December is a time for many to be festive and jolly, but excess often comes into the equation. Why not for a couple of weeks? A great way to counter this is use your extra free time in December to get some good base training in. That is exactly what South African Ultra running ace, Caroline Wöstmann does. It’s important to be aware of what you are consuming though, hear more on this episode of 32Gi Sports Nutrition.
Welcome to this week’s edition of 32Gi Sports Nutrition, I’m Mr Active, David Katz. It’s a great pleasure once again to welcome Caroline Wöstmann onto the show. We chatted to her in the build-up to the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon which she went and won. Double defending champion there. Then as the defending champion she went to the Comrades Marathon, nearly got over the line. Finished second this time.
I’m sure she’ll be back in 2017; we’ll get into that a little bit later. First of all, Caroline, great to catch up with you. We’re at the KPMG Sun Mile launch. A mile is a little bit short for you though, but an exciting idea and event they’re putting on.
Caroline Wöstmann: Yes, thanks David, it’s great to be back on the show again. The Mile sounds like a fantastic race to try and get a bit of speed training on. So I’m looking forward to taking part in that.
DK: Well, we’re winding down to the end of the year and for a lot of people it’s time to take a vacation and to relax. But for someone who targets ultra marathons, you’re probably well in the swing of gearing up for things again?
December is a great base training opportunity
CW: Yes, I think that for a lot of ultra runners, December is a fantastic time to get some base training. Especially when work quietens down and you have a couple of weeks where you can just focus on some holiday running which is always great. So I’ll definitely be using December for some base building.
DK: Caroline, any sport can get a little bit monotonous, as much as we love it. After Comrades this year you’ve been doing a little bit of triathlon, a little bit of cycling; been enjoying the change of scenery?
CW: Yes, I just absolutely love being fit and healthy and living an active lifestyle. So running isn’t my only passion. But when it does come to the heavy Comrades training, I need to make the choice and the sacrifices of the other sports. I’ve been enjoying doing a bit of triathlon, a bit of cycling as well this half of the year. But from next year it’s going to be more back to running.
DK: Talk about more back to running, near the end of November was the RAC Tough One. Always a very difficult race, 32km, quite hilly. You had quite a good turnout there as well?
CW: Yes, I really had a fantastic day, I always enjoy that race. What I always like is that for people who don’t know, the 94.7 Cycle Challenge and the Tough One double up to have a challenge on its own. Where you can win the two together for the fastest combined time. I really wanted to try and do both of them and see if I could win that prize. I was fortunate to win the Tough One, so that gave me the fastest time to get that prize.
DK: That’s awesome. Looking at December, looking at the holiday time. Being a parent, all of a sudden kids go on holidays, it makes things a little bit more difficult doesn’t it? To keep training and keep getting everything in?
Does December training load afford you to be merry?
CW: I think it’s going to make it easier, to be honest. You don’t need to worry about the school run in the mornings. So that will give me a little bit more time for training in the morning while the kids are sleeping. Usually having to get home from my training run, get the kids to school, I get them late to school more often than not! The teachers aren’t a big fan of that, so I’m looking forward to the holiday period.
DK: In terms of that and you need to keep the kids busy and looking at diets. Going along to Christmas, a lot of people celebrate that, it tends to be a bit of an over-indulgence time of year. Have you got a strategy for taking it easy and mind that you’ve got all this training to do?
CW: You know, I think that’s the benefit of training really hard over December, you don’t need to worry so much about the weight. But nutrition is always important and it’s good to try and eat mainly healthy things. That said, I do think you need to relax a little bit and Christmas is one of those periods. You’re not going to destroy your health by having a week of unhealthy eating. So I think just be jolly and merry over the Christmas season and have a good time.
DK: Caroline, I’m sure by now at the level you compete and pairing diet with exercise, you’ve got a decent idea of how your body handles certain things. That strategy is with you always?
Caroline Wöstmann’s festive season diet secrets
CW: Yes, I know what foods work well for me. I think it actually is the same for most people. Where just eating clean, eating a lot of fruit and a lot of vegetables, your meats, your dairy, just having a well-rounded, balanced diet. Staying away from the refined carbohydrates and the sugars. That seems to work for me and I think that generally that’s considered a healthy diet.
DK: The way you train, obviously you train a lot for an ultra, but also the way you eat, does that filter back to your children? Are they active? Are they inspired by what they see you do?
CW: You know, I make sure that my children do live an active lifestyle. They often complain that they don’t want to go to their swimming lessons or they don’t want to do exercise which I think is normal. But they do enjoy being active kids and they do live a healthy lifestyle. Because at home we do try and eat healthy. I do encourage it and I think that they will grow up with that. They’ll take that forward into their adult years, I hope.
DK: Caroline, 2017, of course you had some very big highs in 2016. Comrades, not being able to defend that, as tough as that race is, would have been a bit of a low. But going into 2017, what are the big ambitions, what will we see you racing earliest in 2017?
Gearing up for Comrades 2017
CW: I think my main focus for 2017 is going to be Comrades. Because I did feel a little bit disappointed about my result. So I would like to go back and try and redeem myself and do what I wanted to do. That would be my main focus.
But just leading up to that I think I’ll do as many races as possible, not to race, but just to take part and have fun with the running community. Because it really is such an amazing community in South Africa. Every weekend there’s races, there’s social runners and it’s just so much fun to be part of that. I’ll be pretty much doing every single weekend race that I can. Not to race like I said, but just to be part of it.
DK: That’s a big bit of advice for people isn’t it? Depending what your goal is, it’s great. We have so many races, especially up here in the Highveld where we both live. But you need to be cognisant of the fact that the other races aren’t your goal. You need to not go and race them too hard because that can then impact your goal race.
CW: Yes, exactly. I think that knowing that and being aware of it means that you can still go to the races. Just have a certain pace in mind. Know what your comfortable, easy pace is from your normal everyday training. It might feel easier on race day but you know what you’re training at every day. Just try and run the races at that slower easier pace for the majority of them. So you can save your legs for the ones that really count.
Caroline’s best festive season training/diet tip
DK: Caroline, lastly, for people out there, as you said, you train a lot, so you do eat clean. But it is the festive season, what advice would you give people about eating and maintaining their fitness. Because a lot of people get back here, we have the Dischem Half Marathon very early in the year. People don’t want to completely lose it, what would be your best bit of advice?
CW: Like I said, December is the perfect time to do a lot of running. Because you’re on leave, you don’t have those pressures from work. You can really meet up with a bunch of your friends, do some social runs during the week that you wouldn’t be able to do normally when you’re working.
I’d advise people to be even more active than usual and just enjoy the Christmas season. As far as the food and that, I think there are plenty of healthy options; turkey is actually a pretty healthy option. So you can still have your vegetables and your meats and all of that. Just in the festive, Christmas way.
DK: And it helps you get a sleep-in afterwards! But turkey is a fantastic option. Thank you very much to Caroline Wöstmann. Always great catching up with her here on 32Gi Sports Nutrition. But from myself, Mr Active, David Katz, we’ll catch up with you again next week.