Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Tips 6/12 – Cruise the Hills Like a Kenyan

road-1209369_640The “H” word is one word that you will hear repeatedly muttered (often preceded with adjectives that are not appropriate for a family friendly blog), by every runner preparing for Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, whether back, middle or front of the pack. And for good reason. If Chapmans Peak and Constantia Nek are not tough enough, just when you start enjoying going down, along comes the “little” bumps near Cecelia forest, aptly named, Bugger 1 and Bugger 2. You are not out of the woods yet, just when you can see the finish line  flags waving (I think they are actually laughing!) at you in the distance, you are faced with the Everest of all climbs on the day, Chet’s hill!

That said, here are a few tips to have you cruising the hills like a Kenyan:

  • Slow and steady gets the job done, don’t look at your watch pace, focus on a controlled steady even effort. Listen to your breathing and go at a pace that your breathing is controlled, focusing on breathing with your belly.
  • Run tall. I often see runners bent over at the waist, shoulders hunched forward. Think Superman, chest out, shoulders open and relaxed, hips tall and belt buckle moving forward.
  • Use your arms to drive the legs. Focus on driving the elbows backwards while keeping the shoulders loose and relaxed.
  • Keep your eyes focused straight ahead. This will ensure your head stays level and posture tall.
  • If you walk on the hills, walk tall and with purpose.
  • Always run over the top of the hill.

Finally, when hitting the much anticipated down, ease into it, get your breathing under control, relax into the descent and then allow gravity to gently take you down at a comfortable rhythm (avoid excessive braking). Resist the panic to try make up time on the downhills, especially down Chapman’s Peak, it is still early days and you will pay heavily later on.

I hope these tips help put the Happy in your hills. Pop me an email if you have any other questions about your preparation.

Coach Kathleen



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Two Oceans Ultra Tips 5/12 – Small Things

Your training should be in full swing by now and with only 8 weeks to go until race day this is not the time for making big changes to your training, running style or gear. The most important now is to keep moving, one training run at a time.

This is the time though to do those little things that will add the edge to your training. Here is a list of ten little things you can do to maximize your training:

  1. After your run, soak your feet in warm water mixed with epsom salts for 10 minutes and give each foot a good massage.
  2. Minimize non running fatigue – stay off your feet as much as possible when not training.
  3. Follow the 3 R’s of recovery
  4. Spend 10 minutes on mobility and core exercises each day
  5. Have those niggles seen to before they become full blown injuries
  6. Rehearse what you will be wearing, eating, drinking in the race. Also try to simulate the race route profile on your long runs.
  7. Eat well! Up your daily nutrition a notch, especially get in extra immune boosting foods.
  8. Create an environment and pre-bed routine for quality sleep. Aim to get as close to 8 hours a night as is realistic.
  9. Spoil yourself to a massage.
  10. Stop regularly to enjoy the view!

Train hard, be nice to people and remember to laugh (a lot!!).

Coach Kathleen


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Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Tips 4/12 – Because You Can

With the weekly mileage piling on thick now, while at the same time work and family commitments are not becoming any less, it is easy to get so weighed down by pressure of needing to train for an event that we can easily lose track of why we became runners in the first place.IMG-20150419-WA0012

Whatever our reason for starting, we all eventually got captivated by the  simplicity, the freedom, the challenge, the endorphines, the sweat, the burn, the camaraderie … that simple joy of “Hey, I can”. And so we run, because, “we can”, and it is awesome. This is our joy.

So if you find yourself dragging your feet through the streets just getting the kilometers ticked for Strava, stop a moment and celebrate the that are running today because, well,  “YOU CAN”.

Keep moving!

Coach Kathleen


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Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Tips 3/12 – Post Long Run Recovery

A workout is only as good as your recovery. 

mattress-2489612_640With only 10 weeks to go runners will be getting into those long long weekend runs. Ensuring you follow a good recovery plan post workout is essential for maximum endurance gains and for minimizing illness and injury. If you are recovering optimally, you will be feeling stronger and stronger, not more and more tired and sore.

Your recovery can be summed up in the 3 R’ -, Refuel, Re-hydrate and Repair.

