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! 



  1. Ek is mal oor jou positiewe benadering Saar, en ek besef TOG te goed dat sit nie maklik kan wees nie. Maar soos jy se, moet dit nie oordink nie (ek doen dit ook baaaaaie), en hardloop net oor hoe dit jou laat voel. Al is dit 1km. Hardloop. Jy sal verbaas wees wat 1 of 2 of 3km in sand (oor die klippe en rotse in my geval) vir n mens doen oor die lange duur! Maar dis swaar om te sien hoe 'stadig' en 'min' mens kan doen invergelyking met wat mens op die pad gewoond was. Sterkte, en baie drukkies en liefnisse xni

    1. Dankie, liefste Saar. Die frustrasie is maar groot en die gemoedere laag. Gelukkig sal dit ook weer verbygaan, ne en, soos jy se, dan's mens bly oor die 1 of 2 of 3 wat jy gereeld gehol het. Waardeer jou. xxxx

  2. Sjoe maar dis mooi daar. Soos wat jy sĂȘ in enige situasie is dit seker maar "adapt or die" of dan "verander mindset". Sterkte

    1. Dankie, Cat. Jip, nie altyd maklik of wat 'n mens wil hoor nie, maar dikwels waar.


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