How I went from 0-10km Beginner to Spartan
The first step
I first signed up for this Beginners Program in March 2016. Mainly because I was completely inactive at the time and I really wanted to do something. I just wanted to walk. I think some of you may be able to relate here – but as a working mother and wife I also really needed an escape from the daily grind, or gradually risk losing my mind. Those of you who have come to walk, please know that you will be in very capable hands, guided by highly experienced walkers. Last year we were led by Matthew, and the amazing Margaret. Our dear Margaret is a WP Champion, gold medallist, and in athletic terms – a South African Master Walker. So it’s safe to say that Margaret knows a thing or two about walking, and I am really glad to have had the privilege of being trained by her. On this program, you will learn proper techniques to brisk walking – which is a great cardio workout with many health benefits. Believe me, once you get your walking mojo on, you will feel the positive effects in no time!
After my first few sessions, I was so into it that even at work, just walking from one side of the building to the other, I’d bust a move like I was on a mission! You’ll soon see, it becomes second nature. Sometimes, I’d find myself strolling along aimlessly, and the voices in my head would go “Come on, René! Swing those arms, swing those hips!” …as long as it was Margeret’s voice, I knew I wasn’t losing it…
Comfort and safety basics
If you have a fitness tracker or a step counter app on your phone – use it! It’s really not essential, but it is helpful and very useful if you want to track/monitor your progress. Please don’t go out and buy special gadgets, rather invest in the right attire – you need bright / reflective clothing, a headlamp so you can be seen after sunset (especially in the winter months), and very important: proper footwear! You must be comfortable. With these basics covered, I was able to really enjoy the walking program from week 1 all the way to our graduation 12 weeks later. I never missed a session, I enjoyed the conversations, the company, and the scenic routes on cool Autumn evenings – bliss!
After our 10km graduation race at UWC in May, I kept coming back on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and continued walking with members for a while. In that time, I got a feel for the club, the vibe etc, and I liked it a lot. By the time the second Beginners program was advertised in August 2016, I felt that I wanted my bread buttered on both sides: so I decided that I was going to try running for 12 weeks, and THEN join the club… and if I wanted to represent, I could do either or – walk or run. I had it figured out! But wait…. running?? I’m no runner….that was so not me – what on earth was I thinking?! The decision to run was a big thing for me, because I was “not a runner” – well, at least that’s what I kept telling myself. I don’t like to admit this now, but to be honest, I actually hated running – only because I was forced into it at school and that just killed it for me, at an early age. Before the program, I couldn’t trot 100m without feeling like my lungs were going to explode! I made excuses for years, but I put an end to it, and finally adjusted the mindset.
Annnnd so I signed up for another round of Beginners in September 2016: this time, to run! Initially, it was a challenge for me, but I persevered, and soon realised that running is a lot more mental than physical. I’ve had good days and I’ve had not-so-good days, and that’s ok. One thing’s for sure, I always had support. As a beginner, as a Spartie-In-The-Making you will have support. I saw it, I felt it – it’s real and it’s awesome. If you think you are going be left behind on this program, think again. If you think you can’t do it or you won’t be able to keep up, think again! You can do it, and you will not be left behind. It’s not a competition and it’s not a race – it’s a training program, and besides learning to run, you will learn a lot about yourself, and you will surprise yourself! At the end of my 12 weeks I was amazed at how much I’d improved compared to when I had first started, and you will be too, whether you are running or walking for fun, for fitness, or with the intention to compete. Start it, finish it. Just do it.
Reflections and forecasts
Having successfully completed both programs and graduation races last year, I found that as a walker I could push myself really hard. Walking is strenuous, but long legs and all – I pushed myself to the point of ‘this is too easy’. I wanted more of a challenge though, so running was completely different because in comparison it kicked my butt! It’s been rather humbling – I’ve learnt so much, and I still have so much more to learn. After our graduation run in November, I finally joined and became a member of Spartan Harriers in January 2017. I set goals and decided that I would do at least one 10km race a month, and that I would try to always improve my time and pace. I’m currently still chasing a sub60 and once I’ve achieved this I will start preparing for my first 21km half marathon. I’m nearly there. Before all of this came about, in my world, running was unheard of… but it’s possible now all because of THIS Beginners Program and the Spartan Spirit that keeps me going!
So, Spartie-In-The-Making, WELCOME to it, and I hope you will enjoy the journey as much I still am.
Author : Renè Lawrence