Updated 05 March 2015

My 8 week journey to the 21km Two Oceans Marathon – week 3

I always tell people that running is not something that comes naturally to me. I don’t wake up craving a long run, but I am doing it and I'm making progress. Here's how my third week of training went.


For me running is an effort; it involves mental preparation and even sometimes pre-run anxiety. But three weeks in I’m able to cover longer distances on my own, without the support of the group. I know this because this week I ran 12km by myself. I repeat, I ran 12km by myself!

Being able to run on my own is an achievement because I normally enjoy the social support that comes with running in a group. I also depend on my new running buddies for motivation, to tell me to keep going when I want to quit. Running in a group helps me push myself to do things I never thought I could do. But this week, I managed on my own.

For 12 kilometres I had only myself to rely on for motivation – and it was slightly easier than I had anticipated.

I realised that I’ve become stronger physically, and I’ve ditched some of the anxiety I had when started out, but my fears have not completely vanished.

At the start of the programme, when I was fortunate enough to meet with Clinton Gahwiler, a Sports Psychologist from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA), I was probably about five times more nervous than I am now.

My biggest fears included not being able to finish a 21km run and I was close to hyperventilating after driving along the Two Oceans race route. It seemed like a very long way with some very steep hills. I wondered, as I expect many runners do, what I had got myself into: it seemed impossible to even walk that distance, never mind run.

This is where a chat with Clinton Gahwiler came in handy. There really is a strong mental aspect to running – your mind is needs to be trained just as much as your body.

With regard to finishing a race, timing yourself and impressing others, he told me to focus only on what I can control. What happens on race day will happen on race day, but I had the ability only to control my preparation up to that point: how I trained, how I ate, how I thought.

Stressing about things outside my control wasn’t just pointless; it was bad for me, so I stopped doing it.

You might find it funny that I was also afraid of having a heart attack, but apparently it’s pretty common concern for new-time runners. Clinton Gahwiler heard this before and he put me at ease by sharing the long term health benefits of running with me. 

He also told me something which I think all runners need to know: only do what you can. Just because your friend can run 21kms in 90 minutes doesn’t mean you can. You should run your race, and be proud of what you can achieve.

More about mental discipline and group running in this video:

Get involved:

Share your running experience with us on twitter by making use if the following hashtag #OMTOMInspiration. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Yentl_Barros, as well as my team mates Martin - @Martinbeta1, Neil - @NeilCarrick and Bronwyn - @BronskiBean.

Be inspired during the 2015 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon

#OMTOMInspiration is a joint venture between the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA), Runner's World and

Follow all OMTOM updates and remember to add the hashtag #OMTOMInspiration!

On Twitter @Health24com@2OceansMarathon, Runners World and @Sportscience_sa

Yentl's journey this far:

My 8 week journey to the 21km Two Oceans Marathon - Week 2

My 8 week journey to the 21km Two Oceans Marathon - Week 1

My 8 week journey to the 21k Two Oceans Marathon - Week 0




Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.