René Kalmer has been at the forefront of road running in South Africa for many years. Having battled back from a serious hip injury, she is set to tackle her first major Ultra-marathon, at the 2019 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. Hear more about her motivational journey here…
Thanks for joining us once again on 32Gi Sports Nutrition, I’m Mr Active, David Katz, joined today by an icon of South African distance running, René Kalmer. She’s come up through the ranks over the years and she’s set to make her debut this weekend in one of South Africa’s two major ultra-marathons, of course the Comrades Marathon and then the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon will be the 50th edition this year. René, welcome onto the podcast. I think you’ve picked a good edition to make your debut in.
It’s time “to run the real deal”
René Kalmer: Thanks a lot David for having me; it’s always nice chatting to you. Yes, I’m pretty excited about this weekend’s Two Oceans Marathon where I’ll be running my first ultra at Two Oceans. I’m really nervous but also at the same time very excited.
DK: René, ultra might be a new distance, I know you did Om Die Dam in the build-up but it was really like a training run, but Old Mutual, the Two Oceans Marathon isn’t something new to you. You’ve run a lot of the half marathons, you’ve had some good success and it just is a natural progression now for you. You’ve got to that stage in your career where especially being a South African runner; it’s time to step up.
RK: Yes, definitely and also just to experience the world’s most beautiful marathon. I’ve done nine half marathons so I think it’s long overdue to run the real deal.
DK: René, you’ve pretty much run everything and been right at the top end through track, through shorter distances, 10 up to 21 and then over the marathon. Then you’ve battled with injury a bit, you went and had a daughter; all of that sets you back a bit.
But all of a sudden you’ve got some good rhythm going, good routine, I’ve been following some of your times. Your times are getting back to some of your best, are you finding that your running is back to a very strong or a very good space where you feel you can be competitive again?
How to get the joy back into your running
RK: I’m hoping that. I really had a tough two/three years battling with a hip injury, eventually having surgery and right after that having Karli. I must say my come back has been difficult and there’s been a lot of ups and downs along the way.
But the main thing for me is that I really enjoy my running again, and I think I also need to thank Karli for that. I just realised over the past two years what’s really important in life, is not really how you race but just to experience life through the eyes of a child again.
DK: Talking about that René, yes, there’s a lot of moms out there who have had children. I know Irvette Van Zyl, you two have been competing against each other for years and years and now she’s also had two little boys, but it does change.
How having children can improve your running
I think for a lot of women out there they need to understand, it doesn’t have to change completely. You can still enjoy your running but like you said, to have a child is part of that now, it almost helps to grow that experience into something new.
RK: Yes definitely and I think I have more appreciation for people out there having kids and stuff. Unfortunately my pregnancy and even returning to running after pregnancy wasn’t really great. I battled a lot with hormones and stuff, not working like they used to, battling with weight and stuff. But I think, I really have more appreciation for the people out there and I also can relate with what your average runners are suffering or experiencing with.
DK: I think that’s some great advice for average runners as well. Often we think we are individual cases when we’re struggling with something but at any level, a lot of people do have these problems, so you’re not alone in them.
Loving her advanced role at M&R
The thing is about being patient and being persistent and working through them. Talking about that René, you’ve run for different clubs and teams over the years, you now have quite an active role, not just as a runner, but you also do help behind the scenes with Murray & Roberts Club which has been a fantastic edition to the running scene this year.
RK: Yes, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Murray & Roberts management team. I think that’s also just great to realise that you’re also good at something else, and you can also add value to something else except for running. I’ve really been enjoying working with them, working with the athletes and everything. It’s going to be Murray & Roberts debut at Oceans and we’re very excited for that. I believe we have a very strong team, so we’re looking forward to it.
DK: Great line up going down to the Two Oceans, I think it’s going to be a great women’s race and a great little prelude, I think a lot of the women will go on and run Comrades Marathon. René I want to ask you now about nutrition and diet. Yes, you said you’re a mother now, I know at this stage, you’re probably not breastfeeding but it does change your ability to eat. Often you don’t have the same sort of time, but specifically you’ve now gone from being your main distance maybe as a marathon to making that bridge to ultra.
Factoring Protein into ultra-distance fuelling
How have you planned and changed around that extra distance in terms of changing your nutrition? I think for a lot of people who will be running their first ultra and have done a lot of marathons, they’re going to be in that same boat.
RK: Yes, I must say especially when it comes to marathon running and ultra-running, nutrition plays a vital role. When you race track and 10km and stuff, you kind of can let it slip but with ultra-running you really need to be, it’s very important to also focus on nutrition. Because it’s really important for recovery and the better you can recover after hard training, the harder you can train and in that way improve. That’s really, I’ve been focusing on that and also experiencing with taking protein on a run and stuff like that. What I’ll definitely suggest is not to try anything new on race day because that will come and bite you in the run.
René’s race week tips
DK: That’s advice everyone gives and there’s a reason for it, we say it all the time, don’t try anything new. I presume you’ve done your training, you know what your diet plan is already. How are you going to handle this last week? Is there stuff you start to cut out of your diet and the few days before, do you maybe have less fibre? I don’t know if you reduce caffeine and you get a better benefit on race day, what are some of those tricks you use?
RK: My focus is basically just throughout my whole preparation to race day, leading up to race day, is just cut out all refined carbs and sugars like your bread and sugars and stuff. Except for that, I don’t really have a specific diet and I’m not really planning to cut out anything in the week up to Oceans but just basically keeping everything as normal because that’s what I’m used to.
DK: One last thing before I let you go today, caffeine, a lot of people do try it and again, we’ve told people don’t try anything new on race day, it doesn’t work for everyone, personally do you utilise caffeine on race day?
RK: No, I’ll just have my normal cup of coffee on the morning of the race, and that’s basically just to wake me up from the 3:00am wake up call for Oceans on Saturday morning.
DK: As an added benefit that it does help to fire and get the fats in your body going. René, thank you so much for your time, loving following your journey, both with your daughter and through Murray & Roberts. We’ll hopefully catch up with you again, but have an absolutely great experience at Two Oceans. You’ll know better than most, whatever happens on the day, you will enjoy the experience. One day it can go well, one day you might not have a great race. From our side of 32Gi, all the best on race day.
RK: Thanks a lot and that’s the plan, just to go out there and enjoy it and to earn my Adidas race shirt.