In Usain Bolt’s words, “Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price”. This has really hit home the last few weeks as I train for my first ultra-trail (44km) – the Addo Elephant Trail Run. It’s easy to dream about the adventure – running one of Africa’s wildest trails – the fresh air, the gorgeous landscape, the awesome photos, and the beautiful medal. But you don’t just wake up one morning and run Addo – you have to put in the work. And as Usain says, you pay for those goals with “time, effort, sacrifice, and sweat”. My last Addo update covered Weeks 1 – 3. So let me continue where I left off!
Addo Training Update: Weeks 4 – 8
Weeks 4 & 5: 20 Dec – 2 Jan: These two weeks were fun, happy and relaxing and I let things slide on the running front! I did an 8 km Christmas Eve run with Ditiro and Elisa, a beautiful hike up Kgale Hill with the family on New Year’s Eve, an easy 4.2 km run on the quiet streets on New Year’s Day and a 4.2 km hike along the banks of the Metsimotlhabe River the following day.
Week 6: 3 – 9 Jan: With the holiday festivities out of the way, it was back to business with 40 km run this week. On Monday, I ran 4.2 km, Tuesday 10 km, another 10 km on Thursday, and 16 km on Saturday. My long run left me with a real sense of achievement. I also managed two hikes up Kgale which I was very chuffed about. The more climbs I can do the better!
Week 7: 10 – 16 Jan: This week started with 11 km on Wednesday, followed by 8 km on Thursday and my longest run this training cycle, 18 km on Saturday.
This long run was very hard – I started struggling around 7 km and it took everything to finish the run. I repeated some of my favourite songs, I ran down new streets in Block 6 and even stopped a few times to regroup. Around 10 km, I ran past a taxi driver who shouted from his car window – “You look tired. Should I give you a lift home?” I was so annoyed but in hindsight I’d just come off an incline so I might have been grimacing when he saw me! On Sunday, I recovered with a 5 km run before climbing Kgale. It was a very strong week with 42 km run in total.
Week 8 : 17 – 23 Jan: My first run of the week was a 5 km trail in Mokolodi. Despite the beautiful surroundings and the great photo op by the lake, I really struggled.
My husband kept commenting how beautiful the bush was – the spring hares hopping across the path, the herd of impala with their babies, and even a few zebra. But I was too uncomfortable to appreciate any of it – my focus was on the scratchy grass against my legs, the rocks that kept tripping me up and the humidity. My love-hate relationship with trail running continues and with time I’m starting to accept that I really don’t enjoy it much. The following day, we dropped the kids at school for the start of their new school year and then I ran home for 11 km in the heat, through lots of traffic, to make it home for my work day.
On Saturday, I hit a MTB trail in Tlokweng for a 20 km run. It took us three hours. Although the trail itself was flat and fairly easy, I struggled early on and was not very nice to be around. I’m thankful for my husband’s patience and his wise words, “Hard Means Build”. I took some comfort in that. I’m also thankful for all the MTB cyclists who cheered me on, we saw at least nine! But again it struck me that I was on such a gorgeous trail and still wasn’t having fun. I wanted to cut the run short so many times but pushed through, run-walk-run, until I was done.
So this week’s running mileage was 36 km, less than last week, but I threw in two trail runs which was a big deal for me. I ended the week with a glorious 5 km hike up Kgale Hill.
I’m disappointed that most of my runs haven’t felt that great. But I’m really proud (and happy) about my consistency. I’m diligently following Usain’s advice and putting in the time, effort, sacrifice and sweat. There’s a lot happening in the next couple of weeks – if all goes as planned, I’ll be travelling for work so I may have some new destination runs to share soon!
What are you training for? Do you prefer trail or road running? What interesting wildlife have you seen on your runs recently?