  1. Refuel

It is important to as quickly as possible replenish your glycogen stores, which would have been depleted during a run lasting 90 minutes or longer. Immediately after completing your long run, either drink a carbohydrate drink or eat a high GI carbohydrate snack such as banana or dried fruit. Fruit juice, smoothies and milk are also winners. Keep this on hand in your car ready to grab straight away. My personal favorite is to buy a liter of milk, pop a straw in and drink on the way home. The goal is quick absorbing carbohydrate.

Then, aim to have a more substantial meal with approximately a 3:1 Carbohydrate to Protein ratio within the next hour. If you struggle with appetite after a long run, keep snacking on smaller high carbohydrate snacks over several hours.

Replenishing your glycogen stores timeously not only speeds up muscle repair,but also helps keep your your immune system strong.

  1. Rehydrate

For those training in the Southern hemisphere you will be doing a lot of your long runs in high temperatures.  Not only will you lose a lot of water during the run, but also electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) which play an important role in the healthy functioning of your muscles, nerves, heart and overall energy system. It is therefore important that you ensure these electrolytes are replaced along with fluids.

  1. Repair

Rest is best. Feet up! Sleep is paramount for muscle repair as we release the important hormones for rebuilding the muscles during sleep. So be sure to be getting both enough and good quality sleep during your peak training.

Going for a gentle walk in the late afternoon also helps with the recovery. Make sure that the day following your long run is either a complete day off or a very easy jog.  Take note – cross training is training not rest!

Some gentle massage and mobility work will also help speed up repair. Resist taking anti-inflammatories, it has been shown that the inflammation is an important part of the repair process and while they reduce pain, they also reduce gains from the training session.

Enjoy the journey!

Coach Kathleen


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Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Tips 2/12 – Train Your Race Nutrition


A Ferrari and a Beetle both run out of fuel halfway through a race, which one is going to win?

From the best athletes in the world to back of the packers, probably the worst thing that can go wrong in an endurance race, apart from breaking a leg, is to suffer from gut trouble. Apart from dealing with the pain and discomfort, you will also be struggling to take in nutrition which will create further challenges. I have always found that as long as my body is has sufficient fuel and hydration, I can still push through the muscle pains and fatigue.

Fortunately sports science has been able to take most of the guess work out by providing us with very accurate guidelines on the whats, hows and whens of re-fueling and re-hydrating during endurance events. However, each of our bodies remains unique and it is therefore important for you to discover and refine your own personal nutrition strategy.  This takes some experimentation and rehearsal so don’t wait until the week before the race!

Start now already to practice what you will be doing nutrition wise on race day. Practice during your training sessions and build up races. This is what I call “Training your gut”.  Experiment under different conditions, different effort levels, weather conditions etc. as these will affect your intake requirements. Getting used to a pattern in training will also make it easier for you to remember what to do on race day. Your instincts will be sharp!

The other important exercise you need to do is to spend time going through what to do if things do go wrong. Maybe you miss an aid station, or your stomach reacts differently to normal or it is hotter than normal. Have a plan in place to overcome different scenarios so that when they do occur, you are able to recover and conquer.

Good luck with the week’s training!

Coach Kathleen


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Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Tips – 1/12 Avoiding the Cramming Fallout

Training Capacity

Packing for a long road trip is a bit like playing Tetris with suitcases. Even though we always determine to only take what we will actually use, somehow the   luggage volume versus actual car interior volume don’t make a perfect sum. Maybe if all suitcases were perfectly square it would, but that ain’t the real world. Somehow though, with smart planning, we are able to get it all in without squashing the bread or having a suitcases land on our lap if we brake too sharply.

Preparing all but the elite runners for an ultra marathon is often a similar annual experience. I encounter a lot of runners, mostly novices and those that had too good a holiday, who have entered an ultra marathon, but did not fully take into account the extent of the preparation required and, having left things a bit late, now want to try jump into the middle of a training plan and cram in a training load that their body does not quite yet have the capacity for. The end result being injury, illness and a lot of frustration.

