Such a simple equation – not!

One of the reasons I joined RWFL last year was to lose weight and I certainly have lost weight. I am about 17 kilograms lighter than I was this time, last year. It would be awesome to say that I RunWalked the weight off, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth. I have heard it said that weight loss is 10% exercise and the balance is determined by diet. I can certainly attest to that. I didn’t start losing weight, despite regular walking sessions until I got serious about my food intake.

This is the point where I could launch into an essay on my chosen food plan (LCHF) but I am going in a different direction here.

I wish it was as straightforward as eat right and move and the weight will fall off. I guess if you are boiling the ingredients for a successful weight loss recipe down to their absolute essence, then it is that simple. The reality is quite different.

If running were as easy as just putting one foot in front of the other, it would be awesome… but lacing  up my running shoes and going out on the road is a huge head-game for me. Finding the motivation to keep going is a learned behaviour and I have a feeling it can easily be unlearned. I am too scared to stop moving now in case the unlearning happens 🙂

I think the same principle is even more relevant in respect of diet.

There are so many reasons I have used to eat and only one of them is Maslow’s basic need to nourish my body. I eat because I am happy, sad, bored, stressed, celebratory and commiseratory (yes – I just made up a word!) and every emotion in between.

To make my emotional relationship with food even more complicated, I also have an addict’s relationship with sugar. Yes, that’s right – I truly believe I am a sugar addict. A lick of icing, a square of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or even a single Jelly Tot is a slippery slope into Binge Valley for me.

I am trying to unlearn these behaviours and teach myself new attitudes toward eating and it is hard, relentless work. I am having to learn to feel emotions instead of eat them and I have to learn to avoid food triggers like they’re poison.  Some days I succeed in my efforts and other days I fail miserably. Some days I actually look for reasons to trip myself up… so complicated is my head! But everyday is a new day to keep trying.

keep-trying-a-poem-by-pookyThis was a tough post for me to put out to the blogosphere. It is about an issue that is deeply personal for me and I am a little nervous about putting such personal stuff out for public consumption. But it’s been in my head for a few days and if it’s still in my head, maybe it need to come out on my keyboard. I imagine it may resonate with some readers and seem like complete nonsense to others… either way, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Hil xxx

Those Crazy Comrades Runners!

I was an 80’s kid and my dad was a runner so each year, in my home, round about this time, there would be a bit of excitement building around the upcoming Comrades Marathon. When I think Comrades, I immediately think of the name synonymous with the race, Bruce Fordyce. Oh and the Chariots of Fire theme. And people crawling over the finish line.

I’ve driven from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and back a couple of times. It’s quite a drive but I don’t think I ever had any appreciation of just how long the run is until I started running myself. A kilometre feels a whole lot longer on foot than on four wheels… so almost 90 kilometres – well that’s just insanity. The other thing I have learned since starting this running journey, is what sort of crazy pace you need to be able to keep at for no more than 12 hours in order to cross that finish line. As a novice runner who is desperately just trying to stay comfortably at 8 and a half minutes per kilometre, I am in awe of those people who manage to keep going at a pace of just over 8 min/k to finish before the cut off. Not to mention those athletes who finish in faster times – seriously, they are just super human!

This year, I’ve felt the familiar sense of excitement that I felt as a kid in the 80’s. This post goes out to our great friends, Carmel and Deon, who are running Comrades for the first time, as well as our friend from RWFL, Samson – also running for the first time.

When Carmel told me that she was planning to run Comrades about a year or two back, I thought she was a bit crazy, to be honest. Ambitious and crazy. But if I know anything about Carmel, it is that she can do anything she puts her mind to, so I didn’t doubt her for a second. It’s been amazing to watch her and Deon go from strength to strength, and from half marathons to full marathons and then ultra marathons. Their determination has been such a huge inspiration for me and their constant words of encouragement for my efforts mean the world! It has also been loads of fun bumping into them at races in the last few months.

Good luck guys… we will be tracking you the whole way on the big day!

Just go go go – and have loads of fun!


Race #4 – and our little tribe is growing!

