I never saw the point of running as a recreational activity. Doing fifteen minutes on the treadmill was about all I could stomach before I got tricked by a family member into signing up for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half-Marathon (that’s 21km of “fun”, in case you were wondering). There was no backing out: race day was looming and my pride was at stake here. Suddenly I found myself with a goal to work towards, and that was all the motivation I needed to get off my butt and out on to the early morning streets of Ballito… running… eish. Together with my race partner (my mom), I started getting serious about putting one foot in front of the other.
Step 1: Find a Club
I had often heard tales of the Dolphin Coast Striders Running Club and the legendary characters who make up the running pack. Characters like Barry “The Boss” Holland, who captains the club and has run more Comrades Marathons than most people have had hot meals (he holds the joint record for the most consecutive Comrades Marathons, with this year promising to be his 43rd consecutive race). Far from being a cliquey group of fitness snobs, we found the group to be nothing but warm and welcoming. Regular Wednesday after-work time trials at the club became a weekly ritual for us, and early morning training sessions led by “The Boss” gave us a mental edge that we carried through to race day.
Step 2: Get Good Footwear
I cannot emphasize enough how important quality running shoes are for anyone considering a big race for the first time. I had started running in seriously worn “tekkies” and wasn’t doing myself any favours… my feet and legs were taking strain from poor support. Through the Striders, my mom and I were introduced to running fundi Dave Flood: another legend of the KZN running community and owner of The Sports Zone specialist running and sporting goods store in Kensington Square, Durban North. Dave is seriously passionate about running and his knowledge and experience when it comes to selecting the correct footwear is unrivalled. After Dave kitted us out our training progress soared… we left our old shoes in the dust.
Step 3: Set Goals and Get Excited
If I hadn’t had the goal of a race to work towards, I would never have found the drive to explore the local running community, meet new people, and embrace the lifestyle of road running. I totally get it now… you might even say I’m a little bit obsessed. The good news is that there’s no shortage of races for a newbie to work towards. The inaugural Deloitte Challenge Marathon and Half-Marathon will be kicking off from our doorstep on Friday 1 May (organized by none other than Barry “The Boss” Holland), promising to be one of the most exciting new fixtures on the local running calendar. The week after the marathon, Dave Flood will be opening a brand new store at the Ballito Junction: the new Sports Zone Running Co. will be headed up by Dave’s daughter Candice and will no doubt soon become a local hub of running culture and enthusiasts. The North Coast running scene is growing at a rapid rate, and there’s no better time to be getting involved… Hope to see you on the tar soon.
– Mike Charles, Radio Life & Style Station Manager