South Coast Marathon – Lessons from a fellow mortal

By: Tawanda Vakisai

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Build your base

The South Coast Marathon has always had a special place in my heart. This is where I achieved my first sub-2 half marathon and my first sub-4 marathon. I set my sights on running another sub-4 marathon this year. Although I have had good luck on the two occasions I ran the South Coast, I knew this alone was not going to be enough to have a comfortable run or get the result I was after.  One of the tips I was given in my early running days was to ensure my total mileage for the week is at least equivalent to the race distance I will be training for. I was also warned the mileage goals increase as the performance goals increase. We are fortunate at Stella to have organised runs during the week and a longer run on the Saturday. These were enough to get the minimum mileage required. I have recently also started joining Sandy on her hill training sessions on Wednesdays. These have really boosted my fatigue resistance and I encourage everyone to join.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing 

I normally treat myself to a massage after some hard work before the race. Unfortunately for me, I could not get an appointment on the days I wanted to go. When I shared this with my wife, she reminded me I had invested in a foam roller as a more cost-effective alternative to sports massages. I tried to get on to the foam roller but just could not bear the pain when I tried to foam roll my ITB.  After having a few laughs at how much I was struggling, my wife offered to massage me. I have previously shared with her YoutTube videos on massage techniques and “volunteered” to be her model so I knew I was in good hands. A few days of this put me in good stead to achieve my goal.

Tapering

My strategy for the week of the marathon has always been to have one slow run on Tuesday (Wednesday latest) and to maintain a good eating plan. I always struggle with the latter as I am blessed with a very healthy appetite. This saw me having a chip and cheese mutton roti for Friday lunch. I was regretting this decision on Friday evening. Luckily, I had some Rennies at hand to neutralise the situation.

Do not try new things

On Saturday evening, as I prepared for race-day, I was contemplating whether I should use the hydro-pack I had recently purchased for the marathon. Being able to carry my own fuel for the race was such a compelling idea. I had missed my opportunity to try it out during training. It was decided, I would take it with me. What could go wrong? I lay out my kit and everything I needed for the morning, planned my breakfast and was in bed nice and early.

Enjoy it!

We got to the start of the race 1 hour before the scheduled start and after taking a moment to enjoy the beautiful sunrise on the South Coast, we began to get ready. My hydro-pack was suddenly feeling heavier and not as minimalistic as I had imagined. My running mates gave me a look of disapproval as I tried to adjust it to fit more comfortably. I heeded their dirty looks and left it in the car. I was not going to let this get in the way. We made our way to the starting line and met other fellow Stella Runners there. We all shared our goals for the day as we waited for the gun. The sun was already out and we could see it was going to get warm. There was also promise of headwinds so it looked like we had a real challenge ahead of us.

With the bang of the gun, the runners burst into full flight. My immediate mission was to get over the first 10 in under 1 hour. I still remembered how tough the race was at the end so I planned early on not to do too much in the beginning. Holding back was going to be key. I made it comfortably over the 10km mark in just over 55 minutes.  The next mission was to get over the 21km mark at about 1:55. The route was so beautiful at this point it took your mind off the running with the gentle breeze helping to keep us cool. This however took a turn just after the 20km mark as we were now facing the head wind earlier promised. The hill sessions immediately came to mind.  If I had conquered the hills of Howard Road, the wind was going to come out second best. I self-talked myself through the wind and got over 21km one minute faster than planned. At this point, we were now more exposed to the scorching heat. My left calf was starting to feel a bit tight. One of the most useful tips I have adopted is from an article Dr Grant Matkovitch wrote earlier this year. He advised that “if a muscle is causing pain and tightness whilst you are running, consider taking 3 minutes out of your run/race to stretch the muscle on the side of the road”. I decided I would take some time off on the next water stop to stretch and recover.

While I was down stretching the sub-4hr bus passed. I looked at the time and still backed myself to stick to the plan. Once the stretching and re-hydration was done, I was back on the road with a new lease on life. I caught up to the sub-4 bus at the 27km mark. I was feeling very strong at this point and thought I should pass the bus as they would probably slow me down. I looked at the clock and we were still ahead of time. A little voice told me to hold back. I stuck with the bus up until 32km. I knew at this point that there will probably be less running after 35km so decided to leave the bus and increase the pace a little. I got to 35km and I was still feeling strong. I was happy going up the hills and felt all the training had paid off both mentally and physically. The moment I got on to the grass, I knew the mission had been accomplished. I burst towards the finish line, to the cheers of my second family, Stella Athletic Club. Although challenging, this was one of the most enjoyable marathons I have ever run and will definitely go back for more.