The race I chose for April was the Sportsman’s Warehouse Cradle of Humankind race. Jeanette found the race on one of the event websites weeks ago and we all decided it would be a fun and scenic race one to take part in. Jeanette, Jolene and Nick were going to do the 21.1 and I figured I could do the 10. It would be fun to actually go to a race with Nick. We also discovered there was a 5k fun run and suggested the kids take part which they decided was a fun idea. My brother- and sister-in-law, who are recent RWFL converts, also decided to join us for the 10k run, so it turned out to be a rather large crowd.

As always, it’s really just the early wake up call that sucks. Once I’m up and out the house, it feels like a bit of an adventure. I even managed to get some decent sleep, but only until about 3am at which time I started checking my clock every few minutes.

We arrived early and the race was really well organised, so parking and registrations were a breeze. Indoor and clean toilets earned the event bonus points. I do so hate a port-a-loo!

The race itself was awesome. The route went straight out for 5km and then a sharp turn back up the same road. The country scenery was beautiful and the hills relatively gentle. I started out really well and was happy to meet with my friend Kathy a little way into the race. We stuck together for the rest of the way and the first half of the race flew by easily. I have to admit that the gentle hills felt brutal between kilometre 5 and 7 when my legs started to feel a little tired. After 7, I decided that I really needed to push through the ache and managed to run most of the last 3 kilometres, with a lot of encouragement from Kathy. I had set my hopes on finishing around 1:25 and managed to actually do 1:22 – a new PB and 7 minutes faster than my previous 10k race finish!

As for the rest of us… – well, Nick managed to finish his half marathon in under two hours and the kids finished their 5k in 30 minutes and are ever so proud of themselves. We added four more medals to our collection and despite some tired and achy muscles, the Greens have been on a endorphin high for most of the day.

I love how social the races are – so much fun to share the experience with friends and family. I love that we are all doing something healthy together. It’s given our lives a new dimension.

I’m sure most of my Facebook friends are rolling their eyes by now at my incessant running posts, but it’s an achievement I’m incredibly proud of and I won’t be shutting up anytime soon 🙂 The funniest blog post has been doing the rounds lately about just that.  Anyway, I’m sure my Facebook friends prefer the running posts to the birthy ones!image1

Musing about a word

A few weeks ago, during the Denel 10k,  I overheard a conversation between two other runners. It was something about how the one person had almost fallen off a ladder and had she fallen, she would have injured herself so badly that her racing days would have been over.

What amused me was the idea of this running thing we do being competitive… these events where hundreds or thousands of people converge at a venue to “COMPETE” in a “RACE”.

The idea came up again a few weeks later when Nick did Two Oceans – one of my little nieces asked if he “WON” – we laughed at the cuteness – and explained that we didn’t actually compete to win these events.

The words compete, race and won used to invoke the idea of strong, fit and fast people running against each other and a finishing line, ribbon et al… There would be one winner and a whole bunch of losers. I’m thinking of Olympic track events, Bruce Fordyce smashing through the Comrades ribbon for the gazillionth time, Zola Budd tripping Mary Decker – that sort of thing.

But now… now that I am a “runner” I have a different understanding of these words. I am learning that I do compete, but only with myself. Every single time I lace up my running shoes, I enter a race – and I am winning, just by virtue of the fact that I am getting stronger and I haven’t given up.

On reflection, this idea of competing against myself is relatively new to me. I have always been all about the results, and if I wasn’t the best or if the task wasn’t immediately easy… Well then I couldn’t be bothered to keep trying. I have been like that with all sorts of things from school to my career and hobbies.

I am learning that whatever the activity, be it running, weight loss or life in general – it is less about the end result and more about the journey and experience. Good experiences involve hard work! So whilst I may not particularly love the burning feeling in my leg muscles as I step out onto the road, the endorphins and feeling of achievement afterwards is worth all the discomfort.

And that, folks, is my philosophical musing for the week!

Happy Wednesday everybody!

An Event-full weekend!

I’ve mentioned before that I have discovered goal setting really helps me keep with this running thing. I have challenged myself to enter a race at least one race a month. Although I would be letting no one down except myself, I have discovered that I am a pretty hard task master and I don’t actually want to let myself down.

