Tag Archives: running

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Seven things I’ve learnt training for Karkloof100

Ultra running is no joke, but it’s the training that really shows you what you are made of. When I set myself the goal of running 100 miles (160km) I knew it was going to be tough as nails, I thought yeah I will learn so much running it (and I am sure I still will when we toe the line in September at the legendary Karkloof100) but it is the training that has been something of a revelation for me.

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Don’t let the vert hurt

Depending on the type of terrain your goal race is you will naturally train accordingly. If your race is over smooth jeep track and clean forest trails spending hours in the rocky technical mountains every single run won’t necessarily benefit you as much as flat dirt road running will. I’ve had to force myself to walk the hills, and hey it’s OK! No one is going to be laughing at your Strava laps because you walked the hills. Saving energy on the ups means you run the flat and downhills when others are forced to walk later in the race.

Don’t waste tired legs

For years I have tried my best to make sure I am as rested as possible before the weekend long run, but a few weeks back when I was slogging through a 4 hour run feeling like death warmed up all I wanted to do was stop. Then it suddenly hit me, I worked hard to get this tired and I am not injured, so just keep running. Running your long run on tired legs is a great way to simulate a possible race day environment when you start to feel tired towards the end of the race. This can be applied to any run distance training. It not only teaches you to run on tired legs but builds some serious mental fortitude because we are never as tired as our brain tries to tell us we are. You can always go more!

Train at goal race pace

This has been by far the toughest part of my training. Not counting the very little speed work I do, most of my runs have tried to be at goal race pace for the karkloof100, which happens to be almost 3 minutes per km slower than the average I am most comfortable at. Training slow takes proper discipline, having people pass you while you are walking is not good for the ego but training at 4min/km will have zero benefit when you are running for 24 hours plus at 7mins/km. Training the slow twitch muscle fibres and building endurance is a patience game. One that you will reap serious benefits from if you can get right.

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The hunger is real

It’s true what they say, training for an ultra puts a fire in your belly. The proverbial fire of passion and zeal to go further than ever before, but more importantly a literal fire that burns up anything you eat in 30 seconds flat. The fight for clocking as many miles as you can without getting injured before race day is only surpassed by the fight to consume as many calories as humanly possible, and hope it’s enough.

Make sure you like being with yourself

For the most part running is a selfish sport, especially ultra running. You will be spending hours out there, mostly by yourself. If you don’t like your own company you will have to quickly learn to like yourself. Ultra running for me is about self-discovery (among other things), if you feel like you don’t know yourself very well just enter an ultra. You will get acquainted very quickly. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable and still being patient with yourself when things don’t go according to plan is a skill that is learnt and one that can benefit in all spheres of life.

Spotify will change your life

If you still don’t like yourself after training for an ultra just register on Spotify. Podcasts and playlists for days that will keep you entertained. I try not run with music mostly but there are some days when you are just so flat and can’t bring yourself to have to process any thoughts while running. It’s days like these when a Spotify “Lazy Weekend” playlist serenading you through your long run makes you feel like you are running on cotton wool.

Find an understanding spouse

I should have lead with this because it is probably the most important part of training for an ultra, especially if you would still like to be married when you cross the finish line. Don’t forget to put that quality time into your spouse / partner / significant other on top of all the hours you are hogging to clock the miles. Making them feel special and that they are still the most important goal of your life goes a long way to helping them support you in your goal to reach that finish line. You might be so focused on the sacrifices you as the runner make in your pursuit of your goal, that you haven’t seen the sacrifices the love of your life is making.

P.S. Loni if I hadn’t said it enough thank you for letting me train for this. Thank you for having yummy suppers ready when I get home late in the week from long runs. Thank you for understanding and support me in this. I couldn’t have / can’t do it without you :)

Best Wife Ever :)

Best Wife Ever :)


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Puma FAAS 300 v2 TR Review

Let me ask you a question? Why is it that you think we as runners read these types of reviews? Is it for insight, or is it maybe that we don’t always trust the marketing “schpeals” that come with the shoe? It could even just be for pure entertainment, for example I thoroughly enjoy watching the Ginger Runner reviews for a good laugh. Mostly though I think it is because we would like to know how the product handles in the real world on real trails etc. It’s easy to read a bunch of complicated high tech and fancy sounding words but until you actually run in the shoe, one has no idea how it is going to play out in the real world.

It is because of this fact that I believe Trail and Mountain Running as a sport is really starting to hit a sweet spot at the moment. 5 years ago we were very limited in terms of shoe options, as well as kit and accessories options. As the sport has grown and as more and more events are filling up the calendar companies are really putting their R&D budgets to work to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. (Sometimes they go a little too far ahead like these particular what-ya-ma-call-its??? but hey let’s not blame them for wanting to push the envelope). This also means that existing models are being revamped often, as technology improves and companies receive constructive feedback from their pro athletes and customers. What this means for us as trail runners is that we are no longer scraping the bottom of the barrel to find good quality products to feed our hunger for the dirt. Companies like Puma that were solely a lifestyle, road, track and field brand have started developing competitive ‘trail-specific’ shoes that are really going to shake a few tree’s once word gets out how good they actually are.

