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?