I have definitely started to fall in love with running this month which is quite fitting as February is referred to as the month of love.
I started to get into a more consistent running routine which is exactly what I needed to do. Similarly, I have begun to include a strength training program into the mix which I must say has been a lot harder than I expected. I have read and been advised by many comrades marathon finishers and coaches on the importance of strength training especially for the down run so I am trying to fit in at least 3 sessions a week of core, arms and leg/bum workouts and I am quickly finding out what my weak spots are.
I am pleased to say that I managed to qualify for Comrades this month after running my first ever road running marathon, the Pick n Pay Marathon on Valentine’s day. To qualify for Comrades you need to complete an officially recognized Marathon in under 5 hours by May 2016 and your time will then determine what seeding batch you are put in at the start of the Comrades Marathon.
The PnP Marathon is a double lapper route with an undulating and moderate profile that takes you through the urban suburbs of Bedfordview, Edenvale and Senderwood. I felt great on my first lap of the run but by around the 35km mark I started to take a bit of strain especially on the downhills where my glutes and quads were fatigued hence why I am now focusing a lot more on strength training. I managed to finish the marathon in a mat-to-mat time of 03:59:43 which I am super pleased with as I really wanted to do a sub-4 hour marathon. Having completed this marathon in sub-4 hours, I should be placed in D seeding for Comrades.
The day after the marathon I arranged to have a sports massage which really was the best decision as it helped me to recover a lot quicker than I expected and so I was able to get back to training literally 2 days later. I was feeling so good by the end of the week that I even decided to take on the Pirates Half Marathon – Joburg’s toughest 21km race. I took this race relatively easy and in fact I felt strong the whole race. When I finished and checked my Strava results it turned out that I managed to run a minute quicker than last year for this same route even though I wasn’t pushing it.
For a bit of fun, Warrick and I also took part in the #BuffEnough Challenge this month which was a virtual Strava race. The Buff team marked out a 5.2km Strava course in the Kloofendal Nature Reserve for runners to take on the challenge which involved running the route as fast as possible with a GPS enabled watch so that you can upload your time to Strava afterwards. The fastest male and female times by the end of the month would be crowned the #BuffEnough winners. Unfortunately our times were not good enough against the pro trail runners, Nicolette Griffioen and Pedro Calderondelabarca but it was a lot of fun to take part in a virtual race. It was also great to discover a new place to do some trail running that is relatively close to home.
To end the month off on a high, Warrick and I decided at the last minute to do the Diamond Dash 20km Trail Run, which takes place at De Tweedespruit Conservancy near Cullinan. I had a great run and really enjoyed the technical sections of the trail taking you into some very beautiful rocky ravines. I felt relatively strong the whole way and was very excited to take 2nd place in the ladies for the 20km distance.
In total, I have managed to run just under 250km this month, which is a personal record for me. I am now really looking forward to continuing to build up my mileage in March and to participate in my first ever stage race trail run with Warrick called African X.