Family Fitness and Joining Your Local Parkrun…

It is the middle of winter… and it is so cold, the only way I know how to get warm in this weather is to actually just get up and get moving. I have been blogging recently about Se7en Ways to Get Your Kids Moving… and Realistic Sleep, Screen time and Exercise Expectations for our Kids. So one thing that has really worked for our family’s exercise this year has been Parkruns. We actually started them because Hood 4 loves to run, and I love free activities for my kids.


So way back at the beginning of the year we went, with trepidation for some of us, to our first Park Run, and we have been going every Saturday that we have been able to ever since. I love that you don’t have to go, if we are free we go, but there is no pressure. I love that it starts at eight and we don’t have to get all our kids up in the freezing and the dark… just the freezing right now. And love that it isn’t a competition, you go at your own pace and if that is walking the whole way then that is absolutely fine. The thing is we all started by walking the whole way, but we are slowly but surely getting fitter. And while hood 4 sprints away with glee each week, some of us have gone from walking all the way to walk/running and there are dreams of running the whole way. Otherwise every week, everyone eagerly awaits their email to say if they have managed a PB or not… and oh the rejoicing if someone has improved!!!

Click on the link to find your nearest Parkrun…

Parkrun is great, you can find one near you or you can visit one further from home, because they are all over the world; it is at the same time each week so nothing new to remember; it is 5km long, which means you can just walk it and finish in about an hour; it is run entirely by volunteers and it is free; and it is timed… so you can watch your slow and steady improvement as the weeks go by. It has had another knock on effect… the gang quickly realised that running once a week wasn’t going to do the trick and that they had to add in a few extra days of actual walking/running to improve their times. So my kids have started the couch to 5km program and they are very excited about it. Sticking to the schedule like clockwork.


Now a little while back I attended a workshop at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa… on endurance running for women. I know, how did I get from a 5 km walk/run Parkrun to Endurance Running. Well to be honest, the athlete inside of me cannot sit and watch the Two Oceans go by without thinking “Could I do that one day?” Ridiculous I know, but I could possibly run an entire 5km… and at the beginning of the year I could never have dreamt of running 100m, so it isn’t beyond comprehension that one day I could possibly run a 10 km or a half marathon. Anyway I attended the workshop with an open mind and eager to learn… and I am so glad I did, I was so inspired. The ultimate cool thing about this gym is that everybody is an athlete… and one look at the audience and I knew I wasn’t the only dreamer!!!

The workshop was split into a number of sessions…

Running Tips by Andy Bosch

  1. Increase your Distance Gradually: If you are running 50 km or 150km a week you still cannot increase your mileage by more than 10% a week, simply to avoid injury. Decide if you are running for time or distance… slower runners need to train for time and elite runners for distance, simply because elite runners can go so much further over the same time, without injury.
  2. You Need a Long Run: Take your time to build your mileage up and don’t count stoppage time. If you run for an hour, and stop for two ten minute water breaks and a chatter, then that was only a 40 minute run. This run needs to be faster than a snail to count… a little faster than chattering along with a friend pace.
  3. Mix up the Speed of Your Runs: Not all runs have to be fast, there is a time and a place for slow recovery runs. Then again, some long runs need to be at pace.
  4. Speedwork and Hill Sessions: Build these workouts up each week, they will improve your running. Speedwork and hills have been proven to make you stronger and work at improving your running time and time again.
  5. Plyometrics: (I had to look this up!) Plyometrics are short, sharp explosive exercises. And to be sure I don’t do any of those that I know of!!!
  6. Taper for Races: Don’t just take off a couple of days beforehand, because you will feel sluggish. Rather start by cutting out non-essential runs and keep the fast runs.
  7. Rest: You need cycles of hard training followed by a week of easy training. Rest is an essential part of building up your running slowly and progressively. You can’t do everything at once… give yourself a year to make changes and adjustments to your running.
  8. Running Exercises by Chloe Newlands of the Strong 2 Run Programme


    Everyone should do strength training… you don’t have to go to a gym to do it, most of these exercises can be done at home quite easily. And in order to run better you need stronger glutes… you know the place you normally sit upon. Strong glutes will improve your co-ordination, your efficiency and your performance, they will also help you to prevent injuries. Do your strength training as part go your warm up before a run, because afterwards you will always be too tired and not have time for it.

