What my coaches taught me about running

I’ll be quite honest with you. When my CMIYC running partner (who I had only met 5 mins before the run) plugged her earphones in her ears into the 2nd kilometre of our 5km run, I was quite relieved. I was pushing myself so hard that I had started to grunt and pant like a bear and hoped her music would drown it out. I didn’t feel like chit chat.

Something else was on my mind. I had somehow managed to run the Randburg Harriers time trial route the entire way without stopping to walk once the week before. I was aiming to do it again but was already negotiating with myself that if I stopped to walk, it was okay. I mean, I had run the 10km Vitality Series road race on Sunday at Wanderers so was entitled to some rest time, right?

As we slipped into a rhythm, I started to question why the run felt so easy. Not once did I feel the need to stop or slow down. What had made the difference to previous runs? It’s then that the lessons from my previous running coaches made sense…

Coach Dave would repeat the same thing over and over: Consistency and discipline. Just go out and run, he’d say. Even if it’s 20 minutes. Do it. And yes, I have been doing that. Working from home has made it easier to close my laptop and run from home instead of sitting in traffic. The runs have been consistent and I’ve been kinder to myself for accepting that even a 3km run is still a run.

Track session with Coach Dave and his Running Junkies 2013. Best running years of my life hanging out with this bunch of amazing friends twice a week.

Coach Neville made the statement, “You can’t be training for a 21km PB until you’ve run your best 5km and 10km times. Start there.” His running programme started me out on 4km runs which is what I’ve mapped out around home. My fastest road race times have been while training with Neville.

So yes, I’ve focussed more on the shorter distances: between 4 – 7km runs during the week, running regularly, and only running the 10km races on weekends. Mentally, it’s felt a whole lot easier to commit to and I’ve bravely stepped it up along the way knowing that 10kms is pretty manageable.

Both coaches taught me valuable lessons and I was pretty thrilled when my Strava showed that I was trending faster. That’s always a good sign. I’ve also found another CMIYC group where the girls run closer to my pace – meaning I can still see most of them in front of me along the route.

As a runner, as in life, it’s not about giving up. It’s about finding what works for you and sticking to it. Only then will you see the results…

Catch Me If You Can (CMIYC) Randburg group

Spring has arrived! Yesss! New beginnings. New goals. New running races. It also means shaving legs. Happy running everyone!

5 lessons from the Two Oceans half marathon for new business owners (aka me)

Let me dive right in. This year was tough. Not only for me but for KK running the Ultra with a last minute route diversions through Ou Kaapse Weg. Here’s what 21.1kms taught me about running my own business.

Lesson 1: You can’t predict what’s coming.

Route changes, rain, water stations running out of water, niggly ankles. Nothing prepares you for hard times. And there’s nothing you can do about them either. They will be there. Deal it and move on. You will get through whatever it is!

Lesson 2: Training is important.

Those long Sunday runs with Tamryn made the difference to my race. When I got to the 16km mark and knew I had 5kms to go, I didn’t stress. I had enough fuel in my body and energy in my legs to keep going and even ran the last few kilometers where I could.

Preparation, learning, up-skilling is everything! And you owe it to your clients so that you both win.

Lesson 3: Sometimes it hurts. But don’t stop.

The argument in my head about quitting when it rained, crying because my ankle hurt, the fear of missing cutoff was intense. Was I really cut out for running?

The imposter syndrome of claiming to be this great half marathon runner is quite similar to the feelings I’ve experienced as a newbie entrepreneur. You have to push through those feelings of doubt and negativity! You are and will be successful, believe it!

Lesson 4: The rewards are phenomenal.

I found my run was a mix of ups and downs. When I felt like quitting, I’d rise above it and get to the next kilometer and rejoice. The victory of getting over Southern Cross Drive, the success of making the 3:20 cutoff, the medal I could finally hang around my neck.

If you take the time to look, you will find that there are many successes along the way. Owning your own business is incredibly rewarding.

And finally,

Lesson 5: There are supporters along the way.

The support and belief in me from my family has been incredible. The work that has come through friends via word-of-mouth has totally surprised me. It’s been touching and has meant the absolute world to me.

