Tag Archives: running

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.


Banting Belly

As they say in the classics, the only good belly is a pork belly. Well,  maybe not in the classics, but it is the truth. And that pork belly should be roasted with crispy crackling and accompanied by broccoli and a creamy cheese sauce. That was my breakfast after my 14.6 kilometres on the country roads this morning.

Pace is getting better at more or less the same heart rate – *happy dance*

There are no laws against non-breakfast foods for breakfast. And that is what makes Banting such an easy lifestyle. Cook a little more than you need in the evening and breakfast/brunch the next day is sorted. Busy evening? Just have eggs and bacon, or a cheese omelette. Mix and match – as long as you stick to the basics – meat( preferably with fat on), veggies, eggs, butter and a little cream and cheese to zhuzh up the veg. These foods are nutrient dense so you don’t need a huge heap – a small plateful will keep you full for hours.

Banting is not taking out a second mortgage so that you can buy almond flour to make cakes and cookies or bread rolls. We don’t need those foods and, if you are trying to lose weight, then replacing them with “Banting” versions will stall your efforts. Banting is really just eating real food when you are hungry and not eating if you are not hungry.

Running-wise I reckon it is the only way to eat. Recovery from hard workouts is much quicker and, once you are a fat-burning beast, you can go for hours and hours in a fasted state – no nausea-inducing sugary gels and drinks required. I speak as one that competes in the tortoise category – if you prefer to be a bit more high-performance, then take a look at the Phat Bombs on this link. Phat Bombs are half the price of a gel and the effect lasts twice as long on the road – a bargain.



The Complete Balance Comrades Project is so exciting. A pilot group has signed up to test run this concept and, being September already, we are ready to rock and roll. Our attack on the Big C is a three-pronged one – proper nutrition throughout, strength work and mental focus. This is of course in addition to the normal training programme.

Our group will be guided by a successful seven-times Comrades runner and registered dietician with a Masters in Dietetics and a qualified and experienced biokineticist.

Each person will work with the dietician who will help them to reach their healthy racing weight and, more importantly, to find and practise optimal race day nutrition. Every week the bio will work with the group on strengthening exercises to help withstand the pain of a down run.

The third prong of the attack is mental focus – and this needs to come from the runner. I love the image above. It’s worth printing, laminating and sticking on one’s mirror, or treadmill for that matter.

But what is focus? Focus involves many things, mental and physical, but here are a few I have thought of with Comrades in mind:

  1.   Focus is saying no to too much alcohol, fast foods and sugary treats. It’s fine to have a glass or two of wine now and then or a slice of cake on a special birthday but if you make a habit of it, it will impact on your recovery between workouts. These things cause huge inflammation in the body which an athlete (or anyone for that matter) does not need.
  2. Focus is running easy when your program asks for easy. It’s this easy running (heart rate below aerobic threshold) that increases your ability to go further and be strong while you’re about it. We are all terribly ego-driven and running easy is something that not a lot of people get right. Don’t race too often – you need to get to that start line strong and injury-free.
  3. Focus is making sure that we organise our lives around getting plenty of sleep. Adequate sleep leads to good recovery. Good recovery leads to solid training.
  4. Focus is committing to four runs per week, come hell or high water. Bad weather is not an excuse. If you are not fully recovered from the last workout, run easy but RUN!! Or WALK! Or CRAWL!! But get out there!


I’m back and super-excited! My shoulder has been sliced and diced and the hole in my shoulder muscle repaired. I’ve just had my two week check up and the doc, bless him a million times, says it is perfectly fine to walk my ass off, as long as I wear my sling. The first thing I did was enter a 10km walk next weekend! Now all I have to do is get my walking speed down a bit so the 21km runners don’t lap me!

The other super-exciting thing is that in four weeks time the doc reckons I should be able to introduce a little bit of running without the sling – as long as I stick to even surfaces – no falling about on dirt trails, etc. Fine, I can do that.

What is more, I have found the silver lining in this particular cloud. The theory goes that every runner, when starting out, should build a big aerobic base. This involves running very easy at below one’s aerobic threshold – zone 2 to the lower end of zone 3 on the heart rate monitor. As the kilometres rack up at a low heart rate we build an aerobic base making running at all speeds easier. As this base builds, a person should be able to run faster and faster at that low heart rate, which means being able to go for far longer before tiring, whilst avoiding overtraining.

What this boils down to is that I am turning this whole shoulder debacle into a scientific experiment where n = 1. I will use the month of only walking and then a further month of only a little running and lots of walking to try and build this aerobic base. If the experiment is successful I will be taking the running world by storm come November!

Burning fat and increasing aerobic base


The Cunning Beast of a Treadmill

It’s easy to fool myself onto the treadmill. I faff around the house, even going so far as to do household chores to avoid the beast, and then I think “okay, I’m only going to do half the workout and that’s it.”

Lol, one hour later the workout is done. Once I’m half an hour into it, I can’t resist finishing just to see if I can. And of course I can.

I know there are lots of people out there that think “I wish I could just get going, just do some exercise”. You can – tell yourself it’s just for 10 minutes and that you can stop after that. Chances are you won’t. Chances are your body will be enjoying itself and will want to push just a little more!

Matatiele Racing Snakes (or Die Boer en Die Brit gaan Durbs toe)



Well, after practicing NOT drinking wine in the evening, sticking to my collagen supplement or some such healthy thing, my wheels fell off on Saturday evening.

But I can explain. It’s not just a matter of cruising along to Durban – a great deal of intense navigation needs to be done by us sheep in the city. I also had a crash course in parking on a pavement, slap at an intersection. Traffic was held up, a concrete bollard was VERY narrowly missed and a beautiful big aloe plant in full bloom nearly saw it’s arse. No matter, we got our race packs!

Needless to say the Metro Police were in attendance by the time we got back to the car. I was grateful not to be arrested.

What springs to mind at the end of a gruelling day? Wine of course! So I never got to test whether I can do better at races when the evening before is wine-free. Pity, but my mental health was at stake.

I was proud of the run though – I paced my 10km better and took three seconds per kilometre off my pace. My running partner had a fabulous run (she did not succumb to the wine) – nearly two minutes off her previous 10km time!

What is Running Teaching Me?

I fell this morning. I was batting along trying my damndest to do my speed intervals properly when I found myself hitting the dirt HARD, luckily not on my injured shoulder! My front tooth (a crown) was pointing the wrong way and I could see blood. I’m not good with blood.

My first reaction was “Pause the friggin’ watch!” My next one was to feel really pathetic and shed a tear or two. Why do I do this? Why don’t I play croquet while sipping on gin and tonics? Or even bowls for that matter – they have fun there! And they don’t fall and bleed unless they’ve had a shitload of drinks.

I then realised that the only way back to the car was on my feet – and, what the hell, I may as well finish the run. And it wasn’t too bad a run either for a bleeding tortoise!

So that is what running teaches me, over and over again. You can always pick yourself up, metaphorically or physically, whatever you may be doing, and CARRY ON!