Archive for August 31, 2010

Trail Running vs Road Running

So, I have successfully completed the Cape Winter Trail Series and I think I am converted…  I’ll probably always have an affinity to road running because that is where I started and I do happen to find value in pounding the pavements, but trail running adds this element of fun which I haven’t felt on the road in a long time!

There are some obviously glaring differences between trail and road running but bare with me as I state the obvious and then the not so obvious below, and then let me know if you agree or not:

Road running, although it has the potential to take you through some lovely areas, just doesn’t quite get you through the back-country like trail running does.  To be fair, you are so busy watching your footing while on a trail that you do miss out on some of the spectacular scenery, but I have no problem stopping to take it in because guaranteed there are other people doing the same – without stupid comments from fellow road runners like “This is a run, not a walk” – I kid you not…

Trail running doesn’t seem as competitive to me, I’m not sure if this is just in my mind but at the start of a road race you can (or at least I can 🙂 feel the tension amongst the runners which isn’t there on a trail run.  At the start of a trail run the most I feel is a touch of confusion as people just generally mill about until someone shouts ‘GO’ – creating a much more relaxed atmosphere.  Again, to be fair, I guess if I was competing for a prize in trail running I’d probably feel the pressure…

Trail running is WAY more trendy 🙂  It’s all about the gear, which does look super cool and rugged but also costs more than road running gear so you have to build your trail wardrobe up over time.  Many of my friends have commented on this point, so this isn’t just me!

The vibe after a trail run is so much more community orientated.  Most people disappear after a road run, which means by the time I come in most people have left already… Ok, ok that isn’t always true but with the trail races I’ve done it seems like most of the field stays behind to socialise – and I have been nowhere near the front…

Perhaps this has just been situational with the trail runs I have done, what about you and your experience with it?

In conclusion I think road running will always be part of my life but I’m going to accumulate some rugged trail gear and keep going off-road to see where it takes me 🙂

Me, looking very uncool :)

Me, looking very uncool 🙂

Motivation in Endurance Activities

Last night I found myself discussing, once again, the topic of running motivation to a fellow runner.  He was telling me about his first marathon experience in Knysna and asking how you then imagine yourself running not just another 14km in the Two Oceans, but double that and then some, for the Comrades…

I have said this before and I will say it again and again – when we run a half marathon or a marathon and then think about going further  – your mind knows exactly how far you are going and so after 21km or 42km, to think about going any further once you are done, just feels impossible.  Yet, when you know you are running 56km or 89km, you get to the 21km or 42km mark and feel perfectly fine (speaking in relative terms) and keep on going.

Lewis Pugh, an endurance swimmer illustrates this perfectly in the video below and with the statement  “There is nothing more powerful than the made-up mind” – which is what I’m going to leave you with for now because it describes what I’m trying to say, perfectly.

National Women’s Day

As you all know I have raised some money in the past for breast cancer awareness and support groups in South Africa, so it was with surprise that the credit card I was speaking about yesterday, being offered to women by Standard Bank, will give you R10 000 if you happen to be diagnosed by any of the cancers which plague women of today.  I thought this was quite generous especially given that Monday is Woman’s Day, in commemoration of the 20,000 women who marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 – to protest against the ‘pass’ laws and amendments to the Urban Area’s Act.

As I have written about before, many women in South Africa either don’t have adequate access to health care or they are not educated about early detection of treatable diseases like breast cancer – so I do congratulate Standard Bank in at least making some effort in showing their support in this regard.  MyCard also offers 24-hour roadside assistance and access to doctors, councilors and therapists via a toll-free hotline AND (this is the one I really like) a handyman service for all those things which we would rather not do – like drilling and moving heavy things around.

I think it is about time that a product aimed specifically at women only is being introduced – it is also a fantastic branding exercise given that I (the target market) am completely sold on the product 🙂


If I had R50 000 to spend…

I have a little confession to make…  I am an absolute slave to competitions!  I will enter anything which involves winning money, travel, spa treatments – I don’t discriminate 🙂  So when I heard that Standard Bank was running a campaign for a new credit card, specifically for women (I was in the market for a new credit card anyway), I jumped at the opportunity because all successful applicants stand a chance of winning R50 000!!!

Of course now that I have applied I catch myself wondering what I’d spend the money on and as I’m sure you can all guess, it includes running somewhere new and exciting.  So this is what I would like to do, if I had the time and money to do it and who knows, perhaps by stating it it might come true…

There is a Pilgrimage which people do in Spain called El Camino de Santiago (Road to Santiago or St James’ Way).  The distance varies depending on where you start but the longest route is around 800km and if you walk, should take a month – I however, would like to run…  There would be a fair amount of planning involved although accommodation is usually very cheap or even free along the way.  Food can be bought in the various towns which the trail goes through and so all that needs to be carried is clothes and water.

Who would like to join me??  Where would you run if time and money wasn’t a limiting factor?


Comrades News

It has just been confirmed that the guy who came third in the Comrades this year, Sergio Motsoeneng, has tested positive for a banned substance.  The Comrades Association only hands out medals and prize money (in this case R90 000) after all doping tests have been complete.  Sergio has been found guilty of cheating at the Comrades before when he had his brother run half the race for him in 1999.

If you want more information I’d suggest you read it at – a South African news site which puts a funny (that’s haha and not weird) spin on breaking stories, helping us see the humour in the sometimes outrageous, sometimes scary and sometimes totally unbelievable events which can only come out of South Africa 🙂


Barefoot Running Research

I have spoken about running barefoot before, and the fact that I consciously try and alternate my running style from landing on my heel (as you normally run with shoes on) and running on my toes or forefoot (as you would naturally run barefoot).  So, I was quite pleased to find this video on YouTube which documents research which was done at Harvard University, on just this subject…  Have a look and let me know your take on this.

Running and Wine Tasting

The second run of the winter trail series I am busy cutting my teeth on, was at the Paul Cluver wine estate on Sunday.  The weather was just perfect as we set off into the mountains for one of the most beautiful runs I have done to date.  We had a rather nasty uphill to conquor, but the thing with trail running is that it is ok to walk!!  Nobody reminds you that it is a running race (common on road runs) and you don’t even feel the urge to get going – you just plod on with everyone else to the top of the hill.

I was lucky I didn’t faceplant on the path as I was gazing around once we got to the top, you could see right to the ocean on the one side and just green rolling hills on the other. After some pretty hair raising descents we were even treated to some rope sections – which means we had to hang onto ropes to get us down one of the ravines… Nothing too hectic but if the ropes weren’t there I think I would have been A LOT dirtier than what I was at the end.

My time was not amazing but at the end of the day I didn’t care and neither did anyone else, especially since there was wine tasting going on AND a special discount on any purchases made by the trail runners!!  I’m really starting to feel at home in this new world of trail running 🙂

Paul Cluver