The Jacaranda stood tall

On a recent Saturday morning training session with Coach Dave, we were instructed to run up to the top of a hill towards an orange bush and jog back down. We were to do this until he said stop. The “bush” at the top of the hill was in fact the most beautiful tree. The Jacaranda mimosifolia. The name stood out because it was signposted on the bark as most of the trees at Emmerentia Dam are.

Hill training at Emmerentia Dam

Hill training at Emmerentia Dam

The beautiful Jacaranda tree

The beautiful Jacaranda tree

Up and down the hill we ran and each and every time I reached the top, I would touch the bark of the tree and repeat the words “Jacaranda mimosifolia”. It occurred to me that I had never noticed that Jacaranda trees change to orange during winter. How odd because their majestic beauty when they are in full bloom during spring paints the streets with their exquisite colours of blue and purple.

Up and down…. Jacaranda mimosifolia. When I did stop to catch my breath at the top of the hill, I took time to appreciate the tree and reflected on the past couple of months.

It’s been a tough winter. I have not been able to get into a proper training routine. My running has suffered. I have missed races, missed track sessions and missed the discipline and consistency Coach Dave taught me from the beginning.

The Jacaranda trees in bloom up my street

The Jacaranda trees in bloom up my street

Worse is that the last 6 months have been really hard at work. Challenging. Maybe because it’s me that has been the challenger for a change. Nobody really likes that. No one likes the orange leaves.

I’ve lost a bit of my sparkle. I’ve lost my shine. I’ve become that orange Jacaranda tree which is still the beautiful tree that people marvel at during spring time, but fades into the background when the leaves turn orange and waits for winter to end.

I am bordering on desperate for spring to arrive. It hasn’t been that cold, but it’s been dry and long. You could see it in the brown dead grass as the sun rose during our training session. The frost melting as the air warmed up.

Soon those Jacaranda mimosifolias will be blooming and showing off their majestic blues and purple showers again. The colours of the leaves may change, but it’s still the same tree. And of course, it gets easier to run.

The purple carpet...

The purple carpet…


What goes up always comes down

I’ve been trying something different with my running this year. I’ve included some hill training and speed work in to the mix. Yeah, I know it’s something runners are supposed to do but hey, to be honest, I’ve been pretty lazy in the last couple of years and haven’t been as disciplined as I should have been.

The hill training is pretty straight forward. I can feel my heart racing and my legs getting stronger every time I do them. My gosh, reaching the top just feels so brilliant every time.

Hill training has taught me 3 lessons…

  1. What goes up will come down. Hang in there. We all face those times in our lives when it feels as if there are more up hills than down hills. But they don’t last.
  2. Sometimes the down hills hurt. You look forward to them but (as I discovered running the Dischem 21km a few years back) if your legs are not ready for that sudden downhill, you will take strain. Be ready for the drop.
  3. Don’t avoid the up hills. Don’t hate them. They make you stronger. It’s how we deal with the up hills in life that builds us. Hills are just part of life – face them!Hills

A good friend and Comrades Silver medal finisher gave me this tip once: Starting on your left foot, with each step, repeat these words “1, 2, 3… on my left.” I know it sounds silly but somehow it does help to conquer those hills.

Here’s to an awesome week full of up hills as well as down hills!