Benefits of Joining a Running Group

Have you ever found yourself staring longingly at a group of early morning runners as you drive passed or taken a few extra minutes to gaze at social media pictures capturing a trail running event from the day before while sighing from FOMO (fear of missing out)?

Then you are showing all the signs of wanting to get involved! And although hitting some takkie to tar for a solo sweat is many people’s preferred workout, joining a group or club can do wonders for your physical and social well being. Here’s why:

New Horizons

If you have mostly been running on your own, then you tend to become stuck doing the familiar routes over and over. Getting familiar can also mean getting a bit ‘too comfortable’ and possibly bored. Joining a running group is a great way to move out of your comfort zone by meeting new people and experiencing some different routes! How refreshing.

Staying on Track

This comes down to accountability. If you have decided to join a sports group who have scheduled runs or activities, then the chances of you bailing are much lower. You don’t want to let people down and you’re ensuring that you are still getting your workout in. It’s a win-win situation.

Making Friends

It can be daunting to show up to a group of people you have never met before and join them on a run. But once you are over the initial phase of introductions and polite banter, you’ll start to feel more and more like a family. These are likely to be similar minded people who are going to motivate you and keep you inspired.

Sharing Tips

Every runner has tricks and techniques that work well for them and others that don’t. When you are part of a group, there is room for sharing and comparing with the other runners whether it’s about nutrition, stretching, gear or gadgets. It’s an opportunity to share knowledge and get feedback from fellow runners.

Improvement

Many runners fear joining a group because they believe they are not fit enough or fast enough to keep up. Rest assured that in most cases, there will be someone running a similar pace to you or someone who acts as a sweeper to make sure no one gets left behind. Plus, you will notice how quickly your running and fitness start to improve as you get comfortable in the group. This is because you’re probably pushing yourself a bit more and not even realising it. Or that competitive streak is coming through!

Safety First

The bottom line is that running in a group is far safer than running solo and for more reasons than one. There’s the comfort of knowing people are around if you get injured or feel sick, you are better visible to drivers on the road and you are less likely to be a victim of mugging.

These are a few of many reasons we think joining a running group is a great idea. Not only will your fitness improve and you feel safer, but you will also gain knowledge and make new friends along the way.

Your Fitness Bucket List

You might be someone who has their fitness goals printed, laminated and stuck to your bedroom wall or you may be keeping those goals hidden in the closet. Either way, we all love a bucket list, and this should be no exception when it comes to having a fitness bucket list!

Having a fitness bucket list is a great way to kickstart your motivation, keep yourself motivated and re-motivate yourself if you fall into a slump. It’s the thrill of setting big goals, having challenges and getting to tick them off the list. Satisfaction!

Maybe you’ve already made a start to your bucket list or maybe you are needing a little boost with where to start. Don’t worry, we have your back.

Starting small

  • Do a 30-day push-up challenge. A reasonable and realistic start!
  • Run a 10k. A classic goal for those wanting to get into running. Start gradually and increase mileage by no more than 10% from the previous week.
  • Master 3 yoga poses. Yoga is great for stretching, good posture and improving stress levels. Three good balancing poses include: warrior III, crow and handstand.

Staying Practical

  • Do some form of exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • Follow a circuit workout.
  • Try CrossFit. This is a mix of aerobic exercises, body weight exercises, gymnastics and weight lifting.

Focusing on Endurance

  • Sprint Triathlon. This requires you to perform at a high level across three different sports; swimming, cycling and running.
  • Six-minute mile. Many people can run a sub-seven minute mile; the real indicator of fitness comes in shaving off that last minute.
  • One-mile open water swim. Ever heard of the Midmar mile? Now’s your time!

Focusing on Adventure

  • Hike a cross-country trail. A long hike can be a life changing experience as it is a chance to connect with nature, brave the wild and disconnect from the modern world.
  • Climb a mountain. Whether it’s a trip to the berg or summiting a mountain, it’s an amazing experience but remember to practice all safety measures and be in the right physical condition for it.
  • Martial Arts training. This is for the hardcore out there. It has a powerful physical and mental effect.

Have we gotten those fitness creative ideas flowing yet? Depending on your lifestyle and personal goals, you can customise your fitness bucket list accordingly. Just be sure to keep it realistic and ease into it!

