Getting to grips with grass

Since committing to training with a running coach just over a month ago, I’m already seeing certain benefits. If I promise to pitch up at training and work hard, he pretty much takes care of everything else. In a way, it’s actually a relief.

For starters, my coach decides on how much running I do in the week. It’s such a weight off my shoulders knowing that someone else is watching my mileage. For a change, I’m not stressing over not having run really long LSDs on a Sundays. And it’s okay just to do 5kms twice a week. It’s in his hands. He has a plan.

Another thing I’m learning is what he means by consistency. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality and learning to read my body.

Ironically, my coach is making sure I slow down a bit. *Wait a minute, I’m in this to speed up aren’t I?*. At the last track session, I felt strong. I’ve noticed that I’m doing a lot more running than walking. Just as he promised, I’m building that strong base foundation first. Speed work can only start once this is in place.

Being better

I must mention though that perhaps the biggest benefit is that I’ve learnt to run on grass! For me, the finish of any race is always the worst because it always feels like after running on the road, the grass on the field slows me down and sucks me in. Quite funny that where we train, the track is grass and it’s not that bad. Not that bad at all.

Two words. Let’s begin.

I’m not known for my patience and I wore this like a flashing neon sign around my neck on Saturday morning. It was only my second training session and my new running coach mentioned that he would email me my training schedule sometime in the next week. Without hesitation I said, “And the training will make me run faster, right?” Fail… I could see it in his eyes.

Structure. Consistency. Those are the two words he used in his reply to me. He first wants to set some structure into my running routine and start with the basics. He wants to assess where I am at the moment and what I want to run, and what my goals are. Then I need to get some consistency into my routine and we’ll work from there.

One step at a time and one day at a time. 


I must admit, this gives me a chance to gauge where I am too. Here’s what we’re working with:

  • My 5km PB – 37 minutes : Dischem 5km race
  • My 10km PB – 74 minutes : Vaal 10km race
  • My 21km PB – 2h48 : Two Oceans half marathon
  • My fastest km – 6:01 minutes

My average pace for majority of my runs is 8 minutes per km. This is the part I want to change. I’m not aiming to run Comrades, I’m not even aiming to run any specific race. I just need to see whether or not I can run faster. That’s all.

Structure and consistency. One step at a time. One day at a time. Oh, and to learn to be more patient. Can I throw that one in as well?

*Image from, a great new site I happened to stumble upon* 


The right treatment

As I walked out of the physiotherapist’s office, it felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Having suffered (I know I sound like a drama queen) for almost three weeks solid, I finally found relief for the pain that was killing my side. One of my intercostal muscles (the ones near the ribs) was bruised, locked in a tight spasm causing me pain. With a fair amount of pressure and what felt like ‘magic hands’ the pain started to release.

I’m one of those that thinks they’re doing the right thing, but isn’t. In order to heal, I thought resting my body from all forms of gym and running was the way to go. I figured it would eventually heal itself. But it didn’t and required the help of a trained specialist who knew exactly what to do.

After four years, I’ve realized I’ve made the same mistake with my running. I’ve bought all the best selling books for runners, I’ve followed all the great running blogs, I follow a bunch of really cool runners on Twitter and every so often, I’ll try do some speed work when I go to gym. But none of this is actually making me run faster now is it? No, I need help. Professional help. I kinda need the physiotherapist but for running. I need a proper coach.

So I’ve found one. After emailing him my sob story of ‘I’m a slow runner blah blah‘, he told me to come along to one of his training sessions to meet him and give it a try. So I did … and I won’t look back.

My side is finally healing because I’ve received the proper treatment. It’s about time I gave my running that chance as well. Here’s to a new challenge and new goals! Runners goals

Try again. If that fails, try again.

I did not have the best of week’s last week. Having received the news from my running coach that I had not followed my training schedule correctly and had therefore not improved as he would’ve liked sent me into a depressed spiral where I questioned my running and considered quitting.

I got blasted by my coach for even having thoughts of quitting. He said to me: Get your mind right!

Ironically, this is where I am lacking in “strength”. I am disciplined enough to train every day. I have even changed my diet, cutting out wheat and red meats. I drink enough water and have ensured I wear all the running gadgets one can buy. All the boxes are ticked. But getting up when I have fallen down is so difficult.

Previously, when it came to motivating myself and getting my head space right, I would sit quietly and repeat positive statements to myself. I would envisage myself running and completing races. I would fill my time with reading motivational running books. It would always be a very private and personal journey.

But there’s something I realised a few months ago when I started my blogging. When it comes to believing in my abilities, nothing helps me do that more than realising that others believe in me. In fact, spending time with people that build me up is exactly what I spent the week doing.

Dinner with a best friend (who meticulously read back to me every sentence from my coach’s email and analysed each comment with a fine tooth comb and turned each sentence into a positive statement – Marci, you mean the world to me), to the awesome run with an inspirational friend from Cape Town (Rogeema, you are too awesome for words) and an Iron Man (Morne) who surprised me with a visit, right down to the motivational tweets and caring comments on my blog telling me that quitting is not an option and that they believed in me.

There’s nothing that touched my heart more than realising that other people are so willing to share in my running pains and get me through the bad times.

I’m back up. I’m running.

Dear coach, let’s start again. I’m ready.