I started running in 2010. It was my go-to when I decided to abstain from alcohol, seeking a healthy lifestyle. I’d never done any form of exercise before, so breaking into the sport wasn’t something that happened overnight.
Being overweight and unfit didn’t help either. I recall how tough it was to run for a minute. It felt like my chest was going to burst and I’d faint from exertion. But I didn’t give up. Before long I was able to run for three minutes and walk breaks became shorter. Soon I was able to tackle a 5km, much to my delight. That’s when I joined a running club and started taking it seriously.
In conjunction with a healthy eating plan, the weight melted. I entered races, loved the thrill of competing and became smitten with running. It taught me discipline, perseverance and setting goals I could conquer. In return I appreciated my body, challenged myself to push past mental limits and felt blessed to run in a beautiful City.
I wrote a piece on why I love running in 2015. It was published in Runner’s World and Modern Athlete. This was a huge accomplishment for me, gaining exposure not only for running but intertwining my passion for writing.
Although I was riding the wave in running, I was plagued with many injuries. I was training for my first marathon in 2015 when I fell prey to plantar fasciitis, crushing my goal. I soon underwent a double bunionectomy that saw me side-lined from running for the next six months. This was torturous as I’d become dependent on it and couldn’t find anything to take its place. The only thing that kept me going was the hope of returning healthier and stronger to the sport I adored.
And I did. Taking time off makes one appreciate running even more. It didn’t matter that I had to start from scratch and gain fitness back. My muscles remembered how much it loved the road, my mind opened to new goals and I never stopped believing I’d conquer the next big race.
Sadly the injuries didn’t abate. The more I trained, especially on hills, my knees cried. I was soon diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a degeneration of cartilage in my joints . It broke my heart for I knew I’d never be able to run the way I used to and accepting this wasn’t easy.
In February, I underwent bilateral knee arthroscopy to clean out the knees and inject good blood cells, aiding the healing process. My recovery was painfully slow and once again I was forced out of running for two months. This time I questioned whether I’d be able to run again, whether it was time to call it quits on a sport that means everything to me.
Then in March I got a message from Lisa Abdellah, Deputy Editor of Runner’s World asking whether I was interested in featuring in the Run it Off story. I was gobsmacked – why was I given this opportunity when I was on the verge of stopping. It was as if the universe was saying running wasn’t ready to let me go.
My journey has taught me not to have expectations where running is concerned. Not to compare myself to others, to always listen to my body and afford it time to heal. The joy of running isn’t how far I run or how many races I do. It’s being grateful for the body I have, for the time I spend on the road and the glory running evokes in my soul.