Rene Kalmer is the SPAR Women’s Challenge Race Patron. With over 20 years of experience worn into her running shoes, Rene is a well-known name in the SPAR Women’s Challenge world and a long time participant in the Joburg race and in the SPAR Grand Prix Series. Rene is among the most versatile female distance runners ever produced in South Africa and is one of the country’s top distance runners. She has won an astonishing 40 SA titles! We asked her for her top training tips to help you run your best race. Here is what she had to say:

Set your goals

“The best way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing.”- Walt Disney

Your goal may be to get fitter, lose weight, and improve your general health or to run your first 5km or 10km. Whatever your level of fitness, setting a realistic goal is useful to stay motivated. Now grab a pen and paper and write down your goals and make sure you see it every day. We are much more likely to achieve our goals when we write it down. My goal is to race the Johannesburg leg of the Spar Women’s 10km more competitively and to aim for a top 10 finish.

Have a plan!

It is important to have a training plan or program when you train for a specific event. Follow a training plan that fits your lifestyle. Give yourself at least 10weeks to prepare. It is possible to train for a 10km in less time, but it helps to have extra time in chase of illness, injuries or just the normal day to day chaos that life has to offer. Avoid the risk of injuries by only increasing your weekly mileage by 10%. Also be cautious not to increase your pace and mileage dramatically at the same time. This is where a logbook comes in handy.


Keeping a training journal/logbook of your runs is a great training tool. Whenever your motivation is a bit low, you can look back at your training and be encouraged by how far you have come. I normally pin the following down in my logbook:
Heart rate
How I felt during the session
Gym Sessions
Niggles (minor muscle soreness or body aches experienced after training).
Physio sessions

Training buddy

Find a friend or family member with the same goal. Having a training buddy is a great form of motivation and support. It is much harder to hit the snooze button when you know you have a “date” with your training buddy. Not only will it improve your motivation and performance, it is also more fun to suffer together. I’m very lucky to have a very fit sister, Christine! By training together, we motivate each other and push a little bit harder on a quality session. It is much easier for me to meet Christine at 5am than training on my own at 7am.

Keeping it interesting

Running day in and day out can get a bit boring, so it is a good idea to mix your training up with some cross training like Wattbike, Elliptical and swim sessions. It is also a great way to maintain and improve fitness and save your joints from the strain of regular running. I normally do two cross training sessions in my weekly training regime.

Consistency is the key

“Even a bad run is better than no run.”

A solid 10km race is hardly made out of good runs, but rather a combination of good, bad and ugly runs. Consistent training is the secret to avoid injuries, but it is also important to listen to your body. It is not worth it to push it when you are feeling ill or when you are battling with an injury or niggle.

Listening to your body

Unfortunately I had to learn this the hard way… After that experience, I would rather skip a workout and sort out a niggle, than running through pain and risk an injury that can side-line me for weeks or even months. This is where cross training also comes in handy!

Celebrate small victories

Sometimes you just have to stop for a minute and reflect back and appreciate the small things that you have accomplished in your training. Small victories count!


Race day tips!

  1. Get your clothing ready the night before, here is Rene’s checklist to get you started:
    Race number
    Running outfit, vest, shorts, shoes, shocks, sports bra.
    Charge your GPS watch
    Anti-chaffing product like Vaseline
    Toilette paper
  2. Plan your breakfast:
    Make sure you have everything you need for breakfast. Eat a digestible breakfast a few hours before the race. Ex. Oats, FUTURELIFE™ or toast with jam. You don’t want to run on an empty stomach, you need the energy!
  3. Don’t overdo it the day before, stay off your feet. Rest and relax:
    Before a big event like the SPAR Women’s Challenge Joburg your body will need time to rest to be able to perform at its best on race day.
  4. Don’t try anything new from, socks, running shoes or breakfast:
    New running shoes could hurt your feet and changing up your breakfast could leave you with an upset stomach on race day. Be safe and stick to what you know when you have a big run coming up.
  5. Hydrate:
    Drink enough water the day before, even ad a sports drink or Rehidrat to boost your electrolytes. Stay away from alcohol, it is never a good idea to run with a hangover!