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.

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 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!

Running In The Rain Tips

Rainy weather doesn’t mean you have to train inside. In fact, nowadays, I tend to take full advantage of opportunities to run in the rain. After all, most races are not cancelled because of rain.

I have found sloshing through the wet and wild builds my mental toughness and makes me a stronger athlete. And once I begin running and warm up, I actually enjoy it! Granted dressing for the rain can be tricky but the hardest part is often just getting started. Try these tips to get you going, and enjoy a safe and comfortable run in the rain:

Choose the right gear

• Wear a hat or visor with a brim to keep the rain off your face and out of your eyes.
• If it’s warm and rainy, wear a breathable hat with plenty of venting so you don’t overheat. If it’s cold, rainy, and windy, choose a waterproof cap to keep your head warm and dry.
• In a driving rain, wear a pair of clear glasses to help protect your eyes from getting pelted. A good anti-fog lens cleaner will keep your vision clear in the moisture and humidity.
• Invest in a lightweight, waterproof jacket to stay dry on cold, rainy runs and during other rainy day activities.
• Wicking apparel is key—it pulls moisture away from your skin, which helps prevent blisters and chafing.
• Wear a pair of wicking socks to prevent blisters from developing.

Don’t overdress.

Wearing more layers will not keep you dry. Instead, dress for the temperature, as if it were a dry day.

Be visible.

Running in the rain often means drivers have poor visibility. So select outer layers that are very bright or light-colored and have reflective strips.

Prevent chafing.

Chafing can be much worse if you’re wet from the rain. So take the precaution to prevent this by spreading Vaseline on the parts of your body where you would normally chafe.

Use a garbage bag for races.

Use a trash bag as a rain poncho to effectively keep dry and protected from wind. If it stops raining, it is easy to rip it off and discard.

Watch your step.

To avoid slipping, take small steps, pay attention to your footing and try to avoid stepping in puddles as much as possible.

Change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.

You may feel warm when you first cross the finish line or finish your run, but make sure you change out of your wet clothes immediately.

 

Be in the know…2019 Comrades changes

Much speculation as to what more the 2019 Comrades might offer was answered at Thursday’s official and simultaneous announcements to the media and the Comrades Marathon family across the globe.

Many will have been surprised at the extent of the changes.

Those who believe Comrades is far too dominant a fixture in SA road running will have their belief strengthened in the wake of the enterprising changers the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) have introduced.

I must admit to straddling both camps of thought, wanting to see South Africa again become an international force in road running over standard distances, while also sharing the love affair so many of us enjoy with the KZN based epic.

Comrades simply keeps re-inventing itself.

The 94th Comrades, it was actually started in 1921, has opened the road from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, to 25000 runners in 2019. It is an epic number.

Two new medals have been introduced and few saw that one coming, though there has been pressure to name a medal after a woman.

The new Isavel Roche-Kelly medal is named after the 1980/81 double winner who ran was the first women to easily break the silver medal barrier time of 7:30 when she recorded 7:18 and followed that up with 6:44 a year later. A young exciting and talented runner, she tragically died in a cycling accident three years later.

The half gold, half silver medal will be awarded to women who finish from 11th position to and to all who break the 7:30 barrier. That means no women will again win a silver medal, though they are unlikely to be aggrieved by that.

The second new medal is so very special given that for decades, neither women in general nor any black folk were allowed to participate in Comrades.

Most white males have sadly shown themselves down the years, as being a peculiar lot and will forever be judged in history for harbouring prejudice. And yet road running in South Africa has generally been a ground breaker.

In 1935 Robert Mtshali was the first black man to unofficially complete the Comrades in a time of 9:30. So it is that the Comrades now offers a medal, named after his pioneering spirit, for all who complete the route in 9-10 hours. How special is that.

Other changes include a faster qualifying time of 4:50, 10 minutes quicker than in recent times. There has been some negative reaction to this, but seriously anybody can do it if they simply train effectively.

An inflated prize purse to R4.3m is what will seriously worry running puritans, while the winners cheques at R500,000 will lure marathon and even half marathon exponents.

That however, cannot be laid at the door of the CMA who are doing what is best for their historical race.

The controlling body of the sport in South Africa needs to  ensure that similar rewards are on offer for all internationally recognised distances, in particular the 10, 21,1 and 42,2kms.

It can be done, we simply need to want to do it.

 

 

Is a personal trainer only good for elite athletes?

Are personal trainers only good for elite athletes? Or can they benefit those who enjoy doing 10km or 20km runs as well? And what about someone who wants to run, rather than walk, the 5km fun run or Parkrun? Maybe you are asking, “Why should I pay somebody to tell me how to run when I can do it for free?” Or maybe you are on the fence about it, unsure what you’ll get out of the experience, and whether it’s worth the money.

