We kick-start 2019 with a chat to South African Ultra-running icon, Charnè Bosman. On this episode of the 32Gi Sports Nutrition podcast, she chats to us about her new adventure; with the recently lunched Murray & Roberts Running Club.
David Katz: It’s an absolute great pleasure to welcome a multiple champion onto our podcast today. It’s South African distance runner, Charnè Bosman, of course a winner of the Comrades Marathon. She’s been running at elite levels for quite some time, an international athlete.
A recent move to the new club formed in South Africa, which is the Murray & Roberts Running Club, coming out of the old KPMG. Charnè, you’ve been with Nedbank for the last, since I think 2014, a refreshing change for you to join a team, a new set-up. You must be quite excited?
Charnê Bosman: Yes, I must say it’s only been decided recently to go with Murray & Roberts, but I think I made the right choice. I’m really looking forward to 2019. Like I said yesterday also, the colours are black and yellow, I started running my first Comrades in 2013, and Comrades is such a great part of my life. That’s what I train for and that’s what I’m going to train for this year also. Murray & Roberts has got the black and yellow colours and that’s the same as the Comrades and that’s near to my heart.
I’m looking forward, it’s a new year, it’s a new club and I’m looking forward to working with them. I’m just grateful to them to be part of this team. I must just also say, I just want to thank Nedbank also for the last four years, for what they’ve done for me. It was just time to move on and like I said, it’s time for a change and that’s what I did this year.
Age really is just a number
DK: Charnè, I think it’s a great opportunity and it’s going to be fantastic because there’s been this great upliftment in this competition amongst distance female runners in South Africa. But just personally looking at you and your running, people who follow you on social media; you’re running all these races, you’re competing with women much younger than you and you’re right at the top end of the field, almost every time you race. How do you maintain such a high level?
CB: I think David; I started running when I was 16. I started with 800m, moving up slowly to a marathon and then I only ran my first marathon when I was 28-years-old, and my first Comrades when I was 37-years-old. I’ve been blessed with a long running career and I’m so glad for that.
I think the biggest thing I tell myself every day, I don’t look at age. I don’t look at that number. I just try to focus on what I have to do and not thinking about how old I am and try to do my best every day. I think even when you get older, there’s some stuff you need to do; there’s strength training and look at your recovery, lots of ice baths and really look what you eat, get enough sleep.
You really need to look at different things that I didn’t look at before when I was younger. That’s really why I still can compete against athletes that’s younger than me. I still ran in December with a hard training week, I still ran with 79 minutes and a hard week of training. It just shows you, sometimes people think age, you need to get slower when you get older, but it’s not. I want to prove to them it’s not the case. You can get stronger the older you get and that’s what I want to do.
How to adapt your diet as you get older
DK: Charnè you continue to prove that to people, but another great point you touched on there is that you didn’t run a marathon until 28. A lot of people try to pick up the distance too soon and I think that’s some valuable advice for younger athletes out there.
DK: Looking at older athletes, you talked about having the importance of recovery and changing your diet; how have you adjusted over the years, your diet, as you’ve gotten older and changed the level and the distance of your running?
CB: I think when I was younger; I didn’t care what I ate. I just ate sugar and stuff like that, but when I got older, even in the last year, I concentrated more on getting the real clean stuff into my body. The smoothies and I don’t eat too much bread and stuff.
Sometimes there are days when you’re stuck in a place where you can’t get something else to eat, but 95%, 98% of my diet, I try to put the right fuel into my body. Because I see myself, like I said before, it’s almost like a Ferrari. If you put the wrong petrol into your car, you won’t go far, and the older you get, you must also look what you eat.
Enough sleep also, it’s so, so important, so I really look at my diet. Eating the clean stuff, getting the right fresh fruit and veggies and the right protein, it’s so important to look at your diet. I think it’s played a major role in the last year for me, still to compete at that level.
Charnè’s best ulra-running tips
DK: Charnè, looking at racing specifically, are there some tips, what do you do, for people out there, specifically I’m going to touch on women or older runners as they get to that veteran level, what sorts of things do you do when you race to maintain your energy levels?
CB: The first thing, it’s not energy levels, but to have a positive mind-set. If you go into a race, like I said before, firstly you need to have a positive mind-set. If you have a positive mind you can conquer anything in life. Even going into a race, I need to eat the right stuff beforehand and also have the right nutrition. It’s so important to pack the stuff that works for you.
