Tuesday, 27 September 2016

All fired up {adidas Boosts Bloggers Event}

On Friday I had the privilege of joining nine other existing and prospective South African sports bloggers for the adidas Boosts Bloggers event in Cape Town - super exciting, right?!

The event took place at adidas' head office and I must admit that the setting was quite intimidating at first...  There were cameras and sound equipment everywhere, with the Touch Central (formerly Cliff Central) morning show being broadcast right there and then...!  But everyone was super nice, making us feel right at home.  

The aim of the event was to inspire and equip sports bloggers with the knowledge and know-how to take their blogs to the next level: Well-known and massively successful bloggers Ben Karpinski from The Bounce and Aqueela Harron from Fashion Breed shared some tips and how-to's on blogging in general, while adidas' own Kelly Walden shared her expertise on becoming more social media savvy.  I love how emphasis was often placed on being yourself and finding your own, original voice - or in Dr Seuss' words "...There is no one alive who is youer than you".  Amen to that!

I also (finally!) had the opportunity to meet some fellow local running and fitness bloggers in person (hi, guys!): Atlegang from That Indie Runner and I have been chatting over the interwebs for ages, while the lovely Samantha from Dumbells and Delights and I only met via Twitter a short while ago.  Go and check them out.

Atlegang from That Indie Runner (left) and Samantha from Dumbells and Delights (right).

And, just in case you were wondering: Yes, we were spoiled with some really amazing adidas gear as well...!     

Left: Stellasport backpack, training towel and Pure Boost X shoes.  Right: Supernova running jacket, sports bra and Adizero tights.

Any trip via Kimberley would obviously be unthinkable without doing Kimberley parkrun - the perfect opportunity to test out all that stunning new gear, right?

It was all good.  Fired up and inspired to shoot for the stars! 

A big thanks to adidas for hosting and supporting us - honoured!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

How to run the Kalahari without losing your mind [aka how to keep on running when running really sucks]

We've been in the Kalahari for 2.5 months now and I'm not going to lie: This place was not made for running.  Especially not with kids.  An extensive, drawn-out drought in the region also means that, among other things, roads are covered in more thick sand than usual (think beautiful, sandy beaches minus the sea) and there's dust everywhere.  But, instead of sitting around, moping about the situation (which I've also done, in depth), I thought I'd share my tips for keeping on running when your situation or circumstances just aren't runner-friendly.  Here's what I've learned so far:     

1.  Just run

The Kalahari (and life in general) gives us a thousand-and-one excuses reasons not to run.  But get out there and run anyway.  I found that, in my case, overthinking the situation led to less running, more frustration and, ultimately, a seriously depressed mama.  Get out the door and run.

2.  Get creative

After about a month-and-a-half on the farm, it finally dawned on me that trudging through the thick sand with a double stroller and two squabbling toddlers was, in fact, not the only running option.  I noted the quieter times of the hunting lodge (hunters go out at 15:30 in the afternoon and cleaning staff leave at 17:00, before the hunters return from the veld at about 18:00), giving me a glorious hour or so to turn the 300 m loop around the hunting camp into a running track without having to face too many confused stares.  The setup is such that I can more or less keep an eye on the kids playing on the swings from anywhere on the loop, allowing me some glorious (albeit monotonous) solo run time.   

3.  Adjust your expectations

I left Kimberley in pretty good (for me) running shape, clocking the best club time trial times of my life.  After arriving in the Kalahari, though, I quickly realised that maintaining or building running speed was not going to be an option.  The Kalahari is all about strength and running maintenance - speed and distance will have to wait.  And, as frustrating as that may be, I had have to make peace with it.   

Once upon a time, when I could still run 5 km non-stop and do it in a good time.  [Photo by Erika Venter.]

4.  Get enough proper rest

Double stroller Kalahari runs are tough: Even short runs of 2.5 km leave your quads aching, your lungs burning and your mind filled with all kinds of improper thoughts.  I soon realised that even running only every second day just didn't give my body enough time to recover in between runs: My quads were shot just a few steps into each run, and my Achilles tendons got really grumpy about running in deep sand all the time.  The solution?  Enough rest.

And rest for Mama too.

5.  Focus on the good stuff

The Kalahari might not be a runner's paradise, but it sure has a lot to offer.  The kids are in love with its freedom and wide open spaces, and have had farming adventures galore.  Plus the memories they're building with Grandpa and Grandma are priceless - a few bad runs pale in comparison, right...?  

Adventures galore!

Happy running! 


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Dear Running: I'm dreading you just a little right now...

Today marks the end of our third week in the Kalahari, and I wish that I could paint a picture of rainbows and ponies, and a mom who dug deep, found her strong and conquered the elements.  But alas...  I'm still trudging along like a total beginner, and can't even complete back-to-back airstrip intervals without taking at least half a dozen rest breaks.  It sucks.

So much so that I'm starting to feel something that I haven't felt since high school and varsity days: I'm dreading our runs just a little.  No, wait - I'm dreading it a lot.  Huffing down that airstrip, pushing 40+ (squabbling) kilograms over loose rocks and cattle poop, interspersed with pockets of soft, stops-you-dead-in-your-tracks Kalahari sand, is hardly the stuff that runner's highs are made of.  Or even just enjoyable family outings, for that matter.  No rainbows or ponies over here right now.

Yet I know that I need to run.  For my own sake, but especially also the kids'.  It makes me a better me.  So we celebrated our first three weeks in the Kalahari with a (200+ km) trip to Vryburg - the closest "big" town (and, more importantly, source of dark chocolate).  We stocked up on the good stuff (our first fix in three weeks...!), reading material and might have snuck in a little extra retail therapy.  And you know what?  I think it did the trick: It gave me a mental boost and I'm fired up and as motivated as ever to obliterate that darn strip.

Bring on the intervals!