Nokuthula Dubazane

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Q. Who are you and what you do for a living?

My name is Nokuthula, most people call me Noks. I am from Ladysmith, KZN and currently living in Cape Town. I work as an environmentalist – so a trained lover of all things outdoors. 

Q. How do you balance your exercise regime and your professional life?

For me it’s really easy, as running helps keep me sane at work. Even when things are get busy I will always try and find time for a short run. It’s crazy because even when I travel for work, running shoes are the first thing I pack. I always enjoy exploring a new place on a slow jog. I call it my ‘touring pace’. 

Q. When and why did you start running?

I truly believe that we are all born to run. As a kid in Ladysmith we played on the streets which included lots of running around for hours. Then we begin work, form a routine, and forget how much of fun it is to be free in the fresh outdoors with your heart pumping excitedly in your chest. I prefer to think that I was born a runner and just had to remind myself to run again at 25. This is when I worked in a beautiful nature reserve in Howick. 

Howick is an active little town and it’s honestly difficult not to get positively influenced by all those amazing people. I watched all these people doing this running thing and I’m afraid that peer pressure eventually got to me. And I ended up finding myself running the Totalsports women’s race with colleagues, I think that’s a sign that peer pressure can be good for you. 

Q. What motivates you to go out there, when you do not feel like it? 

In 2018, we started a running community for women based in Durban called #RunDbnZA. When this was new, there were days I wouldn’t want to go and lead the runs. I would be lazy and often would want to bail on the planned runs. But during one of those low days, a friend of mine told me one thing that has kept me going throughout my running journey. She told me that I had made a commitment and once you’ve made one, you stick to it, whether you feel like it or not. Listen, there are days when I don’t feel like running but if I have committed to someone or a big race like Comrades, I know I have to do it. One thing I know for sure is that I never regret a run 

Q. What gives you the confidence to run in the streets?

That question makes it sound like running is something crazy people do. I suppose in a way, all runners have a little bit of crazy in them. Look, I wish that SA was safe enough that we could run wherever we liked and feel safe. Unfortunately that’s not the reality at the moment. So I have learned to take precautions so that I can feel confident and enjoy my run without spending all my energy on being worried about my safety. I always run in a group or on a busy route at a busy time. If I am in a new place I take a short drive to the area I want to run the day before to see when it gets a bit busier. I also try to alternate my routes every day, and if I am feeling unsafe in an area I trust my instincts and change my route. 

Q. What was your best running experience? 

Cape Town Marathon 2017 has to be the best running memory for me. This was the second marathon I had ever done. Since I knew that I was new at this long distance business I made sure to train well for it and followed the provided program for a sub 4h00. My intention was to see if I could improve my first marathon time of 4h51 and finish it in 4h30. That race was the best race for me, I remember going through 30km with the biggest smile on my face. I was happy, I practically cruised through and enjoyed every part of it. I managed to finish it at 4h16 with a big smile on my face. 

Q. What was your worst running experience?

Comrades 2018 has to be one of the worst running experience I have ever had (not the finish line but the race). I have never been a runner who struggles with injuries in races, so while I’m always nervous I general don’t worry about such. But on Comrades day, I had my fair share of pain which was accompanied by loads of tears. This is because on race day my calves started giving me issues from as early as 15km but I kept on thinking that the pain will eventually go away but that wasn’t the case. I got to the halfway mark, in so much pain and when I saw the friends that had been waiting for me there I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was rubbing ice and everything on my calves but it seemed like nothing was helping. 

8. How do you push through the pain?

I think Comrades taught me this quite well, I remember feeling like the pain was too much but I knew very well that I was not willing to give up. After halfway, I eventually asked the physiotherapist on the medical tent to strap my leg, and they did but that only eased the pain for a short while and I ended up having both legs strapped. At some point in this race, I had this internal conversation where I just told myself that I was going to push through the pain and would break the run into smaller sections. 

The mind is something else, believe me had I not done that I am sure I wouldn’t have finished at the time I finished at. The pictures from the finish line that show me with both legs bandaged remind me how strong the mind is. Quite honestly, reflecting back on that day everyone was in pain. I swear it was like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan. I guess runners are all definitely a bunch of crazies. 

Q. What advice can you give somebody who wants to start running?

Just remember that it’s something that you have done before. So your body knows what it’s doing, it just needs to do it more often and things will get easier. Peer pressure and feeling safe helps, so find a group to run with. And if you feel like you want to run but think it’s a crazy idea, let your crazy shine. There’s a whole bunch of us on the road waiting to welcome you to the club. Remember to also start small, we didn’t wake up and run Comrades but we started with a 5km fun runs. 

Q. Which Social media sites are you on and how can one follow you? 

Instagram: Noks_D 

Facebook: Nokuthula Dubazane 

If you want to stalk my runs, check out my Strava as well Noks D


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