#TeamRed athlete Gloria Ngcobo aims for back-to-back glory at Comrades Marathon

“The most important lesson I’ve learnt is to literally just do it!” – Gloria Ngcobo

When #TeamRed athlete and Biogen Face of Fitness finalist Gloria Ngcobo is not in the gym, you will likely find her running out on the roads around Cape Town, training to complete her second Comrades Marathon.

While simply finishing the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon is a significant feat, Gloria is chasing an even more auspicious accolade this year – the coveted back-to-back medal.

Introduced in 2005, the medal is awarded to novice runners who complete a race in both directions in successive years – the race direction alternates between the 87 km up run starting from Durban and the 90 km down run starting in Pietermaritzburg.

What makes it special is that runners only have one opportunity to earn the medal, which means the pressure to complete the daunting up run. In pursuit of this rare achievement, Gloria will join 20,000 other passionate runners as they set off from Durban at 05h30 am on 9 June 2024.

Gloria only started running in 2023 as part of her “new year, new me” resolution. “I jumped into running with a 10 km race, and boy, did I not die! I then started training with runners who were preparing for Comrades.”

Gloria’s enjoyment and passion for the sport grew as it creates positive mental space for her and allows her to focus on her fitness rather than obsessing over her physique. “I love that aspect of the sport!”

Since completing her first 10 km race, Gloria has come to love the distance. “It’s just enough to get me going without those voices in my head asking, why am I doing this?” She has since gotten her PB down to an impressive 54 minutes.

As her training progressed and her confidence grew, Gloria decided to enter the 2023 Comrades marathon. “The community and the challenge of achieving the goal drew me to the race.”

Running in the colours of Kearsney Striders, Gloria overcame the toughest physical challenge of her life to earn her first finisher’s medal. 

“My first Comrades marathon was life-changing and my greatest running achievement. Enduring the pain and succeeding created so much growth for me. Running has changed my life in so many ways. It has shown me how capable I am and taught me to back myself and peruse my heart’s desires.”

With that as her motivation, Gloria is determined to conquer the up run in 2024. “Completing my first up run and chasing my back-to-back medal means more growth for me, which is why I committed to achieving this ambitious goal.”

In preparation, Gloria does two 10 km training runs during the week and a longer run on weekends, aiming to go beyond 20 km. She ramps up her weekly mileage as race day approaches. 

“I follow the training plan provided by the Comrades marathon when you enter, and combine this with strength and electro muscle stimulation (EMS) training to strengthen my legs, rehab an old knee injury and reduce my risk of future injuries.”

Gloria also includes upper body strength training to maintain balance in her physique and give her weary legs some rest. 

Gloria fuels her training with a diet that contains lots of protein to support recovery and carbohydrates for energy. 

She supports her diet with a comprehensive supplement plan that includes a range of Biogen health and sports performance products, using Biogen Carbogen to carbo load before races and Biogen Electrolyte+ to support optimal hydration and Biogen Cytogen for energy during training and races. 

“Biogen Carbogen carbo loader is my favourite supplement. It’s a slow-releasing fuel that sustains me as if I ate a meal, I love it!,” says Gloria.

Since starting her running journey, Gloria has learnt a few things from her training and races and the runners she meets along the way.

“The important factors to successful running is getting sufficient rest and increasing your mileage slowly,” she explains. 

“However, the most important lesson I’ve learnt is to literally just do it! I ran my first race in lifestyle sneakers because I didn’t have running shoes. Had I allowed that to stop me from running that race, I wouldn’t have started my journey to a back-to-back Comrades medal! So, just start with whatever you have and don’t let the excuses keep you from achieving your goals.”