Run the Berg Training – September

On the 28th and 29th September 2019, I took part in Runtheberg – a 2-stage trail race in the Northern Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. I chose the Challenge Race which was 17 km of climbing and running on the first day, and then 14 km on the second day, both days totaling a net ascent of approx. 1,140 metres. To learn more about why I chose this race and how I trained for it, have a look at my June/July and August training recaps. Before I get to the race recap, this is what went down in the final month of September.

My Training

If you read my last post, you will know that I lost my mum towards the end of August, and her funeral was on the 31st of that month. I ran the evening before she passed. I still remember the distance so clearly, 8.65 km. Things were not looking too good at that point but the run helped me process some of my emotions. In fact, in the 9 weeks that she was sick, my running really helped me to cope with some very difficult hospital visits and tumultuous emotions. The knot in my stomach was never as strong while running. It always returned shortly afterwards but on the run it usually eased a little.

That run was my last for 10 days and the running break would probably have lasted a lot longer if my husband hadn’t convinced me to go for a run one lunch break, a couple of days after the funeral. It was really hot but I managed 6 km.

After that, I focused on Coach Nicola’s plan as closely as I could. On many days, I would go for my run but then crawl back into bed once I was done. When I returned to work, I continued to focus on running. I guess it was the only thing I had control over and as a fellow runner wrote to me, it’s kind of hard to run and cry at the same time. My training schedule consisted of a number of Easy Runs, Tempo Runs, Fartleks, Downhill Training and Long Runs. One of my long runs was a fun 14 km exploration of the Mokolodi Nature Reserve with a few friends. It was a lot warmer so no animals were spotted this time.

I involved the kids a lot in my training this month even though my 5-year old (on his bike) felt my Easy Runs were just too slow for him. At one point I was ‘forced’ to remind him that, “Your mum is a 5 x Half Marathoner”. I suspect that fell on deaf ears though, LOL. All my running amounted to my highest monthly mileage for 2019 – 139.3 km!

Strength training continued at home and I managed a few pilates sessions too. I also did another hike up Kgale Hill which was really fun and as I found out later, very useful training for the Berg! The kids were amazing, hopping up like real mountain goats as they made their way to the highest point of Gaborone.


September was jam packed with races. On the week I returned to running, I had a Half Marathon that Sunday. My first goal was to get to the Start Line and once I achieved that, it was to get to the Finish Line. I wore a peach ribbon for Uterine Cancer to honour my mum and I made ribbons for all the friends I knew would be running. I started out nice and easy but when I got to 17 km, I realised I was en route to a very unexpected PB. I came home in 2:24:01, 4:45 min off my previous fastest time.

On the 21st September, I had another race – this time I chose the 5 km option at the Botswana Independence Race. My coach wanted me to go easy as I had another race the following day, and we were just a week from Run the Berg. But I couldn’t help myself and bolted to my fastest 5 km time ever, 30:34.

The following day I did the Mokolodi Scorpion 10 km Trail Run. This race wasn’t as smooth sailing as the other two, firstly it was so hot and secondly, my legs were tired from my Speedy Gonzalez performance the previous day. No racing this time, I was just happy to get the job done. There were three main benefits to this run – I got to test out my Camelbak hydration pack which had just arrived via courier from the USA, I got to run in hot conditions and I got to practice racing on tired legs.

Thoughts and Feelings

For so long I had dreamt and talked about the Berg. I had even shown my mum several race videos before she got ill. But after what happened, I felt I was just going through the motions of training. I love preparing and organising, but this time apart from running, I had no interest in anything else. So all the purchasing of gear, gathering of compulsory items, sorting travel arrangements, and preparing race fuel fell to my poor husband.

I tried to feign excitement but a lot of the time it all felt so trivial. But I never lost sight of how amazing this adventure would be. Although nervous, I woke up on Race Morning feeling ready. There are lots of details to follow in the Race Recap, but fellow readers, I did it. In Sir Edmund Hillary’s famous words, “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”. These words really resonated with me on both race days.

[Run The Berg Training September: 139.3 km| Berg Cycle:  461.3 km| 2019 Mileage: 1,013.9 km]

What’s New on the Blog?

There are no new blog posts, but I’ve finally joined Instagram, here is my link! Please follow me if you are keen for some more regular updates. For those of you who prefer Facebook, I’m still there and you can find me using this link. I owe you a whole lot of recaps. Now that I have some of kind of routine going, I will tackle each, one by one. I can’t wait to share them all with you, and hopefully (!) before my next Half in a month’s time!