 

Lisbon Marathon – Portugal

By: Alan Brunsdon

On Friday, 13 October 2017, our group of six runners set off to run the Lisbon Marathon in Portugal. The Stella contingent of the group was Alan Brunsdon, Roger Scholtz and The Butcher (Peter Limbouris). We flew from Johannesburg via Luanda to Lisbon with Air Angola, a return ticket costing R 3800! To our surprise, we found that the experience with Air Angola was a pleasant and enjoyable one – planes are new with Portuguese pilots, have inflight entertainment, good food and cold beers! The stopover in Luanda for 4 hours was uneventful except for the Butcher explaining to the immigrations officer that Cyprus was part of the EU and he did not need a visa for Portugal!

We arrived in Lisbon at around 7 in the morning to a bustling clean airport and easily cleared immigration etc. We then took the underground which is efficient and serves most of the city ( Lisbon only has a population of 500,000 people! ) to our AirBnB accommodation where we dropped off our luggage. We then proceeded to the race registration centre to collect goodie bags etc  – the race entry was 40 euro. The queues were long but the atmosphere festive. A total of 35,000 athletes participated in a 10 km, 21.1 km and the 42.2 km marathon.

Race day arrived on Sunday together with blistering temperatures of 31 degrees – the weather all week had been max 21 degrees! To get to the start we needed to take free transport on the train to a resort town Cascaisi which was 30 km outside of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast. The train was filled with athletes and our South African running outfits were rather distinctive! On arrival at the seaside resort we lined up with 5,000 athletes to loud music and a carnival type atmosphere. The marathon is part of the Rock ‘n Roll series, so music and bands along the route were the order of the day.

Initially the course did  a loop through the town before heading back to Lisbon alongside the coast. It was flat and similar to running Two Oceans going through Hout Bay etc. The scenery was lovely, the  water tables well-stocked, and there were bands every 2.5 km along the route, encouraging us to press on. The organisation of the race was excellent and running in the South African flag colours certainly helps with crowd support and interaction with other runners. The last 10 km were hard work as it was hot and flat – we all had to dig deep! We finished in the main square in the centre of Lisbon called the Terreiro do Paco. We received a serious size medal and refreshments at the end – we were also finished! My time was slower than hoped but I will take the finish – 5:47 being the 13th South African across the finishing line.

Fortunately our accommodation was within walking distance of the finish and the afternoon was spent relaxing before spending the evening recounting war stories at a nice restaurant on the main square.

Over the next few days, we visited some of the historic sites in Lisbon from the St George’s Castle, Christ the King statue and Jeronimos Monastery. The cost of living is slightly more than in South Africa but it is relatively cheap compared to European prices. We discovered pasteis de Nata – the legendary custard tarts!

We managed to get tickets to a UEFA Champions Cup football game between Benfica and Manchester United at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. It was an amazing experience to be part of a 57,000 spectator crowd.

We returned home after a memorable Lisbon experience.

Bengaluru Half Marathon- India

By: Bukelwa Nzimande

Many of the changes that came with moving to Bangalore left me completely demotivated when it comes to running.  My list of course rests on a decorated bed of a thousand excuses and utter laziness. Two months in and trying to nip these in the bud I decided to sign-up for a big race this side, and to my luck the Shiram Property Bengaluru Marathon, one of the biggest race events in the city, was on the cards.

When I signed up, I had just over a month to train for a half marathon, which was okay because 21km is familiar ground, and the last time I ran a half marathon I did “great”, even with a head cold. So I knew I would smash it. Well let’s say I thought I would smash it.

Leading up to race day, I had only managed to put in about 6 lousy runs, all comfortably under 10km, two of which had left me feeling like death. I had also managed to work up a foot injury 2 weeks leading up to the day, because my ambition was in the clouds and I wanted to fast-track my training. The delusion of thinking I was as fit as I last remember together with the pressure from my electronic handcuff (this is what I call my running watch these days) made me do it. No no no, not stupidity.

On race day, surrounded by thousands of people, for the very first time I stood at the start line of an official race outside my own country, filled with anticipation and a familiar sense I always get at the start of a big running event- unity. I also felt the most relaxed, expecting no more than just living through the full spirit of the race. I knew I was out of shape and was bagging on former glories to gracefully carry me through- No I actually fully knew this at the end of the race and was well humbled.

