58-year-old Lee Foulis tackles Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge
19 August 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome back onto yet another edition of Old Mutual Live, it’s awesome to have you with us. We’ve spoken about the Old Mutual Wild Series on numerous occasions here on the podcast over the last couple of years and the next one is coming up pretty soon. It’s happening on the 10th of September this year.
It’s probably the flagship out of all the Old Mutual Wild Series runs and that’s the Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge. We’re joined now by someone who is running their first and we head to Pennington on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal, beautiful part of our country, Lee Foulis. Lee, welcome onto the podcast, thanks for joining us today.
Lee Foulis: Good afternoon to you and good afternoon to your listeners. Thank you, it’s a pleasure to chat to you guys.
BB: Lee, Mont-Aux-Sources, as far as trail runs in South Africa go, it’s almost one of the institutions on the calendar, why the attraction to run that one?
LF: Gosh Brad, it’s a bit of a story. I’ve been a road runner for most of my adult life, but I’m a newcomer to trail running, only started last year. My running partner, I have to say, I think Montie chose me because my running partner broached the subject last year October and said: Why don’t we do the Montie 50km?
My first reaction was, you’re crazy, you’re definitely smoking mushrooms. But as I explored the possibility and I must admit, I’m 58 years old, and I have been thinking about a personal physical challenge. As I explored Monties, I thought this could be really exciting. It could be that challenge I’m looking for and just pushing personal boundaries.
That’s really what drew me to it and as I say, the year of training started and a whole new approach to running, I must admit. Trail running is very different to road running, so had to look at different ways of training and nutrition and so that’s, in a nutshell. That’s how Montie found me.
Transition from roadie to trail runner
BB: I love that and you’re so right, trail running is a very different beast to road running. Have you found the transition quite easy or has it been a challenge?
LF: Yes, and no. Trail running, I don’t know if your listeners are aware, is much easier on your joints than road running. So from that point of view it was slightly easier because I tend to get quite sore feet after about 30km on the road.
That hasn’t been a problem on the trail, but of course your terrain is more difficult. You are on untrustworthy surfaces, you have to concentrate where you put your feet. You’re climbing up and scampering down all sorts of rocks and so on. So, it’s very different, it’s a totally different physical challenge, much harder I would say.
But much more enjoyable because you’re not chasing the pavement all the time. You can enjoy nature and you can stop and have something nice to eat from your camelbak in a good spot. Then carry on running. Personally speaking, it’s a far more satisfying way of pursuing something that I love, which is running.
BB: You’ve mentioned your feet hurt a lot more on 30km on the road as opposed to on the trails. From a distance perspective, in the build-up to this one, what sort of distances were you doing on the road? Is this one of your longest runs that you’re doing?
Advice is of great help
LF: Well, don’t collapse in a fit of mirth, but the longest I’ve ever run on the road is a 32km run. So, for me, an ultra marathon has been a really big challenge. I must admit, between David Katz, Mr Active, who I contacted and has been of invaluable assistance as far as training and nutrition goes, and my son as well who lives in Cape Town. He’s a CrossFit Champion at the Tokai Box.
Between the two of them, they’ve really helped me with training, with strengthening muscles other than just running muscles. Cross training, I do Boot Camp twice a week and of course, nutrition. We all think we eat so well until you get to the point where you’re asking that much of your body. You realise how you’ve got to adjust your nutrition. I couldn’t have done it without the assistance of those two guys, certainly.
BB: Lee, I love chatting to runners like you and I’ll tell you why. On the podcast we chat running all the time. One of the big things about running in South Africa is people think running Comrades is the be-all and end-all when it comes to running.
I love chatting to people just like you who have other goals and it’s not just about Comrades and that’s the way it should be. So, congratulations on that, not getting sucked into Comrades. Don’t get me wrong, I love Comrades, I run it myself.
But I think everyone should have their own goals and Monties is a huge one. It’s a fabulous race. What are you expecting? I know you’ve been doing some races around closer to where you are in KZN and that sort of thing. What are you expecting from Monties? It’s a beautiful part of the country that.
Preparing for and getting to Monties
LF: Yes, gosh, you’re so right, I have been doing the Pezulu Run which is for the Capetonians, there’s a hectic mountain run. You are running uphill or sliding downhill and this Saturday I’m doing the 38km Nagle Dam, which is going to be a bit of a challenge as well.
What am I expecting of Montie? Gosh, a hard day at the office, as they say, but an enjoyable day. I’m focusing on fun and adventure. There are the chain ladders that are involved, which is another personal challenge because I have a fear of heights.
