Category Archives: running

My Running Journey

Dear Coach #7

Dear Coach,

Week seven down and only nine to go! It has been a crazy, crazy 10 days and it’s been all about the distance. I finished my 70 km stint last weekend as promised. Since Thursday last week until this morning – 10 days if your brain is feeling lazy – I have racked up 117 km on dirt road and trail. For me that is insane. I’m still alive but very, very weary.

The most insane part was the night running – something I was totally dreading. I was convinced I would be bitten by something wild, fall into an ant bear hole or stand on a night adder. It is also a good opportunity for my Old Goat to push me off a cliff. His chance has come and gone though – I LOVED my night running and I’m now like a panther in the dark.

Last night we came across two jackals heading towards us on the path, out for a little night jog themselves. I was ready with some civil jackal conversation but Oscar the Brave and Hercules the Bold decided that the chase was on and that was that. No civilised jackal chit chat for us.

Well Coach, now for a much deserved break in the Kruger Park – we’ll be back on the road in 10 days time.

Yours in trail,

The Night Panther


Dear Coach #6

ultra 1

Dear Coach,

The proverbial pooh has hit the fan and my 10 percent build up rule is long out of the window. We booked an eight day trip to Kruger Park ages ago not realising it was slap bang in the middle of a serious build up of kilometres for the Karkloof 50-miler.

Not much running can be done in the Park unless the lions are feeling particularly sluggish which only leaves six more weekends for us to get our ultra on. This has resulted in me going from a 32 km week to a 78 km week – so much for build up rules. In the last three days I have racked up 52 km and Brufen has suddenly become my best friend. And lots of yoga stretching.

I am learning lots of stuff though (apart from the delights of Brufen and yoga). I have learnt that the biggest factor when doing the long stuff is to stay comfortable (relatively speaking of course) – this entails keeping the heart rate down by walking whenever I need to so that I feel like I could trot along for days. Slow, steady and strong is my new mantra.

Chow for now Coach – will let you know if I survive the full 78 km in my report back next week.


Dear Coach #4 & #5

A Rudimentary Map of a Journey into Madness

Dear Coach,

Week 4 down and week 5 almost finished. Only slightly more than 11 weeks to go until the 50-miler. Oh my word.

This is what I have to report this week:

Last Monday I managed a 5km PR. It was on tar at the coast and not on our normal dirt road but I haven’t done 35:35 for one hell of a long time so that was exciting.

My other small victory is being able to go for 6km on the t-mill without taking a walk break. I can do it on the road as well if you leave out the hills. This is key to cutting down my times I hope.

My Old Goat is still languishing around with his post-Comrades sore knee. He is very stubborn about getting professional help but Dr Google and I have diagnosed it as ITB. He is also too stubborn to build up slowly with the run/walk method so he’s on his own here.

The problem is that he has also entered the 50-miler. He needs to be able to trot along next to me looking out for snakes and mountain leopards and disposing of same in a suitable manner. He also needs to make sure I don’t end up in another province altogether.

Mind you he can probably walk 50 miles in the same time that I run/walk it so maybe no need to panic. Not yet anyway.

Dear Coach #3 Continued

Dear Coach,

When I first got onto Strava I thought “Good God this is embarrassing – almost everyone I know goes like a bat out of hell, whether they run or cycle. None of them seem to have an Inner Sloth.

Now that I have been on Strava for a while I am changing my thinking. It is actually a brilliant tool – especially if you subscribe to the premium version and get heart rate and pace analysis. But the best part is when Strava is impressed  like this:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 17.10.30

Last Saturday’s Trail Run Rietfontein Mountain

When Strava is impressed by my performance I am ridiculously proud – like a kid with a gold star.

And while I am running and my Inner Sloth starts getting out of hand I think to myself “What would Strava say?” and I klap that Inner Sloth.

Onwards and Upwards Coach!

Dear Coach #3

Dear Coach,

IS is a running term albeit a lesser known one. IS stands for Inner Sloth, something that us back of the packers often battle with. I definitely have an Inner Sloth. She hates any kind of stress, mental or physical, and does not understand that one has to physically stress one’s body to get stronger.

sloth 2


I have eventually persuaded my Inner Sloth that gorging on snacks and Netflix is not the way forward, but she still likes to walk better than she likes to run. She cannot understand why Comrades is not a two day stage race. Good Lord, the thought of doing 90km in one day makes my Inner Sloth reach for the Rescue Remedy.

live slow


Anyway Coach I am KLAPPING my Inner Sloth. Yesterday I did my 6km Easy with 4 x 1 minute T-Pace and I only allowed her ONE WALK halfway. On Tuesday I did an 8km with 2km of M-pace and 2km of T-pace included and I totally ignored her. 

2 x 12km back to back on hilly trails was quite a way to kick off my trail season but we’ll chat about that another time – needless to say my Inner Sloth is fond of trails because there are some hills so steep that I cannot run!

Cheers for now Coach!

Snakes Will Dictate

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 11.26.25

I enjoy both trail running and road running and find it hard to choose between the two. When I’m road running I can zone out  and get deep into my head. If I try that while trail running it’s likely that my face will be re-arranged by a rock.

Do I mix the two willy nilly or do I have two distinct seasons? The answer has just come to me – one’s running seasons should be dictated by the habits of the snake.

The season for road running is from the beginning of October until the end of May (or beginning of June if Comrades is your bag).

This is the time that snakes are out and about, eating things, hissing, slithering, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. This is not the time to be on the trails.

In my neck of the woods this is when it is most likely to bump into a portly puff adder on his way to some puff adder gathering. Or a rinkhals. The Oxford dictionary defines this snake as a large nocturnal spitting cobra of Southern Africa. Nocturnal se voet. This beast is quite happy to bite you or spit venom into your eyes at any time of day or night. In fact about three months ago one was trying to slither it’s way onto my verandah on a fine sunny morning.

By June these nasties are tucked away for their winter sleep – this is the time to hit the trails.

So, according to the Law of the Snake, road running will take place from October to May and trail running will take place June to September. Simple.

Dear Coach #2

Dear Coach,

Today I turn 60 years old. Today I also wore my fancy compression pants inside out for my run. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. I do know that too much sugar and refined carbs give a person brain fog so I will avoid them like the plague. The latest research is showing that Alzheimers and dementia is linked to our Western way of stuffing ourselves with refined carbs – something we need to remember when cakes, puddings, biscuits etc beckon.

Anyway Coach, I digress. Here is my report for this last week.

I’m very proud of pushing both my treadmill workouts into the red (14 points on Tuesday and 10 points today – thank you Strava). I was a bit of a woes this morning and broke my 5 minute marathon pace intervals down into more manageable chunks – 2 minutes fast, 30 seconds slow x 2, four times – but I promise to push harder next week.

My long slow run this last week was 12km and I did it on Friday on tired legs. I battled. I did discover something though – I think the cause of my sore lower back is bad posture. When I’m tired I lean forward from my hips – as soon as I straighten up the back feels better – something to practise on my 2 x 12km this coming weekend. I will hit the hilly trails. I will be brave and I won’t cheat!