Thursday last week, I found myself back at Cape Town International Airport, about to check onto a flight to Jozi. Why? Adidas had invited me to what I knew was going to be my favourite press launch of the year — and I wasn’t wrong. I sat back in my window seat, excitement building…
Adidas Ultraboost 20 Space Camp Launch
I met up with the wonderful girls from Girl About Town when I collected my bag in Joburg. Together we travelled to the Maslow where we’d be staying. I felt incredibly spoilt as I checked into my room. On the bed was a note from adidas telling me to be down in the lobby at 6:30pm from which we’d be departing for Space Camp. This was accompanied by some Space Rocks (biscuits) to give me energy for later.
6:30pm: We shuttled off to Space Camp and on arrival, received the brand new adidas Ultraboost 20 created in partnership with the International Space Station (ISS). Amongst my fellow press members were incredible athletes. I knew I’d have to schedule a chat with a few of them before the night was out but first, shoes.
Space Camp was the ideal set-up to really put the adidas Ultraboost 20’s to the test. We had a bunch of stations that each entailed some sort of workout: treadmill, sprints, jump squats, planking, etc. Every element of the shoe was tested, the ankle support, the energy return and every single feature felt A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Am I in love with these shoes? You bet (I’m actually wearing them right now). Just look how stunning they are. I wasn’t the only one crazy about these babies either. These three athletes love them too! Here’s what they had to say…
Laura Wolvaardt, South African Cricket Player
Laura (age 20), has been playing cricket for as long as she can remember. “I started playing when I was five years old,” she recalls. “I started playing with all the boys in school because I was friends with them and then I just fell in love with the game — and I still love it!”
The SA team are hard at work prepping for the season ahead with provincial games almost every weekend. “During the week we train skills and then prep for the game closer to the weekend,” Laura explains. “Once a month we have a weeklong camp in Pretoria where we get together as the South African team and train.” Training includes time in the gym as well as on the pitch. And of course, there are the matches – these have taken Laura all over the world.
“We don’t have to be super strict with our diets like the marathon runners that are here tonight,” she says when I ask her about her nutrition, “but obviously we try to look after ourselves.” This gets a little bit more tricky when matches take her to foreign places with food completely different from what she’s used to. “When you’re in a foreign place like India, you have to adapt your diet to what’s available,” Laura adds, “but we just try to do the best that we can and make healthier choices.”
Festive Motivation #1: Find The Balance
With the festive season coming up, I had to know how athletes at this level keep the motivation going, all the while surrounded by Christmas cake and gammon. Turns out it’s all about finding that balance. “In February we have our big T20 World Cup coming up, so that’s kind of the main focus now,” Laura explains. “You can’t really take the whole of December off, if you know what I mean.” No time to take the eye off the ball, I feel ya (also see what I did there?). “I’ll spend Christmas with my family, but I’ll definitely keep working out.”
Nolene Conrad, 2018 South African Marathon Champion
Nolene Conrad is such a powerhouse, I felt so privileged to be chatting to these incredible athletes. She started racing marathon distances around six years ago and last year she became South African marathon champion and next year she’ll be running in the 2020 Olympics.
A normal training week for Nolene covers about 160km. “We go up to 180/190km on a high mileage week and 140km is an easy week,” Nolene says. Yep, you heard it here first, 140km is an easy week. Along with that she also fits in some cross-training.
“I’m doing a lot of cross-training at the moment as I’m injured with an ITB at the moment,” Nolene adds. “I do aqua jogging: I just do my sessions in the pool.” Along with this, some cycling. A girl after my own heart. “I cycle a lot,” Nolene says. “I spin and gymming also forms part of my cross-training: mobility stuff and running/walking on the treadmill.”
“I don’t restrict myself [when it comes to my diet],” Nolene begins when I ask her about nutrition. “I try to eat as healthy as possible, but if I’m craving something I’ll eat it because I’ll train it off anyway.” Again, it’s all about the balance. “It doesn’t help if you exercise and you’re eating junk food,” she adds — your nutrition needs to fuel you.
Festive Motivation #2: Avoid Distractions
New shoes are great for a little festive motivation, and Nolene loves the new Ultraboost 20’s as much as this girl. “I tried running with them on the treadmill and it just feels like I can go on forever,” she says. “And the energy return — it’s like running on clouds!”
But when the new shoe inspiration wears off, Nolene removes distractions to keep her eye on the end goal. “It’s tough,” she begins, “I have to qualify for Olympics next year, I’m in the squad so there’s a pressure to do well. I have to work hard in the festive season to be able to qualify come April.” Sacrifices will need to be made and Nolene has actually opted to go to Potch to train during the festive season. “And then I’ll go to Kenya in Jan,” she adds. “I find it easier to remove distractions so I can focus – it’s all about the sacrifice.”
Jenna Challenor, South African Olympic Marathon Qualifier
Jenna is a mother of three and a professional athlete. If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is. She’s been running marathon distances for five years now and she’s also qualified for the 2020 Olympics.
“My week is quite full,” she begins when I ask her about training. “I train before [the kids] wake up in the morning so every morning at 4:30am I’ll either run or do a track session.” After dropping the kids at school she pops off to the gym for a session and still squeezes in some cross-training in the afternoons between school pick-ups. “I’ll generally swim or bike ride,” Jenna says.
Jenna knows the power of a healthy diet. “When I was injured in 2017 I had a stress fracture,” she explains. “I changed up a lot of my nutrition and I know how important it is for recovery. I make it a priority as soon as I’ve finished running, otherwise I end up taking the kids to school and forgetting about it.” It’s all about putting in an effort. “Put effort into training, put effort into the mental side of running, the physical side, and you’ve got to put effort into what drives your engine.”
Festive Motivation #3: Focus On What Makes You Feel Good
“Normally I’m doing quite a big block of training during this period,” Jenna says. “Even my little one says to me, ‘Mom, please don’t run on Christmas day this year!’” This year she’s already raced her marathon so she can have a bit of a break over the festive season. “I’ll run but it won’t be very serious — it’ll just be when I feel like it and I’ll start again from January,” she explains.
Taking a break doesn’t mean letting herself go though. “You still need to look into the future and stay healthy,” she advises. “Don’t run so that you can eat more; do it because it makes you feel good.” End the year how you want to start the new one: on a good note.