Thursday, 28 May 2015

Nick Bester: The original Paleo Athlete?

Steak, Chips and Comrades Glory

The evening before the 1988 Comrades Marathon, Nick Bester sat down for dinner in Durban’s Royal Hotel. Working full-time in a Pretoria sports shop at the time, Bester was confident of turning in a good performance despite the juggling act of Comrades training and life. Although happy to have arrived in Durban fit and healthy, something was troubling the man who many came to know as the “Ysterman.”

“All the athletes in the hotel restaurant were ordering pasta for dinner but I wanted my favourite steak, egg and chips,” remembers Bester with a laugh. “I was almost embarrassed of what people would think of my dinner, so I told my wife to hide the food away.”

Finishing in a solid third place to Bruce Fordyce and Mark Page the following day, Bester need not have worried about his meal of choice. But then again, the multi-talented man from the Jacaranda City has always been little bit different.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

One Photo, A Few Words 4.0

Perestroika, Cubans and Longmile International

Historically speaking, nineteen eighty-nine was a pivotal year. The fall of the Berlin Wall, Perestroika and the end of the Cold War were among the marked political changes afoot in Europe, the central theme being the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Closer to home, the Border War was ending (officially at least), UNTAG was in Namibia and the writing was on the wall for the Apartheid regime of South Africa. Incidental or coincidental some might say, perspective dependent of course.

Whilst sporting sanctions against the soon-to-be Rainbow Nation persisted, several undercover or rebel tours continued to take place. Additionally, familiar “homegrown” names did pop up in the overseas sporting circuit from time to time, although often accompanied by foreign national acronyms on the results sheets. Martin “Potz” Potter surfing for Great Britain or Paula Newby-Fraser winning the Hawaii Ironman for Zimbabwe, two such examples of “international” South Africans.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

One Photo, A Few Words 3.0

Buccaneers, Businessman and Rough Seas

South Africa 1988. A markedly different place to what we have come to know as the Rainbow Nation. Apartheid was still in force as was The Border War, economic sanctions and the international sporting boycott.

The latter phenomenon seems crazy now: imagine an entire country being excluded from international sporting competition because of unpopular legislation? Difficult to get one’s head around - or even comprehend - in the modern age of instant connectivity and political correctness. Needless to say that the world has become a smaller place indeed.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Brett Sutton's Opinion

Potential, Performance and The Race of the Century

“Potential is a very condescending word. When I’m shown people with potential, I ask myself why they aren’t using it already.”

Brett Sutton certainly pulls no punches. As a coach to many a champion triathlete, the Australian is well known for his ability translate athletic potential into performance.

Be it at Olympic level or in the long-distance version of the sport, Sutton’s coaching success is staggering. Olympic Champions, ITU World Champions, Ironman World Champions; you name the discipline and there is one name that invariably crops up as an influence behind the title-holder.

His views of the current state of the sport, however, are just as forthright and, with the Rio Olympic Games taking place in little over a year, wholly insightful.

Nature Gym: Where are you at the moment and what have you been up to the last month or two?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Session

Of Fight or Flight

In early 2008 I read a blog posting (unfortunately out of print) extolling the virtues of a seemingly alternate approach to peak fitness. The writer, a former professional athlete, set forth the notion that a loosely structured training approach comprising mainly of low-level aerobic activity complemented by occasionally “Caveman workouts” was the way forward to peak performance and a healthy lifestyle.

He went on to describe how his own athletic endeavours had evolved from the more flat line approach of conventional consistency to one where short daily jogging and errand-running cycling flowed into an almost once-weekly brief workout of maximum intensity. “I'm left dizzy and nauseous from the effort and completely spent,” he related going onto to explain how he just jogged and indulged in other low-intensity activities for the remainder of the week.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Reflections of Autumn

Scaling Back. Moving Forward

May in South Africa.

The days are getting shorter, the mornings crisper and leaves are constantly falling to the ground. A time of reflection, hibernation and even looking ahead, but not too far. 
Autumn is a unique time of the year, a period that I have come to appreciate and relish over the last few years, although it wasn't always that way. My younger self would mourn the end of summer, viewing the months leading into winter as a pointless waste of time. Wintertime would invariably be tolerated with the anticipation of spring, which remains as my favourite season.

Nowadays, I prefer time to slow down a little and enjoy the moment for what it is, seasons included. Instead of looking ahead to athletic aspirations months ahead, a little emphasis on the now is not a bad thing; reigning in the impulse and desire a touch can only be of benefit further down the line. The notion of the Endless Summer may appeal to some, but the reality is that seasons are there for a reason. As they say, too much of a good thing is not a good thing anymore.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Adventurous Alistair Brownlee

Striding, climbing and competing

It is a cool and overcast Saturday evening in Cape Town. With the autumnal dusk approaching and a nip in the air, the elite women's race of the ITU World Series event has concluded. With Table Mountain and Signal Hill cutting a dramatic backdrop, the sun has set over the Greenpoint Athletics Stadium and most athletes are heading back to the their respective hotels and homestays for some much needed rest and recovery.

Amid this winding down, a lone figure strides up and down the back straight of the tartan track. Toes down, head back and arms swinging, this athlete embodies the poise and grace reserved only for the sporting elite. This guy is clearly in the zone, so to speak, clearly enjoying the tranquillity and solitude of his training session.