My Life Story - Nolene Conrad

“Never give up. Always believe in yourself and work hard for what you want” –

Nolene Conrad.

 Nolene Conrad (30), a professional distance runner who used to be a full time teacher at Vorentoe High School, obtained her honours in Sports management and a post graduate in education at the University of Johannesburg. She studied said courses with the aid of a bursary achieved due to her strive for success in sport and self improvement. She is indeed a vibrant individual with quite the drive, incidentally her ambition and assertiveness was tested when she was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma at the age of 13 years old. She consequently discovered sports to be her salvation and a blessing in disguise. After 3 years of severe suffering due to this illness and literally holding on to the breath of life, she sensibly took her caring doctor’s insightful advice and started exercising and pursuing breathing induced sports, shortly training in cross country due to the introduction of the sport by a supporting friend. She started slow but rapidly excelled by setting goals and training smart. Her strength derived from her positive attitude and zeal for success. She is also quite an insistent runner sometimes, she admitted.

Evidently Nolene is a very determined student; she acquired her knowledge and intent through role models, experts, coaches, resources; books, the internet, and fellow athletes. But more importantly she tuned to her own needs and restrains, and always striding to exceed her limits was pertinent to Nolene’s strive and success. She recently discovered that she can now endure a race without her inhaler and this has been elevating for her and an inspiration to us all.

Nolene’s biggest accomplishment till thus far was representing her country in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. She was 20 years of age at that point. Her key to success lies in following training programs devotedly and to push herself to reach the times her coach; Hans Saestad, would set for her, and she would do this in training alone sometimes which can prove quite challenging. Yet she is still wise to appreciate the value in resting and taking easy days, as is crucial in the long run, pun intended. She also draws lessons from both the good and bad races during her retrospection.

Nolene is probably different from other athletes due to her extreme discipline and impeccable time management. Her challenges entails having a full time job but still being able to train effectively and to compete is what sets her apart, and her adaptability has been a benefactor as well, especially when travelling for international competitions. “Its vital to stay calm and positive when faced with situations of chaos” she advises.

Conrad takes to the advice of her coach and recommends the same. “Listen to your body”. She struggled through many injuries on an annual basis because she might have pushed too hard in her previous competitive years. Elroy Gelant recently attributed that exact recipe for his success over the last couple of years as well. Nolene has mindfully pushed through injury free as of this year by fulfilling much needed rest in between days. She remains a surprise package and endeavours to surprise herself, while she knows what she is capable of. She thrives on being the underdog, but never should she be underestimated. This athlete is quite the canny, progressive athlete that trains resourcefully and competes with an open but determined heart and spirit, always assertive and enjoying good competition just the same. She would rather compete in a difficult race for a best time than an easy race and an easy, unfulfilled win.

Nolene’s strategies involve preparing herself not only physically but mentally as well prior to big races. She feels preparation is a key tribute to success as well as reaching for perfection when implementing strategies, but also with mind, body and heart insync at all times. She is not an individual for half-hatred executions. And she feels the same about recovery after each session or competition. Recovery is Vital she says. And recovery supplements aid to benefit in repairing destroyed muscle fibres.

 Nolene gets a lot of support as well with her endeavours. She has been with Endurocad Academy for the last 2 years. She professed that they account a lot for her improvements in her running, with Elana Meyer mentoring her, and her current coach also stemming from the Academy. Nolene enjoys full access to a gym and strength programs as well, and enjoys having sportswear and supplement sponsors, IE; Adidas and 32Gi, aiding her in training proficiently.

Through Endurocad Nolene is working on building her brand for the future. Nolene recently joined her new club KPMG and so far she admitted to be very impressed with their management team. The ever present and very supportive KPMG will surely look after this equally impressive sport star. Nolene sure has been honoured by their aptitude. Nolene built a relationship with KPMG academy through her previous employer Voretoe High. Their goal, she explained, is to select a few athletes to work with and to essentially shape up. KPMG’ Undergraduate Programmes offers internships, paid work experience and insight to various relevant careers. They offer support beyond support, by seeking out job opportunities within their company to help individuals grow their brand, not just as an athlete but also as a person. And subsequently;

Nolene aspires to represent her country at the Olympics in Rio this year. Her current game plan is to push to qualify for the 3000m Steeplechase event. She has taken a break from the track in 2015 to focus more on the road but will soon endeavour to qualify. This payed off as she recently was the first South African lady home at the World Half Marathon champs. Her best time presently is 9:54 and the standard qualifying time for the Steeplechase is 9:45. She feels her chances to qualify is realistic enough.

Sports can be employed as a tool to instil qualities such as discipline, keenness for hard work, commitment and patience. It can teach many values, which we can carry into our work and personal life. It teaches us self-confidence, punctuality and respect. It can help us turn our weaknesses into strength. It may also prove to strengthen relationships with friends, family and even role models.

It also may enable you to travel the world and explore different places and cultures. – Nolene Conrad, you are an inspiration to us all. We honour you

Jaco van Eeden.