THE COMRADES DREAM – Mncedisi Dlova

Dreaming of running the Comrades Marathon is not uncommon for someone with a running or other sporting background.

Dreaming of it for the first time as a 53 year old without any running history and only a distant interest in social soccer is something totally different.

In this book Mncedisi shares an enlightening and motivational journey to accomplishing just that dream.

In an easy read story the author takes readers back to his youth in the rural village of Ngxakaza, 4km from Dutywa. Tough upbringings are pertinent in sport and the strict influence of his grandmother, Nobandla, is a thread through his story and the pursuit of his dream – A Comrades medal.

“A dream not pursued remains a wish, and a wish can turn to regret if not acted upon” he states.

Dlova would be 54 when he arrived at the day when his dream would be fulfilled. He would have to traverse the hills between the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg and the impressive Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban to do so. He had however, already seen it all in his dream.

A pharmacist by profession there would be few short cuts in preparation, few actions left strictly to chance on this journey.

The storyline takes readers through the early agony of running, finding his own inner strengths and of locating fellow travellers in Mthatha who could  make the training more bearable.

Cheetahs is a formidable club based in Mthatha and they would be the glue that cemented the dream, the reality of what it would take and the camaraderie and inspiration that would lift Dlova whenever he required that little bit extra.

A first half marathon in 2016 set up the “not interested in running or sport generally” citizen of the world to pursue a new lifestyle.

The half marathon led to 42.2km marathons and then ultra marathons in pursuit of a readiness to tackle Comrades.

The dream was realised on 10 June 2018 when Dlova entered a crowded, lively stadium to finish the 90 plus kilometres and claim a bronze medal for a sub 10-hour journey. The final cut off is 12 hours.

It is a wonderful story filled with inspiration for absolutely anyone.

This is not a book about how to train. It is book about how all can overcome obstacles to realise a dream, regardless from which sphere of life the dream might emanate.

What is Your Favourite Workout Playlist?

Listening to good music can be the ideal motivator when you need an extra boost or that push to keep going. It helps us in most situations to de-stress, unwind and re-group. So, it’s no surprise that listening to good tunes can kick start a great fitness workout or boost it to the next level.

Sure, some people enjoy listening to birds chirping as they run, or they get energised by the sound of weights hitting the floor at gym. Nothing wrong with that. But for the rest of us, music can make or break a workout. For example, playing a slow, low beat tune is not going to jumpstart your motivation to do hill sprints. That is why a good workout playlist is a necessity.

There is no one-size-fits-all playlist when it comes to getting the best workout results. It depends on your own music preferences, your goals, the mood you are in and state of mind at the time. Are you bursting with energy or are you in need of a kick up the butt to get motivated? Seeing results during your health and fitness journey is all about being consistent and establishing a routine that you stick to as much as possible. Planning your playlist can certainly work in your favour here.

When it comes to choosing the best playlist for your workout, consider the following:

1.Your Heart Rate

Depending on the type of workout you do, you’ll want to choose songs that contain a higher BPM (beats per minute). In general, anything over 120 BPM can help you get into the zone but for high intensity workouts find something in the 145 BPM zone.

2. Choosing lyrics that make you feel Strong

Choose songs that are positive and have inspirational lyrics that focus on courage and being fearless. Listening to catchy and empowering songs can help keep you in a positive mindset.

3. Choose Energetic Songs

By choosing songs that have a high BPM and are also energetic and upbeat, this will help improve your mood and encourage you to keep pushing yourself.

We did the dirty work for you and found some of the ‘best’ fitness workout playlists and tunes.

  1. Autumn’s Cardio Crush. This is an upbeat, positive vibes playlist full of inspiring pop anthems that will keep you going strong to the end.
  2. Sagi Kalev’s Weightlifting Playlist. This ‘beast’ workout is packed with a mix of throwback rap, wrestling theme songs and motivational tracks. No chance of a wimpy workout here.
  3. Joel Freeman’s Hardcore Motivational Playlist. This is a great playlist for the heavy metal fans who are in search of a pick-me-up and an energy boost.
  4. Running Workout Playlist. These tracks help make the time fly by while you are running the distance. With a bit of everything, it helps break up the monotony of a long run.
  5. Jericho McMatthew’s Pumped-Up Workout Playlist. Includes a mix of dance tracks.
  6. Tony Horton’s Cardio Mix. A feature of alt-rock anthems from bands like Imagine Dragons, Awolnation and the Decemberists.

