In the realm of distance running, the journey from novice to champion is often marked by milestones, challenges, and triumphs. 

Today, we delve into the inspiring story of Ria van Wyk, a member of the Coach Parry Training Club, as she shared her experiences and insights.

Ria’s running journey began with a simple gesture of companionship, as she sought to support a friend during a challenging time. What started as a casual stroll evolved into a passion for running, fueled by the camaraderie and excitement of events like the Two Oceans Marathon.

Despite being relatively new to the sport, Ria’s commitment to following her training program with precision yielded remarkable results, including a half marathon time that surpassed her expectations.

The Power of Structure

At the heart of Ria’s success lay a steadfast commitment to structure and discipline.

Unlike those who veered off course or sought shortcuts, Ria adhered to her training program with unwavering dedication. 

Whether it was a prescribed long run or a session of strength training, she approached each task with meticulous attention to detail, trusting the process and reaping the rewards.

Embracing New Challenges

As Ria set her sights on future goals, including the upcoming Gun Run, her willingness to embrace new challenges shone through. 

Despite achieving success in the half marathon distance, she remained hungry for improvement, eager to test her limits and push beyond her comfort zone. With the guidance of her coaches and the support of her fellow runners, Ria embarked on each new endeavor with enthusiasm and determination.

The Role of Strength Training

In their coaching call, Ria and Markus delved into the importance of strength training in her running regimen. Discussing whether to focus on increasing repetitions or weights, they explored the delicate balance between building muscle and optimizing performance. 

Through trial and error, Ria navigated this terrain with caution, seeking to enhance her strength without compromising her speed or agility.

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Balancing Muscle Gain and Running Performance

A key consideration in Ria’s training journey was the balance between muscle gain and running performance. 

While strength training offered numerous benefits, including injury prevention and improved power, it was essential to avoid excessive muscle mass that could hinder running efficiency. 

By carefully monitoring her progress and adjusting her training accordingly, Ria struck a harmonious balance that supported her long-term goals.

Injury Prevention and Longevity

As Ria approached the age of sixty, injury prevention and longevity became paramount concerns. Through a combination of structured training, strength work, and sensible recovery practices, she prioritized her health and well-being, ensuring that she could continue running for years to come. Her commitment to injury prevention served as a model for runners of all ages, highlighting the importance of listening to one’s body and respecting its limits.

Cross-Training for Enhanced Performance

In addition to strength training, Ria explored the benefits of cross-training, including cycling, as a means of enhancing her running performance. Recognizing the complementary nature of cycling and running, she incorporated cycling sessions into her training regimen, leveraging its low-impact benefits and cardiovascular conditioning to support her running goals. 

By embracing a holistic approach to fitness, Ria maximized her potential as a runner while minimizing the risk of overuse injuries.

The TRUTH About Using Your Bike To Become A Better Runner

Community, Encouragement, and Support

Throughout her journey, Ria found strength and inspiration in the supportive community of fellow runners and coaches. Whether celebrating achievements, offering words of encouragement, or seeking advice, she actively engaged with her peers, fostering a sense of camaraderie and connection. 

As she looked ahead to future challenges and triumphs, Ria drew upon this collective energy and camaraderie, knowing that she was never alone in her pursuit of excellence.

As Ria’s coaching call came to an end, her story served as a testament to the transformative power of dedication, perseverance, and community. 

From her humble beginnings as a novice runner to her emergence as a seasoned athlete, Ria’s journey was a reminder that greatness was within reach for those who dared to dream and were willing to put in the work.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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