On The Run

It’s The Final Countdown!

My 16-week journey to the Addo Elephant Ultra-Trail has been anything but easy. I always knew the training would be tough but I didn’t expect all the setbacks, from poor fitness levels, motivation struggles, work travel, food poisoning and even Covid. With only 463 of 750km run, I know I go into this race undertrained. When I trained for a marathon last year (the one that didn’t happen) I’d done three 30km runs at this stage. This time my longest has been 22km. But when I look back at the effort I’ve put into those 463km, I feel proud. Proud, that I’ve had every reason to throw in the towel, but I’ve just kept going. As I entered my final three weeks, there was some temptation to “make up” for the lost mileage. But I knew that wouldn’t be wise. Instead, I chose to remain calm, listen to my body, stay consistent and channel positivity.

Addo Training Update: Weeks 14 – 16

Week 14: 28 Feb – 6 Mar: Coming off of my Covid-recovery week, I started this week with a 6km run on Monday, another 6km on Tuesday and 9km on Thursday. I could feel my body slowly getting stronger. My runs felt good and when I was caught by the sudden dark sky on Thursday, I belted it home comfortably. I had very little sleep on Friday and Saturday nights so when Sunday morning rolled around I ditched my long run for a three-hour hike instead. This meant going up Kgale Hill twice which I felt would benefit me given the rumoured hills of Addo. On my second ascent, most hikers had gone and I saw so much wildlife – lots of baboons, mongoose and even the shy rock dassie. Can you spot the baboon sitting on the big rock behind me?

Week 15: 7 – 13 Mar: Hiking Kgale twice left me with very sore calves on Monday and Tuesday but on Wednesday I managed an 8km run in the rain. It felt amazing! I followed this with a hike up Kgale in the evening. On Friday, I was out again for a 6km run, on Saturday it was 11km on the road and on Sunday I ran a new (to me) 8km trail around the Sentlhane Farms. I then spent most of Sunday packing for Addo and pushing through my crazy to-do list.

Week 16: 14 – 18 Mar: Race Week!! I’ve kept it easy this week – 5.5km on Tuesday and the same on Thursday. After my run on Thursday, we crossed the border into South Africa for the first leg of our trip (8 hours) and this morning (Friday) I’ve done a lovely 5 km shakeout run in Bloemfontein, starting at the gigantic bronze statue of President Nelson Mandela on Naval Hill, which at 8m, is the largest statue made in honour of this world icon. We ran in such crisp air with the most spectacular views of the city and even spotted a giraffe in the bush! As soon as I’ve posted this blog, we’ll start the last leg of the journey to Addo, a long six hour drive! We will register for the race and then do our final preparation for Race Day which is on Saturday!

Has this been the best training cycle? Not at all. But it has taught me to give myself grace – that it’s okay to not get it perfect all the time, that running 5km even if the plan says 8km, is okay. It’s also shown me that I have a lot of fight in me and that fighting spirit is what will get me through 44km. Typically, I would have set a time goal… but all I want for this race is to finish, knowing that I have given it my all, and that I’ve left my heart out on the trail.

“She was unstoppable. Not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” – Beau Taplin

Have you ever gone into a race undertrained? What wildlife have you spotted when running or hiking?

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”.

7 thoughts on “It’s The Final Countdown!

  1. I’ve definitely gone into races undertrained. But it doesn’t really matter – the main thing is your will to finish. And you have got that, so I’m not worried for you at all.😀
    Crush it, Shathiso!👏🏻👏🏻😀

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  2. Yes I have definitely gone into races undertrained cause life happens. But you’ve made it to the starting line and you’ll give it everything you have – and that is what counts. I hope you have a great race – can’t wait to hear all about it!

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  3. So proud of and thrilled for you.
    I don’t think I’ve ever not gone in undertrained. But I’d take that over an overtraining injury. You absolutely should be proud of what you’ve pushed through. Congratulations!

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  4. I went into my ultra undertrained according to the terrible, frightening book we had bought, but knowing I had done all I could. I do think as long as you’re generally fit and healthy and have run some sort of distance, undertrained is better than overtrained. Anyway: you did it!

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  5. Are you a runner if you’ve gone for a race undertrained? With all these set backs you gave yourself grace and maintained a great attitude go you! Well done on not giving up and showing up. Congratulation on finishing the race.

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  6. I’ve definitely run races undertrained, but you’re an experienced runner and your mental and physical toughness will get you through! I can’t wait to hear the full recap!!

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