Monday, 5 October 2015

Life Writing

Morning pages, cursive and chess

Keeping a diary can be laborious.

Way back when, I would shake my head at my fellow athletes who would record every training session as well morning heart rate and the like in training diary. What are you really going to do with that information I would sometimes ask, and always think. The same with heart rate and power wattage downloads; do you print it out and stick it on your kitchen/bedroom wall?

I tried keeping a training log for about two years but it fast became a chore, so this experiment ceased in mid-June (or was it May?) of 2015.

Needless to say I tried and it really didn't bring much value to my life.

Scott Tinely once proclaimed that he did more than enough in a day that writing about it seemed like a senseless undertaking. Ironic given the articulate Californian's current career as a prolific writer and university literature teacher! In fact, reading any of ST's work can leave one with an impression of a serious and deep-thinking bloke, which is directly at odds with the seemingly laid-back surfer persona of his athletic peak. There might even be a lot of personal journals in his vault, although not of the training log variety I suspect.

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Entrepreneurial Hannele Steyn

Of Epics, kitchens and self-sufficiency

In 1991, Hannele Steyn was the foremost female triathlete in South Africa. With provincial and national titles over the three disciplines, the diminutive athlete's abilities were such that several elite men were looking over their shoulders. If Hannele was at a race, she was virtually assured of the win - and and high overall placing.

Yet there is a catch, something which is almost paradoxical with the Hannele Steyn of 2015.

With all of this mesmerizing athletic talent, Steyn was sponsored by a Cape Town pizza restaurant, frequenting it regularly. Surprising considering her current occupation as a health food entrepreneur and lifestyle coach.

"There were a few of us sponsored by Pizzaz in Rosebank," recounts Steyn at the annual Ride2Nowhere mountain bike event. "Carbo-loading was en vogue at the time and our training and racing habits meant huge appetites. I remember being invited to a dinner party one night where the portions of lasagne were simply not enough. We ended up at our sponsors' restaurant on the way home!"

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Sanlam Cape Town Marathon: Elites Perspective

Excellence out of Simplicity
"The better their shape and fitness, the less healthy they look." Davor Savija. Elite athlete agent.

Elite athletes are different.

That is a notion that I've come to understand more and more over the years, particular of times recent. Having the opportunity to work with some of the best over a range of sports is a rare privilege and something that satiates my inquisitive and observant nature. Being a fan is one thing; observing and gaining insight into the realities of life as a pro something completely different, often at odds with the seeming glamour and flash of our own assumptions and premonitions.

This past weekend afforded me the opportunity to work with some visiting marathoners. Predominately East Africans (with a sprinkling of Japanese and Americans), these guys and girls travel far and wide to race their guts out for a living. When not abroad racing, they are at home training, leading a simple and monastic existence in pursuit of the perfect day.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Anti-Taper

Continuing Adventures in Sport

It seems that whenever I choose to participate in a long-distance endurance event, my life gets busier and busier in the weeks immediately prior.

Not that I am complaining – far from it in fact – but over-scheduling and “under-resting” seem to be part-and-parcel of my personal race day build up.

While the coaches and textbooks call for slowing down during the last fortnight, I find myself speeding up. A gradual increase in downtime is what is recommended to achieve peak performance over long distances but I find myself increasingly swamped as race day approaches. Why is that? Perhaps it is my own personal defence mechanism kicking, my sub-concious way of diverting my attention away from the event and concentrating on other things that make up of daily life. And to be honest, I wouldn't want it any other way.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Idealistic Yuki Kawauchi

Amateur-status, selling cars and Rio calling

Of the two dozen or so professional athletes invited to compete in the 2015 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi stands out.

Granted, his personal best marathon time of 2:08:14 underlines his quality. Factor in a respectable performance at the 2013 IAAF World Championships and one could be forgiven in classing the Japanese athlete as a top-class marathoner capable of turning in consistent performances year after year. Yet there is far more to the diminutive Kawauchi than a respectable palmares alone.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Meintjes to Lampre-Merida

Evolution, development and the Italian connection

Louis Meintjes signing for Team Lampre-Merida?

Unthinkable for many, which is understandable given the euphoria surrounding the young South African rider's results with Team MTN-Qhubeka.

A consistent fixture at the front of the peloton when the road veers upwards, Meintjes' development and evolution as a rider has certainly come to the fore in the 2015 Vuelta a Espana. His climbing prowess has been complemented by increased staying power over three weeks, which indicates his potential as South Africa's first true Grand Tour contender of the future.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Balanced Dion O' Cuinneagain

On camaraderie, skill acquisition and teenage sports

Every Wednesday evening, Dion O' Cuinneagain meets a group of friends for a bike ride.

Weather-permitting, they head up into the trails of Table Mountain overlooking greater Cape Town or alternatively, they gather at a Constantia bike shop for a high-altitude indoor session. This informal gathering has become a ritual, a break in the week of sorts. And irrespective of the weather conditions or cycling form, it is perhaps the social aspect that predominates over who is "king of the hill."

"I really enjoy the camaraderie that cycling has afforded me," says O' Cuinneagain of his midweek foray into the hills. "Sport is a great leveler, no matter the discipline. For me, it is all about fun, friendship, health and fitness."