It’s a good idea to keep changing up your playlist to keep things interesting and keep you working at your hardest. There is no longer an excuse to skip a workout because you wake up and don’t feel like it. Not when you have the tool of motivational music at your fingertips!

TAKKIE TALK parkrun-golf

Few sporting folk would rush to suggest there is any correlation between distance running and golf, save to say that many golf courses offer ideal training terrain.

Indeed in days past when security issues were of a lesser concern and golf courses were readily open and available, groups of some of the finest runners ever produced in this province would use the hills of a course for both strength and speed training.

The relationship between golf course and runner is once again growing stronger, albeit in a more organised and controlled fashion.

South Africa sadly does not have nearly enough parks, as is the case in the United Kingdom for instance, but we do have the most beautiful beaches, wine farms, game ranches and parks and yes golf courses.

Along comes parkrun, one of the fastest growing sporting cultures the world has ever experienced.

In the Eastern Cape there are, or soon will be, many a parkun hosted at a Golf Club. The first was at the magnificent St Francis Links, which has been a huge success and has attracted in excess of 2700 registrations as a home parkrun and have had many thousands of visitors over the six years of its existence.

Stutterheim Country Club has well over a thousand parkrunners, Komani at the Queenstown Golf Club host 2300, King Williams Town are on close to 2000 and then there is a new one, launched just three weeks ago at Kei Mouth and two attached to Mashie Golf courses at iMonti (Cambridge Club) and Python Park.

Each week these venues benefit from the presence of hundreds of parkrunners, who in turn have the luxury of safe, country style running to enjoy.

The latest parkrun-golfing fraternity to team up is in Mthatha. It has not launched yet, but we visited to recce the facilitates and proposed route on Tuesday and it is going to be a winner. A winner for the golf club and a winner for the people of one of South Africa’s busiest cities. They are crying out for recreational opportunities.

The golf course, close to the commercial centre is absolutely beautiful with a tranquillity that most runners long for.

Mthatha has produced many outstanding international athletes. The golf course itself is one of the five oldest in South Africa and has been declared a heritage site.

Could it uncover still more running talent at a parkrun on the edges of its fairways?  I believe so.

It costs nothing to participate in a parkrun, but the participants do eat breakfast, drink tea or coffee and are part of a 1,045,500 South African community, many of whom travel. The tourism spin off speaks for itself.

Having lived on the boundary of a golf course in Gonubie for over 15 years I have an idea of how convenient it is from a running point of view. Upon moving away it became blatantly obvious what a motivating factor the greenery, the sea views and the silence and solitude offered daily.

How to Survive Cheat Eating

Let’s be honest, it’s a lot more ‘fun’ gaining weight than losing it. But it’s not as enjoyable when you step onto the scale and realise you had a tad too much fun with food. Trying to stay healthy and in shape is not about starving yourself or never enjoying those ‘cheat’ meals you love but rather about moderation and balance. Giving yourself just 3 cheat days a week is enough to impact your gut health as badly as a consistent diet of junk food and even those of us with the willpower of steel still fall prey to the ‘splurge’ every now and again. Here are some tips to help you keep control of the munchies.

  1. Keep Calm

We have all been ‘there’ and by there, I mean, when one cheat snack has snowballed into a cheat weekend and all control is lost. Don’t freak out-yet. If you have been sticking to your healthy diet well up until then and continue to do so 90% of the time, then the odd out-of-control cheat food session is not going to have huge ramifications. A good place to start is keeping a food diary where you track your meals. This way you will feel in control and may be surprised to see how easy it is to skip meals or grab a quick refined-sugar snack.

1.Change your Mindset

A lot of the time we make ourselves feel guilty by using phrases like, ‘I can’t eat that’ and ‘it’s my cheat day’ because they create a negative connotation. Focus less on the words and their meanings and more on consciously enjoying that cheat food you really love. For example, if pizza is your thing, then have a slice and relish in it. If you feel guilty while eating it then where is the enjoyment? Plus, you may end up falling prey to the guilt and overindulging.

