Lauren Van Der Vyver

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

As I am sitting here typing this intro Paolo nutini's "Iron Sky" is playing in the background. On my left is a huge box that has magazines that range back to 2009. There are titles such as Elle, Marie Claire, Stuff and runners world. I guess what I am trying to say is when I immerse myself into something I really get into it. 

The fashion magazines are from my fashion days when fashion was a huge part of my life. Make no mistake, I am still fashionable but now everybody wants to be a fashionista or a stylist or a style icon. I have never been one to go with the crowd, so I put on my grahpic tights and plug in my music and you will see on the streets. Still a fashionista but in a different way...

When I visit the physio there is always a pile of running magazines that are given away for free. I love reading this magazine because from cover to cover its all about running in South Africa, road running in South Africa. How lucky are we that we get to pick the brain of one of their employees, as she calls herself...

The Running Scribe

My affair with running did not quite go as smoothly as I hoped. After landing a position at Modern Athlete Magazine, South Africa’s largest running and athletics publication, in 2012, as a junior writer, I decided to up the ante by lacing up and taking running more seriously. Before, my running had comprised of running during a hockey or tennis match. I was never running fit – just game fit. And yes, there’s a difference. So in December 2011, I laced up and decided to trudge around the block with my ever-white takkies. I was doing relatively well, keeping my rhythm in check, until I fell on a small step on the pavement in my suburb and couldn’t get up. I would find out hours later than my right hip was fractured putting me in crutches for a good two months. I did nothing but curl my biceps if I needed a drink from the kitchen. But with stubborn rest and the promise of lacing up as soon as I felt ready, I came back stronger and hit the road. It was a little easier with colleagues being endurance junkies, too. While I wasn’t contemplating marathons quite yet, there was an unspoken ‘thing’ in the office: you either ran, cycled or hit the gym a few times a week. That helped me develop into what I’ve always been: a sport-mad girl.

I didn’t like the re-introduction. It was hard on my lungs and I suffered with bouts of shin splints early on. But I entered my first 10km in Jo’burg and crossed an hour and twenty minutes later, suddenly motivated that I could accomplish the distance. Any distance. And it got better and better and with Modern Athlete as my backdrop, I was continuously motivated by the athletes I interviewed on a weekly basis. It was the promise that I could progress too. And I did.

Covering and photographing the finish line of the 2012 Comrades Marathon helped me with my discipline, too. Watching thousands of athletes cross the finish line after enduring 89km was something I couldn’t comprehend. I also couldn’t comprehend the 4am wake-up calls, the 60km training runs and the 11-hour days that most of the field would put themselves through. If anything, it put my running and fitness as a priority. No, I wasn’t (and am still not) thinking about running the bigger stuff just yet. But, it made me stand up for my own journey, stay disciplined and eat and workout to keep my health in check. I lost around 12kg since graduating in 2011. And instead of student pizzas and toasted sandwiches, I made sure I kept my eating habits in line with what I wanted out of life and out on the road. A lighter Me meant that my running rhythm smoothed out, the shin splints went away when I targeted some strength training for my legs and core and while I still adore beer and pizza, I’ve learnt to manage it all. I feel healthier and stronger and only when you’re in that space, you wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

After trying out different trails, road events, interviewing amazing athletes like Chad Le Clos, Comrades champion Ludwick Mamabolo and middle distance greats in the Phalula Twins, I knew that nothing felt as good as being fit and happy with what your body could do. I don’t think I’ve even mastered my potential yet either. With my weeks now filled with running, gym, 5-a-side soccer and CrossFit sessions with my colleagues, there are no excuses to push myself a little more. Chatting and writing other people’s stories has pushed me to continue writing my own. I’ll find different races, different settings, different challenges all for that finish line feeling. It’s addictive and it’s a sport that challenges your personal self. You can do it anywhere, alone or with a friend, and once you find that blissful pace and rhythm, it’s easy to keep coming back for more.  Sometimes it’s a run with blasting tunes and sometimes it’s the road’s throb throb throb when you hit a downhill. Either way, it gives you a sense that your body and self is meant to do something so much more. I’m so excited to keep using that ability. 


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