Archive for October 28, 2010

Running Anniversary

On Sunday I ran the VOB Grape Run which is what I like to refer to as my ‘Running Anniversary’ race.  The Grape Run was the first half marathon I did and was basically the race which helped prove to me that, in fact, running the Comrades was achievable.

Now I know the race is just a half marathon (21.1km), compared to the 89km of the Comrades, but it was on this race that I realised the key to distance running (and  most endurance sports for that matter), is to manage your mind effectively because most of these races are won or lost in the head.

I walked away from this race thinking, was that if I could finish a 21km race after never having done more than 10km in training, then the same concept would hold true for the longer races.  As it turns out I was right, 7 months after my first Grape Run I did the Comrades marathon, my longest distance in training being a 56km training run…

Now, 4 Grape Runs later and 3 Comrades Marathons under my belt, I feel that unless you can master those voices in your head which tell you how tired you are or how your knees are aching, or overcome the belief that distance running is 100% based on your fitness – then you will always struggle, no matter how many km’s in training you do.

Happy Anniversary to my running – sometimes I hate it and sometimes I love it but above all, I have learned a great deal about myself and the extent to which the human body can be pushed!

Grape Run Views

Trail Running at Altitude

Last weekend I was in Pretoria for my brothers wedding and decided to do one of the Gauteng Trail Running Series runs with my mom.  Not thinking much about the 12km route and arriving very badly prepared without a cap or water – I was looking forward to running in a different area to what I am used to.

Starting on an uphill (the trail running guys seem to love doing this), it wasn’t long before my mom and I were huffing and puffing like antique steam engines.  This didn’t do much in terms of confidence, especially since I thought I was pretty fit – but then I remembered that the Cape (my home) is at sea level and Pretoria sits at roughly 1,350 metres (4,500ft) above sea level.  At higher altitudes there is less oxygen which means the amount of oxygen in your blood is reduced, which would account for me feeling tired and heavy during the race.  I am used to the more dense sea air, so when I run on the Highveld, it actually feels like the air I’m breathing in is not actually getting to where it needs to go.

Prolonged training at higher altitudes results in an increase in red blood cells, to conpensate for the reduction in oxygen levels, which has an overall positive effect on your performance because your body is being oxygenated more efficiently.  I don’t incorporate high altitude runs in my training program, but I can see the value in making the extra effort.

The trail run turned out to be one of my fastest times yet because at the 4km we came upon a man who had twisted his ankle very badly and needed help.  I volunteered to run off and find a marshal who would call in the paramedics, but the first marshal I saw was about 1km from the end.  Luckily someone had a cell phone with which they called the injury in and by the time we crossed the finish line, the ankle was already strapped.

On the serious trail runs you are not allowed taking part if you don’t have a cell phone, injuries being one of the main reasons for this, but on the less formal runs there are no specifications or procedures which need to be followed to take part.  I have always enjoyed the Trail Running Series sponsored by Salomon and Capestorm but I do feel that on this occasion, they could have had just one or two more marshals on the course.

Luckily I’m back in Cape Town now and running again as normal which I’m very grateful for, especially with a half marathon coming up on Sunday 🙂  Oh and well done to my mom who came first in her category!

That's my mom in the middle

That's my mom in the middle

Why do you run?

The Bushmans Blitz

This is a 32km trail run in the Overberg mountains on October 16th, from Greyton to McGregor and back. Greyton is one of my favourite weekend getaways.  It is a quaint little town just a couple of hours outside of Cape Town, at the foot of some pretty hectic mountains – a mecca for runners and mountain bikers!  This race takes you over said mountains, to the town of McGregor which is in the adjacent valley – and then back again.  It is quite technical and mainly on a single-track but the views are breathtaking and totally worth the burning lungs.

For those of us who prefer the easier shorter option, there is a 12km race called the Greyton Trail Challenge which takes runners into the mountains around the village with enough of a challenge to get the quads burning, but not technical enough to leave you outside after dark.

If you are hard-core and would prefer to do The Bushmans Blitz then I’d recommend emailing the race organisers immediately to see if there are any spots left, entries are limited to 50 people only –

OverbergPhoto Credit

Running Shoe Laces

Recently running shoe laces have become an issue in my life (albeit a relatively small one) because what I thought were ‘Never come undone laces’ are in fact ‘Will come undone if you do not double knot laces’.  Then I discovered that in fact many runners actually have a special way of lacing their running shoes to achieve different things – some need an extra snug fit, some tie their laces in a way to avoid a pressure spot on the top of their foot and some are just superstitious about the way their shoes are laced and have been doing it the same way since they started running.

I’m not sure if any of you have had the unfortunate experience of running on a treadmill full-tilt, trying not to get too sweaty and hoping like hell that your butt isn’t wobbling too much, when your ‘Never come undone laces’ decide to, well come undone…  It gets rather tricky trying to stop the treadmill while at the same time trying not to trip yourself all the while reminding your legs to keep moving so as not to be spat off the back of the machine – of course I’m speaking from experience which is what led me to do some research on the matter.

I found this very interesting article done in the Runners World, complete with little video’s and everything so if you, like me, are having issues with your laces then I hope this helps.  My lacing tactic usually involves just leaving the laces as they come when I buy the shoes, what do you guys do???


The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon

On October 15th participants of the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon will be hitting this 7-day, 250km race in the Kalahari Desert, near the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River. This marathon is certainly NOT for the faint hearted, with the average daytime temperatures reaching over 40 °C, only to plummet to below 5 °C in the evening.

Said to follow in the footprints of ancient Bushmen, the trail manages to capture the essence of this part of South Africa, taking runners through the rich, fertile Orange River Valley, through the Augrabies Falls National Park, Private Game Reserves, Farmlands and into the Kalahari Desert.

Runners have to be self-sufficient – carrying water, food, clothing and emergency supplies because even though the race organisers have check-points every 8 to 10 km, the terrain is unforgiving and survival of the fittest definitely takes on a new meaning…

Distances range from 28km to 75km per day but this race isn’t just about running – water is strictly controlled and distributed to each team every morning bags are checked daily to make sure that the correct amount of nutrition is taken – any outside assistance during this race will result in disqualification.

Known as the ‘Big Daddy’ of extreme marathons, entries are limited to 100 which isn’t all that much considering this race is featured on the international running calendars. So if you are in the market for a challenge, I’d say check this one out 🙂

Kalahari Extreme Marathon

Photo Credit

Running vs Man Boobs?