Slow-starter Hengie McInnes is way ahead of the Dream Chasers' schedule

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12 August 2019 - 07:28
Fedhealth Dream Chaser Hengie McInnes says she has an insatiable appetite for sugar.
Fedhealth Dream Chaser Hengie McInnes says she has an insatiable appetite for sugar.
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As a self-confessed couch potato with a sugar habit, Hengie McInnes can be accused of a lot of things, but being all dressed up with nowhere to go isn’t one of them.

When the Fedhealth Dream Chaser finally turned up for an 8km time trial she’d been meaning to run for a while to test her progress, she discovered that Randburg Harriers no longer does time trials over that distance.

Turns out the club has bumped up the said distance by 3km, three more kilometres, meaning Hengie had to run the furthest she'd ever run in one go to finish it: “When they told me the shortest distance they had that day was 11km, I was like, ‘aaargh, that’s a bit far for me!’

“But then I thought, ‘what the hell, I’m already dressed and I’ve already signed, let me do it, even if I have to walk half the way’. I did it in my normal time. I’m very slow, I run only seven and a half minutes a kilometre and I’ve been for another one since and I’m hoping to do one once a week until the race.”

The race Hengie is talking about is the 10km run at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on September 15, one of three events (the other two are a 12km trail run and the marathon itself) through which Fedhealth is encouraging three lucky members to make their fitness dreams come true with the Dream Chasers campaign. The other events are a 12km trail run and the marathon itself.

By completing the time trial, albeit with a fair bit of walking, Hengie has, in a way, already realised her fitness dream. Having begun training for her race as a couch potato novice who could barely run 3km when she started.

“I’ve got this Cape Town thing, I’ve got it,” she says, tongue-in-cheek. “I’m not going to run all the way, but I can do it.”

When the 53-year-old began her Dream Chasers journey, on May 19, it was with trepidation that she peeled herself off her couch. Now, she sounds like a woman transformed, and is in the swing of things.

“It’s changed my whole outlook,” says Hengie, who’s inspired her son, Keiran, to join her once a week for a run. “Let’s be honest, I’m still in the honeymoon period, but all I want is to do the next available run. And because I’m not running to finish first or second, I encourage everyone from the back!”

Hengie derived bigger satisfaction from finding she didn’t have to change much about her diet for the training programme: “I began intermittent fasting a couple of weeks before I started. I’ve lost 8kg now.

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“Because I’d gone on intermittent fasting, I already had a meal plan by the time I started the programme, and I’m actually quite proud that (nutritionist) Andrea (du Plessis) couldn’t find fault with it.

“It’s a very restrictive diet. For breakfast I have two boiled eggs and low-GI bread. I prefer snacking to meals, so I’ll have peanuts with pecan nuts, then my hot chocolate and, at 2.30pm, I’ll have my last meal, which is like a vegetable quiche with chicken.”

But Hengie does have a dietary flaw, an almost insatiable craving for sugar: “I’m going to put it out there bluntly, I do have to have sugar every single day. If you look in my lunchbox right now I’ve got half an Aero (chocolate), which I put in yesterday, so I’m quite proud of myself.”

To combat the cravings, Du Plessis has put Hengie on a skinny hot chocolate, which she mixes with full-cream yoghurt to give me that full sugar satisfaction. As for being glued to her couch, she now spends one hour on it a day instead of three per day on it.

Follow the Dream Chasers’ individual progress by keeping an eye on the following channels: Fedhealth on Facebook and Twitter; TimesLIVE on Facebook and Twitter; and the hashtags #Fedhealth #DreamChasers

This article was paid for by Fedhealth.