Marcél’s response was: “I can help you to improve, I can help you achieve your goals, but just how dedicated are you, because if you don’t commit to what’s ahead, we won’t achieve anything”. I was committed, prepared to put in all my effort.

If you looked at me in 2004 you would not have thought of me as if I can walk around the block? Never mind the body of a runner? If you passed me in the street, would you even hazard a guess in a million that I have in the past been recognised as an athlete? Let me tell you how I did it.

I didn’t run in my youth, I only started running at the ripe old age of about 30. At schoo,l I played netball but steered clear of any sports such as hockey or athletics, they were way too energetic for me. Sometime during my working career, some friends got me involved in running and I’ve been running fairly regularly since, until about 1 year ago.

I was never a highly successful runner in my thirties but relatively speaking did ok and notched a few Comrades under my belt. About 4 years ago, I decided that I was going nowhere “fast”; in fact, I was going everywhere slowly! At that stage, I was running 10kms in about 75mins. I had a consultation with Marcel and expressed my frustration at not getting any faster on both the shorter and longer runs. It was a vicious circle – I was getting slower and lazier, fatter and more de-motivated. I’d got to the point where I was ready to do anything to change the awful sluggish situation I was in.

Marcel’s response was: “I can help you to improve, I can help you achieve your goals, but just how dedicated are you, because if you don’t commit to what’s ahead, we won’t achieve anything”. I was committed, prepared to put in all my effort. That was in ignorance of what was to come of course!

Marcel’s approach was not to train me to run, but to remould, re-shape, re-whatever all aspects of my life and so we embarked on a programme which encompassed not only running, but strength training in the gym, nutritional eating habits, mobility, motivational support etc., etc. I kept wondering what some of the stuff had to do with my goals but it was all part of a master plan.

The first decision was to forget about long distance running and focus on short distances and my goal was to reduce my 10km time to 55mins, a 20 min reduction in time! Over the next 18months I worked exceptionally hard at this goal as Marcel began to drive me relentlessly. I never missed a single item on my programme and at each track session on Mon and Wed, I put in an all-out effort every time!

Marcel gave me lots of short, sharp and intense quality sessions. I remember running 300m intervals on so many of my track sessions that I became known as the 300m chick. Quite often, the other runners would be sent out on the road but not me, I’d be there running around the track till I got that blood taste in my mouth. It wasn’t in vain – when I started, my 300m times were about 1.35 to 1.40. I whittled these down to 1.19!! At the same time, I was doing 4 gym sessions a week, encompassing various things from stretching & mobility to heavy (for me) weights, core strength exercises like Pilates to boot camp sessions which were like hell! My assessment showed a dramatic improvement e.g. from starting off at being able to do approximately 20 sit-ups in a minute, I could eventually do 42!

I loved these sessions, 2 of which I did with Brendan and Jacqui and 2 on my own under Marcel’s beady eye, so there was not a moment to “rest”! Over this same period, I continued to follow the Natural way of eating and I lost approximately 13kgs. So at the time when the moment of truth arrived to run the Northgate 10 in sub 55mins, I was fit, trim and mentally ready for the challenge.

Marcel said to run without a watch which made me really nervous. I did a short warm-up and when the gun went, I took off. If you’ve done the Northgate 10, you’ll know that there are some nasty hills in the first few kms and I thought I was blowing it but perhaps not because at the 5km mark Marcel was there shouting that I was doing well? This gave me encouragement to persist. The last km or so is also a nightmare and I thought I’d really blown it but kept forging ahead.

When I crossed the finish line and saw the clock, I couldn’t believe it, 53.47!!! My goal achieved.

Over the next 6 months, I continued to run just over this pace and targeted the Ekurhuleni 10km in December of that year to race all out again. It was a stunning race with wonderful support for “Gogo”. I worked exceptionally hard and was thrilled when I finished in 53.34 and was told that I was the first veteran lady!! Marcel and I waited for a couple of hours for the prize-giving so that I could have my moment on the podium, receive my gold medal and my envelope containing R100!

That race was almost the pinnacle of my running career – not because I won R100 but because it proved to me that it’s never too late. Anything can be achieved by anyone if you’re willing to follow the right programme (from FFA of course) and dedicate yourself to your final aim.

After that Ekurhuleni race, I started running longer distances and had a year of fantastic running at every race I ran. I would run better times than I’d run before, but my effort was much easier.

At Cango, I raced the marathon and ran my best time in 8 years. At Loskop, I ran a wonderful time and was bouncing around afterwards whilst everyone else was crippled!

I was truly enjoying my running again – the master plan had worked!!