Training for Soweto, August Review

On the 4th of November 2018, I will line up for the Soweto Half Marathon in South Africa. Soweto is a tough and challenging race but it also has such an amazing vibe. This will only be my second Half Marathon but I am really excited and looking forward to taking on those Crazy Hills!

A month ago I committed to 6 goals as part of my 14-week training cycle for Soweto. When I trained for my first Half Marathon the focus was on making the distance and getting to the Finish Line. However, for Soweto I really wanted to take a more holistic approach to my training and become stronger as a runner and healthier as a person.

This is how my first month went:

1 – Focus on Nutrition. I set a goal of losing 5 kg by November but with the main focus being to establish healthy eating habits. Using My Fitness Pal App to track what I am consuming, I am ecstatic to say that in just one month, I have lost 3 kg!! (This is after staying the same weight for over two years even with all the running). I am over the moon. I have set the app to calculate my caloric intake to lose 0.5 kg a week. For me, it works out to around 1,400 calories. What I love is that when I exercise, the extra calories I burn get added to my daily intake. This is what I think is making a difference:

  • Recording what I eat makes me think twice about having a second helping or eating an empty snack.
  • I have 3 main meals a day with 2 snacks, mid-morning and afternoon. I usually start the day with cereal/oats and berries. I also make sure I have a healthy lunch box and keep it simple – soup or salad. I have some healthy snacks at the office so I am never “forced” to eat something I know I shouldn’t! By the time I get home, I am not starving but I’m definitely ready for supper. I find having a cup of rooibos tea after supper also prevents me from mindless snacking.
  • I weigh in once a week and on this day I ditch the calorie counting. After my Long Runs, I indulge in one (or two) treats but I STILL record everything so I don’t go overboard.

Balancing the macros has been tough. I’m taking in too much fat (sometimes 54% instead of 20%). In September, I have to focus on reducing this fat %. [August Score: 10/10]

2 – Increase Fluid Intake. I set a goal to drink 2L of water a day. But I am lucky if I manage 1L. I am really struggling as I simply seem to forget to drink. But now that the days are warming up, I think it will be easier to hit my target. [August Score: 3/10]

3 – Run With Purpose. In my Six Goals Post, I wrote “My tempo runs can be faster. My hill runs can be stronger. I need to allow myself to feel the pain and burn a bit more.” I am very proud to say I really pushed hard this month, doing 3 runs/week without fail. When I started my training, I had an on-off cold that I just couldn’t shake off. But I SHOWED UP for each run and pushed HARD whilst juggling tight work deadlines as well as family and social commitments. [August Score: 10/10]. Here is a quick summary:

Easy Runs: My first run was pretty slow and tough (5 km in just under 40 min) but I was so happy to have officially started training again. I started this month really determined and enthusiastic and I didn’t want anything to get in the way. So much so, that one evening I had a dinner to attend after work and I made sure I got the run done first, then quickly changed in the car, and rocked up in my heels!

06 Aug: Easy 6km – 46:55

There was a period (mid-month) that I started feeling very run down from my mysterious cold and long working hours. I also felt disappointed with the quality of my runs. I felt I was putting in all the work but not getting the results I deserved. Anyway, down and glum, one day I decided to run early morning instead of after work. The sky was beautifully blue and the air was crisp and clean. With so little effort, I was running taller and moving faster to a new 5 km PB! That was the motivation I needed to keep going, even if feels like a struggle sometimes.

23 Aug: Easy 5km – 36:25 (new PB – 07:16 pace)

Speedy Runs: These runs have been so much fun. I did a Fartlek Run one day with the kids, dogs and hubby in tow! My fastest Fartlek interval was 05:06 min/ km which I was pretty proud of.

01 Aug: Fartlek 5 km – 40:26

I also did my first ever Mile Trial and it happened to be on our tenth wedding anniversary. 🙂 My 10:25 min/mile apparently just sneaks me into the “moderately fit” category!

08 Aug: Mile Time Trial – 10:25 (06:29 min/km)

On my Tempo Run this week, I managed a new PB. Again, it was another morning run and for the first time I played music while I ran. Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield” was perfect for my tempo intervals.

29 Aug: Tempo 6.15 km – 44:25 (new PB – 07:12 pace)

Hill Repeats: Soweto is all about the HILLS so my Coach has me doing a lot of these! Gaborone is so FLAT that it’s hard to get any real inclines in so when hills are on the menu we run at Mokolodi which is perfect for hill practice.

15 Aug: Hills 6 km – 47:16
29 Aug: Hills 6km – 45:51

Long Runs: I have managed all but one of my Long Runs. All of these are done as a group which makes it so much more fun. We all start together but go at our own pace and usually have a smoothie or coffee together afterwards.

04 Aug: Long Run, 8 km – 1:03:04 (07:47 pace)
18 Aug: Long Run 12 km – 1:33:02 (07:45 pace)

The last Long Run was 10 km and as there was a race on that weekend, I decided to use the race as a training run. Aside from the usual race jitters, I was more relaxed than usual and set off at quite a fast pace. I decided to maintain this and see how far I could push it. My race pace was 07:14 min/ km. I am definitely pushing myself a lot more!

