Glenrose Xaba grabbed our attention when she won the Soweto 10km in 35 minutes (!). We wanted to find out how she did it – and what insight she could share to help improve your running.
Glenrose also won the coveted 2018 SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge Grand Prix series this year, proving not only how much she loves this distance, but that she has managed to consistently perform well throughout the year. “I’ve always loved playing sports, from my football days, but running has been my calling – I absolutely love running,” says Glenrose. We get it. And we love running too! After chatting to her, we realised there were key pointers that we could use to improve our own 10km times.
1/ Rest before race day
“Don’t train hard in the week before your race,” advises Glenrose. “I knew that I could defend my title this year because I had so much rest before the race. I wasn’t training a lot [because] I was busy with my exams,” explains the 23-year-old. She’s in her final year of studying electrical engineering at Tshwane North College, Mamelodi. Although she does advise going for an easy 20-minute jog a day before race day.
2/ Pace yourself
“Race you your own race and don’t focus on another’s. Know how to pace yourself,” says Glenrose. “When I approach 7km, that’s where the race and competition starts.” This is such a great reminder not to start out too fast and make sure you keep reserves for the last 3km – that’s the time to push, according to Glenrose.
3/ Set a goal and stick to it
“Dedicate yourself and aim high! My favourite races are the FNB 10km and the Spar Ladies 10km. My personal best is 33:14, which I ran at the FNB Durban 10km on 14 October 2018. But I’m looking to run a sub-33:00 to 32:00 next year.”
4/ Train with people faster than you
“Join a training group that runs faster than you – that can help you to improve yourself. You need to be patient, stay focused and be positive. Believe in yourself. Set a time you want to run and work hard,” says Glenrose. She does all her running in the morning because the afternoons are too hot.
5/ Strength train
Glenrose’s go-to cross-training tips for running include: “Sit-ups every day for 30 seconds to one minute. Do push-ups and drills, and always stretch.”
6/ Check your nutrition
“Usually, my breakfast on race day is two slices of bread, rooibos tea and a banana. I eat a banana before the race because it gives me energy, and helps prevent cramps and lactic energy in the body. I also drink a lot of water to stay hydrated,” says Glenrose.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different and that different foods work for different people. Remember not to try anything new on race day! Test running a time trial on the foods you would want to consume on race day and see what works for you.
And the night before? Glenrose believes in a combo of carbs, protein and veggies. “Dinner before my race is always pap or rice or pasta with red meat or chicken and some vegetables. I also drink Slow-Mag for recovery before I go to bed.”
And just like we’ve been listening to and learning from Glenrose, she’s about to head off to a camp to learn more from SA Olympian and world-record breaker Caster Semenya. “In the camp I will get to listen what our golden girl has to say and learn more about running and I’ll be getting some tips on how to stay injury-free. Also, how to be progressive in your life when you’re faced with difficult obstacles and how to overcome them and what you can do to achieve your plans or dreams.” The training camp will take place at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto. Already under Caster’s mentorship, Glenrose’s dream is to run the fastest 10km by a South African woman ever.
Glenrose will be joined by a crew of aspiring rising South African female runners, which includes: Zazini Sokwakhana (400m), Keletso Senosi (800m), Simonay Weitsz (cross country), Edwin van Wyk (hurdles), Valeska Nel (200m and 100m), Caroline Mosime (100m, 200m, 400m and high jump) and Welma Nkuna (cross country). Keep an eye out for these names! They’ll be making history!