Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Weeks 3 – 5

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 5th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of it! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

What a disastrous three weeks for me – we have a new and very big project at work so my weeks suddenly went from normal 40-hour weeks to crazy 80-hour weeks. It has been extremely intense and is likely to continue like this for a few more weeks. As a result, I am struggling to get the runs done. But for the record and to keep accountable, these are the few runs I managed to squeeze in.

Week 3:

Monday, 25th September: Easy Run (30 min; 3.49 km) + Pilates (1 hr class)

After my race on Saturday, I had a beautiful 30 minute “shake-out” Easy Run with Tapiwa. It started out tough but we slowly eased into it and felt great afterwards. Pilates with Oliver was brilliant and I felt so upbeat on the drive home. At that point I didn’t realise that this would be the last workout I would manage for the week!

Tuesday – Sunday, 26th Sept – 1st Oct: Unplanned “Rest Days”

All my planned runs went out the window. Life and work really took over in every way and I just could not get a run in. I felt awful but at the same time I tried not to be too hard on myself as there really was so little that I could do. Sadly, this was also my last week of training under the guidance of Coach Nicola at Running Happy. I am really going to miss having someone telling me what I need to be doing when!

Mileage this week: 3.49 km

Week 4:

Monday – Sunday, 2nd – 8th October: Unplanned “Rest Days”

Nothing! 16 hour work days, gave me just 8 hours to eat, sleep, and catch up (as in hi and bye) with my kids and hubby. It was that intense. But my head and body just felt yuck, and I was determined to see if I could squeeze one or two runs in Week 5, even though my schedule would be pretty much the same.

Mileage this week: 0 km

Week 5:

Monday, 9th October: Easy Run (30 min; 3.72 km)

I set off for a late run (7:56 pm) but I just really needed to start the week off with a run. At this point, the stress of the long days was really getting to me and I was desperate to start running again. It wasn’t the nicest of runs. It was too dark and I took a while to find my groove. But on the back half, I picked up the pace, and managed to finish nice and strong. This stolen, unlabelled meme from Facebook perfectly describes how I felt afterwards!

Wednesday, 11th October: Easy Run (Treadmill: 25 min; 3.45 km) 

I got home just in time to squeeze another run on the treadmill. I am not a fan of the treadmill but it served me well tonight. It felt a lot better than Monday’s run and I was very chuffed with myself.

Friday, 13th October: My Birthday!!

On my birthday last year I announced to my family that I would start running and would do 12 races before my next birthday. This birthday goal was actually there before my #17in2017 Challenge was set this year! And on my birthday I could say with the hugest smile on my face that I didn’t just manage 12, I managed 15! Now that is something I am super-proud of. Surrounded by good friends on my special day and knowing I had achieved the one goal I had set for my birthday last year, it felt like a very lucky Friday the 13th! 🙂

So… not the greatest three weeks! But I am quite happy that even though work conditions and hours were pretty much the same as the first two weeks, in the third week I managed two runs. And next week will be even better.

Mileage this week: 7.17 km

Mileage this training cycle: 41.86 km

Have you ever had not one, not two, but three dismal running/ training weeks? Do you set birthday goals?

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 2

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 4th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of it! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

This week I managed all my planned workouts plus a race! I was quite focused during the week and emerged feeling a lot stronger. I really hope I can keep up this momentum because in the recent past I have had a few “down” weeks that have set me back in terms of fitness. But with Spring here, I just feel a lot more energised!

Monday, 18th September: Pilates (1 hr class)

My pilates instructor Oliver worked us hard today! I knew we were in for it when he made us do extra warm-up stretches using the ring. But I absolutely loved it! After Saturday’s race, this was exactly what I needed. I love the power that pilates gives me to really use my mind to push my body. I also find that when I start my week with pilates I am a lot more committed to doing my runs. Probably no scientific basis, but I’ve definitely noticed the trend!

Tuesday, 19th September: Rest Day

I was actually supposed to do a Fartlek Run today but pushed this to Wednesday as I felt I needed a partner in crime for this run!

Wednesday, 20th September: Fartlek Run (25 min; 3.13 km) + Pilates (1 hr class)

Before the run I carefully read through my coach’s instructions on Fartlek Running. This was my first attempt and I roped in my cousin Tapiwa to try it out with me! We were initially quite intimidated but we ended up having so much fun with it! Our sprints between poles/trees were fast with my heart rate clearly showing the work I was putting in! The easy runs in between helped to give us the energy needed to do the next interval of Fartleks. By the time we were done, we actually felt so exhilarated! It was so hard to believe how painful it all was when we were doing it! Once we were done I went straight into my Pilates Class and unfortunately Oliver decided he wanted to push us even harder than he had done on Monday. Coming straight in from a Fartlek, I must admit I struggled!

