When I was younger, much younger, I ran because it was one of those things that had to be done every Friday afternoon during our P.E lesson. Later, I ran because there were races to be won, medals to accrue and an ego to feed. And much later, I ran because I thought I was heavier than I ought to have been and wanted to look ‘hot’ for the guys.
Then, the running stopped.
School was out, medals had been won and as it turned out, lots of guys actually like curves on a girl. Little did I know then that running served a purpose other than to fulfill obligations, win races or lose weight.
It all started about 3 years ago when entered myself in an event called ‘run for child survival’. With a title like that, wouldn’t you? All I had to do was buy a t-shirt for 500 bob, show up at the Nairobi university graduation square at 7am on a Saturday, get my feet moving at the sound of a gunshot and make sure I crossed the finish line. This meant that I would have to fore-go a night out with the girls the previous Friday but…what can I say, some things are bigger than girls’ nights out.
The run was 6kms long, sounds do-able but take the ‘able’ out of that word and it feels less so. In the end, I believe I ran for 1K, walked for 2 and hobbled the rest of the way. The route was swarming with shortcuts to the finish line and had I not been in the company of people whose respect I value, I would have put them to good use.
By the end of the marathon, (did I say marathon??) I felt like a statistic from the Nyayo house torture chambers of days gone by and a week long holiday at the beach, complete with a cocktail of tense-relieving spa treatments seemed justifiable.
Fast forward one year later- To prove a point to myself (that’s so me by the way), I entered the same event, ran the whole way and failed to take note of any potential shortcuts. Same route, same cause, same person. So what changed?
Well in that following year, I made the decision to look after my health with a little more care. So when it came to keeping fit, running was seemingly the cheapest, easiest option. My target was at least 3 times a week. The results? Well I ran the 6k- all the way. Spurred on by my success, I signed up for another run, this time it was the Standard chartered Nairobi marathon- 21k. Talk about ambition!
For this race, I trained and hard. In other words, I ran- a lot.
And what started out as just me being me (i.e. proving points to myself) became something bigger, something better- for me.
Lots of people asked me why I was always running. “You don’t need to lose weight”, they told me. My answer was always the same, “I am training for the half marathon”. And it was true. But then, the more I ran, the more I realized that it was more. Much more. I asked myself whether I was in fact running for or from something. As it turned out, I was doing both. But in a good way. And I have never looked back. Here is why…
My daily tasks are solved as I run. I have time, with my own thoughts to work through the myriad of issues that occupy my head.
It is the only time when the only person I am responsible for is myself. No one wants anything from me and I can think about whatever I want.
Running challenges me to do more than I ever thought I could do. The strength I gain from meeting that challenge carries over to help me to overcome other hurdles in life.
Running is a great way to expand my horizons and discover another side to my surroundings. The side that I wouldn’t be able to in my car.
When I am feeling sluggish, tired, or just downright depressed running gives me energy. Funny that…
Running inspires, within me, disciplined habits, such that when I make a commitment to go for a run, I just get on with it, mind over body, no excuses.
It has boosted my confidence to the extend that I no longer absolutely have to wear a sarong on the beach!
It’s a great feeling to set a goal and actually see myself meeting it. Ex. when I completed the Child survival run without stopping (the second time)…When I attempted and completed the half marathon…and now my sights are set on attempting and completing a full marathon in October this year, but more than the race, I look forward to the training.