The Joy of Running.

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle— when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. – Roger Bannister

I ran my first full marathon in 2013. I had just lost my closest cousin and was looking for a distraction to deal with the grief. I stumbled on an advert in the news about an upcoming Milo Marathon in Accra, Ghana; I participated in the marathon and finished with a time of 6 hours plus. That was how I got hooked on running long distances, and I have since run marathons in the following cities (Accra(3), Cotonou, Lagos(2), Nairobi, Toronto (4), Vancouver, Ottawa(2), Edmonton, Montreal, Hamilton, Fredericton, Halifax, Calgary and Winnipeg). I have since participated in over 20+ 42.2 KM marathons in 14 cities.

My ten years of running consistently have taught me more about life than my over three decades of formal schooling. I have learnt most life skills for navigating the vicissitudes of life through running, such as endurance, resilience, self-discipline, commitment, persistence, pacing, long term thinking, among others. The joy and pain of running long distances is something that most non-runners don’t understand. You get asked questions such as What was your position? Why would you travel that long distance just to run? Who is paying for all of this? These are genuine questions, but most times, I know they don’t understand the joy of running and the life lessons that running can teach anyone.


Apart from the runner’s high that a runner experiences after a run, the pain threshold required to overcome the wall that most runners experience after mile 20 in a 42.2 KM marathon, the egalitarian nature of running where the billionaire and the store clerk start at the same spot and run side by side. Running has been a therapy for me in the past ten years, as I run to clear my head and meditate on ideas and issues I am trying to solve. Running is also a great medium for forming a routine, self-discipline, commitment and dedication to run consistently.


One of the greatest joys of running is the goal-setting and training piece, as you need to recalibrate your body to build stamina, endurance and mental fortitude to last the distance. The health benefits of running are numerous, as it helps build strong bones and muscles, enhances self-confidence, mental health, ageing gracefully and quality of life. I ran six full 42.2 KM marathons in 2022, and I am on course to run ten full marathons across the 10 Canadian Provinces (five down –Toronto, Ontario, Fredericton, News Brunswick, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Calgary, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba and five more to go).


One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to run four full 42.2 KM marathons in a month. It was a tough experience from setting the goal, believing it could be done, the logistics of flying back to back, and dealing with the comments of naysayers (You can’t do that, who does that?) and executing one race at a time. It is one of the most exciting adventures I have taken, and it was fun and sometimes hard doing it. Proving the naysayers wrong was exciting, as the same people that said I could not run four marathons in a month; later said, “How do you do it? ” As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once quipped:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Making It Fun through Habit Stacking

I run more during the summer as I find running outdoors more fun and exhilarating. For example, in mid-June 2023, I set a goal of running the 10 KM distance in a sub-40 minutes time finish. As a result, I have been running an average of 10-12 KM every morning and averaging 100 KM per week. Most weekends, I run back-to-back half-marathons (21.1 KM). One of the reasons I have been able to run consistently in the past couple of weeks is a result of habit stacking. I listen to an audiobook or a French podcast while running. Even when I don’t want to run, I immediately remind myself that running time is learning time, which pushes me to run. I Run because I love learning and am obsessed with becoming a better version of myself.

The Running Boom


And when things look worst, we run the most. Three times, America has seen distance-running skyrocket, and it’s always in the midst of a national crisis.

The first boom came during the Great Depression, when more than two hundred runners set the trend by racing forty miles a day across the country in the Great American Footrace. Running then went dormant, only to catch fire again in the early ’70s, when we were struggling to recover from Vietnam, the Cold War, race riots, a criminal president, and the murders of three beloved leaders.

 And the third distance boom? One year after the September 11 attacks, trail-running suddenly became the fastest-growing outdoor sport in the country. Maybe it was a coincidence. Or maybe there’s a trigger in the human psyche, a coded response that activates our first and greatest survival skill when we sense the raptors approaching. 1

In terms of stress relief and sensual pleasure, running is what you have in your life before you have sex. The equipment and desire come factory installed; all you have to do is let ’er rip and hang on for the ride.


Often the hardest thing is getting out in the first place. Plus, it really doesn’t matter what’s behind that front door, a stately home or a bedsit. On the start line, you’d rather be a well-trained student in second-hand shoes than a billionaire with all the latest gear who’s been too busy to put in the miles. Every time you set out on a training run, you’re writing a cheque to your future self – and you’ll cash them all on Race Day.

There’s nothing fairer than the marathon. Nothing quite as egalitarian. Not in sport, and not in life. Simply this: train hard enough and you’ll finish it.

In the marathon, you won’t be let down by a lack of skill. You won’t be let down by teammates. It doesn’t matter how big your house is, how many friends you have, or how funny you are. It’s just a dance, you being led by the distance. Put in the time, put in the miles, respect it – and you’ll be just fine. In many ways, the training is everything. Running, racing, life, it’s always about the journey rather than the destination.2


Well-trained athletes can tolerate more pain; others have shown that regular physical training, especially if it involves unpleasant high-intensity workouts, increases your pain tolerance. But the link between what’s happening in your muscles and what you feel in your head turns out to be much more indirect than you might assume. 2

Endurance is the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop.


What raises ironman above other sports is the visceral nature of the contest against a fixed and unyielding foe: the contest against the race itself. You see humanity at its rawest, at its best and its worst. The ironman brings that out in you. Finishing it is a victory. People vomit at the side of the road, they lose control of their basic functions, they collapse, they become delirious, desperate to reach the finish line, when sometimes that finish line is still miles away. It evokes such emotion and requires you to dig to the depths, physically and mentally. And then there is the euphoria and relief of making it to the end. Inspirational is the only word to describe it. You don’t get that from a game of cricket or football. 3

Whether you finish first or 1,001st, they make you feel like a champion. Your body may be wrecked, muscles cramping, skin chafing, toenails falling off and feet blistering, but you have joined a special club.


Prove them Wrong

Before that first race, people said that, for a guy like me, attempting something like Ultraman was harebrained, even stupid. After all, they knew me as a sedentary, middle-aged lawyer, a guy with a wife, children, and a career to think about, now off chasing a fool’s errand. Not to mention the fact that I was training—and intended to compete—on an entirely plant-based diet.

Impossible, they told me. Vegans are spindly weaklings, incapable of anything more athletic than kicking a Hacky Sack. No proteins in plants, you’ll never make it. I heard it all. But deep down, I knew I could do it.”

“And I did—proving them wrong and defying not just “middle age,” but the seemingly immutable stereotypes about the physical capabilities of a person who eats nothing but plants. And now here I was again, back at it a second time.”


  • Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt -Resting the Brain
  • Our meditation practices teach us to quiet our thoughts and still our body. The brain also needs regular periods of rest. Our brain has two main modes of processing:
  • Action-Oriented: Lets us focus on tasks, solve problems and process information.
  • Default mode network: Gives our mind a chance to sought things out in a subconscious way. It helps solidify lessons for memories and workout problems when we are stuck. The default mode network naturally kicks in before we sleep; we can further support it by deliberately resting the brain through conscious release.
  • Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – A Solid Foundation
  • Feeling unsettled or anxious often drives us back to our default; then, when we stumble in our attempt to transform ourselves or our lives. We misidentify the source of our struggles. The problem isn’t with the quality you are trying to cultivate or the routine you are trying to create, it is the foundation you are trying to build it on.
  • To succeed, you need to address the stress because when you are feeling balanced and present, you have more personal resources to draw from, and you are much better equipped to change your patterns.
  • If you are trying to make a change and your effort keeps falling apart, consider whether stress may destabilize your structure and then take care of the cracks in your foundation.


All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

Comments are closed.