Until then friends, keep running, keeping showing up.

I’m joining two fabulous runners, Kim from Running on the Fly and Deborah from Confessions from a Mother Runner for their link up the “Weekly Run Down”. 

17 thoughts on “Run the Berg Training – September

  1. You are right, it is hard to cry and run at the same time. I know all about that, sadly. Thank goodness for running, right? It is the best therapy out there. I love that you ran the Berg and love how well you’re doing with running. It’s been fun to follow!


  2. well done! What an awesome achievement, an an amazing testament to your beautiful mom. Wear your peach ribbon with pride (I have blue streaks in my hair for my mom, still have them almost 3 years later), she will be beaming with pride at her beautiful daughter’s achievements.


  3. Running is a huge help with grief and other intense emotions. My runs really got me through a tough time when my sister passed suddenly last year.Huge congrats to you for achieving this race. Look forward to reading all about it


  4. So sorry about your mom. I’m sure running has helped through the tough times.

    Congrats on your 5k PR!!!

    Love reading about your races and your cute family pics. Keep em coming.

    I’m dsc59 on IG. Follow me.


  5. I am so amazed by your running adventures! Run the Berg sounds absolutely amazing! It sounds like you are going through a “fake it until you make it” period right now with your running after your mother’s passing. Keep going. Eventually, it will bring you real joy again. I love how your whole family is involved in your training!


  6. Hugs to you ❤ It's great that running served a great purpose as you dealt with the loss of your Mum. An online friend passed away a few years ago. I had never met her in person, but we'd been "running friends" for a few years. When we learned of her passing, all of us were in shock. We'd known she'd been fighting cancer, and that she'd had a major setback…but still to hear it all had ended was numbing. I went for a run the next day…a hilly route. I don't know how I did it, but I ran fairly fast, and I climbed a huge hill with tears and a nasty lump in my throat. That was so tough, but I didn't feel like I was all alone in doing so. It was so cathartic. It's been exciting watching all the gains you have made this year with YOUR running. I bet your Mum is smiling down on you with tears of pride 😉


  7. I am so glad that you were able to use running as a way to deal with your grief. I’m sure it was cathartic to get a little relief from your grief, even if only for a little while. I know that your mom has to be super proud of everything you accomplished in September 🙂


  8. I’m glad that running helped with your grief. You’re right that it’s hard to run and cry at the same time. And your September sounds amazing! Congrats on those PBs and on the challenge. That jump photo is amazing.


  9. I’m so glad that running helped to manage your grief. It has definitely helped me work through some stuff over the years.

    You had a fantastic September! So many great achievements! Congratulations 🙂 And your family is beautiful – love seeing the photos.

    Welcome to Insta – I just followed you!


  10. I’m so proud and in awe of you. I know it must have been so hard after losing your mum and thank goodness your husband was there to gently nudge you back into running. Even just going through the motions will eventually help you to feel better. What an amazing month you had – thank you for inspiring me!!


  11. My parents have, unfortunately, been ailing for years. Nothing like what you’ve gone through with your Mum, but it’s dragged on for literally years. We’re going through a particularly bad patch right now. In the past running has helped so much; right now, I’m so tired much of the time — I still enjoy my runs when I get to do them, but it’s definitely mostly on the back burners. Big hugs! One day the fire will be there for you, too.

    Congrats on those PBs! That is awesome! I think your Mum was your angel pushing you on for those races. I know she was with you. Not to mention your hard work paying off.


  12. I’m so glad that running helped you both during your Mum’s illness and afterwards. And I’m also so glad your lovely husband was there to support you – that’s wonderful. I know after we lost just our pet, and I’d had a sort of nervous breakdown before that, running seemed trivial and stupid and I just went through the motions, but getting outside and moving is pretty well always good.

    I love how prepared you were by your different running and hiking experiences, and practising with your new camelbak: all good when it came to race day, I’m sure. I hope you’ll keep up with this blog and not just live on FB / Insta, by the way …


  13. Hi Shathiso, I was randomly looking for a running blogger in the area of South Africa as I will be there for 3 months beginning of next year. I am so excited to have found you and I am very impressed with your feats. You have so much going on in your life and still managed to stick to running. But as you say, sometimes it’s the running that helps us get through difficult times. Looking forward to reading more of you!


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