South Africa is full of passionate and competitive endurance athletes, many of whom have to balance a full-time job, and family and social commitments with the demands of training to compete at the sharp end of the field.

Ulrica Stander is the epitome of the elite non-professional athlete we so often find in South Africa. She has represented her country as a triathlete and track and field athlete and now competes in the colours of Murray & Roberts as an elite marathon runner.

Finding balance to meet life’s many commitments

“It’s not keeping all of life’s balls in the air. To balance it all, I plan my days and time very carefully and well in advance,” explains Ulrica. “Every second counts!”

Ulrica’s day usually starts at 04:30 am when her alarm goes off. “After a cup of coffee at 05:00 am I’m awake and ready to hit the road.” She runs from 05:15 until around 07:00.

Ulrica is at work by 08:30 am. “I’m an Accounts Manager: Aesthetics for Galderma in the Western Cape and I’m fortunate in that I love my job.”

After work, Ulrica picks up her little girl, Mila and has another training session. “If I don’t train, I will spend quality time with my children until bedtime.” She aims to be in asleep by 10 pm.

“Over weekends I love to spend time with my precious family and friends. Balance is very important to me!”

Pepto Pro

Balancing training and rest for optimal results

Ulrica trains 6 days a week, engaging in a variety of activities from day to day. “I have a structured training programme from my coach and mentor Lindsey Parry, which I follow diligently. His expert guidance helps me confidently reach my goals.”

Ulrica’s training programme consists of a balanced combination of recovery runs, hard speed work, long runs, progression runs, cycling and core training.

Her approach also places significant emphasis on recovery. “When you train hard every day and compete regularly, your body also needs time and fuel to recover. It’s only when you find the perfect balance between hard work and sufficient rest that your body responds the way it should.”

In this regard, Ulrica aims to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night and also rests one day a week.

“I also drink a PeptoSport with PeptoPro shake after every training session.”

The carbohydrates it contains replaces lost energy and the protein peptides repair muscle tissue for optimal recovery. It also contains electrolytes for hydration

“This is a great product that ensures I’m ready to train hard again at the next session. It really is the fuel to my fire.”

Fuelled for optimal health and performance

Ulrica adds that good nutrition provides your body with the necessary fuel and nutrients needed to support optimal health and peak performance.

“I have great guidance from a professional nutritionist, who makes sure I eat well. I stay healthy by choosing the right nutritious foods for every meal and snack, and believe in eating smaller meals more frequently to fuel my body throughout the day.”

Ulrica believes that her structured, well-balanced eating plan, which contains adequate amounts of natural foods across all the major food groups, enables her to achieve her training goals.

More than just physical

She is also a staunch advocate for a ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. To remain motivated, Ulrica views every day as a new opportunity to better herself and grow as a person. “By living my dream and setting an example, I want to inspire young girls and women to do the same. It’s never too late to live your dream!”

With balance such a key theme in Ulrica’s success story, we asked for her 5 top tips to help readers achieve similar success in your life:

  1. Prioritise: Identify your major priorities and write them down.
  2. Focus: Focus on your specific goal, leveraging your abilities and circumstances to make the best of what you have.
  3. Apply yourself: Do your best and give 100% at every opportunity, whether its a training session or race.
  4. Take small steps towards the bigger objective: Complete one task at a time. Don’t get distracted by the many other demands in your life. You will get to everything if you stick to your plan.
  5. Believe in yourself: I believe in who I am and what I’m capable of. I, therefore, also support and encourage everyone else to be their best. Everyone deserves a place in the sun!