Category Archives: running

My Running Journey

Bouncing, flouncing….

I went to see a very good physio the other day, one that also happens to be a very good runner, and I asked her what I could do to strengthen my running. Plyometrics, she said. Plyo-what? Plyometrics is basically explosive movement – preferably not of the bowels! Jumping and bounding. So now I am jumping, bounding and hopping around and every time I do a session I get the giggles – it makes me think of Loca the pug – “bouncing, flouncing, falling all around the show” and of course she “cannot fecking run”. You have to watch this adorable pug!

It’s taken me a long time to realise how aging affects our strength, our flexibility and our ability to bounce and flounce. You have to work harder and harder at it as time goes by. I’m starting to appreciate time in the gym with our dear Sergeant Major and I am no longer thinking of cunning ways to cheat. In fact, I am adding my own sessions into the week as well. I think that this non-running muscle pain may become as addictive as running – who would have thought?

Of course, a person has to eat right to build muscle – protein is key, so here are my two new best friends:

Obviously said protein foods should me mixed with a good dollop of farm cream and double cream yoghurt, a bit of xylitol and a handful of sunflower seeds. Heaven in a bowl.




The Year of the Trail

Okay, so we know that it is the Year of the Dog, making it essential for those of us born in 1958 to wear red underwear and jade accessories.

But I have also declared it the Year of the Trail, first by entering the Karkloof 50-miler and second by getting my hot, sweaty paws on these beautiful babies pictured above.

Right, so that was the easy part….now for the hard work. I need to get super strong (enter my biokineticist at Balance Sport and Wellness) and I need to build muscle (enter my dietician at Complete Living). And I need to run and run and run…….but not overdo it. The bio has advised me to cross train with some cycling. She reckons that up to a third of my training can be done on the bike. Now I need to figure out how to do that – I know that one hour of cycling does not equal one hour of running, so I need to do a bit of research here. Watch this space.

RIP Trusty T-Mill – Welcome New Beast!


My old treadmill, trusty friend of many, many kilometres, has blown a circuit in it’s brain. I don’t blame it – it had to put up with the Old Goat pounding away on it at about 200 kilometres per hour. And all that Goat sweat…..

Anyway, Father Christmas has risen to the sad occasion by stuffing a new treadmill down my chimney – just in time for a week of rain! Thank you FC, I am more than grateful.

I hopped on the New Beast this morning, ready to rock and roll with a bit of speed work. Oh my word, the Beast is EVIL. For starters, the zero incline feels like incline 1 or 2 on my old T-Mill, which made marathon pace feel like a lung-bursting effort. Secondly, this Beast is shorter, which means I have to FOCUS or else I will fall off the back and the dogs will roll around laughing. No more daydreaming and “forgetting” to take the speed or incline up a notch.

Now that I think about it, the New Beast and the Old Goat are probably in cahoots to make me work harder at my fitness and speed. So be it – I will show them what I am made of.

Ultra Trail

Oh my word, I have entered a 50-miler – on trail!

Whenever I think of ultra trail I think of annoyingly fresh-looking vegans (why are they always vegans?) gliding over the Colorado      mountains, looking very happy with themselves. I’m sure they also do CrossFit. A far cry from my huffing and puffing and screaming hysterically about snakes, cliffs and other hazards.

Good Lord! I suddenly need to gather all the information that I can about running trail for 12 hours and possibly a lot longer. I also have to finish an assignment for a writing course and I do love to kill two birds with one stone. I will do an article about 50-milers for beginners! After spending hours scouring the internet and reading blogs, articles etc by the North American gods of trail I came up with the following:


Forget kilometres covered and pace. Measure your training by time on the trail. You cannot judge or worry about pace when your terrain is changing rapidly. Stress is an energy-sapper. Concentrate on keeping your body relaxed.


Trying to run the hills will sap your energy very quickly. Practise    power walking up the hills and running fast downhill.


Run by feel and listen to your breathing. Huffing and puffing uncomfortably means slow down or take a walk, even if you are on a flat section. Remember that in this situation you need to be a tractor, not a Ferrari. Save your energy for the dark hours!


Find yourself a comfortable hydration pack with pockets for jacket, torch, food, cellphone and other necessities. Train often with this pack, fully weighted.


Gels will not get you through your 50-miler. You will feel nauseous after several hours. Find real food options that you enjoy and practise eating them on your long runs. Nuts, raisins, banana and homemade energy/protein bars are all good options.  How will you replace electrolytes? Find something that works for you and train with it.


The trick is to pace yourself carefully. If you run above your aerobic threshold, you run the risk of hitting a wall due to lack of glycogen. If you keep your pace constantly below aerobic threshold, your body will be burning fat and even the skinniest of us has enough fat to get through 80 kilometres. This makes the fuelling problem a lot easier. Practice this type of slow running on your weekend long runs. Keep the speed work for the shorter runs during the week.


It is possible to train for a 50-miler on an average of 50 to 60      kilometres per week. The focus should be on weekend distance, preferably on trail, building to three or four trail runs of five hours each with a last long outing of eight hours before the taper begins.


Last but certainly not least is strength training. You will need two to three sessions per week, concentrating on core and leg strength.  Fast downhills need very strong quads and power walking up steep hills needs strong glutes. Neglect them at your own risk!



Okay, I Have A Problem….

Look what I’ve got – oh joy!

If you cut it into 20 portions each portion is 1.2 grams of carb, 8 grams fat and 4 grams protein.

Peanut butter is an “eat occasionally” food as it is very high in omega 6 as opposed to omega 3. In order to eat an anti-imflammatory diet we need to up the omega 3’s – fatty fish remember!

I’m either going to have to eat a can of pilchards a day to balance my peanut butter fetish or go into some sort of rehab facility where I’ll go cold turkey – and that will only happen if I can find a place that is extremely luxurious and serves wine with the evening meal!


Ninja Pants


Look what I found in my wardrobe – my daughter’s Comrades pants! Without further ado I popped them on for my long run this morning. Surely they will give me the same Ninja properties that said daughter displays year after year? I did feel amazingly strong, imagining my feet flying over that iconic route but my TomTom is really a cruel beast with no imagination at all:

So I’m still a tortoise, but maybe a Ninja Tortoise. The Ninja Tortoise is closely related to the Ninja Turtle and, if you happen to be a child of the Eighties, you will know that a Ninja Turtle is really, really cool! Run on Ninja Tortoise!



Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanuts are a legume. Legumes were on the original Red List – a big no-no for us Banters. They have been subsequently moved to the   Orange B list – the list for peeps that have lost weight, that train more, that are not that insulin-resistant etc.

A controlled amount of peanut butter is a good way of adding healthy fat, magnesium, Vitamin E and Vitamin B3 to the diet. The key word here is controlled. No, you may not snort up half a jar while you wait for the kettle to boil.

What better way to eat PB than in cookie form?  Here goes:

Beat 2 eggs with 100ml xylitol and then blend in one cup of peanut butter, 50 ml coconut flour and 50 ml dessicated coconut. Drop blobs onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake at 160 degrees C for 20 minutes.

This makes 26 cookies. Each cookie has only 1.7 grams carbs, 6 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein which makes them perfect for pre or post run snacks, or lunch boxes. I’m going to use them for my pre-race brekkies this weekend.