Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Runaway Comrade: by Bob de la Motte

There are a handful of books of mine that are truly precious to me, ones that I am rather pedantic of lending out and to which I often refer for even the shortest bouts of easy reading.

David Loyn’s Frontline and Allan Peiper’s A Peiper’s Tale are two such books. I pick up both of these titles fairly often, always feeling inspired and invigorated from even the briefest of perusals. Both are quasi-biographical in a sense, where the author's motivations to write seem to be more a case of just having a story to tell. Both are gritty and hold back at nothing, yet neither indulge in the “sensationalism-for-profit” mantra so prevalent these days.

Bob de la Motte’s Runaway Comrade is destined to become a classic and, I suspect, an automatic addition to my own exclusive literary selection. With the central theme being his titanic mid-eighties Comrades Marathon tussles with Bruce Fordyce, de la Motte’s memoir is so much more than just another book on long-distance running. Instead, it is a veritable archive of fascinating information across a broad spectrum of subjects including politics, business, South African history, sport and just life in general. These topics and more are all discussed candidly and insightfully from his own unique perspective.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Dare to Compare

In Pursuit of Balance

It is Sunday and I did a long run this morning.

Taking in one of my favourite loops here in Cape Town's southern suburbs, much of the route was off-road, some of it in a forest, with the terrain being mostly rolling with some big hills. I like to try and vary my routes as much as possible and, given my adventurous nature, tend to constantly be on the lookout for new paths or back routes. A good friend once related how his university track coach, a former international-class middle distance athlete, would perform his weekly long run on a two kilometre road circuit noting his elapsed splits upon completion of each lap. He went on to say that he could not imagine me following such structure and he is right. Not that I could even begin to compare my ability to that of my him or his coach.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Anatomy of a Conversation

Staying agile, engaging conversation and energy renewal

“...Fredrik never pushes harder (in a workout) than maintaining the ability to be limber and agile.”

Jonas Colting, Professional triathlete and two-time Ultraman World Champion, on his brother's athletic philosophy.

The above quote brought a smile to my face. Having recently stumbled upon the the article containing this quote a few days ago, I was reminded of how profound an effect this short piece had on me upon first reading it a few years back. It is engaging and insightful pieces like this that really motivated and inspire me to enhance my health as well as my fitness. A timely reminder, so thank you Jonas for sharing.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Activity of Recovery

Learning from the Euros

In March 2009, I had the good fortune to support and chaperone two Italian riders at the ABSA Cape Epic. Competing in the mixed category (male and female), they complemented each other exceptionally well and, were it not for one day of bad luck and mechanical failure, would have been in contention for a much vaunted podium placing.

But their ability and respective palmares only scratched the surface of something deeper, something intrinsic that set them apart from previous riders of similar ability that I had worked with up until that point. They were so different in many respects to most of the Anglophone riders and athletes and really had a lasting effect on my own perspective of all things athletic.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Into Winter with Richard Murray

Embracing the cold, aquatics and running slow

Winter in Europe. Depending upon the location, the mind conjures short days and long nights, combined with onset of snow and rain. Chimneys emit smoke for household stoves and fireplaces and a sense of hibernation abounds. Yet several thousand miles away in the sun and wind of Cape Town, South Africa, one young man is relishing the thought of spending the next few months in these colder climes.

“I've tended to run away from winter in the past,” admits Richard Murray, the Rainbow Nation's leading exponent at Olympic-distance triathlon. “This year taught me a few lessons, one of which is learning to hold back over the off-season. This will be my first winter spent in Europe. It's going to be quite a challenge but I'm excited about this new dimension.”

In an international season that began way back in February, Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Murray acknowledges that burning the candle a little too early did have its consequences.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Brad Kearns: Life after Sport

Knowing when to retire, slowing the aging process and the beauty of sleep

The phenomenon of the retired professional athlete is a subject that continues to fascinate me. Having engaged in extended conversations and the odd blog post of those who were willing to reflect on life “post pro,” I must admit that I surprised by the lack of literature and awareness there is on this subject. That said, perhaps my interest in this notion is reflective of my own observant nature, although I do feel that increased awareness of life after sport would be of benefit to all.

Brad Kearns certainly understands that lifestyle adjustment. With a professional triathlon career spanning almost a decade, he now leads a happy, healthy and fruitful life balancing a career in the health and fitness industry with family and social responsibilities.

Previous interviews with Brad in 2010 and 2011 proved extremely insightful, and this one is no different. The transition process upon retirement from pro sport is discussed in depth as well as a diversion into his thoughts on the current coaching industry.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Forty Six Days

Adventures in Personal Bio-feedback

I listen to yet another great podcast recently between two individuals who really do embrace an alternative perspective when it comes to health and fitness.

Essentially a half-hour radio interview, host Brad Kearns and studio guest Ben Greenfield engage in a most informative discussion on various topics, the central theme being attaining peak athletic performance with a little pain and suffering as possible.

With the endurance sport season here in South Africa now in full swing, multi-day mountain bike stage races are becoming the staple diet for many athletes seeking to add to their multi-sport repertoire and challenge their limits. Being a regular attendee of such events in various supporting and therapeutic roles, I often wonder whether many of these folk are “biting off more than they can chew,” in the sense of juggling their busy working and personal lives with the demands of multiple events and the preparation thereof.