Stuart Hendricks

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

As far as writing about my running ‘journey’ goes, it’s something that I’ve actively tried to avoid. Not because I’m shy or embarrassed about what I used to look like, but because I’ve always considered myself a work in progress.

But with the opportunity granted by to write about my ‘journey,’ I thought that now would be the ideal time to document my path to fitness. In many ways, every runner is a work in progress; an unfinished piece. There are lots of challenges that lie in wait. But having completed my maiden Two Ocean's half marathon and now having started training for the Soweto Marathon half, it is now that I've realised that I'm enjoying this journey more than ever.

Early in February 2012, I decided to attend a Keep Fit class at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, in an attempt to add some variety to my beleaguered exercise routine. At that stage, I was around 97kgs, with a BMI of over 30. When the instructor announced that we would be doing a 5km through Newlands, I wasn’t quite sure if I was capable of handling it. I’m still surprised that my lungs didn’t collapse after that first run.

That was essentially the start of my journey. I could outline every single milestone, every hurdle, every breakthrough. But I won’t. In short, I went from being 97kgs to my current weight of 75kgs. I’ve since completed a triathlon (on Robben Island, no less), a duathlon, numerous 10km races and have notched up a couple of half marathons along the way too. I’ve also improved all my key health indicators. To use a vehicular metaphor, I’ve gone from being an overloaded pick-up truck to being a high-performance hatchback. All primarily as a result of running.

I've also incorporated cross-training activities such as swimming, spinning and boxing to ward off injuries and improve overall running strength.

However, a rather humbling moment came while running in Newlands Forest on the 6th of March 2013, when I suffered an avulsion fracture of my ankle. Not being one to ponder and overthink injuries, I came to terms pretty easily with the fact that my left foot would be completely immobile for the next four weeks, at least. It’s been over a year and a half since that fateful day and quite frankly, I’m still as happy as I was before my tendon tore out of my ankle and took some bone with it. You see, as much as I’m a believer in trying to make sure that each run is better than the last, running has taught me that it's also important to hit the reset button on your body. Mechanics will tell you, high-performance hatchbacks need services every once in a while.

Two months after my broken ankle, I ran my first 10km race for 2013, the SSISA-sponsored UCT Memorial. A week after that I ran the Itheko Slave Route Challenge 10km and did a personal best time of 45:35, a whole three minutes faster than my previous best 10km time. I was elated not only at this achievement itself, but at the fact that I had overcome a physical setback to break the boundaries of what I once thought was impossible. From running 5km in just over 30 minutes to running 10km in just over 45 minutes is something I can count as one of the truly remarkable highlights of my journey.

- Follow him on instagram: @s2art_


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