The gun went off and we set out. The first 5km were bliss and adrenaline. Reckless adrenaline because at 6km I already knew that I was doing a bad job at pacing myself, and was already suffering at the hands of the unforgiving humidity of Bangalore.  In that moment two of my colleagues (Jeremy and barefoot running Kishore) dashed past me looking strong and in seconds disappeared into the horizon. Seeing them go encouraged me to keep going, but I knew I had to slow down and completely forget the numbers on my watch and run at a comfortable pace. I felt like I was fighting two battles: forcing myself to listen to my body and not my tomtom, and fighting the urge of wanting to check my slipping pace.  I resorted to my usual crazy strategies of counting to 20 and backwards to 15, up to 50 and down to 30 and so forth.  Spelling people’s names as they passed…. oh and a lot passed me.

Punctuated by festivities, drumming, cheering and song, I managed to keep this up well past the 16km mark, before…my foot (Yes, the one that I had rested and treated like a queen) was like “sorry Kelwa I think I’ve had enough”. In my mind I was like “no sweet thing please don’t do this to me now, we are doing reasonably okay and we can finish this”. I continued through the growing pain of my retaliating foot and mental torture. In all fairness I didn’t need to put myself through anything.  I could have stopped and jumped into an ambulance…but this didn’t cross my mind at any point.  Does it ever?  I wanted to finish and finish I did…happy and in pain. My pictures tell this story so well.  I couldn’t even fake it for the cam fam.

Annette, my sweet running mate was waiting for me at the finish line. We were stoked as ever to have run and finished a race in India, which for me is also a record breaker sneaking into my record books as my slowest 21km time. But I was okay with that because outside of the injury, I absolutely enjoyed being part of the running family here. The foot did not stop me from joining the Bollywood-style jol that a significant number of people stayed for after indulging in a full hot breakfast.

Additionally, the event was extremely organised, from the registration, expo and race-pack collection to marshals and traffic control. There was also not a single water sachet in sight, none in the storm drainage channels, none in the bushes. Nothing but runners and clean roads behind and before. This meant that every water station functioned like clockwork from, rinsing tumblers, refilling them and lining them up in no time, the entire duration of the race. The volunteers and helpers are always amazing!

The benefits of sports massage for runners

By: Margaryta Garidian

The benefits of massage therapy have been know by humans since ancient times. Roman gladiators were in fact prescribed massages before and after training. Nowadays, sports massage has become a necessary routine for many athletes in both preparation and rehabilitation.

Sports massage works on a simple principle, to manually increase blood flow to areas where it is needed or where it could be sluggish. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removes waste products away from it. This allows the body to heal itself in a safe and non invasive manner.

Some of the benefits of sports massage for runners include:

  • Helps prevent injuries and speeds up recovery of injury or after a long run.
  • Stretches the tissues that could not been stretched by usual methods.
  • Reduces pain by releasing endorphins (natural pain killers).
  • Breaks down scar tissue (when muscles are injured, the body creates scar tissue to glue micro-tears).
  • Relieves trigger points or hyper irritable “knots” found in muscle and fascia, that cause pain and restrict the range of motion.

The images below show some common runner trigger points and their referral pain pattern.

When should you have a  sports massage?

  • A deep thorough sport massage should ideally take place 7-5 days before the big race.
  • Any pre-event or inter-event massages should be short and vigorous.
  • Post race massages should be recovery focused and should involve lighter  pressure and relaxing techniques.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate properly after a massage to help flush out waste products.

In conclusion, sports massage will not only make you healthier, but may help to extend your running career and achieve the maximum from it.

Sydenham Time Trial League – Walking Stars Report

By: Michael Mostert

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All the keen, mean, and lean Stella Walking Stars poured out of Wendy’s taxi at the Sydenham Durban Runner Mizuno Time Trial League on Thursday 19 October. Casting our eyes heavenward at the ominous clouds building up, we all wondered if we were going to be caught in a downpour as we prepared for the Sydenham 5 km, not 4km, time trial league.

200 runners and walkers lined up for the 5km and 8km slog. The start gun caught us all by surprise as some were still adjusting their hair, their kit, and others still chatting away…we were off. The route goes through the friendly, but hilly, Sydenham suburbs up the notorious Jan Smuts Highway until 45th cutting when you turn back.

Nana pulled ahead like the fast and the furious disappearing into the distance, and finished in 5th position overall in an amazing time of 36 minutes and 36 seconds. Wendy completed it in 8th place in 39 minutes 02 seconds, followed by Michael in 9th place in 39 minutes and 13 seconds. With our ever smiling and chatty Frankie in 13th while coaching the SANDF Walker on the correct style to use….that’s our Frankie. Our ever reliable Musician Roland came in a cool 22nd place in his 1st walk in a few months.