Which brings me back to this review, the cool cats at Puma South Africa very generously sent me a pair of the FAAS 300 v2 TR in the recently launched ‘NightCat Camo’ edition and straight out the box these shoes were made to impress. (For our review on the ladies FAAS 300 TR version 1 click here.) Looks wise they are stunning, as you can see from the images they really are a very photogenic shoe with the “360 degrees of camo-inspired reflectivity which makes you visible in the dark” (hence the name ‘NightCat’). Let’s face it, running is way better when your kit looks cool whether it’s in the day time or at night :)

2015-03-07 09.00.01-1The outsole features a high abrasion resistant rubber in high wear areas which gives the outsole added durability, all that means is that they have put a material that lasts longer on the parts of the shoe that usually wears down the fastest. Trail shoes take a pounding on sharp rocks, loose gravel, and running through mud so added durability is always a plus in my book. This is also one of the key features that makes this shoe a great trail to tar shoe, not all of us live in the Alps or at the Western States trail head so some tar running is usually needed to get to the trail. These shoes are great for that, one of my favourite features of this shoe is that they are just as comfortable on the road as they are on the trail.

The multi-directional lugs, which are found in most trail shoes worth looking at, provide that added stability and grip on the steeper descents. We trail runners appreciate that extra stability when things get a little hairy. I will be honest, when I saw the outsole I thought to myself that Puma might have made a decent road shoe with some off road capabilities. Thankfully looks can be deceiving and I was sheepishly surprised after taking the shoe onto the trail and finding out that the grip was magic. The shoe holds it’s own out on the trail and they did not shy away from the technical rocky sections. The rock grip of the shoe is decent, I experienced very little slippage jumping between the larger rocks. It usually takes me a few runs before I can ‘trust’ the capabilities of a shoe to really open up the taps. After only a few km’s into the first run I felt like I had been running in the shoe for months which is one of the best things Puma has going for this shoe. Have you ever met someone for the first time and after a coffee and a good chat you feel like you have been friends for years, that’s what it was like for me and the FAAS 300 v2 TR.

The outsole can't wait to get a grip!

The midsole, as with all the other FAAS models, Puma has gone with their FAAS Foam which is a lightweight one-piece blend of foam and rubber and it really is light and it really is comfortable, oh and it really is fast! This shoe is light, in fact they are just over 230g for a pair of size 8’s which by our standards is very pleasantly light. Again the comfort of the midsole and the lighter weight make it a great tar to trail shoe. Not everyone has the finances to buy a pair of shoes for every kind of terrain so if you are looking for a shoe that isn’t a “jack of all trade’s and master of none” but actually performs when you need it to this is definitely one of the best shoes out there. The FAAS Foam takes the impact of the tar as well as protecting the foot from sharp rocks on the trail. There is no rock plate but I found that it really isn’t necessary as the midsole provides adequate protection, this also keeps the shoe very flexible and allows for a fast roll off on the toe, as you can see from the image below.

The flexibility of the shoe is great!

The Upper of the shoe has been designed really well, it features minimal ‘no-sew’ overlays which provide great support to the foot. On the trail the more support you get the better. The ‘no-sew’ overlays also mean less abrasion on the foot inside the shoe, this helps to prevent blisters very well. The shoe breathes and displaces water incredibly well, having water sloshing around in the shoe after running through a river or a stream is not fun at all, thanks to what Puma calls it’s “Air Mesh Upper” water is able to escape fairly quickly and your foot can breathe better on those hot summer days. One of the fun features that I have begun to appreciate is a small ‘pocket’ at the top of the tongue that you can fold the laces into, I hate having laces flapping around while I run so this was a great feature, plus it keeps the shoe looking super fast and sleek which my OCD enjoys thoroughly.

The only issue I have with the shoe is the narrow toe box, although in the shoe’s defense I do have freakishly wide feet so for a normal size foot they would more than likely be fine but I personally did find the toe box quite narrow. As you can see from the image below it could actually be the sole itself which is a bit too narrow for my feet (see how my foot stretches out over the sole in the load phase). Next time I will go for 1 size up (like I had to do with the New Balance Fresh Foam) and see if that makes a difference. If you, like me, have a more wider foot try fitting a half size or full size bigger than you would normally go for.

Notice how my foot stretches over the sole in the load phase.