However, all is not lost, if you are in a fair state of fitness and injury free, then, with a smart progressive and realistic approach, you can be ready come race day. Remember always:

Your primary goal for success is to arrive at the start line healthy, strong and injury free.

Here are some tips to help you ease into that training plan:

Ask yourself –

  1. What is my current training volume per week versus that of the plan?
  2. How far was my longest long run over the past 4 weeks?
  3. How many training hours/days can my life commitments realistically accommodate?

Now go to the current week on the plan and do the following:

  • Reduce the number of days to what you are currently managing by crossing out the shortest days. If you have capacity to train more days then add one day a week until you are doing the same as the training plan prescribes.
  • Now, reduce the total volume of the week to your current average (over the last 3 weeks) + 10%. Do this by reducing each day (except long run day) by a few kilometers. Don’t completely remove a day. Gradually build from here by doing the same for all weeks.
  • Finally, if the weekly long run (Your most important session) is way more than you have been doing, then divide it into 2 longish runs back to back on Saturday/Sunday. For example: If you have only been doing 15k and the plan says 30k, then split it 18/12. Gradually increase the longer run until you are on par with the plan.
  • If the training plan has quality training sessions (hills, fartlek etc.) and you have not been doing any of these, then: Either go back to the first time it appears on the plan and replace the day with that first session, then build from there (plans usually build these progressively) or still do the same mileage for the day, but just run. Not worth risking injury at this stage of the preparation.

If still unsure, pop me an email with your questions.

Good luck and please post comments over the next 12 weeks to let me know how you are getting along!

Coach Kathleen


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Secret Reflections

23847574_1351707124956192_6029345910758114268_o-e1512475338127.jpgAt the end of another coaching year it is time to reflect on training and racing successes and challenges of the different athletes I have guided, refine what worked and rethink what did not.

I have put together a short list of my reflections, runners who follow these principles have had great success and hopefully their is a secret or two in there that will help you to reach your own goals in 2018!

The not surprising find is that the secrets remain the simple steps repeated consistently over time. Simple running, high running!

  1. Nothing conditions the body and mind for running like running. Those that consistently get out and run, every day, every week, every month, get results.
  2. Fatigue management is key for the above mentioned consistency and for maximum performance on race day. Hitting the start line fresh and hungry is more important than how many training miles you have logged.
  3. There are no shortcuts. Training schedules that promise to get you to the finish line in only … x (insert small number)… weeks or on only …x (insert again small number)… minutes a day are great for selling magazines,  but terrible for completion rates, not to mention injury and illness risk.
  4. The legendary LSD (long slow distance) run remains a cornerstone session for all distances from 800m to ultra marathons.
  5. The simplest, safest and most effective quality session for your average club runner is hill repeats.
  6. Injuries do not come right by simple resting.
  7. Spending time on improving mobility (especially around the hips) is key for performance and injury prevention.
  8. The best fuel for running is carbohydrate.
  9. Stay in your lane. That is, sticking to the plan that is best for your body instead of copying someone else’s training. Trust the training process and your body!
  10. Last, but definitely not least – HAVE FUN!!!!

Onwards an upwards into 2018!

Coach Kathleen



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Gear Review: Patagonia W’s Nine Trail Shorts

Patagonia shortsAs someone who practically lives in running gear I am always curious when a new brand makes an appearance. One such brand recently launched in Cape Town is Patagonia, available exclusively at Gone. Outdoor.  I have always preferred the classic jogger short to tights, so was very excited to try out the Nines on the trail.

Before I even put them on I loved their color aptly called “Rivermouth Radar Blue” – energetic, bold, free and fun.

These shorts are super light and soft and the moisture management is of the best. Shorts were still bone dry at the end of the run, no chafing and most importantly – no riding up!

Plus – the fabric is from 91% recycled material so you are saving the environment we love to run in!

The rear zip pocket is generous enough for keys and an energy gel or two rounding off an overall  great trail short.

This is top quality gear, so while the price is a bit higher than usual, the Nines will definitely last years of trail happiness.

Check out the rest of this exciting new range here 

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First Things First

FirstthingsMost runners at some point or other want to run a little faster. Whether it is a sub 5 hour marathon or sub 90 min half-marathon, we all (well most) want to push the limits at least once.