Was nice to be greeted by the smiling support team of Mary in her kit at the finish line as we stumbled over, thanks for the support Mary. The Red Bull ladies also handed out some well-deserved drinks to the exhausted athletes at the end.

Out of 13 teams, Stella Walking Stars finished the league in 3rd place, 7 points behind 2nd place team and 17 points ahead of the 4th placed team.

  1. DHSOB
  2. QBH Harriers
  3. Stella
  4. PDAC

Well done to you all for your time and sacrifice this year, you are all stars in my eyes.

Wishing Wendy Coleman a blessed belated birthday for Friday, October the 20th. Congratulations must also go to Wendy for coming 3rd in the ladies walking category in the Merewent 10km on Sunday 22 October.

Walking with purpose,

Michael M

The FNB Durban 10K – A race against the clock

By: Luke Muller

A fast, flat road run with a substantial prize purse is going to attract some star athletes, and the inaugural FNB Durban 10K had plenty of those. Before the race, there was talk of top international runners joining the field and attempting 10km records. My own thoughts were that the race presented the perfect opportunity to go for a PB.

There are some variables you can control before a race and many that you cannot. The first obstacle appeared when one of my friends announced that he had invited people over for a party at my house the night before. He is not the type of person to spend Saturday sipping camomile tea, so by 11 pm I packed my tog bag, left the party, and drove to my parents’ house to find a quieter place to sleep. Just before leaving, I took a bet that I would not only get a new PB but smash it by more than a minute. A fairly ludicrous bet.

The race was scheduled to start unusually late, 8 am. Unfortunately, this was unbeknownst to my mother who woke me up at 4:30 am. A beautiful day dawned over the city of Durban and I headed down to Moses Mabhida Stadium to warm up and twiddle my thumbs for a couple of hours. The event was well organised and there were going to be thousands of runners. It was a glorious spring morning, perhaps too glorious, it was starting to get hot.

A slight southerly wind was blowing as we grouped together in our batches, waved flags and sang Shosholoza. There was excitement at the start line as the elites filed into the front batch. My heart rate was already exploding, and soon we were charging down the M12. The sun was hot, but plenty of ice-cold water stations allowed runners to cool down. Everything was going smoothly, and streams of supporters, cheerleaders, drum majorettes, and traditional dancers kept us going as we headed towards Blue Lagoon. The other thing that kept us going was the slight tail-wind, that turned into a headwind as we rounded the corner onto Snell Parade after 6.5km.

There are moments in every race where you have to dig deeper, this was one of them, and I did not. My pace edged slower, and the PB edged further away. At around 8km there was a sprint challenge. You could win Puma vouchers. Those vouchers were safe, sprinting was out of the question. As we rounded the final corner at Suncoast, I caught a glimpse of the finish 500m away. Suddenly my legs found new energy and bounded down the home straight. Somehow, I beat my previous PB by four seconds. Four seconds was nowhere near enough to win the bet, but that did not matter. Every runner knows how good it feels to better their PB.

Two Ugandans, Joshua Cheptegei and Mercyline Chelangat, not only got PBs but also won their races. Their other-worldly times of 27:28 and 31:37 both broke the previous Ugandan national records. Mercyline was extremely close to the 31:33 Elana Meyer ran in Durban in 1991. At the finish, a group of Stella Stars recounted race stories and cooled down in the shade or went for a swim in the sea. I will definitely enter this race again next year, and make another bet.

Chasing Amanda through the 21km of Township to Township

By: Zethembiso (Nana) Nxumalo

Township to Township Marathon 2017 KwaMashu to Umlazi – the only township with its own number plate NUZ. The 21km starts in Chesterville on Harry Gwala Road. It is one of KZN’s most popular and cheapest races on the calendar. The race was meant to start at 5:30am but was three minutes late which meant you received a text with three minutes shaved off of the stadium clock.

This is a tough course, end of story! Few things to note you cross the N2 three times after Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, the most scenic is the Woodhaven crossing with the NPC cement plant behind and ocean view between Bluff and Wentworth as you summit to the highest point. The loveliest is the hardest with its green trees and crisp fresh air running along Yellowwood Park. Of course, we suffered FOMO as people were still partying away at the tavern across the Seaview train station at 6:20am. The Kenyon Howden Road drop can give you vertigo, you get a chance to decide to either roll or save your knees. The least eventful part is the South Coast Road stretch leading to Lamontville township with its cheerful spectators which is a vast contrast to the leafy suburbs prior.

