Picnic for the soul 

During March, KK’s Comrades training was at its peak. Waking up at 4am, running 100km’s a week, he was exhausted. So I suggested to him that instead of wasting the March public holiday, that perhaps we should go for a picnic somewhere & spend some time together “chillaxing”.

My idea was loading our straw basket with some cut up vienna sausages, blocks of cheese and packets of chips. But when I woke up that morning, he said, “Dress comfy, we’re going for a picnic. It’s a surprise!”

We took a leisurely drive out to Magaliesburg and I kept wanting to stop and take photos of the fields of cosmos that greeted us on our trip.

Cosmos flower in bloomcosmos flowers in bloomWe finally arrived at our destination. The Budmarsh Private Lodge, tucked away in the heart of the Magaliesburg mountains.

Budmarsh Private LodgeKK had pre-ordered our picnic basket so the only thing required from us was to decide on drinks and select a spot around the grounds to have our picnic. Mmm, that beautiful gigantic tree or that sunny chair next to the gentle flowing stream?

It was so quiet! Our voices seemed to pierce the silence that engulfed us. We tucked into the food immediately! It was delicious! With full bellies, we lay back and dozed off…

It was the perfect day. KK has been doing such intense training for Comrades so the day “off” allowed him to relax and sleep, guilt free.

I took a stroll along the little stream next to the house and tried to get the ducks to come say hello. But I was full of thoughts and allowed the beauty of the surroundings to speak to me. The only ones who did come bounding by to say hi (and possibly steal whatever was left in the basket) were two adorable basset hounds. Scrumptious food, wine, warm sun, overly-friendly dogs… I was officially in my element!

There are a couple of public holidays in South Africa coming up. If you haven’t yet decided what to do, consider driving out somewhere unknown and escaping the city. It doesn’t have to be a picnic. It doesn’t even need to be a public holiday. But it’s the silence and time away from the daily chores and routine that allows your body and soul to recharge.

And yes, that includes runners. Be kind to your body. Take some time to rest!

Improvements often happen behind the scenes

When I talk to people about my running, I always slip in the fact that I ‘walk run’. It’s as if I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that I’m actually capable of running non-stop for kilometers on end. My pace is slow so telling people I walk means I don’t have to explain myself. 

But I noticed something today about my running pace during the Alan Robb road race that I wasn’t even concentrated on training for. I managed to run almost the entire way for 15kms at a steady consistent pace! I hardly walked!

Pacing road race running

I stopped at one or two water stations and walked on the very big uphill (on a very flat route). Other than that, I ran! 

Late last year, I remembered trying to run 20 minutes non-stop. It took me over three weeks to get it right. But since then, I’ve forgotten about it. 

Something must’ve worked. Was it the exercises from bio Mari? The stretching homework? The weekly runs? Hell, whatever it is, I’m thrilled! 

Quite ironic, I’m happy about something I didn’t even realize I was working on! 

So true of life, we’re often so focused on things that we think matter and don’t realize all the positive progress were making in other areas of our lives. 

Go me! ^5

Tips for treating that dreaded Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries among athletes, affecting approximately 10% of runners at least once during their lives. It sparks fear in most runners because it’s a stubborn injury that can take weeks, even months to heal.

When I was struck down by plantar fasciitis (a little dramatic, I admit), I started to do everything I could to treat it. And I mean everything! Here’s my top 5 treatments:

Plantar Fasciitis treatment

1. I changed my running shoes from Asics to New Balance. Best decision ever to follow the advice of an Orthotist. The tests he performed were so interesting and have made a huge difference. My NB’s are so comfortable.

2. One of my Running Junkie mates recommended the FS6 foot sleeves from Hunt Orthopaedics. These compression socks are designed specifically for sufferers of plantar fasciitis. I wear the sock around the house or whenever I don’t have shoes on.

3. I bought the B4Play ball from Sportsman’s Warehouse. This gadget ties itself around your ankle so while you watch TV, you can comfortably do your exercises with no hassle at all. The best part is that it’s designed specifically to treat plantar fasciitis.

4. This photo is me as a baby, crying. I still enjoy a good, ugly cry. But whatever you do, you need to deal with the frustration that a stubborn injury brings. It demands patience. Plantar fasciitis is a debilitating injury that can take months and even years to go away. For a runner, it’s a death sentence but be patient. Try something else while you wait. I tried hot yoga at the gym and it’s fabulous!

5. Physiotherapist & friend Francis hooked me up with a Strassburg sock. I sleep with it every night religiously and for me, it has made the biggest difference. The compression part irritates me & sometimes I will pull the sock off in the early hours of the morning in my sleep, but it works. I’ll say that again. It works!

6. Calf stretching & massages. My bio Mari alerted me to new research in the beginning & I’ve been disciplined in following her stretching program. It’s worth the read.

There’s a whole range of other treatments which I haven’t even begun to explore yet. Needling, taping, electroshock therapy. The list is endless. What have you tried that’s worked for you?

It’s been almost 6 months since I started treating my stubborn heel. Six difficult and long months. It’s taught me an incredibly valuable lesson in patience. It’s forced me to stop and rest. I think out of everything, for me as a runner, that’s been the hardest part. But it’s humbled me. I long to be out there, running pain free. The time is coming. The foot is healing. Eventually!

I’ll keep you posted!

In the blink of an eye

Life changes in the blink of an eye. It really does. But it takes years for you to notice it.

During these recent times of uncertainty in the world, I’ve tried to make sense of the chaos. Have I made the right choices? What will I do if things go wrong? What’s my plan B? Let’s face it. The world has officially gone mad. But whatever it is, when I look around and observe what some of my friends are getting up to, I see a real sense of bravery! Of change…

Sharon & Hillary took up horse-riding. Andrew resigned from his job with no alternative. He just decided one day, “Screw this! No more!”

Chevy & Marc packed up and left Johannesburg for a different lifestyle down in Cape Town where job titles don’t matter. What matters to them is walking the dogs on the beach after work in the late setting sun.

Shaun & Lisa left for an overseas adventure. Taking up job opportunities but with the end goal of exploring the world while they’re still young. So did Meg & Rob. (By the way, follow Meg’s awesome blog on all things Dublin.)

My very good friend Karen envisages a completely different upbringing for her two sons. She is planning a future quite opposite to anything she knows. Listening to her planning to emigrate to Australia has shown me that it’s not as easy as one might think. But she has a vision. A new start to life.

Retrenchment has meant Sam has registered her own company. I can see that she’s nervous. The unknown always is, but she’s doing it. How frikking exciting!? I wish it was me!

Full time running coaching has given Coach Neville a second chance at “life”! They always say follow your passion and I suspect he’s been surprised by the journey that perhaps he should’ve embarked on years ago.

Turning 40 was a biggie in my life! Watching Samantha training to run her first Comrades marathon on her 40th birthday in a few months time, well … that’s pretty epic!

Susan is fighting cancer. Too many people I know are fighting cancer. Their resilience to never give up inspires me. Their approaches to decisions that they don’t exactly have control over is heartbreaking to see.

Terence has gone solo! I wish I could do that… But what do I have to offer?

This is me in Cape Town in 2007. In a blink of an eye, it’s 10 years later.

I’m seeing newbie runners like Russel bursting with runner’s high. I watched my sister, Gwynn, buying her own home and then going on to lose 17kgs! Janine is going back to university. New jobs. New hobbies. New lives!

It’s inspiring! It’s brave! It’s been happening in front of my eyes all this time, but I’m only seeing it all now. As if it’s a sign I need to see. For a reason I’m still grappling with.