Here are 5 instances when hiring a personal trainer can be a good choice to get the most out of the sport:

1. You are new to running
If you are a beginner and don’t know where to start, a personal trainer will tailor a workout specific to your needs, goals, fitness level and physical condition. You will be taught proper form and techniques to maximise your strength, flexibility and fitness.

personal-trainer

2. You need motivation and accountability
If you are like me, you will run until you feel uncomfortable and then stop altogether. Motivation is often difficult to maintain when you run on your own and it is all too easy to skip training or fall off the wagon completely. There is nothing like regular sessions with a personal trainer to create accountability.

3. You are training for an event
A personal trainer can show you new training techniques specific to an event you’re aiming for (such as, a marathon). Training skills, when incorporated into your program, can improve not only your strength and endurance, but your agility and mental focus as well. A trainer can also help you create a schedule that allows you to get the most out of your body while allowing it to heal and recover. When my knee began to act up, my trainer had me cut back on running intervals and ride an exercise bike on some days.

4. You want to break through training plateaus
If you are in pretty decent shape but stuck in the same routine, a trainer can advise ways to change or tweak your workouts to make them more efficient and effective. A good trainer will make adjustments as your fitness level improves to ensure continued progress. This will push your fitness level forward much more quickly than working out on your own.

5. You want to avoid injury
A personal trainer will provide feedback about your limits and strengths. I tend to ignore the signals my body provides and either push through pain or give up too soon. A trainer will know how to push you beyond your comfort zone, and when to stop before pain and injury sets in.

So there you have it! Whatever your fitness level or running goals, there are sound reasons and huge benefits to using a personal trainer. This may be just what you need to raise the bar, get that medal, or run that marathon and, with discipline and determination, even get that gold and be elite!

5 ab workouts that will make you run FASTER

I went to a Pilates course a while ago and when I told the instructor that I am a runner, she said ‘I will help you run with your abs’. My first thought was: ‘Um, I run with my legs, not my abs!’ Needless to say, I did not go back. A terrible mistake I have since learned. The more I read about running and strength, the more I realise that strong abs actually DO allow you to hold a faster pace and run better.

Here are 5 great ab workouts that will make you a better runner:

1. Leg Raises
• Lie flat on the floor with your arms at your sides and legs stretched out next to each other. Raise your legs, keeping them as straight as possible, and lift them until they are pointing at the ceiling, or as near as you can get. Make sure your toes are pointed.
• Lower your legs until they are hovering just above the ground, and then raise them again. Be careful to keep your movements measured. Aim for three sets of 10 reps, or simply do as many raises as you can.

2. The Plank
• Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up onto your toes and elbows with feet slightly apart. Your toes should be about hip distance apart with the elbows resting on the ground in a straight line under shoulders.
• You’ll start feeling this after 30 seconds, trust me!

3. Side Plank
• Lie on your side, supporting your upper body on your forearms, while holding your arm at the side, and your feet stacked on top of each other. Keep a straight line from your head to your feet.

4. Glute Bridge with Marching
• Lie with your right foot on the ground and your left leg extended out. Lift your hips and left leg up. Hold for two seconds. Then, while keeping your hips up in the air, switch legs. Alternate sides for 30 to 60 seconds.

5. Bicycle Crunches
• Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Clasp your fingers behind your head or cup the back of your head.
• Contract your abdominal muscles and alternate pulling each elbow to the opposite knee. Concentrate on curling your torso forward with each rep.

So, if you are serious about improving your performance and staying injury free for the long haul, then building strong abs is of utmost importance. You’ll also feel better overall. Now isn’t that a goal worth striving for!

7 tips on post-race recovery

While racing is on our minds, especially for those racing this weekend or next weekend, we should also be thinking long and hard about recovery.

We so often get caught up in the race: planning for our race day, stretching, eating properly and everything in between, that we neglect to think about recovery. The minutes, hours, and days after the event are a lot less planned for and is just as important as your actual race.

So, what does your recovery look like?

Here are a few tips if you haven’t thought about what to do just yet:

1. Walk around after finishing your race.

Keep the blood flowing by walking 10-15 minutes after the race, then stretch. When you get home, do some light foam rolling and wear compression socks, which will aid in blood flow, and remove toxins from your muscles.

2. Refuel your body.

Drink a high carb juice containing a small amount of protein, such as Powerade or Super Moo. Your muscles are most susceptible to taking in energy in the 30 minutes following a tough run. If your stomach can handle food, at a balanced snack. 23-24 hours after your race is a your priority is muscle repair where you should be eating frequent snacks high in carbs but that also contain around 25 to 30 grams of protein.