I do believe Puma has made a massive effort to improve a number of key areas of the shoe, some areas I would have liked to see an improvement were left out (specifically wider toe box) but the version 2.0 is monumentally better than the version 1.0 – in fact it is probably the best improvement I have ever experienced between different models of a shoe on all the brands of shoes I have run in. The key is that they made lots of small adjustments that most people might miss and say ah it looks just like version 1. Trust me, it is not! Those little adjustments and improvements add up to one great shoe. When those pesky software updates come out for my iPhone I don’t always install them, some of them are lame and change my phone so much I don’t even recognise it. This, though, is definitely one of those “software updates” you want to do. #ForeverFaster

lightweight flexibility turning into speed :)


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Fat as fuel

Guest post by Charles Klinger

Vespa will assist your body to use fat as fuel

Vespa Power CV-25

Fat as fuel: a review of VESPA CV-25

Fat: Most athletes, through coaching and self-study/research, have been traditionally hardwired to believe that this is primarily causal to substandard performance, excess weight, and general lack of health. As health science continually emerges and evolves, though, this vilification of fat has become suspect. In fact, some self-proclaimed heretics, like Peter Defty of VESPA and Prof Tim Noakes, claim that fat (rather than carbohydrate) is, in fact, the principle source for fueling in endurance and ultra-endurance sports. So how can we make the most of fat as fuel?

Enter VESPA, stage right. VESPA is based on the idea that humans, like many other species, store an almost infinite amount of energy as fat whereas they can only store about 90 minutes of energy from carbohydrate (glucose stored in muscles and liver). VESPA serves as a catalyst to the metabolic pathway which converts our fat stores to useable energy (a process known as ketosis and beta-oxidation). If you think of your body as a car engine, carbohydrate is gasoline – fast burning fuel for immediate results and instantaneous power. On the other side of the energy spectrum, fat burning would be likened to diesel fuel – slower to initiate speed and power, but long burning and heavy hitting in the long run. VESPA serves as a bridge between these two fuel types in an effort to maximize the power-efficiency-longevity ratio that your muscles are capable of – making a sort of gas/diesel hybrid.

The catalyst (what kicks our bodies into fat-burning mode) of the VESPA product is the extract of the Asian Mandarin Wasp (Vespa mandarina). Essentially, this wasp flies upwards of 100km in a day on nothing more than fat stores from its thorax in order to feed its offspring. The larva of the wasp lives in symbiosis with its parent, providing the adult wasp with a peptide which allows for the breakdown of the fat for fuel. VESPA harvests this same peptide from the larvae, and under the pretense that individual cells are similar inter-species, allows human cells to function in the same fashion.

In conjunction with the use of VESPA, Peter Defty devised OFM (Optimized Fat Metabolism), a comprehensive program which predisposes your body to burn fat as a standard fuel. This allows for the most benefit from supplementing with VESPA in both training and competition. In essence, the nutrition strategy calls for limitation of carbohydrates, especially “white” carbs (potatoes, bread, etc.) and an influx of “good fats” (avocados, nuts, and natural fats including saturated fats, etc.) to be allowed. Note that this does not entirely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, and instead advocates the “strategic” use of carbs – basically before and during competitions.


I’ve been using VESPA for nearly a full year now (I sat down for the first time with Peter Defty in February of 2014), and as a prelude to the nitty-gritty of the review, I’d like to make note of the fact that I do no longer consciously strive to maintain an OFM diet. I found that simply by limiting my carbohydrate intake, my protein-fat-carb ratio self-adjusted to be moderate, high, and low respectively. I would say, though, that if you’re intending to experiment with the product and eventually include it in your dietary regimen, you should begin with a strict low carb, high fat type diet – sort of a modified paleo style nutrition plan – until you become better “fat-adapted” (to be able to use fat as a primary fuel source).

**CV-25 is intended for athletes of over 160 pounds. VESPA Junior has a lower content of Wasp extract and may be better suited to athletes under 160 pounds. Also available is a VESPA Ultra-concentrate, which is only recommended for athletes who have used VESPA CV-25 or Junior in the past.**


The CV-25 (as well as the Junior) is contained in a simple, aluminum/plastic style pouch, with a small bit-tip twist off cap. The package is reminiscent of a baby-food pouch, and fits well in the pocket of a race vest, but doesn’t do so well in a pair of shorts. For racing, I’d only recommend having a pouch in a drop bag or at a crew stop. If you absolutely need to carry a VESPA package with you, I’d opt for the smaller Ultra-concentrate which is packaged in a small, rip top package similar to a fast food condiment packet.


In my opinion, taste is, by far, the biggest downfall of the product. While not altogether unsavory, the taste of the CV-25 mixture is only slightly reminiscent of honey and is, in fact, relatively bitter making it slightly less than enjoyable on first sip. I find that I have to consume VESPA in one gulp and promptly drink a mouthful or two of water/sports drink to wash away the taste. It is far better cold than room temperature or warm, and I try to refrigerate the package before consuming if at all possible (obviously race logistics might make this difficult to impossible).