Although I procrastinated terribly about actually entering race, and literally entered just before the online entries closed, enter I did and the race I chose for March was the Denel 10k, which took place in Irene, Pretoria this past Saturday.

I panicked a whole lot less about this race compared to the races from a few weeks back. I knew I could do the distance. What worried me about this one was whether I could do it in a better time (which meant running at least a part of the distance) and do it on my own as I wasn’t going to have a partner distracting me from the distance like at the V-night race or setting the pace like the Gift of The Givers race. It also meant another ridiculously early start to the day, so another night of no sleep in anticipation of a 3:30 am alarm.


Sunrise over Irene
Sunrise over Irene

The race itself, once I was up and dressed and out the house, was great! Extremely well organised, good parking, nice route and of course, my rider for any race : a medal at the end (albeit one that is shaped like an army tank)

I coped really well with the distance and managed to run parts of the route with relative ease. I managed to knock about five minutes off my previous PB.


I think that the confidence in knowing I could finish helped, as well as the fact that I made a point of eating beforehand and making use of the water points for a little Coca-Cola boost. Although I try to bant the rest of the time, I gave myself a little leeway for some sugar then.

I spent the rest of Saturday recovering by napping and just generally doing as little as possible and although a little stiff, by Sunday I was ready to party the night away at the One Direction concert with my kids.


I am definitely getting stronger and I am starting to set my sights on doing longer distances… maybe a 15k, if I can find one and then perhaps… a half marathon???






Fabulous February (or All about a Sticker)

After a slow, not very active December, I went back to RWFL with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. What I discovered over the period where I wasn’t exercising was that my body missed moving. I think I was actually craving exercise. I was also thrilled by how quickly I was able to pick up where I left off in December. After a session or two, it felt like the muscle memory took over and my pace was back.

At the end of January, I decided it was time for some goal setting. I had a bit of an epiphany about what was missing in the programme for me. Where the elastic bands had been a motivation on the field, I didn’t really have the same motivational tool for the road. Or rather the tool was there, but I just wasn’t using it.

At the back of our log books, we have a page dedicated to distance awards for each month. For some reason, I honestly never gave much thought to trying to achieve any of the distance shield stickers until late in January when the penny dropped. I overheard one of my fellow walkers talking about squeezing in an extra walk for January to get her 55 km shield. It got me thinking about whether I should be striving for stickers too. It seems so juvenile, but hey – if sticker charts work for my kids, maybe they could work for me too?

I did a quick calculation and set my sights on the 70 km shield. It was an ambitious goal considering I had only ever achieved a 55 km shield once in the preceding ten months. I worked out that strict session attendance and an additional 10 kilometre session or race might do it.

On the 1st of February we did an LSD. Not the drug (although admittedly, the drug may have been more fun!) An LSD is a Long Slow Distance. The idea is that you get your body used to being out on the road and moving for a longer period of time, and you add some distance to your training. It is meant to be a fun and non-competitive event.

You have no idea how much I over-thought this thing. I worked myself up into a frenzy about whether or not I could manage 10km with my fellow walkers, all of whom are faster than me. During a LSD, we are meant to stay together as a group and I hate the idea of holding the faster members back.  What constantly amazes me is just how encouraging and non judgemental my fellow runners and walkers are. There is so much caring and kindness from the more experienced and stronger athletes. I’ve noticed this over and over again and I am teaching myself to just be open and accept. And hopefully pass on the kindness to those who are newer and slower than me (although I find it hard to believe anyone is slower than me!)

As it happened, we covered just over 11kms that day. I found the walk tough and towards the end, I was exhausted! Even lifting my legs to mount a pavement felt like a challenge in that last kilometre. I was so, so happy to get back to our meeting point in the Northgate parking lot, 110 minutes later! That ecstatic feeling is one of the reasons I keep stretching myself. We followed the walk with a endorphin filled Wimpy breakfast and although I could barely move for the rest of the day, I was incredibly proud of my achievement!

There were more highlights to my February which I will save for another post, but suffice to say, I reached my goal of a 70km shield
and I will be receiving a sticker in the back of my log book. Yay me!