With the Constantia Village 15 km run taking place at the start of the year, this is a perfect opportunity to test whether your preparation for bigger races is on track, and to fine-tune your speed if you’re aiming for a personal best. The 15 km distance is also a perfect stepping stone for those who have never run further than 10 km and would like to move up to a half marathon.

Whether you are a first timer or seasoned veteran, back-of-the-packer or racing snake, there are a few timeless universal training rules to keep in mind. We asked running expert Coach Kathleen from Active4life for a few tips that will help you hit the starting line healthy, strong and race-ready.

1 | Train like you would eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

One of the biggest mistakes I regularly see people make is doing too much too soon. Their crazy training schedule normally lasts less than a week and in many cases ends in illness or injury. The rule of thumb is to increase your current training by no more than 10% a week at a time. You will progress a lot faster by rather training less, but consistently.

POV shot of sportswoman checking smartphone after running workout outdoors. Using fitness app for summary of the run.

2 | Sleep is the best and cheapest supplement you can add to your training. The majority of muscle repair and regeneration happens while we sleep, especially during the deep sleep phases when the human growth hormone is released. Sleep is also vital for maintaining a healthy immune system. You don’t want to be missing training (or even the race!) due to illness.

Wake up of an asleep girl stopping alarm clock on the bed in the morning

3 | Train to race. There are many wonderful training theories around, but at the end of the day, the simplest and most effective method is to simulate as closely as possible what you need to do in the race. So if the race is long, train long; if it’s hilly, train hilly; and if it’s going to be a hot day, train in the heat. Regularly train at your goal pace and faster, test out your race gear and practise your planned nutrition and hydration strategy.

Side view shot of a sports woman running uphill on rough terrain in a forest.

4 | The Kenyans have a saying, “An empty sack won’t stand up”. A badly fuelled run is not a pleasant experience. Runners need quality fuel and the best source is carbohydrates. Aim to include plenty of root vegetables such as potatoes, grains, legumes and fruit in your diet for optimal performance.

Foods high in carbohydrate on wooden background. Top view

5 | The best day to take off is 2 days before a race. Put those feet up, get in plenty of good nutrition and go to bed early. Then, the day before, do a light 15 to 20 minute jog with a few pick -up sprints.


A young woman sits with a hot drink and her feet up, watching out of the window from the comfort of her own home. She is taking a break from her chores and busy day to day routine to gaze into her garden and wonder.

6 | Don’t ignore warning signs. At the first sign of injury, illness or overtraining, take time-out and seek professional advice. You might lose a few days’ training, but ignoring the signs could result in weeks or even months out of action.


woman runner hold her injured leg on road

7 | A good pair of running shoes is worth the investment. It is almost as serious as buying a new car. Be sure to seek advice from an expert running dealer who will allow you to test run a variety of different models.

Female runner tying her shoes preparing for a run a jog outside

8 | Finally; running, like life, is a team sport. Find ways to include your family and friends in your training and racing adventures for many fun filled years of running, laughing and living!

Unusual low angle back view of a group of friends jogging outdoors on a summer afternoon with sun flare

With over 12 years of coaching experience and 30 years’ competitive athletic experience, Coach Kathleen offers customised training programmes designed to suit each runner’s individual needs. Check out her website at active4life.co.za for more info.

Join the excitement of our annual Constantia Village K-Way Road Race and pre-enter at Cape Union Mart on 4 March(cash only) or 9 and 10 March between 10 am and 3 pm. Limited entries will also be available on race day before the race from 5 to 6 am.

Plus, visit the Get Set, Feel Good Expo from 4 to 11 March, and learn all there is to know about fitness and healthy living. Check out our website’s Events tab for more information.

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