Back to Basics


The saying goes, “Remember that a 12-minute mile is just as far as a six-minute mile.” Well, over the past couple of months I have developed new respect for this quote. – BY RENÉ KALMER

Four months post my hip surgery, my orthopaedic surgeon finally gave me the green light to start training again. This time, I actually cried happy tears in the corridors of Fourways Life Hospital. The circle was finally complete after a very frustrating 18 months of battling with a mystery hip injury. I was overwhelmed with joy, but at the same time terrified to take the first step of my comeback! What if my hip was still sore? Where do you begin after a five-month layoff?

It took me four days to call my coach to share the good news, and I made peace with the fact that I was once again a beginner runner, starting off with 1min jog/1min walk intervals. Then I was upgraded to 4min jog/1min walk intervals. I was over the moon when I started to hit 4:30min/km pace in my intervals. I haven’t seen Mr 4min (forget about the seconds…) for a really long time on my Garmin watch!

Taking Baby Steps
After four weeks of slowly getting back into running, I was finally allowed to do a 20min non-stop run. Normally, 20 minutes is just part of my warm-up routine, so this was quite an adjustment. Added to that, the first 20min run was scheduled on my birthday and I was all pumped, but my excitement only lasted a few steps. I was 20 weeks pregnant at that time and baby just would not allow mommy to have a comfortable run. I barely dipped under a frustrating 7min/km! A few days later I met hubby, Andre, after work for another shuffle, but after 2km I was begging him to rather walk the rest of the way. Andre could not believe that he would ever hear those words come from my mouth. I now have new respect for beginner runners and finally understand why they sometimes don’t enjoy running as much as I always have: It is hard to run when you are a bit overweight, your joints are hurting, and you find it difficult to breathe.

Thankfully, some runs are definitely more pleasant than others. I enjoyed my first parkrun at Delta Park five months after my surgery. I look back to where I was five months ago, stuck to a Game Ready Ice Machine for two weeks and being on crutches for five weeks. Still, as a former Delta parkrun record holder, it was quite tough to be one of the backmarkers huffing and puffing up the hill – I didn’t even count how many dogs were in front of me, and Andre is enjoying every moment of this pregnancy-joint-comeback attempt, as he says he can finally keep up with me on a run now – but I have learnt to celebrate the small victories on my road to recovery, and to be grateful for mobility again.

Facing a New Reality
Most importantly, I have made peace with the fact that I won’t be able to be one of those mommy’s to be that runs right until they are about to give birth. That’s why I’m really grateful to Uday Raniga for helping me out with an Elliptigo. Basically it is a cross between a bicycle and an elliptical gym machine, designed to simulate the movement of running without the impact on your knees and hips. I truly believe in the benefits of staying active throughout my pregnancy, even if it is just to keep a positive state of mind. The Elliptigo allows me to get my heart rate up without impact on my joints, and the opportunity to train outside instead of stuck inside a gym.

I have also figured out that morning runs are more comfortable. Maybe it is just my imagination – or wishful thinking about the future – but I think my baby enjoys sleeping in as much as her daddy. And even though the ‘Watermelon Lady’ is attracting a lot of attention when training, I’m planning to keep going as long as my body allows it.