Thursday, 21st September: Easy Run (30 min; 4.01 km; 07:30 min/km) + Conditioning Exercises

After Wednesday’s Fartlek Run it was nice to keep things easy. 🙂 I was alone with the kids so once I had put them to bed, I hopped onto the Treadmill. Not my favourite kind of running, but I managed a solid run so I was very pleased. I also did my scheduled conditioning exercises (4-point hip extensions/ squats/ clams/ planks).

Friday, 22nd September: Yay! Legal Rest Day!

Saturday, 23rd September: Race Day (The Botswana Independence Race – 1:13:59, 10 km, 07:24 min/km)

This was my second race in two weeks and you know what that means, right? Number 12 of 17 is in the bag!! As last week, this was a training Long Run for me but this time I wanted to increase my pace a bit more. I also hoped to shave off 3 minutes (!) from last week’s race which I almost did! Race Recap will be up shortly!

Count the fingers!

Sunday, 24th September: Blogging Day and a beautiful outing with my gorgeous girlfriends at a “Vintage” themed event 🙂

Mileage this week: 17.14 km

Mileage this training cycle: 34.69 km

What is your experience of Fartlek Runs? Are they part of your routine? Do you enjoy them?

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 1

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 4th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of it! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! 

I felt overwhelmed this week. I had some difficult clients at work, my hubby was away, and the kids started back at school after the winter break. But in terms of workouts, I don’t think I did too badly and here is a quick recap. I am going to be linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run every week to keep myself accountable. Be sure to support Courtney’s blog as well as other bloggers on the link up!

Monday, 11th September: Pilates (1 hr class)

I had such a great work-out! I have missed quite a few classes over the last couple of months, so although my legs felt strong, my core definitely felt a lot weaker. But overall, I pushed hard and managed to stay on top of things.

Tuesday, 12th September: Rest Day (unplanned)

On Tuesdays I have a teleconference lecture/class from 19h30 – 21h00 at the Office. So that morning I packed my running stuff and the plan was to go for a run just after 17h00. But there was a major issue with a client that needed my attention so I just couldn’t get out. I was so disappointed.

Wednesday, 13th September: Easy Run (30 min; 3.87 km; 07:45 min/km) + Conditioning Exercises

I can honestly say that in 9 months of running, this was my worst run. I set off at 16h45 which was the first mistake. It was just too hot. My second mistake was starting out way too fast. I had not run in a week and with a race on Saturday I felt the need to go a bit faster than usual so I didn’t focus on the fact that this was supposed to be an easy run. With 15 min left on my run, I wanted to quit. I felt nauseous, weak and my average heart rate was high. Towards the end I was just shuffling along trying to make it look like I was jogging. By the time 30 min finally elapsed, I ground to a complete halt and contemplated cancelling Saturday’s race. 😦 Fortunately, I still managed some conditioning exercises (squats/ clams/ lateral band walks/ calf raises) when I got home.

Thursday, 14th September: Steady Run (30 min; 3.68 km; 08:10 min/km)

I felt like I needed to redeem myself for Wednesday’s debacle! So even though it was quite late (around 20h00) I set off for a run. I paced myself much better interchanging Easy and Steady paces. I kept the easy pace, really easy. In the end, it ended up being almost the same distance covered as Wednesday’s run. But so much more comfortable.  I am so glad I did this run as it gave me the confidence to continue as planned with Saturday’s race.

Friday, 15th September: Yay! Legal Rest Day!

Saturday, 16th September: Race Day (The GC Mayor’s Race – 1:16:09, 10 km, 07:32 min/km)

This was an official race, but I used it as a training Long Run and my goals were simple, 1) To run at a comfortable pace, 2) No real time goals but I was hoping for around 1:15/1:16, and 3) To run without my knee support. I am so pleased to say I managed all three goals and had a beautiful run. My pacing was on point, I feel like my form is improving, my knee was good and most importantly I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Plus of course Number 11 of 17 is now in the bag! Click here for the Race Recap!

Sunday, 17th September: Blogging Day 🙂

Mileage this week: 17.55 km

Mileage this training cycle: 17.55 km

Have you had a really bad run that shook your confidence? Do you use races as training runs?

