Danny Painter

Monday, October 13, 2014

I've always been a party girl. From the moment the first drop of cider touched my lips at 11 years old, I was hooked. Having grown up "chubby" I found a personality in alcohol that I felt I didn't have without it. I could be the life an soul of the party, confident and fun no matter what my weight. I got very, very good at drinking. And, as a kids TV presenter on two of South Africa's biggest channels, I also got very good at hiding it.

It's shocking how readily the entertainment industry accepts drinking and even enables it. I was living the life, attending parties, red carpets, travelling, making more money than I knew what to do with. But I was also spiraling out of control. 

When my contract ended and I moved onto running my own company, the drinking followed, I was now older, married and fatter than I had ever been, which lead to me needing more and more "liquid personality". Without my television career, I felt I was worthless. One night it all went too far. It started innocently with bottle or three of wine over a meeting and ended badly, it was the 7th August 2014. (The gory details are on my blog http://dannypaints.tumblr.com/.) When I woke up I knew I needed to change everything. So, I did. And the girl who always said "why run unless you're being chased" had soon swapped beer for water, heels for Reeboks and found love and herself in running.

I would never have even considered running had it not been for a dear friend, Lerissa, who asked me to join her at a Parkrun. Soon after, another phenomenal woman, and my biggest running inspiration, Boniswa, entered me into my first 5km, seeing something in me that I didn't know was there. I fought for every kilometer, every step and after collecting my first medal, I was hooked. I soon started to enter 10km races and even stopped smoking to be able to run better. 

I absolutely love to run, even when I hate it. I fight myself and the want to just give up constantly but the camaraderie and positive reassurance from complete strangers, and my husband, who also has been bitten by the bug, on the road keeps me going. I have never felt more at home and accepted than in a huge crowd at the start of a race, more proud as the km markers go by and more in love than I feel with every race I complete.

It's been 2 months of no drinking, 4 Parkruns, 4 races, 12cm lost, 4kg and finally, a happy and confident me. I have completely changed my life, my eating and even my sleeping to accommodate my running. I have a long way to go, many km's and even more kilograms, but I will never stop, as one older man who ran next to me during a difficult stretch of a 10km said to me "there's no turning back now, you may as well just carry on".

There was a movie, where they were looking for a catchy slogan for a running shoe and Matthew Mcconaughey asks "why does she run?" I know the answer, she runs to find herself. She runs to find peace and quiet. She runs because it's the only hour of her day that is 100% dedicated to her. She runs because it's in her blood.

- Danny Painter

Twitter: @thedannypainter 

Instagram: @thedannypainter

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