The third and the last time you cross the N2 is over a bend 5km to the finish in which you climb Griffith Mxenge Highway, by now you are wasted, you want it to end, so you dig deeper for a second wind. At the 1km to go mark we were shaken up by a belly-up dead goat, but once recovered we were greeted by KwaMnyandu Shopping Mall spectators hanging over the balconies that ushered us home.  Of course, like all good things in life,  there is a little 60m bump at the end that takes you to the stadium gate. Water tables were aplenty and there were enough marshals along the route. I would say, do it once and experience Durban and its people.

Fast facts:

  1. First person home: 1:07:33
  2. Last person 5:15:49
  3. Youngest: 15 years old
  4. Oldest: 76 years old
  5. 807 finishers

Stella 21km finishers:

  • 01:32:22 Simphiwe Phillip Ntombila
  • 01:49:01 Matthew Dray
  • 01:57:31 Amanda Botes
  • 02:08:52 Zethimbiso (Nana) Nxumalo
  • 02:12:33 Philani Msomi
  • 02:22:48 Simphiwe Khumalo
  • 02:31:32 Phaghiswe Damini
  • 02:36:27 Lindokuhle Mabika

The Smartinis win the Stella Quiz Night!

By: Amanda Botes

Stella Athletic Club hosted a quiz and burger night on Friday 29 September by quiz masters Dave Wright and Hylton Forge. If you weren’t there you missed out! Music, Sport, Geography and History were all covered, including a music session where teams had to guess the song titles of Elton John songs. Who knew “Honky Cat” was an actual name of a song? 🙂 Anyway, a lot of fun was had by all, and the results of the evening were:

  1. The Smartinis (Louise, Derek, Jess, and Ian’s Team)
  2. The Sex Pistols (Dave, Tracey, Sandy and Sean’s Team)
  3. DJ Stag (Dawn, Julie, Aldine, and Grant’s Team)
  4. Juluka (Kevin, Tawanda, Nana, Tozamile, David, Alex and Cindy’s Team)

The top five teams all won prizes. We would like to thank all the sponsors of the evening including Glenwood Spar, Spoonful Eatery, Durban Runner, Louise, and Dawn.

All the pictures from the evening were captured by Shannon Hucklesby and can be found on the Stella Athletic Facebook Page. The next upcoming social event will be a Halloween Party on the 27 October. You don’t want to miss it! Start getting your outfits ready!

Karkloof 100 Miler Trail Run

By: Alisdair Leslie

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Stella Star Alisdair Leslie came 8th in the Karkloof100 (Image Source: KZN Trail Running)

It was Friday night and tension mounted as the clock approached 10pm. There were smiles, fists were bumped, and good luck wished, but you could tell everyone was a bit nervous. And you can understand why when you realise they are about to set off on the inaugural Karkloof 100 miler – and it is raining. The rain did not stop, but as soon as the gun went the worrying did, and the task became beautifully simple: head torches on, look for the little yellow markers and just keep going until you hit Benvie gardens in 50 miles time. Then grab a quick marie biscuit or two, turn around and head back to Howick.

The old hands hung back, knowing full well that 100 miles is actually quite a long way, while the 100 mile virgins, such as myself, had their toes on the start line to lead the charge. We knew that six-minute kms is basically walking and that it would all be over before tea-time.

Needless to say, such naivety and arrogance was rewarded in time! I set out with my good mate Andrew Erasmus, who runs for Salomon and Dolphin striders, when he can be persuaded to hit the road, with just that plan: six-minute kms until half way, then see what you can do after that and hope for the best.

Not really knowing where we going through the rain-soaked blackness, we followed an endless snake of fluorescent tags marking the trail. First through the Umgeni nature reserve (where we were lucky enough to startle and then chase a porcupine), then into the Sappi forests above Howick, through the pastures beyond and into the Karkloof itself.

Check points came every 17 kms or so, well stocked with goodies and well wishers. As dawn cracked, albeit damply, we found ourselves running the smooth grassy trails of the Mbona nature reserve on the way to the turn around point at Benvie gardens. Damp, a bit cold and a bit tired after 80kms on the trail, Andrew and I turned just after 7am in about 5th and 6th place. Pacers were allowed after half way, and so we were joined by his brother Stephen, for the second leg.