End of Winter Training/Racing Season

I’m going to take a moment to sit back and reflect on the last few months of training and racing! I wrote quite an emotional post back in June where I discussed my injury time-out and put down in black and white my determination to continue with the 17 in 2017 journey despite the setback. I drew comfort and strength from one of my favourite bloggers Wendy, who once spoke of the importance of focusing on finish lines and not finish times. I returned to running with a 3 month winter training plan that was cautious but focused. Unfortunately, my training was quite interrupted with several life and work changes, and sometimes just the gloominess of winter! My blogging also took a bit of a backseat for a while. But I am very pleased to say that of the five races I had planned for this winter, I managed four, bringing my race tally to TEN this year. All my race recaps are now up and here is a short summary:

  • 08 July: I did the Kgale Cross-Country/Trail with my cousin Tapiwa. This was my first 15 km race and unfortunately one where we got mugged on the trail at knife point. It was an awful experience, but we finished the race.
  • 29 July: I participated in the epic 30k Desert-Bush Walk in Jwaneng, taking over seven hours to complete it and emerging from the desert, battered but undefeated!
  • 20 August: I was the 5k trail “sprinter” in the Time Team Challenge in Mokolodi that I did with Elisa and Ditiro. One of my favourite races yet and I shaved 13 minutes off a previous 5k Trail PB.
  • 02 September: To end my Winter Training Cycle, I did the Rustenburg Mountain Race (10km) with my husband on our way back from our holiday in South Africa. It was a tough race but I survived and felt stronger for it.

I emerge from winter, proud that I achieved so much but also extremely excited for what summer has to offer. My winter goal was to keep running, keep rehabbing my knee and to turn up for races, which I did. However, I think I am now ready to focus a little bit more on speed and I’m so excited to launch my training plan for my next goal race, the Soweto 10k in South Africa. The Soweto Marathon is one of THE biggest races in Africa, and I am really looking forward to taking part in the 10k and being part of that vibrant atmosphere. My 8-week Soweto training plan looks like this:

  • Three/four runs a week (with a long run every Saturday)
  • Pilates Classes on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Conditioning/ Strength Exercises at home
  • Joining Virgin Active Gym – my first gym experience in 8 years!
  • Fortnightly weekend hikes up Kgale Hill to try and build some stamina for the Johannesburg hills

The #17in2017 Challenge continues and the next races on my calendar are as follows:

  • 16 September, the Gaborone City Mayor’s 10km
  • 23 September, the Botswana Independence 10km
  • 29 October, King of Africa Race 10km
  • 05 November, the Soweto 10km (GOAL RACE)

I feel ready, I feel excited, I feel optimistic. I will be returning to weekly training recaps, which I have not done all winter. So expect to hear from me every Sunday/Monday on how my training has gone. I find I am a lot more focused when I am forced to blog about my training! Looking forward to sharing the next stage of my journey with you! Let’s do this! Soweto, The People’s Race, I am taking that leap and coming for you…smiling, if a little bit scared!

Ziplining with my boy in Hazyview, South Africa

I am linking up with Courtney from Eat Pray Run for the Weekly Training Recap and really looking forward to linking up every Sunday/Monday to stay accountable and focused! I’m also linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! Please check them out too, brilliant reads!

Winter Training Cycle: Goals and Races

“Head pulled down, shoulders hunched up, toes curled in, Boris the vulture is sulking.” (The Sulky Vulture, by Sally Grindley) 

At the start of the year, my plan to run 17 races in 2017 was daunting to say the least. I loved the catch phrase “17 in 2017” but wondered whether it was possible. When I got to my sixth race, I felt unstoppable. Unfortunately, something did stop me – my left knee. Some of you may recall that in mid-April, I started complaining that my knee was sore after runs. However, I ignored this and continued to push hard, running my best times in two races, one week apart – the Palapye 10k and the Diacore 10k. However, when I returned to running on Wednesday following the Diacore my knee finally caved in. It was excruciatingly painful. I took a week off and then tried again – this time it felt even worse. My physiotherapist quickly diagnosed patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), more commonly known as Runner’s Knee and I have had several physio sessions over the last few weeks.

It has been an emotional time for me. I have been sulking like Boris, hence no blogging! 🙂 There was huge disappointment at having to stop running and cancel races; there was fear that the one fitness activity I had grown to love could so suddenly come to an end; there was anger at myself for having pushed too hard and too early on in my running career; there was envy at others who could still run; and there was sadness… But things are starting to look up now and I am resuming my training plan this week hopeful, a little bit wiser, and quite humbled by the lessons I have learnt. I have lots of catching up to do if I am to run 11 more races this year… but let’s see what happens! I am taking it one run at a time and aiming to finish races comfortably with my knee intact, rather than to focus on finishing times.