2. Don’t Give up

Often when people have decided on a traditional ‘cheat’ day, they adopt the all-or-nothing mentality where they think, ‘I might as well throw in a slab of chocolate and some speckled eggs seeing as though I’m eating a pizza tonight’, thinking it won’t make much difference. But throwing in the towel on your whole day does a lot more damage than what one bad meal would. Allow yourself to eat what you really want in that moment and then continue with your normal, healthier eating pattern.

3. Detox

Although there isn’t much you can do to reverse the damage of a cheat meal, you can still make some healthy food choices to get you back on the right track and help reset your body. Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin which helps powers your body’s own detoxification pathways. Water and potassium-rich foods like avocado, bananas and dark leafy greens, can help balance sodium levels in the body and reduce bloating. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi offset the damage done to your digestive tract.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying moments of indulgence in some of your favourite foods- YOLO right? – as long as you are keeping it in moderation and not a regular occurrence. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a moment of weakness; just continue to make healthy food choices and stay active. Remember, it’s about a healthy mind and body!

What are your favourite cheat foods?

How to Properly Warm-Up for a Workout

Life gets busy so it’s tempting to skip the warm-up and get going but this is setting your body up to be both less efficient and at risk of injury. The aim of a warm-up should be to loosen and heat up the body. Plus, it gets you mentally prepared too.

Static vs Dynamic warm-ups

Static stretching is exactly how it sounds and involves stretching different muscle groups while standing on the same spot. Just doing static stretching before a workout can actually overextend your muscles and potentially rob them of the power and strength needed for the workout session. It’s best to leave the static stuff to the cool down session at the end. That’s right, you should also be cooling down!

Dynamic warm-ups are winners because they serve to get all the joints moving at the same time, working together while taking the body through progressive movements. This helps to loosen and stretch the muscles. Think of it like pregaming your muscles, improving blood circulation and activating your central nervous system. Dynamic warm-ups prime your body for maximum joint and muscle flexibility, so you can get maximum results out of your workout!

Getting started

Depending on your fitness level and the goal of your workout, warm-ups will vary. As a starting point, here are a few basic goals that accommodate every workout.

1. Loosen up

Prep your body for exercise with mobility movements by grabbing a foam roller. Start by rolling your back, then hit sections of your legs, glute and hip flexors.

2. Increase your heart rate

This gets the blood pumping and would be taking a jog, slow row or low resistance pedal on a bike. The key is that you are still able to talk comfortably while doing it otherwise you are pushing too hard.

3. Get dynamic

Remember, this involves continuous movements through the stretches. For instance, you can make big arm circles in both directions, kick your legs forward or touch your toes and reach up to the sky, do some punches, kicks and high knees and so on. There is no limit to the variety of warm-up moves that can get you ready for action. The ones listed here cover the basics, so you may feel that you’d like to build on them or mix it up a bit with options like jump ropes, lunges, push ups or spider man steps. Get your limbs moving and get creative!

4. Ease into the workout

The idea here is to warm-up with the planned workout session in mind. You are essentially moving through the workout at a lower intensity. If you are planning a hard run, warm-up with a few technique drills. If you plan on doing back squats, start with bodyweight squats or an empty bar. These low intensity movements will assist with preparing your body for action and working on muscle memory.

Warming up is a very important start to any workout. It ensures that you don’t injure yourself while training and helps you focus on how to do exercises correctly. Find an enjoyable warm-up and remember to listen to your body’s cues. Don’t forget to cool down afterwards!

Fitness Routines for those on a Time Crunch

Let’s be honest, finding the time to fit in our regular fitness workouts during the week can be challenging. Life is busy, kids need extra attention, work is piling up, you’re travelling for business- the list goes on- which usually means that the time we were dedicating to our workout session becomes compromised or completely redundant.

It’s tempting to call it off. After all, what good is a 30 minute workout going to do if you originally planned on doing a 2 hour run?

Don’t give up yet because even though time is limited, you can still make every minute count.

Plus, think about how much better you will feel afterwards. Always remember that, “something is better than nothing”.

Here are a few crunch time workouts for you to slot into your schedule.