What I find tends to happen when this need for speed arises, is runners immediately start thinking track workouts, HIIT, hills till you drop, puke or go home – the thought process being, the closer I come to death, the faster i am going run. (or the faster you are going to end up over-trained or injured?)

Now any seasoned runner will proudly share details of many grueling, eye popping workouts that made them faster, but before hurtling headlong down that road, which without the basics is likely to dead end at the physios, make sure you are taking care of FIRST THINGS FIRST:


Some questions to tick before adding high intensity training –

  • Are you regularly running regularly?

To improve your running, you want to be doing at least 4 runs a week, every week .

  • Are you running long?

Once running regularly, doing a run of 1 hour or longer once a week is your next step towards being a stronger, faster runner. Get the lowdown here.

  • How efficient is your running technique?

Getting some basic tips from a coach on how to use less effort with every step will not only help you run faster, but also reduce injury risk and make running overall more enjoyable.

  • How mobile are you?

A stuck body is going nowhere slowly and is also at high risk of injury, which means training interrupt. Move free.

  • Are you getting out of your comfort zone (sometimes)?

Before doing complicated interval workouts, first challenge yourself by upping the pace on sections of your regular runs, or run different challenging routes and distances.

If you ticked all of the above then you are ready to Pass Go, but watch out for these common mistakes:

  • Hard training that is not specific to your running goal

With the high intensity fitness industry boom, there are many fancy programs promising great rewards. Even running magazines are full of great get fast routines. The question you need to ask is, “How is the session preparing my body for the specific physical demands of my running goal?”

  • Doing too much too soon

Suddenly putting a very big load on your body that you are not conditioned for, is counter productive. You will do all that hard work only to loose it when you are sidelined with injury or illness.

  • Not allowing enough time for recovery

Hammering your body hard day in and day out is the equivalent of driving at high speed in reverse. See The Principle of Overload

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

Coach Kathleen


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snooker-1274749_640Every runner has a bad day once in a while, but if you are finding that despite training well, you keep not getting it right on race day, the question that you need to ask yourself is:

What play keeps getting me snookered?

There are many factors involved in having a great race. To help you narrow down where you could be making mistakes, I have listed a few common snooker questions that you can ask yourself:


  • Are you practicing your race nutrition (fuel and hydration) strategy in training? And at race effort? (Training your gut)
  • What are you eating the day before and how does that compare to how you ate before training runs where you felt strong/weak?
  • Do you eat too little in your taper for fear of gaining weight?
  • Do you overeat the day before?
  • Are you eating enough/too much on the morning of the race?
  • Do you factor in that you probably get up earlier for a race than training and have the long wait on the start line, so burn extra energy?
  • Do you stick to the plan or keep trying new magic gels you bought at race expo?


  • Is your goal pace realistic relative to your training paces and times over recent time tests/races?
  • Do you even know your pace?
  • Have you worked out a realistic pace plan that takes the nature of the course and weather conditions into account?
  • Are you unknowingly being swept along with the crowd at too fast a pace in the beginning?
  • Do you get psyched up by the crowd and suddenly start thinking you are a Kenyan and set a new unrealistic goal?
  • Do you start too far back and keep losing time fighting the crowds in the first km’s?


  • Do you have a strategy or just go with the flow?
  • Do you have your own plan or are you following someone else’s?
  • Do you have a plan B?
  • Do you focus on the end result or the process of the plan in your race?
  • Does your training condition you for the specific demands of the race (distance, course profile, pace…)?


  • Do you allow enough time for your body to recover from the hard training before the race?
  • Have you been in the valley of fatigue so long you don’t even know you are there?

Over resting:

  • Do you do so little in the week leading up to the race that you always feel sluggish?


  • Are you always overthinking the race and using up too much nervous energy?


  • Are you conditioned for the specific demands of the race?
  • Do you have a muscle weakness that you need to address? (Cramping is mostly the result of fatigue in the muscle)

Hope these questions help. If you are still struggling to pin down what is getting you down, then please pop me a mail and hopefully I can help.

Coach Kathleen


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