If you live in the Ballito area, you’ve more than likely seen her running on the road, effortlessly floating past like a sporty fairy with her long, black hair and petite physique. With two degrees under her belt, a husband who is a model and a host of podium finishes, Asta Ganasen really seems to have it all.
Determined and focussed, this tiny 26-year-old Brettenwood speedster is quickly becoming a powerhouse athlete. She who won three 10km races last year alone, including the Deloitte Challenge and the Big Hill Run, and finished in the Top 8 at the Total Sports Women’s Race, achieving her personal best time of 39.06 minutes. And she is pushing for more.
“My goal this year is to break 39-minutes and achieve a 38 or even 37-minute finish. But dropping a minute is huge and running is so unpredictable. You can do all the training, eat right and then on race day your body might decide not to play along. You have to be able to accept that bad race days happen. But you can’t give up and be despondent, you have to carry on pushing yourself,” says Asta, who lives up to her name, which means ‘star’ in Greek.
It’s this determination to do better and motivation to achieve that has seen Asta crossing at the front of the finish line since her early school days. “My love for running developed in primary school when I started cross country at age seven. I enjoyed the competitive side of running and always wanted to achieve good results. When I made the Natal Team in primary school, I knew this was my thing.”
Growing up in a sporty family – her dad competes internationally in cycling while her mom is also a keen runner – Asta says being outdoors and active has always been part of her lifestyle. “My parents have always supported my running. My dad used to cycle next to me in races and motivate me along the way. He taught me to never give up.”
Being an ‘energiser bunny’, Asta had to learn the hard way that the human body can only handle so much and she was forced to take a six-month break due to a nasty knee injury. “I ran the Comrades route tester when I was 21, but had to stop at 35 kilometres because my knee gave way. Not being able to run for so long was really tough and six months felt like a lifetime, but it was good for me. I learnt how to train smart and build up my strength thanks to my biokineticist. I actually came back stronger.”
As a result of her smarter training regime, Asta has been injury free for two years, despite racing much harder. “I used to run every day, covering 70km to 80km a week. Now, I run maybe four times a week, mixing it up between 10km and 18km runs, as well a 400m to 1000m track work session with my coach at Kingspark to get my speed up. I do a lot more gym work, including light weights, core exercises and Pilates. The stronger and more supple your body is, the less chance you have of injury and the better you will perform,” says Asta, who recently married her dreamy, love-at-first-sight husband, Jeslin.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the results I have this last year without my husband’s support. I have to thank him for those 4am morning sacrifices and his positive influence in my life. We gym together and we just did the 21km Rhino Horn hike in the Berg.”
4 tips to get running ready:
- If the shoe fits
All you need to start running, Asta says, is a determined mind and a good pair of shoes. “Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to shoes. Take your time to find the right shoes for you. Get professional advice if you can, as the wrong shoe can lead to injuries. Starting out you can just have one pair, but when you start competing, they wear out fast. Racers should be lighter shoes and trainers can be a bit heavier as those are going to rack up more mileage.”
2. Better together
“If you are a sociable person, joining a club is great, as you have that community spirit. I have made lifelong friends and have met such wonderful people through running. You need your running buddies to motivate you to get up at 4am for a run. Also, when you are part of a running club you get a license, so you don’t have to pay for a temporary licence to take part in a race.”
3. Run yourself healthy
“I haven’t been sick in five years. Running can boost your immune system by creating a higher concentration of white blood cells that attack disease. It’s also great to keep in shape as you burn on average 100 calories for every 1 km jog, so you can afford to have a treat!”
4. Rest to race
If you are already hooked on running and want to start racing, remember to start preparing a week before race day. “Shorten your training route, rest the day before and do lots of stretching. I also drink Rehydrate the day before the race to prepare my body.”
Details: @asta_ganasen on Instagram
Text: Elana Wagner | Photographs: Chris Allan Photo |
Hair & Makeup: Pam MCNEIL, Nixon Shoot Location: Brettenwood Coastal Estate | Outfit: Inspire, Tash B Pilates, The Quarter, Ballito