When Health24.com, where I work as a content producer, was contacted by the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) to join them as media partner for the 2015 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, my eyes lit up. I have always wanted to run the Old Mutual Two Oceans, and maybe there was a chance I could get involved via this joint venture.
I shouldn't have worried. Soon after the partnership was sealed, SSISA, who had caught wind of my secret wish, offered to put me through their half marathon (21.1 km) OptiFit programme – not only to give me the chance to run in the "World's Most Beautiful Race", but also to show other starter-runners how they can optimise their bodies (and minds) with the right training, shoes, mindset and diet.
Aptly called #OMTOMINSPIRATION (the official hashtag for this campaign), it is my inspiration to face this enormous challenge – as one of the lucky ones with SSISA holding my hand all the way.
Starting today, I am going to share my ups, downs, lessons and inspiration with you every week as I prepare for the run.
Image: Yentl doing a fitness test-run at the SSISA Fitness centre in Newlands
How it all started – for me
Although I work at Health24, I’m not exactly the world’s healthiest or fittest person. I’m definitely carrying a few extra kilos and my eating habits aren’t what they should be. I am also not a "fitness freak" and doubt if I will ever be.
So, when the SSISA offered me a place in this year’s Old Mutual Two Oceans half marathon, I was nervous. Excited, yes, but mainly nervous. I hadn’t even run half that distance before, and 8 weeks didn’t seem nearly long enough to turn myself from a 20-something party girl into an actual runner . . .
. . . But I said yes anyway.
SSISA also generously offered three Health24.com Facebook fans the opportunity to join me on the half-marathon OptiFit programme. Welcome Deirdre Vrede, Martin Janse van Rensburg and Bronwyn Maree! Nobody said it was going to be easy, but it is going to be fun!
On joining the OptiFit programme, runners undergo a basic health assessment; attend a workshop; receive a starter-pack; get discounts on gear; select an extra, free assessment (either with a podiatrist or dietitian); and get guest passes to train at the gorgeous SSISA’s Wellness and Fitness Centre in Newlands, Cape Town. Click here to see what OptiFit encompasses.
Video: Yentl's introduction to OptiFit
I saw the podiatrist (who advised me on the right running shoes), a dietitian and a sports psychologist. We will be bringing you info on how they assess and advise runners, so that we can highlight just how important all these aspects are when training for a race.
I also had to undergo a dreaded DEXA scan (duel-energy X-ray absorptiometry facilitated by the University of Cape Town's Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) Unit) that registers bone density, and fat and lean mass distribution throughout my body. More about that in a later post.
All these exciting tests, checks, forms, scans and questions made me take a long, hard look at my health and lifestyle, and the science behind "fixing" it. In the next couple of weeks SSISA and I will be bringing you more details about all the programmes and tests, why they are done, and how they can help you perform at your best.
You will also see me out running – sometimes on the Old Mutual Two Oceans half-marathon route and oftentimes uphill – so watch out for tips on this too!
I will also write about my training races, and the ongoing support I receive from SSISA's specialists. Mark this spot!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Yentl_Barros, as well as my team mates Martin - @Martinbeta1 and Bronwyn - @BronskiBean
Read: Week 1 of my OptiFit training
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 Health24.com.
Follow all OMTOM updates and remember to add the hashtag #OMTOMInspiration!
On Twitter @Health24com, @2OceansMarathon, Runners World and @Sportscience_sa