My husband Ditiro is your true “Jack of All Trades” – he is a veterinary surgeon by profession but if your car needs fixing or you need to have a table made or you need some race photos taken, he is your guy! And it’s the same for sports – growing up he was into softball, tennis and running and moved between them seamlessly. At university, he added archery, yoga and baseball to his sporting credentials. So I am not the least bit surprised that he is now juggling running and mountain biking, and seems to have found a comfortable place in both worlds. Over the weekend we drove for about 10 hours in total so I got to pick his brain on what attracts him to both sports. The conversation started as one of general interest but as it progressed it got me thinking more about my own journey and what I can do differently 🙂
What do you enjoy about running? Running has been my life for close to 25 years. It’s something I have always done and enjoyed. It gives me a huge endorphin rush and it’s an intense cardio workout. I love the social aspect of it – some of my oldest friendships were made while running and recently I have also reconnected with friends because of running. I love the atmosphere at the races. I love the fact that you get rewarded for consistent work or effort. Even if you are not the fastest in the pack, consistent training will make you a lot stronger. It’s nice to see one’s parameters improving and very rewarding to watch hard effort pay off. Even if running is an individual sport, there is such awesome camaraderie as well. Of course, there is a competitive element, but somehow it’s really easy to feel happy for others’ achievements.
What’s your favourite distance and why? That’s easy – 15 km. You can run it quite aggressively without completely burning out. The PPC Kgale Hill Challenge is my favourite because it’s 15km but then they throw in a hill which makes it even more exciting. Beyond this distance, its more of an endurance game for me and I feel beat down after the race. My times are still good, but I just feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train. A 15 km race makes me feel like I’ve exerted myself but I’m still alive and can go out for a ride later on in the day!
So something like a marathon, would you be interested in that? No! [Said without hesitation]. I will cycle next to you as part of your support team when you do your first. Would that count? 🙂
What do you find most challenging about running? It has been really hard for me in recent years, NOT to get injured. And I haven’t found the discipline or the patience to do all the right things to prevent injury. I know its possible and I could put more effort. But if I am honest with you, I’m finding running more high maintenance than I would like! When I don’t warm up, or stretch, or foam roll, I get injured. It’s frustrating because I have run for many years, and this injury thing was never really an issue for me. I guess I have to remember I was younger and I probably got away with a lot. Maybe I just need to realise I am older now? I guess this is why mountain biking has become a lot more appealing for me in the last couple of years.
What do you enjoy about mountain biking? Mountain biking takes you to interesting places that you would not normally reach on foot or by car. You see such beautiful scenery even around Gaborone, which I never realised we had. It’s also really fun because it’s fast. There are many technical aspects that make it extremely exciting – you get scared but also feel really proud when you conquer your fear. The sense of adventure is phenomenal and there is a serious adrenaline rush when doing certain manoeuvres. I love the intense focus that is needed when negotiating certain terrain like the windy single track between thorn trees, rocks, riverbeds as well as steep descents. I feel at home on my bike. A warrior in the bush!
What’s your favourite distance and why? I like to cycle about 40 – 50 km – but this depends on the terrain. But 40/50 is ideal for me… beyond that it’s a bit long and starts to take its toll. Dare I say, it becomes slightly boring and tough on the body.
What do you find most challenging about mountain biking? Since I am riding a 12 year old 26 inch alloy hard-tail with a basic 3 X 8 speed group set, I find it difficult to keep up with the riders sporting more modern 29 inch wheels and far lighter and refined dual suspension bikes. Those bikes have such an advantage on rough terrain and over longer distances. The effort I have to exert on my rides is quite intense. My bike causes some alarm (or shock) to some members of the cycling fraternity… which I know you quite enjoy! 😉 [I do! Is it bad to admit that I love it when you take down the more expensive bikes! For this reason I never want you to upgrade!] To be honest, I do have a secret sense of pride about what I have been able to conquer on this humble old bike, including the notorious and unforgiving Magalies Monster. I think in many ways it has made me technically stronger. But an upgrade would certainly be good!
What do you enjoy training more for – running or mountain biking events? I think I enjoy training for mountain biking events more because it consists of going on multiple adventures before the actual race. Spinning classes also help and I just love those. I use my bike to get everywhere in town so it just feels easier to train somehow. I find I don’t have the discipline training for running races like you do. I just wing it to be honest – sometimes I run long, sometimes I run short, and always slightly faster than I should. Maybe that explains why I am always injured?! LOL. I’ve actually learnt a lot from you in terms of what I should be doing. But half the time, its just easier and more fun to grab my bike! And away I go!
What do you enjoy most about being a runner who rides? I love both running and mountain biking events – and I like that I get to be part of both communities. I think doing both makes me more versatile and stronger, both physically and mentally. You and I are quite different in the sense that you have such amazing goals that keep escalating at an astonishing rate. You know how to plan for them and stick to a schedule. I think I’m just happy to ride the same old routes, and run the same old runs, but doing both gives me that sense of achievement and makes my fitness journey more exciting even without the big goals. I also love that when we go on holiday, I get to experience new places on the run and on the bike!
Final question, if you had to give up one, which would it be? [Long Pause] Running. But I would still be quite upset. Running is a part of me. And the fitness that you gain from running is unmatched. But if I was told never to ride my bike again, I would be devastated! There is something quite special about navigating such rugged terrain on two wheels!
Thanks to Ditiro for his thoughts and for sharing his perspective. Since becoming a runner I must admit I have tended to frown upon his more laidback approach to training! But this conversation really got me thinking. If someone told me I couldn’t run, it would break my heart. But perhaps what would be hardest for me is I would struggle to find something else to get into and would very quickly find myself where I was two years ago, highly unfit and unhealthy. So one of the big lessons I got from this conversation was that I need to be more open to and explore other fitness activities. I love that Ditiro is so versatile and can hop on a bike or throw on his running shoes without thinking twice about either option. His approach is so beautifully healthy and I think that’s what makes it easier for him to see fitness as a lifestyle as opposed to a series of goals like I do! I’m not giving up on my goals (no way, that’s who I am and how I do things!) but I might just start widening my scope – and doing other fitness activities where I can.
Are you strictly a runner? Or do you dabble in other activities too? If you were told you had to give up running, what would be your first thought? What was your take-home from this conversation?