to swim lengths was for swimming lessons – I was 10.  And the cycling – well we all know my run-in with the bicycle which I wrote about here.  So why, why did I say yes???

I probably have some deep psychological issue about proving myself or something along those lines or perhaps I’m just brain damaged – I’m not sure, if you guys have any diagnoses then please, share…

So, I will still be writing about running but you will also be regaled with some of my antics in learning how to swim and getting my backside saddle-ready for the Ironman/woman 70.3.

half ironman

Running, Recovery and Milk

I came across a study the other day that suggested chocolate milk is just as good as , if not better than the sports recovery drinks us runners consume after a race or hard training, to help repair our damaged muscles.

I don’t know about you guys but I really battle to get the Peptopro (the make of recovery drink I use and is apparently a pre-digested milk protein – although tastes nothing like milk) down my throat, and keep it down, especially after a long race when you aren’ t feeling your best as it is – so as you can imagine, this article sparked my interest.


According to a team at the James Madison University in Virginia, USA – they found that muscle damage was lower in football players who were given chocolate milk pre and post intensive training, compared with their team mates who just drank commercial products.

If this is true then I’m definately going to consider making the change from bile tasting post-race drinks to yummy chocolate milk!!

Photo Credit

Old Charity Partners

For those of you who have been here from the start, you will remember and its founder Andy.  They were the guys I used for my first Comrades Marathon fund raising activities,  to help consolidate international donations for Reach For Recovery.   Basically was a networking site where you could recommend a cause and the people in the network would support you and send the word around.  This sounds like any social networking site but the reason it worked for me was because as South Africans, PayPal won’t allow us to receive money into a PayPal account – why I have no idea, but bridged this gap which meant I was able to recieve international donations from all my friends overseas via PayPal through

After chatting to Andy about using the service again this year, I was sad to hear that he had put the project on the backburner because of a lack of support – BUT is back and this time all the focus is on one project!!

Andy and a bunch of mates are coming out from the UK for a building project on the Wild Coast – an exquisite piece of coastline in South Africa.  The details are not finalised yet but the project is to build a house near to a small local hospital which will house the much needed doctors and nurses which serve this community.

I think it is a wonderful project but at the moment it is entirely self-funded.  If you would like to get involved please read more about it here and if you are keen to help in any way then get hold of Andy and let him know.


Don’t Worry!!

I’m still here, Reluctant Runner just needed to be moved from one server to another – everything will be back as it should be by next week!!

Till then…

Running Stories – From the Legends…

This is the sixth story in my series of Running Stories, some of the others can be found here, here and here

I’d like to introduce you to Bruce Fordyce.  Bruce won the Comrades Marathon 9 times in the 80’s.  Now I have to confess, Bruce was part of some of my earliest childhood memories – waking up at 5am to watch the start of the Comrades and then being glued to the TV for the rest of the day until I saw him running over the finish line, arms in the air… Of course back then I didn’t even contenplate running, I was more concerned with getting back at my brothers and ballet!

What made you decide to start running?

I started running on June 17th 1976 (major date!) as a result of sadness following the 1976 Soweto uprisings in which we Wits students had been involved. My girlfriend had also recently broken up with me so I suppose suppressed libido is a good reason, and I had also met a couple of Witsies who had run and their enthusiasm was infectious.

Why the Comrades Marathon?

Comrades was and is part of the South African culture.  If I was going to start running it could only be to run Comrades. (Please direct any negative comments to Bruce!!)

When you are out front in a race, what goes through your mind?

At the front of the race my emotions were  fear, panic and then great joy and sadness.

What is the impact racing like this has had on your body?

Intense racing at stupid distances has left me very stiff and unsupple but otherwise all the other side effects are beneficial.

In my experience I’ve learned some valuable life lessons from endurance racing (like Vaseline has many many uses), what have yours been?

The most valuable lesson that I have learnt from endurance racing is that the worthwhile things in life are always those for which you have to strive for and work for. Winning the lottery might be nice but winning the lottery of life is more satisfying.

Obviously winning a race like the Comrades 9 times gives you “celeb” status, what are the best things you’ve gotten out of being famous??

Fame, if only limited fame, gets you upgrades on plane flights and tables in full restaurants

If you could give 3 points of advice to a newbie what would they be?

Don’t hurry the process. It takes years to achieve your true potential.
Start slowly in races.
Injuries always win


Trail Running Follow-up

So as it turns out I don’t hate trail running as much as what I thought I did…

Sunday’s run was MUCH better than the one before, not just because the trail seemed easier but I came prepared with my ipod to blast any negative thoughts from my mind if it was needed.  I also carried a small bottle of water this time instead of a full CamelBak, which seemed to make a bit of a difference.

Of course I could have just been having a bad day the first time – so third time will be the decider on Saturday August 15th when I do the next race in the series which forms part of the Gravity Adventure Festival in Kleinmond.

All I can say is that the jury is still out with this trail running thing 🙂