Don’t try new stuff on the day. Try it before a race, in your training and see if it works for you. Sometimes things will work for your friend, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. It’s so important, even if you’re getting older, if somebody tells you this thing is working for me, don’t try it on the race day. Rather try it on a training session and then see if it works for you. That’s so important.
G-Shots – Charnè’s little super-booster
DK: Tell me, I know that you’re a big fan of the 32Gi G-Shot, caffeine, is that something you utilise quite a bit?
CB: Yes, I must say I like the caffeine shot. I will take it in the later part of my race. I really think works for me. Not in the beginning of a race but really from halfway through, I like my caffeine shot, it works for me. Once again, people must experiment with that also and make sure it works for them, but it really works for me. That’s why I’m a believer in taking it in the last part of my race. I can feel the kick it gives me, so it makes a difference in my race.
DK: Another great point we do harbour on about which Charnè touched on again, that you must trial things in training before you do attempt them in races. You mentioned at the start of the podcast Comrades is a big goal for you again. It’s become such a part of your life over the last five to six years, over the last couple of years, you’ve won one.
But the emergence of the local South African talent, yes, you have a history and you started and you came through running structures but a lot of our women; if you look at Caroline Wostmann, Cherry, if you look at Ann Ashworth winning for Team Massmart last year, yes, they were good runners, but they only realised later, or a little bit later that they were really able to compete at the top end.
Then you throw in the ladies who come from overseas, of course Gerda Steyn is very young, she’ll be in the mix again, we look at the ladies coming from overseas, it’s a very competitive race. What do you think has seen this emergence and the growth of the women’s event as opposed to the men’s?
Ladies set to steal Comrades 2019 show…again
CB: I think we were always believers, maybe earlier, if I think back in 2013 when I ran my first Comrades Marathon, the Russians dominated the race. I think we started believing that Comrades is just for foreigners. Since Caroline won the race in 2015, it made a change in all of our lives. I think Caroline made the stepping stone for all of us and made us believe that we can all win this race. It’s not just for Russians and overseas athletes to take this title from us.
Like I said before, Comrades is a proudly South African race and when I came in 2016, it was the happiest time of my life winning Comrades 2016. Then a year later it was Camille Herron, then Ann ran a brilliant race in 2018, winning the race again. I think all of us are so hungry, and I think Gerda Steyn is also young and up and coming.
Every athlete is different. Some of them started in the late stage and it worked for them but I don’t know what training they did. Maybe they also did training like when I was younger, doing more speed and focusing not just on long distances. I think most of our athletes these days are putting a lot of cross training into our training programmes and that also makes a big difference.
I must say, this year’s Comrades Marathon is going to be a really, I think it’s going to be a big highlight. It’s much bigger than the men’s race, and I’m looking forward to it. Competition normally brings the best out of every athlete, and it’s nice to see that there’s so many South African athletes participating in the Comrades Marathon and trying to win this race. I’m very glad that this race is a proudly South African race and South African women’s racing has been phenomenal the last five years.
Team Charnè and Lindsey back together
My main focus will also be this year’s Comrades Marathon and I’m looking forward to this race. If I can just mention, in 2015/16 I was with Lindsey Parry, so I decided to go back with him. He’s going to help me again. He started helping me again. So I’m looking forward to do the stuff that worked for me in the past, and that’s why I decided to go back to Lindsey to help me plan my races better.
The one thing I did the last two years, I did my own training and sometimes you need the mentor out there, just to look at your stuff and tell you, “No, you’re doing too much,” or, “You’re doing too little.” I’m proud to have him back in my running career and just to tell me, “No, you can’t do this race as a training run,” because sometimes you go into a race and the training run ends up racing. At least I got somebody that will tell me, “You need to run this marathon at this pace and if you go faster the next week we’re going to take it very easy.” That’s the one positive point in my 2019 planning is to have a coach again.
DK: That is fantastic news to hear as well Charnè, and that’s a good bit of advice for any runner out there. Yes, maybe not everyone can afford professional coaching; but if you’re part of a club structure, if you have a lot of friends who run, take that advice on board.
If someone tells you you’re doing too much, take it. Especially if you’re going to be a novice this year at Comrades. Everyone has been there and everyone makes that mistake. They think they know better, you don’t. It’s great to have that outlet.
Charnè, really looking forward to seeing how you go this year. Congrats on the move to Murray & Roberts Running Club. Great to hear that Lindsey is back, and hopefully we can catch up again just before Comrades, all the best for your build-up.
CB: Thank you so much, thank you for having me, and I will just give it my best this year. I just want to thank Murray & Roberts for making me part of their team. I’m looking forward to 2019. Thank you David.