The third inspirational coach featured in our “Coach Knows” series. Standby for a total overhaul of what you thought was holding you back!
Meg is a proudly South African trail runner, with a collection of podium top spots that include the South African Long Distance Trail Championships in 2015, African X in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, Ultra-Trail Cape Town 65km in 2016 and Hout Bay Trail Challenge in 2017 (where she was first woman and second overall). She has also represented South Africa internationally at numerous events including the Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Switzerland in 2015. Meg trains predominantly on Cape trails, and enjoys local races on a regular basis. In addition to her impressive running resume, she is a certified Master 3 Life Coach and offers coaching to help runners to clarify and reach their goals through increased motivation, energy and grit.
Coaching is a truly rewarding job, and Meg finds that watching a runner’s potential emerge continues to inspire her.
“It's the self-belief that begins to emerge as people find their groove in their running. They begin to do things they didn't think that they could, and that transfers into all areas of life. I find that aspect really rewarding. It’s not just about the running, it’s the confidence, joy and 'heck yeah I can do this' moments that really drive me as a coach”
Meg combines life coaching and running coaching for a unique approach that achieves optimal results.
“The mind and body are inextricably linked. A lot of people don't realise the extent to which they are one. This is where the life coaching comes in. Through the intensive life-coaching training, I learned to recognise traits and features in people that they themselves don't often see. For example, negative self-talk, falling into a spiral of beating yourself up and feeling guilty are all things that almost everyone does at one time or another. Those feelings and thoughts permeate into life and running, and it takes some specific coaching to get people out of these patterns and into a positive, self-loving space. Another common example is the "I can't do this" thought pattern trap, which again, is in itself highly trainable. Every belief and thought pattern we have is changeable. It’s very empowering to know this, for life and for running”
As a professional athlete, Meg has made her own mistakes, and these errors allow her to guide the runners she is coaching.
“My mistakes have definitely been ones of over-training and injury. I fell into the typical trap of constantly trying to prove myself, which is a very dangerous place to be as it causes more training, more racing, and more guilt when things don't go to plan. And the cycle continues. Downward. Coming from that past, I'm now equipped to recognise behaviours in others that might be doing the same. I think runners with these tendencies get drawn to me, or I get drawn to them!”
If she had to knock it all down to one golden nugget, REST is probably it.
“Rest is as important as training. And, running trails should always be fun. When or if it’s not, something needs to change!”
We asked Meg for her view on where South Africa is in terms of a mountain and trail running culture.
“It’s definitely growing. We aren't quite the US or Europe! But we're getting there. I firmly believe that a culture of role-models is really important to get a sport to grow. Once someone has someone else to look up to, the cycle of mentorship and encouragement lends itself to an ever-growing cycle of support and improvement. Trail and mountain running is about pushing the boundaries. As a culture, we need to push those boundaries so that the next generation can see that it’s possible, and more…”
Through our own events, we see many runners begin the cross over from road to trail running. Meg holds strength-work up as one of the key elements to ensuring a trouble free transition.
“The ankles and feet need a lot more attention on the trails and that strength doesn't necessarily come from just running more trails. These areas need some specificity otherwise rolling/twisting ankles can quickly lead to a lack of confidence and motivation on the trails. It also takes a mega-mind shift away from times, splits and mileage. If you try to train on the trails like you do on the road, it'll likely lead to burn out. Trail miles are very different to road miles!”
Meg has her own never-gonna-miss them weekly workouts.
“Number 1: Recovery runs! Number 2: a long run, this means different things to different people, but those long, easy, chilled out trails are so important and nothing can replace them. Number 3: Specific hill sets are fantastic!”
Race organisers are seeing an increase in the number of women that enter races across South Africa, but we’re not at the 50/50 gender field that many international races are now experiencing. With so many women bridging the gap and ending up on the overall podium, it’s a wonder that more women haven’t joined the ranks of SA mountain warriors.
“Again, I believe role models are incredibly important! At the moment, numbers of women at events are up - so that’s excellent. I do believe that safety is a huge issue for women on the trails. We can't run alone on the mountain, so women need to know where and how to find a group running on the mountain. Thank goodness for groups like Tuesday Trails! I also think it’s just a matter of giving it a bash with a friend. There's no shortage of events so I’d say step 1: enter a small, manageable event that gives you a goal and a plan. 2: find a friend or a group to train with. 3: If you feel lost, get a coach to help you along. 4: if you love it, carry on. If you don't, at least you tried!"
Can we define the effervescent Meg Mackenzie in just three words?
“Fun, determined, veryshort (one word!)”
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