I’m changing things up a bit! Instead of me interviewing someone for the blog, I’ve asked my friends and family to interview me on my recently completed Gaborone Striders 10×10 Challenge! So, the following is a compilation of questions they sent me, and my responses. I love how varied their questions are and how much information they generate – they allowed me to reflect on this year’s 10×10 Challenge as well as previous ones, in a way I haven’t done before.
How many 10×10 Challenges have you completed and how does this most recent one compare to the first one you ever did? I have now completed four of the official five 10×10 Challenges that have been organised. My first one will always be my most special – I’d only been running for two years when the Challenge was announced; and I was excited to be part of something new. Only 100 entries were sold, so I felt I was part of an “elite” group of runners, LOL! I made such a huge deal of it on social media and had several people sending me messages of encouragement every day. I ran on my own for about three or four runs, but different people joined me on other days – my dad, Ditiro, Polelo, Elisa and Tapiwa. On Race Day, we met up at Sebele Mall and were driven 10km on the A1 to the starting point, and then had to run back to Sebele. It was new, exciting, and fun, and I felt like I was part of a pioneering group.
This last one was by far my toughest – each run was a struggle, both physically and mentally. The thing with the 10×10 is that it always coincides with end-of-year deadlines, school functions and other activities. But this year, it felt as if I had a lot more on my plate than usual and I never got to the point of really enjoying my runs as I’ve done in previous challenges.
Compared with previous years, would you say it’s gaining popularity? Most definitely. We started with 100 runners in 2018; and in the second year, there were over 300. Although I don’t know how many runners there were this year, the streets of Gaborone were streaming with runners in the mornings and evenings. On a couple of runs, pedestrians even asked, “Are you doing the 10×10?” This made me laugh! The 10×10 has become a household name!
Why the 10×10? And why did you have to do it this year? I love how hard the Challenge is – that each year it tests (and strengthens) your determination, resolve and resilience, especially as it comes at a time that is packed with so much. Also, running lets me think; so even though the timing isn’t great, it helps me to sharpen my mind and get work done more efficiently. Why did I have to do it this year? I haven’t had a great running year, so I just needed a victory to close out the year. I didn’t expect it to be such a slog. But I finished and that made me feel good.
What was your biggest challenge during this 10×10 Challenge, and how did you deal with it? This came on the first day, believe it or not! My plan was to run in the evening but around 16:30, the sky suddenly darkened. It was so dramatic. Half an hour before we had blue skies and then all over a sudden, we had these menacing dark clouds. I knew if I waited for the storm to blow over, it would be too dark to run on my own. Treadmills are not allowed, so that wasn’t even an option. So, I set off in the thunder and lightning; it was the scariest thing. Thankfully, everything was over about 5km into my run, but my goodness, I don’t ever want to experience that again.
The hardest part of goal setting is the mitigating circumstances that crop up. How did you stay focused and not reduce to 6km/day or even skip a day? The beauty of this Challenge lies in its rules and monitoring mechanisms – you have to run 10 km a day for 10 consecutive days. The 10km runs have to be done in one go (so you can’t do 5 in the morning and then 5 in the evening), you can’t miss a day. The biggest rule of all is that before midnight each day your stats must be up on the designated app, this time MapMyRun. So, my Garmin was synced to this app and if I did not run or hit the mileage, I’d be automatically disqualified. The team leaders for each pace group would monitor this daily. So, if I wanted a medal, I had to do the mileage.
How did you manage to hang in there and avoid quitting as tough as it was? How did you stay motivated? I would love to say I had strong willpower and used different mantras. But the truth is – I just didn’t want to embarrass myself! I had announced on the blog and social media that I’d be doing this challenge and I was part of the WhatsApp and MapMyRun groups. The thought of quitting publicly terrified me. And the truth is people probably wouldn’t care or think anything of it, but just the thought was enough to keep me going. Also, I had set myself a challenge within a challenge – I was paying tribute to the Top 10 countries reading my blog by wearing their national or flag colours each day. Stopping midway felt like I’d be letting people down.