26 Aug: Long Run/Race 10.79 km, 1:18:09 (07:14 pace)

4 – 10, 000 Steps Per Day. This is hard! Things are good on days when I workout – always over 10, 000. My range is between 1,621 and 18, 903. When I average things out for August it comes to 7,155 steps/day. I’m quite happy with my average score as I thought it would be a lot worse! However, with such a sedentary job I need to keep pushing myself to be more active in the evenings when I am not running. Let me try for at least 5,000 steps on the days I am not running. This plus my increasing weekly mileage will hopefully push my overall daily average to 10, 000. [August Score: 7/10]

5 – Improve Flexibility and Balance. I finally returned to pilates classes and in the last two weeks I have managed two classes/week. My initial goal was just one class/week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I grab the kids when I get home, drop them off in the kids play area, and then head to class. I realise I have lost so much core strength and flexibility but at least I have started again and my goal is to remain consistent. [August Score: 10/10]

6 – Improve Strength Training. In my Six Goals Post I wrote, “I know how much better a runner I can be if I improve my form”. If I know this, why am I struggling to do strength training? This month I did close to nothing. So… let me re-commit to one Grid/Shape class a week. Coach Nicola has also given me a great 25-min strengthening routine if I don’t make it to gym. For September, let’s see if I can do 3 days/week of strength training whether it is gym class or my coach’s routine. [August Score: 0/10]

There you have it – it hasn’t been a bad month at all. I am so pleased about my running, nutrition and starting pilates again. But I really need to work on my strength, water intake, and steps! I will get there – I am in such a good head space and so glad my training is focused on overall health. In numbers:

[Soweto Training Cycle: 86 km | 2018 Mileage: 498.25 km| August Gym Time: 4 Days]

I am joining Running on HappyCoach Debbie RunsTrain with Marc, and Crazy Running Girl for the Coaches’ Corner Link Up! I am also linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup! 

36 thoughts on “Training for Soweto, August Review

  1. Well done! It is awesome when things start to come together, isn’t it. Keep consistent and maintain your focus – you’re amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to see you back to blogging! And with great photos as usual 🙂

    I’ve been really impressed with your commitment this month, even with a cold and a heavy work load.

    For your fluid intake do you keep a large bottle of water by your desk so it’s easy to refill your glass? And have you tried a water tracker app on your phone? There’s quite a few to choose from that will ping reminders to drink water throughout the day. It might help!

    I always feel it if I haven’t drunk enough water!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad I finally got back to blogging! And thank you for this lovely comment – you know more than anyone what has been happening behind the scenes! Really didn’t want to disappoint you (or me) and I am so pleased with how it all went. Now to tackle that 14 km you have set for me tomorrow!

      My sister swears by a 2L bottle she carries around (even into restaurants and board meetings). I’ve always made fun of her but it’s the one thing she says forces her to drink! I will start the 1st September with one. Let me also find a water tracker. We are now heading into spring/summer and the last thing I want to be is dehydrated especially with all my training.


  3. You are just amazing! When I am training for a long race, I often GAIN weight, because I am hungry all the time. You are losing weight, getting faster and getting stronger. I loved seeing the pictures of you with your running buddies and your hubby. Happy Anniversary!

    And – your kids are adorable! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Laurie! To be honest, I am a bit in shock too about the weight loss! But I really think recording what I eat (although SO unbelievably tedious) is helping. And so far I haven’t felt hungry (not 100% full) but not hungry. And I have ditched all the snacking. I hope as the mileage increases I will still manage to keep it up.

      You know that saying it takes a village to raise a kid – well, I’m finding it out it also takes a village to raise a runner, LOL! Running buddies, friends, kids and my dear bloggers are all getting me through this running journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve had an awesome month! I’m so jealous of your weight loss. Mine is going int he wrong direction — I also use MFP, and I struggle a bit with fat as well, but usually it’s not much more than about 30% or so — typically I think I do better with lower fat — every body is different!

    My next half is pretty flat. First one that is in quite some time!

    I think you’re going to rock your half — you’re doing great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Judy! My blogging fell by the wayside but I am glad I got all those runs done and finally started focusing on nutrition. MFP is a wonderful tool and I guess there is a lot of hidden fats in foods I thought were completely innocent. Need to start looking more closely at labels.

      I’m envious of your relatively flat half, LOL! I’m starting to have nightmares of those Soweto Hills!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow sounds like you have made huge strides with your nutrition this month! Strength training has really been a life changer for me hope you are able to get that goal in as well. Have a great month!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It looks like you’ve really dedicated yourself to this training. Nice job hitting most of your goals for this training cycle. I’m glad your coach has given you short strength training workouts. It is important, but it doesn’t have to be hours long workouts to benefit you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Overall it sounds like you had an awesome month!

    It can be really hard to get in strength training when you’re running so much. Have you tried maybe doing short sets of strength training – like 10-15 minutes? Sometimes it’s easier to fit that in after a run vs a longer strength training session.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kim! From your comment and some of the others, I think this is going to be my new game plan. I always think strength training has to be long and painful but if I can get 10-15 minutes done, even during lunch break, I think it will make a difference.


  8. It sounds like you are doing really great! Those are some tough goals and you are making so much progress towards many of them. Can’t wait to see how you continue to do leading up to your race!


  9. Wow you really had a great month. Doesn’t it feel so good to set all those goals and meet them? I foresee an excellent half marathon for you in November!


  10. Great work – you’re doing so well! I’m enjoying my weight training and having circuits I can do at home is definitely helping as I build up that side of things.

    Oh, and remember that speed itsn’t everything. Your 10:xx mile is a great achievement and all your other work puts you in the FIT category. Speed isn’t everything – I know some really fast runners who are not what I’d call all-round fit and get injured a lot …

    Keep up the good work! And I love your visor – wondering if one of those would keep my hair from getting everywhere as well as a buff, as the shield from the sun is great.


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