Run it out
It takes two minutes to kit up and hit the road for a sweat session. If you know that time is of the essence, then this is your opportunity to push a little harder than usual. Your threshold heart rate is slightly higher when running which means you can work at a harder pace and reap a great aerobic benefit. Plan a route the night before or encourage a friend to join in to make it more enticing. Otherwise, find a flight of stairs and run up them.

Spin it out
Clip into a stationary bike at home or hit a spin session at gym for sweat spot 30 minutes of training.

Before you jump on, start off by doing 30 jumping jacks to get the heartrate elevated. Then find your threshold pace. This is where you are able to talk, but just barely. Now spin it out and feel refreshed and energised post your workout.

Training Economy
This is all about using the best ‘bang for your buck’ exercises. That means squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, chin-ups, presses and so on.

These are great because you can do them in the comfort of your own home, be it early in the morning or while you’re waiting for dinner to cook in the oven. Hit play on your playlist and focus on getting in a total body workout with no distractions. You might be surprised that these could be some of the most effective workouts you do.

Gym it out
Slotting a few 30 or 45 minute gym sessions into your weekly planner can really help to keep you ticking over and disciplined until your big workout sessions. There are so many group training classes to choose from which means you can get in a total body workout and never be bored for choice. Decide to alternate days between doing high intensity workouts like running on the treadmill or spinning and then swap over onto power and strength training. Find what works for you and get going!

It is easy to fall into the trap of being ‘too busy’ to workout but maintaining a healthy body is just as important for our mental health and daily productivity. Squeezing in some of these crunch time workouts will help you stay on track and feel great. Stay moving!

Running Standards, Eastern Cape

boast-running-eastern-cape

Race results, unless contrived, do not lie.

Those fortunate enough to have “run the decades” know that the standard of race organisation down the years was of such a high standard that times run, certainly in the Eastern Cape province, are generally indisputable.

When veteran runners get together the most talked about topic revolves around running standards and when a result from the 1997 Border 10km Championships, run in Gonubie, surfaced on social media this week, that fraternity came alive.

It should be said that 1997 was not a peak year in local running. The purple patch for South Africa dated back to the 1981-1991 period. Nonetheless there was much to be positive about still for South Africa had just the previous year celebrated Josia Thugwane’s gold medal it the marathon at the Atlanta Olympics.

Runners seeking personal coaching will invariably be asked what their best 10km time is when the coach seeks to evaluate potential. The distance is a tell tale measure to running pedigree.

Simon Ngxeke shared the aforementioned race results with a number of us and the reaction from all was similar. A rush to compare the most recent results with the 1997 race ensued. The Xerox 10km, which is run a course a good deal faster than the one used in Gonubie back then was the favourite comparison. The men’s winning time of 31:00 is 49 seconds slower than Makaya Masumpa’s 30:11 at the 1997 race. More than that Masumpa ran 29:28 on the Xerox course back then.

Individuals aside, the somewhat more challenging Gonubie course delivered six men under 31 minutes, five in sub 32, another 7 under 33 and 6 more under 34 as opposed to last month’s faster course where no one broke the 31 minute barrier, two managed a sub 32, three sub 33 and 3 sub 34. The score 24-8.

There were not more runners back then. It was indeed the opposite. The boom of the 1990s delivered hundred’s while today’s boom is ushering in thousands.

What made a junior like Mzwandile Shube run a 29:45 in 1988? What produced a race on the same Gonubie route in 1990 when Shube won in 30:07, by out sprinting Mlamli Nkonkobe in 30:11 and Tembinkosi Bishop in 30:15.

That was racing at its best. Young athletes at their peak, dedicated, intelligent runners.

In conversation we looked back at names on the list circulated and marvelled at the opportunity offered to race against, socialise with and watch the splendid talent manifest itself on our roads down the years.

Names included Llulamo Mshiywa, Michael Bekapi, Bassie Mbenya, Bonisile Ngculana, Moses Fokazi, Lunga Mancam, Michael Scout and Mpumezi Bomvana. Suddenly the names of three juniors jump out the pages. Simo Simato, Luzuko Metu and Zukile Kona and we wonder what might have been.

The answer, we agree in discussion, is in the training and the mismanagement of over racing, inclusive of a fixation with time trials, which is simply more racing.

A brains trust of successful runners and coaches who collectively identify, develop and nurture young talent would provide the remedy to running times equivalent to, or better than yesteryear.