3. Rest.

Let your body initiate relax. Running around after a marathon is not conducive to effective recovery.

4. Do some light exercise.

After a good few days of rest, you can try some light exercise, such as swimming or a gentle walk. Active recovery delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.

5. Go for a massage.

Sports massages are great for relieving tension, but if you do go for one in the days after your race, ask your therapist to keep the pressure light and minimal. Deep-tissue massage can cause muscle damage.

6. Avoid taking anti-inflammatories.

Your body’s inflammatory response is a sign of recovery, and you don’t want to mask that as you can do more damage to those muscles. Walk around gently and just know that you have put your body through hours of hard effort – you need to allow it to recover properly.

7. Celebrate.

There are very few things that can beat running and completing a long-distance race, so celebrate your victorious run. Even if you didn’t run your goal time – you ran 42.2 kilometres! (Only in South Africa is this a small distance!! Everyone else around the world is kneeling at your feet, hailing you a superhero for completing this distance).

Recovery begins the moment you finish your race. Now you have a plan not only to race well, but to recover well and to get back on your feet for the next one!

Makaya “Smiles” Masumpa

Makaya Masumpa, a winner of many a race over more than three decades, is something of an enigma in that he is reserved, dignified and yet always jolly to the extent that his nickname in running circles is “Smiles.”

Makaya and his running career have been extremely close to me for the best part of his post school years.

The now 52 year old Masumpa stands tall in many ways. His height is somewhat intimidating compared to the generally slight of build athletes in distance running. His longevity has him towering over even greater runners than himself and his times and records speak volumes for a man who is still running competitively, 35 years after he started as a 17 year old at school.

Speaking openly he reflects on how he got into running, who he looks up to, his own highlights, his 12 year old son and the inaugural races he has been a part of and often won.

When I first floated the idea of a race like the Sole Destroyer, something totally novel at the time, Makaya and his friends embraced the idea when many said it would not work, it could not last, which is the theme that has followed Masumpa and his closest allies from the very beginning.

The race was launched and was named after another great mutual friend, Chris Sole, who trained often through Horseshoe Valley, the integral part of the event.

When asked who had the biggest influence on his running career, he does not hesitate – “Monde” he says with his famous smile. That is Monde Tutani one of the provinces most versatile athletes who was a national treasure on the track, a great cross country and road runner. Masumpa would follow suit in many of the same disciplines.

It was Tutani who encouraged a bunch of soccer playing youths in Mdantsane to run the Daily Dispatch Fun Run, while they were away at the Great Train Race. He said they could win many prizes. Masumpa was one of them and he went, he ran and he won prizes.

He also never looked back as he embarked upon a phenomenal running career that is certainly not over yet.

At school it was all track and cross country running – the very basis of every successful career in athletics. Only upon leaving school and joining Real Gijimas, the successful Mdantsane based club, did he add running on the road to his repertoire.

He remembers with affection racing on the track and turf against the same Chris Sole. He also recalls Neville Dyer as an influence.

They all ran against many South African greats on the “old” Amalinda track. So many memories that would be lost on some.

On switching to the road he beams at the thought of his duals with the Donald brothers, John and Stephen.

In 1987 Masumpa joined President Steyn Mine in Welkom. It was the “Mine System” of attracting athletes that turned South Africa, albeit it in isolation, into a powerhouse that no athlete or country could ignore. At the same mine was his friend Tembinkosi Bishop, David Chawane and David Hlabahlaba to name a few.

At the rival President Brand Mine were luminaries such as Xolile Yawa, Michael Scout and Shaddrack Hoff.

It was the inter mine competitions that pushed these fantastic athletes to still greater heights as they raced over 5000m, 1500m and the 3000m steeplechase.

I tell him Ewald Bonzet died recently and he looks at me in disbelief. “He was so fast and such a great steeplechase runner as well as in almost every other event in distance running.” Bonzet was just 65 years old.

While at the mines Masumpa ventured into road running. He represented Free State at all three disciplines of athletics and ran in every SA Championship provided.

Masumpa recalls with great pride having run the 60:11 World Record breaking SA Half Marathon Championships in East London in Free State colours.