    And the strengthening exercises she most recommends:

    1. Hamstring Curls
    2. The Squat
    3. Crab Walk
    4. Glute Bridge
    5. Plank/Side Plank

    And if you do no other strength exercise… then the one strength exercise to do has to be: The Walking Lunge. That’s it, nuff said.

    Learning How to Eat by Sarah Chantler, from the SSISA dietician team.


    First things first, everyone is different and everyone has to eat what works for them. And otherwise, elite athletes don’t eat what the rest of us eat. You have to learn to eat for your own success and keep it the same for race day. Have a plan for your races and then execute it. Now I know this is not essential for folk like me who are trying to run a 5K, but it was fascinating. In fact, if you are running a half marathon in two hours… then you don’t need to snack at all. If your running goal is part of a weight loss programme then don’t worry to snack, but if you are aiming for a PB, have a little bit of coke towards the end, it will make you feel so much better. Any race over two hours and you have to eat something, and you have to consider the taste and the texture.

    Landie Greyling, Tanith Maxwell, Sarah Chantler

    Now part of why I wanted to attend this event so badly is that Landie Greyling would be there and I am a fan of hers on instagram, she just makes running look so fun. And I got to follow Tanith Maxwell, another one of Cape Town’s elite athletes. They asked them a couple of questions about how they eat on the run…

    When did you realise that you need to eat during a race?

    L: In my first marathon hit the wall from lack of actual food, so I walked last ten km.
    T: I don’t get hungry when I run, I have to train that way. I eat in the first hour so, to sustain myself.

    What do you eat on race days?

    L: Easily digestible food, nothing dry. Something salty at the start, like a marmite sandwich in early stages and later watermelon or an orange for hydration. And finally gels.
    T: Fluid one hundred percent, I have a glucose polymer drink that I drink specific amounts at specific intervals throughout the race.

    Anything unusual or last tips?

    L: If you are running a hundred km race you have to have your bars and gels. Once in a long race there was salty vegetable soup at an aid station and that was the best ever!!! Fruit salad with custard was a disaster, lesson learnt was to keep it simple. Teach your body to eat what you can access in the race place. You should eat every forty five minutes, you won’t to at the start, but you have to. What you eat at the start determines your race outcome. And if you have run 100km then you have totally earned all the Coke your heart desires in the last 5km.
    T: Don’t vary things, find what works and stick with it. Drinks planned for every 5km. If you gets bored with the taste of polymers… then Coke wins. Check the aid stations, if you have special requirements don’t ever leave it to chance.

    What is your favourite cheat meal?
    L: Chocolate milkshake
    T: Pizza

    The Taste Test

    If you normally enjoy real food then real food can work but you have to go forth and try new things… some things you can tolerate while you are running and somethings you can’t. At 35 km your mouth will be fairly dehydrated, so eat at a water station. Also bland food is best, because the further you go the sweeter it gets. We were offered a taste test:


    Dried fruit,tasty but really very chewy, easy to suck… so sweeties like sparkles and jelly babies would work too. The little protein ball had nuts in it and I immediately handed it to the lady next to me… clearly she didn’t have a nut allergy. And the exercise bar was super chewy and tasted really really bland… maybe if I had run 35 km I would have enjoyed it, maybe not!!!

    Huge thanks to The Sport Science Institute of South Africa for the invitation to attend the event. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and opinions expressed are as usual my own.

5 Replies to “Family Fitness and Joining Your Local Parkrun…”

  1. I love that this is something that has turned into a regular part of the fabric of your lives! And I LOVE to hear that you are considering an actual real run! What an inspiration!

  2. Hay Christi, isn’t it quite amazing. I never ever would have thought that my life could turn around so far and that all my kids would follow along too. I have a feeling that I might have a few athletes amongst our gang as well… Life is full of lovely surprises!!! Hope you are having a great weekend!!!

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