My revised winter race schedule looks like this:

  • 08 July: The Kgale Cross-Country/Trail is a 10k race in the Gaborone area.
  • 29 July: I am so excited to be doing the 30k Desert-Bush Walk in Jwaneng. I did this last year in SEVEN hours and it was such a phenomenal experience.
  • 05 August: Exactly a week after the walk I will be tackling the 10k Road Race in Selebi-Phikwe. This race is one of the oldest in the country and I have always wanted to do it.
  • 20 August: I will be joining Ditiro and our friend Leruo for the Time Team Challenge in Mokolodi. Leruo will do Stage 1 which is a 10k Trail Run, Ditiro will do Stages 2 and 3 (the mountain biking) and I will do Stage 4, the 5k Trail Run. I am really looking forward to being part of a team!
  • 09 September: To end my Winter Training Cycle, I will cross the border for the 10k Road Race in Mafikeng, South Africa.

Disclaimer: If at any point I feel I may need to forfeit a race, I will do so. I don’t want to aggravate my knee again. 

My 13-week winter training plan looks like this:

  • Pilates Classes on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • 2 Treadmill Runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a long Outdoor run every Saturday (for each run I am going to focus on lots of stretching before and after)
  • Conditioning/ Strength Exercises every Thursday
  • Upper Body Work (with weights at home)
  • Fortnightly weekend hikes up Kgale Hill

I am so happy to still be working with Coach Nicola from Running Happy. She has been amazing during my “injury period” and I am so pleased that she will be guiding me over the next few months. It feels good to be back.

Does anyone have any tips for dealing with knee problems? Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

I am pleased to be linking up again with Courtney over at Eat Pray Run who is busy training for the Berlin Marathon!

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Weeks 7 – 8 (Final)

My 8-week Diacore Training Cycle has now come to an end and my goal race (and Number 6/17) is tomorrow. It has been a great 8 weeks where I have learnt so much about myself, my body and running in general. I am looking forward to starting my next training plan, “Winter Trail Training Cycle” which will take me through the cold winter months ahead. There will be a lot of trail running with some new distances and I am happy to still be working with Coach Nicola from Running Happy. But before we get into that, let me summarise the final two weeks of my Diacore training and then look at some of the goals I have for the big day.

Week 7

Monday: I started the week with an Easy Run, 3.57 km, 27:21 min, 07:38 min/km. As usual I did this run with my cousin Tapiwa but as we hadn’t warmed up and started out quite fast, it was not the most comfortable of runs. My body felt as if it was struggling to move. Our run was followed by an intense pilates session – my core is most definitely getting stronger and I survived all the hard leg work-outs. When I started pilates in January, I actually never knew I would love it this much.

Tuesday: Easy Run3.37 km, 25:02 min, 07:26 min/km. I really didn’t want to run but I’m glad I did. I found a nice new route around the neighbourhood.

Wednesday: I loved today’s run – we started out at a nice easy pace and then did “steady-easy-steady-easy” before finishing off easy. Overall, it actually felt slower than usual but it turned out to be our fastest pace yet, 07:18 min/km. 3.58 km, 26:08 min. This was followed by pilates and our instructor pushed us hard.

Thursday: I forgot about my scheduled Conditioning Exercises, so this ended up being an unplanned Rest Day!

Friday: I did Thursday’s Conditioning Exercises (squats, lunges, clams, lateral band walks) today. My knee felt quite sore especially when I was doing the lunges, so I did one set of those instead of two.

Saturday: Excitement and nerves started building up as we packed for our trip! We then set off on our 3-hour journey to Palapye for my 5th Race of the year.

Sunday: What a disorganised race but a phenomenal result. I was aiming for a 2 minute PB which would give me a time of 1:13:11. However, I completely smashed my previous PB and came home in 1:08:02 – a 7:09 minute PB! It was such an incredible feeling. My body felt like a well-oiled machine and even though I started out at a much faster pace than I am used to, it didn’t feel fast, I felt comfortable. If you are like me and love reading race recaps, jump here for a blow by blow account!

Week 8

Monday: This was a Rest Day like no other! I rested and rested and rested! Bliss!

Tuesday: I had a run scheduled but just felt exhausted so this ended up being another Rest Day. Not as blissful as I felt a bit guilty!

