How Running Changed My Life

What’s the one activity which just the thought of has you feeling ill and tired? The action that has you thinking you’d rather go on a date with your ex! than do it?
For me (and I bet you too), it was running. I used to despise running and those who ran. My friends and I would joke that these people were only trying to show off how fit they were.. But then it all changed..

Deep down I wanted to change; I wanted to walk up a flight of stairs and not feel winded; I wanted to be able to sit anywhere in public transport (I couldn’t walk to the backseats without getting stuck in the aisles, so I had to use the front seats); Wishing I could walk confidently in my neighborhood without kids yelling “Kanono!” (Loosely translates to fat person in Swahili) whenever they saw me; I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin.

One day a ‘fit’ friend of mine asked me to join her for a morning run. I didn’t want to look like a downer so I had to say yes. Cursing myself so much the next morning (in my head of course) when she woke me up at 5.30 am.

I ran about 100 meters.. ran is an overstatement, it was more of a fast walk.. well not really.. I was plodding.. Dying, literally. I couldn’t catch my breath, so I dropped to my knees. I was sweating profusely; everything ached.. everything. I felt like my brain was shutting down.

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After that day I had all the reasons in the world to quit running as most of my friends did. But I had a strong why. Strong because it was linked to powerful emotions: anger and self-pity. I would ignore passersby in the neighborhood who looked at me with pity; some would laugh because of how much I was panting and sweating (looking back now I guess I must have looked ridiculous) but I didn’t care. I gave up so many times, but my reasons for running wouldn’t let me stop.


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So how did I manage to stay on course you ask?

I learned how to convert my “don’t want to’s” to “can’t wait to’s.”

I used these ways to find and maintain my motivation:

1. Have something to lose

As time went by and I could run longer distances (thanks to my ‘why’), the self-pity turned into confidence; I observed the pitiful stares turned into looks of admiration and for a moment, everything in my life was great. I was at peace.
If I stopped running I would go back to square one; the admiration would disappear; the confidence would go away. I hated square one. So I kept going.

2. Be organized

Imagine you are swamped. This means you have at least an hour per day for working out. You can’t find a sock. Your running shoes are dirty, and you can only see one shoe though you swear you left it just where the other was. You step out the door and realize you have no keys. You go back to look for the keys. 20 minutes have passed; 40 more remaining. Your motivation and patience are running low. Time is too far gone. You get frustrated and decide that tomorrow will undoubtedly be the day. Cycle repeats.

3. Have a support system

This goes without saying; man is not an island. My support system was my enthusiastic dad he went out and bought a workout outfit so that he could accompany me. Having him there running with me was so inspiring because I found out I wasn’t fitter than a pensioner! And that motivated me to run faster and get fitter.
PS: Being overweight shouldn’t be a hindrance to you living the life you want. Had I known this then, I wouldn’t have sought validation from other people. Yeah yeah, you think I’m saying that because I lost some weight, but the truth is, I still jiggle when I walk…I wiggle a lot. But I love myself now. And I love you too!