It is impossible to dispute the talent and athletic prowess that Pretorian Carla Huyssteen exudes. She is clearly a naturally gifted athlete who exhibits an outstanding work ethic that has allowed her to conquer several sports which include road running, trail running, triathlons, mountain biking, road biking as well as adventure racing.
Carla’s sports resume is so long and impressive, you would probably have to pick your jaw up from the floor after reading it. Her career highlights include taking podium position at the 2012 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships, winning the ITU Age Group World Championships (20-24) 2008 in Vancouver, taking first place at the Red Bull Lion Heart Challenge and SabiXtrail in 2012 as well as winning the 2013 Xterra Grabouw SA Champs. Those are accomplishments that most could only dream about.
Apart from being an amazing athlete, Carla is also a very smart girl – she is actually a qualified physiotherapist. Due to the physical nature of her job, that definitely would come in handy. Rise To It was fortunate to pick her brain a bit…
How do you find time to partake in so many sports?
I have worked towards becoming a Pro athlete for the past few years and am finally fortunate enough to be training and competing full time. I have to plan my day/week/month very carefully with the assistance of a coach to get optimal results out of every day and every week as well as back to back sessions and proper recovery in between.
Why do you choose to compete in so many different sports?
I have always been a Jack of all trades, even in school I wanted to participate in all of the sports available. I am general poor at focusing on one thing which is a pro and con. I think my athletic ability opens up a lot of possibilities in different sporting disciplines, so I struggle choosing only one sport, but love doing all of them.
What is the hardest thing about being a serious competitive athlete?
Keeping focused, week in week out, session after session and not getting discouraged when things aren’t going as planned.
Why do you opt for trail running as opposed to road running?
I just love the technical aspect of trail running. My body seems to adjust better to the undulating, nonrhythmic style of trail running more than the rhythmic pounding of the road. Also, the views and nature aspects is non-negotiable.
What sort of diet do you follow?
I try and eat as healthily as possible, so starting with a healthy fruit and oats breakfast all the way through to a veggie filled dinner. Obviously I do enjoy my sweet treats, but I try and limit them. Lately my husband and I have looked into an alkaline diet and have been adding a bit of the Superfoods products into our smoothies. Once you go natural and indulge in organic foods, there is a never ending list of foods and supplements that you can add to your diet, so just going as natural as possible is important.
Take us through a typical day of trail running training…
Every day differs, but an ideal day has three sessions – one main session, one short session and one maintenance session. So maybe it will consist of a hard swim in the early morning, a solid ride over lunch and a run later in the afternoon. Sometimes sessions will be swopped with strengthening or rest depending on how my body is responding.
How do you mentally prepare for a race?
I just try to be positive, for every time doubts creeps in. I also go through the specifics, like transitions or technical sections in my mind.
What is your favourite way to hydrate when you are leading up to a race?
Drinking lots of alkaline water with lemon rooibos tea, using 32Gi in my training sessions and adding electrolytes, if I feel it’s necessary.
Do you have any pre race rituals?
Not really. I just like to do the race course a few times if possible, get enough sleep and have fish and veggies the night before.
What is your favourite trail running shoe and why?
I love the inov-8 X-Talon 190. It is super light, grips on anything and drains out water really well.
Any advice for budding trail runners or triathletes?
Initially there are not any tricks to it, other than getting out and doing it. So start slowly, but regularly get out on trails around your house and go out to little nature reserves even in the middle of town and you’ll be surprised about what amazing trails are out there.
Is there anything that you would like to ask Carla?