Winning the senior woman 8km race at SA Cross Country Trials this past weekend meant so much to me. Achieving my current form was not an easy task, as there were many challenges that I to had face.
The second half of 2014 was very hard for me. I picked up an injury towards the end of July last year, and was forced to take six weeks off – no running at all. As a result I missed out on the SA Cross Country Championships in George. I decided to strengthen myself by focusing more on core and strength training.
Though I haven’t won a race since February last year (SA 10km Championships) it did not deter me at all, and made me work harder to get my form back. Nothing makes you appreciate running as much as not being able to!
My preparation for this race started in November last year. During the festive season I was training every single day, building up my mileage. I decided to attend a training camp in Johannesburg with my training group, which consist mostly of school athletes. It was at the camp that I discovered my fitness was picking up nicely, and I knew I stood a good chance of winning SA Cross Country Trials.
The most challenging for me is managing my sport and my work so that I am able to do both to the best of my ability. I teach social science, life orientation and creative arts at Vorentoe High School.
This is a school which I am proud to be associated with, as they were awarded the School Sport Team of the Year at last year’s SA Sports Awards, and have an abundance of talented middle-distance athletes.
I must say that it gives me such pleasure to inspire, motivate and help these athletes to achieve their goals. This year I have added responsibilities at the school, as I want to be more involved with the sports at the school.
So, apart from teaching, I am also the hurdles coach, the athletics co-ordinator and hockey manager. As a result, the last few weeks leading up to SA trials have been tough, to say the least.
Therefore I am very proud of my achievements thus far, because I know that I am at a disadvantage when it comes to competing at this level, compared to full-time professional athletes, as they have the privilege of a stress free environment, a lifestyle that compliments their profession; in terms of adequate rest before and after workouts, sufficient time to include strength training, etc.
However, I use this as motivation – it pushes me to be better, to work harder to be successful. In the end running is not just a job to me, it’s what I love and enjoy doing and what drives me in every other aspect of my life.
I see these challenges as an opportunity and in doing so prove that it can be done, it is possible. I try to be positive about my situation and I work around it. Like they say – where there is a will there is a way!
Photo 1 caption: Nolene Conrad on her way to winning the 2015 SA Cross Country Trials on Saturday 31 January, 2015, at the Kagiso Sports Complex outside Krugersdorp. Conrad credits holiday season training and overcoming obstacles for her early season victory. Photo: Supplied
(With editing by gsport)