So that’s going to be another personal challenge for me, but we’ll be strapped into a harness, thank goodness. Yes, so going to enjoy the terrain. Going to be as well prepared as I possibly can, from a training and nutrition point of view. Really focusing on fun and adventure and enjoying the experience.
BB: And just getting out there because we’re so lucky to live in the country we do. I think we’re truly blessed from a terrain perspective, there’s so many great places to run. But we’ve also got the climate to go along with it. It could be worse, we could live somewhere a lot uglier and a lot wetter or colder.
LF: That’s right and I believe there could be some snow on the higher parts of the Drakensberg, so I imagine it would be a very cold start. That brings another challenge to running which I don’t think road runners have, is that you have to dress in layers.
Clothing that you can take off and stuff in your camelbak or perhaps discard as the case may be because I’m sure it will warm up as the day goes on. So all round it’s going to be an awesome day, it’s going to be an adventure and something I’m really looking forward to.
Nervous of course, it’s my first, but also looking forward to it. As you say, there’s so much more to running than just the Comrades. Which I don’t knock the Comrades runners, they have my utmost respect. But 89km on the road as opposed to 50km in the mountains, I’ll take the mountains any day.
Getting your nutrition right
BB: And you’re in great hands with David and your son as well. You mentioned the snow and possibility, you know full well, you’ve obviously spoken to David but there was a bit last year. So the conditions are a bit tough. Let’s touch on the nutrition and I’m glad you brought that up earlier as well Lee.
Because as you rightly say, it’s something that a lot of runners neglect and they don’t really think about and put too much thought in. What have you done and what have you changed in the build-up to this one that you think is giving you a bit of an advantage and that you’re really benefitting from?
LF: Gosh Brad, you know, I went for my very first trail run, which was a mere 16km, not having eaten breakfast. At the end of the trail run we got egg rolls which ungratefully chucked up ten minutes later. Only to discover it’s because I didn’t actually eat enough the night before and on the morning.
To now getting up and sometimes we have to get up at 3:00 in the morning where we are, to prepare to drive to a run an hour and a half away. So getting up and having my personal favourite, oats and peanut butter, to taking eats on the road. The commercially available drinks that one can get, the powders to put in your water in your camelbak, but what has become important is actually the leading up to a big run.
For this week, for example, on Wednesday night it was a big pasta meal, tonight’s going to be more protein and tomorrow night pasta and also fruit. I didn’t realise fruit was that important to build up the, I think it’s the glycogen levels in your muscles. So yes, nutrition is hugely scientific. Gone are the days when you’d just mumble your way through it.
There again, David Katz has been very helpful in giving me suggestions on what to eat. My eating patterns, and I’ve always been pretty health conscious, have changed from thinking I’m eating healthy to focusing on eating properly for what I’m asking my body to do. So, yes, it’s quite a different approach to just eating well.
BB: Exactly and I laugh, I was having a quiet chuckle to myself when you were talking about how things have changed. My dad was a big Comrades runner, he’s run 11 and he used to, he looks at guys now and goes: What are they doing?
He used to take those old bank bags, he used to take a slab of Cadbury’s chocolate, break it up, put it into a bank bag and that’s what he used to snack on all day, was a slab of chocolate. That’s what got him through Comrades. Things have definitely changed.
LF: Absolutely and you know, you can feel the difference. I also take a few supplements, of course and on the Pezulu I forgot to take one of the supplements. I don’t know if I’m allowed to mention it, but it just prevents the build-up of lactic acid.
I forgot to pack it for the day and I actually felt the difference. Then you know it’s working. But nutrition, to anybody who is not doing the nutrition thing correctly, please do it, it does make a huge difference to your performance on the day.
BB: Lee, best of luck, it’s going to be amazing. As I mentioned, it’s all taking place on the 10th of September. If you’d like to grab yourself an entry there, there are still a handful of entries open. They close on the 28th of August, you can go and check out the Wild Series website and just Google it or click on the link in the show notes to this episode. We’ll put a link in there straight through to the entry page.
Yes, it’s one of those races that I think everybody should run. It’s phenomenal, it’s a magnificent part of our country. Lee, best of luck to you on your first one, I’m sure you’re going to have a great experience. It sounds like you’re in great hands, you’ve done the work and you’re doing the work. You will be rewarded on race day, I’ve got no doubt.
LF: Thank you so much, it was lovely chatting to you and hope I’ve inspired a few more people to give it a shot.