Upon his return to East London he was encouraged by a true friend to link up with me at Oxford Striders. We, together with numerous others, formed probably the most potent racing team the province has ever seen. It was inclusive of the same Tutani, Bassie Mbenya, Mpumelelo Mawu, Mphumezi Bomvana, Mlamli Nkonkobe, Mthunzi Dyonase, Moses Fokazi, Edward Khangelani and numerous other great runners. Add to that the likes of Brett Kennard, Glen Wearne, Sole, Gordon Shaw, Rodwell Sims, the Donald brothers and Shaun Ninneman and it becomes clear that the team we assembled had few who could stay with it at club level. Those were the glory days of Border running.

The women’s team was also exceptionally strong.

Masumpa again smiles at the memory of these combinations breaking the World 24 hour record and winning the Great Train Race against clubs from all over South Africa. At that stage it was a case of athletes and management gelled as one. He adds almost apologetically, “I won so many awards in Border Road Running and at club level. It is a pity things have changed so.” They have indeed changed at both provincial and at that particular club.

Masumpa has a best 10km time of 29:58 which he ran in Durban, well remembered by this scribe who was there. His 15km best of 45:30 was set at an SA Champs in Cape Town.

Here is the most interesting stat of all though as his best half marathon and marathon were both at SA Championships hosted in East London. His 21km time is 64:02 and his marathon, which was on a supposedly “not fast course” was 2:20. Perhaps that is a  route that should be relooked at?

For the past two years Masumpa has won the silver medal in his age category at the SA Half Marathon in Port Elizabeth. So should we pursue the 60:11 Half Marathon in East London he is asked? “Yes” is his no nonsense reply. And so in 2017, now as Born 2 Run, a new exciting innovative running community, that is what we did.

The highlight of his running career? The 2002 London Marathon which he ran in 2:22.

His favourite SA Athlete? Mathews Temane who won the now most famous ever SA Half Marathon in 1987 on the East London Esplanade in a the then world best time of 60:11.

His favourite international athlete? Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.

Virtually every weekend Masumpa is still involved in running races, encouraged by old mates, many of them now in the purple shades of Born 2 Run.

He has been beaten only once in his age group.

Will he keep on running? All the way to heaven suggests the fairly religious Masumpa whose 12 year old son plays soccer, cricket, swims and runs at College Street School. Given that the young Masumpa only dropped soccer at 17 to take up running, the chances are we could have more of the same for many years to come.

Train slower. Race faster.

On Tuesday evening, Bob was a guest speaker at the South African Association of Campus Health Services (SAACHS) 2018 conference.

 

‘Beating the Drum’, the aptly labelled theme of the conference, gave Bob the licence to explore the subject which he is so blatantly passionate about: “Using Sport to add to the Health & Wellness Debate”.

 

In his speech, he explored how the act of exercising can take you from a ‘couch potato’ to the person doing things you thought unimaginable.

 

As his point of reference in his speech, Bob relayed aspects of Mark Sisson’s book, Primal Blueprint. Sisson was once a top marathon runner in the USA, and a serious triathlete, where he came 4th in the World Ironman Championships in his prime.

 

Sisson’s teachings today are based on Primal Living, and are far removed from the ultra-style mega training of his and other endurance sporting careers, and is geared toward longevity of health and fitness and not short-term gains of fame.

 

In his book, Sisson says: “We get so lost in the science of human biology, we just cannot see the forest from the trees. We overlook the simplicity and ease with which we could all be achieving exceptional health and fitness.”

 

Sisson goes on to give 6 pointers to an exceptional life:

1) Eating well on animals and plants and eliminating ALL grains, sugars and trans fats.

2) Moving often at a slow pace – low level aerobic activity.

3) Lifting heavy things – can be weights in the gym, your own bodyweight, core exercises or even working in the garden and lifting things therein.

4) Run fast occasionally – on the beach, up a hill or flight of stairs. Ride a bike hard if you must.

5) Play – with family children or grandchildren, but just play.

6) Get plenty of sleep – if we skimp on sleep he suggests “we get a nation of overworked, over fatigued men, women and students.”

 

What Sisson is really getting at, and what Bob has been telling his athletes for years, is that we over train and we over compete. This in turn impacts negatively upon on our health just as a lack of exercise does.

 

Sportspeople seem to get into the situation where they reach a goal on X training and then think well if we do X + Y we will perform better still.

 

This unfortunately is not how it works. And, as Bob knows from experience, coaches have their work cut out trying to convince athletes that to race faster you sometimes need to train slower.

 

That is how the Kenyans train.

 

That is how you should train.

 

Sport and optimum health require a fine line divided between preparation and recovery.

 

Sportspersons need to be encouraged to be the very best they can be, and disengage from the pressure of needing to be better than another – until such time it might come naturally, of course.

 

Being mindful of sport in general and the role it can play in improving the lives and the health of our nation should be our NATIONAL sporting mission.