When you’re running (or crawling) up Southern Cross Drive and someone shouts out, “Go Bronwynne, you’ve got this…” it’s just the best feeling in the world.

I realized that after 5 months of being a new business owner, nothing will ever prepare me. It’s a journey. A moving target. A hard one. A fun one. Ups and downs. Highs and lows.

But the reward at the end is priceless! And this is only the beginning. Many races still to come…

Celebratory drinks

Keeping my hands busy

I recently took up crochet. Besides recognizing the joy it was bringing to my circle of friends, I was keen to learn a new skill. My coloring books were gathering dust and I was picking up in conversations that crochet was becoming quite trendy.

What? Was this old-fashioned hobby making a comeback?

As a newbie, I was advised to start at the wool shop at Northlands Deco Park where “everyone goes.” They were right, the place was a hive of activity! People were scanning through books of both knitting and crochet patterns laid out on a table. Squeals were heard when a new delightful wool was discovered. Others hovered at the shelves as if they were in a library choosing a new book to read.

I strolled through the many layers of coloured balls of wool shelves along the wall. Stroking. Squeezing. Brushing my fingers lightly over the knitting needles like a feather. Acting like I knew exactly what I was looking for. Crochet hooks of different styles and sizes hung on the wall. OMG, where do I even start?

After mustering up enough courage to ask for assistance and revealing that I was a total newbie to this world, I walked out the shop with a crochet hook and x9 balls of wool, smiling.

I couldn’t contain my excitement!

Crochet is one of the easiest hobbies to grasp. With a basic understanding of the simplest of stitch I started crocheting a large square to finally stitch together a lap blanket.

The wool looks pretty but is a pain to work with!

If only my Granny could see me now!

Here’s what my new hobby has taught me:

  • My hands are too busy to hold my phone. This is the biggest plus! For a change, crochet allows me to take a break from social media. Everybody needs to do this.
  • You listen to TV shows, rather than watching. I find it almost impossible to look away when I’m crocheting meaning I can’t watch TV at the same time. Some shows can be listened to, like Will & Grace, others not. Good Girls needed my full attention.
  • I bought wool that was on sale. I realize now just why it was on sale. It’s fluffy, hard to work with. Grrr! Hobbies take time and practice to hone the skill. You don’t get it right the first time. Lessons learnt.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that, just like running, you have to make time to do it. If it’s 10 minutes while supper cooks or being the passenger in the car on a trip. I’ve also set aside time on weekends to just sit and crochet. No disturbances.

With so much else going on, and with so much I want to do – reading, running, walking Emma – prioritizing my time and what I spend it on has been an eye opener for me.

Crochet makes me look down and zone out. It’s actually quite similar to running in fact. But less sweaty. 🙂

My very first square done!

Okay, hands up! Who wants a crochet blanket for Christmas?

Jump on the bus

You can hear the bus coming down the road. The rhythmic shuffle. The feet pounding in unison. Sometimes a whistle. Other times a tambourine. The leader shouting out to the runners behind them.

If there’s one thing I love about road races, it’s the buses that pace runners! These angels ensure we run the time we’ve set out to run but also to get us to that finish line. I encountered my first bus during my first Two Oceans half marathon.

That’s me in the red top, next to Dave, coming up University Drive.

A newbie to races and unsure how to pace myself in those final few kilometers, pacesetter Dave took all that stress away and helped me walk and run when I needed to in order to save my energy. He sang songs, told stories and made me believe that the race was in his hands and I didn’t need to worry.

Those last few meters coming up University Drive are still imprinted in my memory when he shouted out to me and others, “You’ve done it! Run like horses to the stables!” LOL

He was right. I have the medal to prove it too.

Hanging with someone who has your back, who only wants you to succeed and gives you the right guidance along the way is something special. In the races, these buses have flags so you can see them.

But it’s worth looking for those “flags” in other areas of your life too. Find those buses in your life, not just on the road.

Find them at work where it’s particularly tough and you need the extra support to reach your goals. Ignore toxic people who have their own agendas.

Find them among your friends, the ones who lift you up and tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear.

Running this race called life is tough. Jump on those buses and finish your race!