Having done so many 10×10 Challenges, do you know what injuries you are susceptible to? I’ve been lucky in the last few years not to get injured *touch wood* The first injury I had was when I started running in 2017. I did too much too soon, and then got runner’s knee and was down for 5 weeks. My next one was a funny glute-hamstring injury just before a Soweto Race… must have been in 2018? But since then, I’ve been injury-free. But during the 10×10, I always take extra precautions – I listen to my body, I don’t put too much pressure on myself to hit certain times. Many people put such intense pressure on themselves to run every km. But when I’m struggling, I walk. I think this has helped me to stay injury-free during the 10×10.
How does your body handle 100km in 10 days, especially as you don’t run that mileage often? What is the easiest day? Which day was your fastest run? One thing I’ve learnt from the Challenge is that our bodies are so adaptable. I think it does help that I’m not injury-prone either – but I find that my body just seems to adapt over time. The first day is the easiest, physically and mentally – you are running on excitement and the legs feel good especially if you’ve been running regularly. The third day for me is usually very tough, but around the 6th/7th day, the body moves on autopilot – it’s still tough, but the body doesn’t fight you. In all years, my final runs have been the fastest. In fact, the one I did in 2019 gave me a brand new PB!
How did you handle cumulative fatigue? The 10×10 Challenge always reminds me to go back to basics – good nutrition, hydration and sleep! So, even if I’m feeling exhausted, keeping an eye on these basics definitely makes a difference. I also tend to do a lot more stretching and take hydration salts and supplements like Slow Mag etc. to keep me somewhat energised.
What’s your go-to pre-run snack? There were days during the 10×10 Challenge, where I just took a chance to run without a snack, with the promise of a cappuccino at the end! But when I do snack, it will almost always be a banana. On the morning of the race (final day), I had a double-cream yoghurt which I rarely have – but it seemed to do the trick!
How do you juggle training, running, your goals – and still keep your household running? I’m lucky to have a great support system – someone helps with the kids and cooking on some days; I also share many household tasks with Ditiro and my dad is such a trooper when it comes to babysitting the kids on long running days. But during the 10×10 Challenge – things go haywire especially as Ditiro also does this Challenge – dishes are not done on time, the house gets messy, I snap more than usual, and things don’t run as smoothly as they should!
Have you visited each of the top ten countries who subscribe to your blog? I have visited or lived in 6 of the 10 countries – the USA (short workshop), Botswana, South Africa (multiple visits), UK (lived for 4 years), Australia (visited twice) and Tanzania (multiple visits).
How do you avoid blisters during the 10×10 Challenge? Good shoes and great socks! I have rarely gotten blisters in the 3.5 years I’ve been running in Brooks Shoes. I also invest in good quality socks which make a huge difference. I pulled out my Balegas for the last few days!
Given how hard you found it this year, will you be doing it again? It’s like most races – you are nervous at the start, you find your stride, then you hate it and want it to end… but then you get to the finish, and all the pain is forgotten! When I collected my medal, I took this fun photo with fellow 10×10 Challengers – where we had the energy after 100km of running to kick our legs like that I don’t know!?! But we were just so proud that we had pushed through to the end. Nothing beats that feeling. So, I think I will be doing this Challenge for many years to come!
THANK YOU to everyone who sent me these questions! They were so new and fresh – and had me thinking about things I hadn’t really thought about before. I think I will use this format for future blogs. I hope you enjoyed learning about my experience of the 10×10 Challenge. Yes, I will be the first to tell you that it is intimidating but it is a Challenge worth trying at least once – even though this last one was a struggle for me, I still feel so much stronger for it, both mentally and physically, and it is proof yet again, that we are so much stronger than we think we are.
Have you done the 10×10 Challenge before? If you haven’t, is it something you’re keen to try out? Were you there with that first group of 100? What’s your best 10×10 memory?