On the other hand, texture is not nearly an issue. The compound is a fluid – watery, and easily palatable even mid run.

Benefits/Positive Results –

Most notably, of all the results, is my decreased need for mid-run calorie intake. This makes a world of difference, not only in the overall amount of storage necessary for my runs, but also in the gastronomical side effects of consuming sticky-sweet gels. I find that during a training run, I can easily manage a steady pace on even the most diverse of terrain with not much more than 100 calories per hour and some sodium. During races, I tend to increase my intake to about 200-300 calories per hour (some of which is from “real food”) and salt.

Because of this limited intake and requirement, I almost never carry a race vest for races of 50 miles or less – carrying nothing more than a handheld water bottle, a gel or two, maybe an EPIC Bar, and whatever’s on my back. This allows me to move all the more easily and remain nimble & unhindered over technical descents and upright and unimpeded on uphill climbs.

Additionally, because I only have water and a gel or two bouncing around, I no longer experience bloating or upset stomach mid-run. This really hasn’t been a huge issue for me in the past, but it has come up a few times; when it did it was entirely debilitating and I know that it’s a common discomfort for endurance and ultra-endurance athletes.

Furthermore, I’ve noticed a slight increase in my propensity for recovery, most notably in the level of muscular soreness I feel post-run. This is most likely due to the fact that my body is not producing nearly as much lactic acid as it would be if it were fueling entirely on carbohydrate stores.

There are other purported benefits, like increased mental clarity and alertness, of which I have not noticed a tangible difference. Ultimately, I still feel like I’ve run 30 miles when I’m done running 30 miles, like I’ve run 50 miles when I’ve covered 50 miles.

Drawbacks/Negative Results –

I’ve already mentioned my distaste for the flavor, but there are a few other setbacks I’ve made note of over the past year:

First, if you haven’t cut your carb intake, you may experience an upset stomach. For example, last spring I had just encountered Skratch Labs Hydration Mix and Portables. Most of the Portables recipes are in rice cake form, and because I was experimenting with recipes, I had been eating a LOT of rice in the week or two prior to my long run. I won’t go into the gruesome details, but ultimately I stopped several times on the way home from the trailhead.

Second, the packaging, like I explained earlier, can really only be held in the pocket of a race vest. Functionally, for me, that doesn’t work so well. I’ve resorted, then, to only have VESPA packets available at Drop Bag or Crew Accessible points.

Third, and probably the most important, is that hydration plays a HUGE part in the entirety of fat burning, and therefore in the use of VESPA. Essentially, from my limited understanding of the process, ketosis requires an abundance of electrolytes (primarily in the form of sodium chloride, salt). Without active supplementation, this takes sodium and other salts away from the muscles (which use electron shedding/collection from sodium and potassium to contract and expand muscle cells/bundles) bones, and liver. This also affects your ability to thermo-regulate via sweat. The first few times I used VESPA, I was not a master at hydration, and as such, suffered irreparably from dehydration and cramps. At about the 30 mile mark of the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, for example, I began to experience what can only be described as a series of muscle cramps which felt as if someone were playing my muscle strands like a rhythm guitar. By the end of the race, because I had failed to properly hydrate, my calf muscles twitched involuntarily and eventually seized up; it felt like a grapefruit or softball had taken their place. So long as you heed the warning on VESPA’s website, though, you can pretty easily avoid this kind of discomfort.

Conclusion –

Accepting that VESPA’s product, like any other product will have negatives and drawbacks, and based on my personal experience, I’ve concluded that VESPA is a product of note to say the least. On the whole, I feel that the benefits (and subsequent consequences of those benefits) of VESPA far outweigh the drawbacks – so much so that I use, and will continue to use into the foreseeable future to harvest fat as fuel, VESPA’s product for long runs and on race day (I limit my use to only these two parameters in an effort to continue to expand my fat and carb burning efficiency, and most of my training runs do not exceed two hours).

If you have any questions regarding my experience with, my review on, or VESPA itself, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you with an answer as soon as possible. Otherwise, for more information or to order your box of VESPA, please visit www.vespapower.com or email info@vespapower.com.


Cheers, and Happy Trails,

 Product Details:

From the VESPA website: “Shake and consume one pouch of VESPA CV-25 or VESPA JR 45 minutes prior to athletic activity. You can consume VESPA with water or your favorite electrolyte drink. For endurance events and training lasting longer than 2 hours consume VESPA every 2-3 hours”.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.**


  • FilteredWater

  • Honey

  • Royal Jelly (240mg)

  • Citric acid

  • Bee propolis (120mg)

  • Wasp extract (100mg)

  • Ascorbic acid

Product: VESPA CV-25

Type: Supplement

Serving Size: 1 Packet (80ml)

Calories: 18

Calories from Fat: 0

Carbohydrate: 5g





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