WednesdayEasy Run with my cousin Tapiwa that was actually supposed to be a Tempo Run. However, when we started out, my left knee felt so sore, excruciatingly painful at one point, so we kept it quite slow for the first 10 minutes. After that, it seemed to loosen up a bit and we had a good run – 3.60 km, 28:03 minutes, 7:47 min/km. As usual, this was followed by pilates which was very gentle today.

ThursdayEasy Run – from Wednesday’s experience I made sure I warmed up a lot more and although my knee still felt a bit tender, it was much better than the day before – 2.60 km, 20:01 minutes, 07:42 min/ km. As soon as I was done I did my usual Conditioning Exercises and had a good stretch.

Friday – Saturday: Rest Days – Ditiro collected our packs on Friday and Paranoia hit in a big way! Are my knees okay? I feel a bit dizzy? Should I eat that? Why does my eye feel sore? Do I have an infection? etc. etc. etc…! I then happened to read a good blog article and felt a lot better afterwards – it reminded me to have fun and not be so focused on numbers and pace. I’m really glad I read it.

Goals for Diacore 10k Race

  1. Goal A: My goal all along was to do 1:12 for Diacore! But now that I got 1:08:02 last week, I have had to change things a bit! As my new PB was not officially timed, I would be more than happy to get the same time for the official records.
  2. Goal B: To get a 1:10 time – I would still be very happy with this.
  3. Goal C: To finish my 6th race of 2017, strong and smiling and have a great day at the Biggest Race on Botswana’s racing calendar!

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Week 6

How did we get to Week 6 of my 8-week Diacore Training Cycle? I have been so lucky to work with Coach Nicola from Running Happy who has put together a great training plan that makes my job a whole lot easier. My main task has just been to get up and make sure I get those runs in!

Monday: I enjoyed a really nice Easter Hike up Kgale Hill with Polelo. We set off at 06:30 and took our time, doing it in 1:44 hours, 260 m ascent, 3.91 km. It was a lovely cool morning and there were many hikers on the trail. Afterwards, I did 20 minutes of yoga.

Tuesday: Today I had a Steady Run scheduled but… I rebelled… and if that was not bad enough… I stole four (yes four!) marshmallow eggs from my kids’ stash… Shameless!

Wednesday: After my illegal day off and and Easter egg feast, I hit the road with Tapiwa for a 26 min, Steady Run. Tapiwa was on fire today and started us out at a very fast pace. We tried a new route and it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop my watch and only realised when I was driving back from our post-run pilates session. I was so disappointed… some run for fun, others run for health, I run for the STATS! Without that, what’s the point of the run?! LOL! After my disappointment had worn off, I was very happy with our solid run and estimated it must have been approx. 3.5 km.

Thursday: I did 20 min, Easy Run, 2.71 km, 7:22 min/km. This was followed by some conditioning exercises (clams, squats, lunges, lateral band walks). I was so pleased to notice that my clams were a lot wider than before! My 3 year old find squats hilarious and calls them “The Toilet”. 🙂

Friday: Rest Day 🙂

Saturday: Today’s Long Run was 6 km – so shorter than last week’s 8 km which made it easier to get out of bed! I was very pleased with my time, 44:46 min, 7:26 min/km. The last 6 km distance I did was on the 4th Feb and I did it in 53:53 min so this is a huge improvement in just 2.5 months! That made me really smile!

Sunday: So I was supposed to go up Kgale Hill this morning but I ended up at Mosha Beauty Spa for a facial and FULL body massage… Mosha Beauty Spa is very close to Kgale, so does that make it count as a workout? It does, right? 🙂

Goal for my Next Race (Palapye 10k)

Next Sunday I am doing my fifth race of the #17in2017 challenge and for some reason I am particularly excited about this one!

I have some tentative goals:

  1. Goal A: To shave 2 minutes off my current PB which would mean finishing in 1:13:11 – a 07:19 min/km pace. Looking at the last few runs I have had, I don’t feel I am that far off from achieving this. I’m quite optimistic. I am also pulling out my “Ditiro Card” to help me. (Ditiro has promised to run 4 of the 17 runs WITH me this year and sacrifice his usual lightning speed races!  I feel like his presence will give me the extra push I need at this point in my journey). My main worry is Palapye is a lot hillier than Gaborone is…
  2. Goal B: To PB – anything better than 1:15:11. 
  3. Goal C: To finish the race with a huge smile. To tick Number 5 off the “17 in 2017” Challenge. To remain positive for Diacore the following week!

(I am linking up with the lovely Courtney at Eat Pray Run. I am also linking up with Tricia and Holly for their inspirational Weekly Wrap. Be sure to read these blogs and link up if you can! It’s such a great way to stay accountable).