It was quickly apparent that, as much as Andrew’s pacing strategy and training were paying off, my unfounded belief that I would be okay on bog standard post Comrades work was not. So two kms later I wished the boys well, plugged in the ipod and prepared for a long painful and lonely trudge back home, dreaming of the breakneck speed that 6-minute kms now seemed.

However, all was not lost as, at check point 7, who should rock up but the White Buffalo himself, our very own Craig Georgie. “Man up Leslie”, he cheerfully announced, “I am getting you to the finish even if I have to carry you”. And that was that, the relentless motivator that he is, supported, joked, cajoled, persuaded, teased and bullied me over the next 50kms.

Through relentless rain, moments of self-doubt, a prolonged bout of vomiting, a face plant on a broken bridge and one incident when he (accidently) nearly separated me from my generative organ with a stick (you’ll have to ask him about that one), that splendid bugger did indeed carry me to the finish line, a good 20 hours and some minutes since the start.

A welcome beer was thrust into our hands. I had a little cry, kissed my kids and better half who had heroically waited in the rain to greet us, and we were all done! Andrew did indeed have the spectacular second half he wanted and nearly chased down the leader, finishing second to him by minutes in an impressive 18 hours 19ish.

For me though, such dreams of conquest didn’t seem to matter so much really. The journey turned out to be a lot tougher than I had expected, but, with the help of my friend, it hadn’t beaten me, and that was enough to be going on with. Re-reading this, I am not sure if it sounds like a recommendation or not. All I can say is, I am signing up for next year tomorrow!

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Alisdair and Craig at the end of the race (Image Source: KZN Trail Running)

Choosing a GPS running watch

By: Mark Rai

With so many running watches to choose from, deciding on a suitable one is often a tricky and confusing thing for most runners. We are definitely spoilt for choice which isn’t really a bad thing after all! Let’s get started. The most popular brands among runners are Garmin, Polar, TomTom and Suunto. All these watches track Distance, Pace, Time, Heart-Rate, Splits, Calories and Activity Tracking. The mid to high-end watches track more features like running dynamics, have data fields that you can customise, and some may have built in optical heart-rate monitors, bluetooth, wifi and smart notifications to name but a few.

Things to consider before buying a GPS watch:

What is your budget? We all know just how heavily priced these watches can be. If you intend keeping fit, running parkruns, doing one or two runs during the week, or want to move away from your phone based app tracking, any entry level GPS running watch would be fine here. No point in overspending on features you would never use. Choices here include Garmins FR35, Garmin FR25, Polar M200, TomTom Runner 3 and Garmin FR15. These track the basics well without breaking the bank.

What is your long term plan/goal? If you plan on running marathons or ultra-marathons it’s pointless getting a watch that won’t last in the battery department. Most mid-level watches will do the trick. Garmins FR230 and FR235 are still solid in this category with the only difference being the 235 having the optic/wrist based heart-rate monitor. Other options are Polar M400, TomTom Runner 3 Cardio, Suunto Spartan Trainer, Suunto Spartan Sport and the newer Polar M430.

If you intend running the Comrades Marathon, slightly high-end older models like the Garmin 920XT (24hr battery), Polar’s V800 (13hr battery), Garmin Fenix 3 (20 hr battery) and Garmin FR630 (16hr battery) are also ones to look at for and come loaded with features.

If it’s the latest and best GPS running watches you crave then you should consider looking at the Garmin FR935 (24hr battery) or Garmin Fenix 5 (24hr battery). These are very similar watches with the same software. The 935xt has a plastic bezel and the fenix 5 has a stainless steel bezel with the option of a sapphire mineral crystal glass. These watches are fully loaded with features with too many to mention here. Also consider looking at Suunto Spartan Ultra and the Garmin FR 735XT.

Look at features specific to your needs. Certain models allow you to create interval training, to increase your speed or running dynamics to improve your running technique.

Will you use it for other sports?  If you are into swimming and cycling as well, then consider looking at multisport watches.

Do you want to view your runs on your phone/PC? If your budget allows for it, try to get a watch that has at least bluetooth smart or wifi that can sync wirelessly to your mobile app and 3rd party apps like Strava and Training Peaks etc. Here you can analyse your data, create and download pre-planned coaching lessons, and set-up goal specific training plans to help you achieve your running goals and share your progress with like-minded runners. There are also “segment” features which shows how you compare to others on certain stretches of road.

So whether you are training for your first 5km, half-marathon, or marathon, a GPS running watch can help you improve your performance and fitness. Keeping in mind your long term goals, thinking about the features you want, and considering your budget will help you to make the best choice for you.