We chat to Renier Grobler of the KPMG Running Club on this episode of the 32Gi Sports Nutrition podcast. The ultra-distance runner recently finished 2nd in Zug, Switzerland, and 6th overall in the Wings for Life World Run. Did this prove to be a great tune-up for Comrades 2018?
This is 32Gi Sports Nutrition, I’m Mr Active, David Katz. A great pleasure to welcome someone we spoke to last year onto the podcast, Renier Grobler of the KPMG Running Club. He’s just returned from doing an absolutely fantastic event, based in cities around the world at the same time, the Red Bull Wings for Life World Run. Renier, you were in Zug in Switzerland, just tell us how it came about that you went to do that event and you weren’t at the South African one in Pretoria?
Renier Grobler: Hi David, thanks for having me again on the show, it’s a privilege and an honour. Last year I was the Wings for Life winner in South Africa, the Pretoria leg, and with that I got the opportunity to go overseas. I won two tickets for two to go run in any of the 12 locations over the world. I chose Switzerland to do my Wings for Life run this year.
What Wings for Life is all about
DK: Tell me about that experience. It’s a great concept, not only are you running and it’s for you, a good training run for Comrades, but it’s also for a great cause and to have that behind you must add to the experience?
RG: For sure David, I love the whole concept of the Wings for Life Run. It started in 2014 and the whole thing behind the run is to get in donations for spinal cord injuries, to get a cure for that. You run for those who can’t run, basically and it’s such a big drive behind why I’m doing this as well. It was an awesome experience. Switzerland is a beautiful country and the route that they gave us there was beautiful. We ran in farmlands and next to lakes and in towns, so it was just an amazing experience.
DK: Renier, a great run from you again this year, you were 6th overall, the winner, Aron Anderson, he was running in the United States, I say ‘running,’ but he was a wheelchair entry, got 89.85, a great Comrades warm up that would have been for him. For yourself, for that achievement, I know you were just second, but a great run again. As you said, a bit of a different experience, but you must still be pleased after your finish?
RG: Sure, look, the winner takes it all at these events and a nice trophy up for grabs and also a trip for two, again, overseas next year. So, missed out on that by 600m, but that’s sport and that’s how life goes. I stretched myself a bit. My goal was to run 65km and I went on to 69.5, which gave me a global ranking of 6th overall, which I’m very pleased with. Me and Nicholas Sjöblom, who won the event in Switzerland, we went all out and he managed to finish 4th overall globally. So awesome result, I need to be happy with it.
Great preparation for Comrades 2018
DK: Renier, Comrades 2018, just around the corner, it’s a little bit longer this year. This run, was it a good training run? I know you and Nicholas were pushing each other a bit, did you go out too hard or do you feel that at this stage in your preparations it was just the perfect run?
RG: David, I think it was a good run. I think I didn’t push too hard because the next day the legs weren’t sore and I took four days off from running. We averaged four minutes a km in the end and I did Two Oceans as well four weeks back at 3:52 per km. So I think those two runs is like a tempo effort over the longer distance. I’m sure that would have prepped me nicely for Comrades.
David, we’ve spoken before and you know my dream is to get into that top 10 at Comrades. It’s been a fixation and the last seven years I’ve been basically dedicating my life to it and trying my best to get into that. Let’s see what happens this year. I prefer the down run; I’ve got three good times on the down. The previous down in 2016 I was 18th overall and I did a 5:49. So I’ll just put that in the back of my mind and try and better on that this year.
How each Comrades is a learning experience
DK: Let’s just go back to 2017, you went there, you were in good shape but Comrades is that kind of animal, you just never know how the race is going to be. It wasn’t your best race; I know you struggled a bit with your stomach. What have you learnt from last years’ experience and what are you trying to implement differently?
RG: David, I think you know, there’s such a thin line between getting to the right score and overdoing it in training. I think last year when I went back to the drawing board and just checked my training diaries and that, I think I maybe overcooked it a bit with gyming too much and running too many hard runs at too much of a quicker pace and that’s it. This year I just stepped back a bit. I had a bit of a more conservative build up and start in the beginning of the year. So that’s what I did differently this year and I think at the end of the day it will help a lot.
DK: The running scene is so easy, you just get out, you put shoes on, but there really is so much science to it. The best way, as you pointed out, is to pinpoint what works for you, what doesn’t work for you. Really interested to see how you’re going to go this year. Are you worried about that little bit of extra distance? I know a lot of people are but when you’re running around 90km and you know it’s coming up, you plan for that don’t you?
RG: For sure David and I think running a bit further will maybe suit me as well because I think the further I go, the stronger I get, well, tend to get. I think this will actually benefit me, so I will thrive on that extra km or 1.5km this year.
Chasing a Comrades dream
DK: Renier, what would it mean? That top ten at Comrades is a tremendous achievement for any runner. I know you’re a father now, not long after Comrades last year you became a father. So there’s that sort of new added motivation and just something that comes with becoming a parent. What is it going to mean to you if you achieve that goal finally?
RG: David, I think it would be so amazing. My wife supports me in this and it’s been seven/eight years we’ve been chasing this dream. She just dreams with me and like after last year’s disappointment she said, “No, we’re not going to give up”. I think that support base at home is very much, it’s very important and with the little one being there as well and added to our life, that added support, I think I can go all the way this year.
DK: Renier, just lastly, I know a great relationship between 32Gi and KPMG, Mark Wolff is always there, great support, great ear, lends advice to you guys as a team. What advice would you give to, you’ve got your strategy, you’ve planned it. What advice would you give to other runners, just from your experience, looking at race day nutrition?
Renier’s best Comrades nutritional tip
RG: I think 32Gi has awesome products. I’ve been using the Recovery and the Hydrate in my big build ups. The Hydrate definitely I would recommend that on the day and even to load with it, to keep the body hydrated and drink a lot of fluids. Then on the day I think it’s important to run within yourself and I think to keep hydrated as well. 32Gi has some great products and I’m sure Mark has got some nice podcasts on how nutrition works.
For everyone it differs but there’s an amount of carbs you need to take into your weight ratio and all of that. But I’m sure Mark also shares a lot about that. If people want to know more about that and find out, they can go onto the 32Gi podcasts and I’m sure they’ll get some info on that.
DK: Definitely, 32gi.com, if you’re looking for more information. In the build up to the Old Mutual Two Ocean’s Marathon, there’s some great podcasts with Mark Wolff and that nutrition advice applies to Comrades as well, of course, just a little bit further. Renier, thank you so much for your time, always great chatting and all the best and stay strong, stay healthy and we look forward to seeing you at Comrades.
RG: Thanks David, thanks for having me, such a pleasure talking to you as well.