Former sofa slouch has turned into a fitness freak

Fedhealth Dream Chaser Hengie may be lying in wait for the Cape Town Marathon– but it’s not on her couch

02 September 2019 - 08:44
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'I would have never thought I’d become this running freak,' says Hengie McInnes.
'I would have never thought I’d become this running freak,' says Hengie McInnes.
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Hengie McInnes is on a week’s leave from her human resources job at St Stithians College when she catches up with TimesLIVE on the phone.

Instead of spending the vast majority of that time watching skop, skiet and donner movies on her beloved couch, the Fedhealth Dream Chaser has been occupied doing what are dangerously close to being called things she loves.

“I’m still running every day. Yesterday I baked enough biscuits to last people stockpiling for war. In the past I would have spent yesterday on the couch but I’ve just got so much more energy, which is strange because when you keep exerting yourself you find energy from elsewhere.

“I would have never thought I’d become this running freak.”

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The race is the 10km run – Hengie’s chosen event as one of three Fedhealth members participating in the scheme’s campaign to encourage them to make their fitness dreams become a reality (the other two are running the 12km trail run and the full marathon) at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on September 15.

Given that in mid-May Hengie was a couch-bound novice who had never run before, her admission that she is now a running freak suggests being on the programme has significantly altered her lifestyle: “It’s been life-changing. It’s been so amazing ... I’ve got so much energy, I just can’t stop running.

“I just want to run and run and run … When I started I couldn’t have imagined looking for races on the internet. My highlights have been getting stronger and stronger all the time, meeting new people and encouraging other people to run.

“My son (Keiran) runs with me whenever he can. He also does some of the 11km time trials with me and I was in contact with (Dream Chasers trainer) Brendan (McBirnie) so he could try a trail run.”

If you’re still not convinced, Hengie is more than happy to say it herself. “I’m absolutely ready. I can’t wait for Cape Town, now I just need to watch out that I don’t sprain an ankle or something while I wait for the race.”

A significant part of her confidence comes from her having already run a 10km run and four 11km time trials and having shaved five minutes of her best time for the latter from an hour and 27 minutes, which has also seen her average splits per kilometre drop by about a minute.

That said, it’s still hard work as she runs about 80% of it and walks the rest: “The other day I was looking on the internet and there was this guy who’s been a runner for a long time. He said he still doesn’t like running while he’s busy running.

“Before he starts to run he wants to run, while he’s running he thinks it sucks, and after he’s finished running he thinks it’s wonderful. That’s pretty much where I am; it’s hard work when you’re doing it, and you want to turn back and go home, but you carry on because there’s an extra biscuit when you get home.”

Guess she’s ready.

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.

Missed the previous Dream Chasers episodes? Watch them now.

This article was paid for by Fedhealth.

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