Tanaka Mutakwa

Monday, September 16, 2019

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

My name is Tanaka Mutakwa. I live in Cape Town. I am the Founder of the NoDaysOff Lifestyle Brand (https://nodaysoff.co.za/), a Partner at Pahari African Restaurant (https://pahari.co.za/), and a Software Engineer.

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

I get most of my exercise done in the morning before I go into the office for work. I prefer it that way. Morning runs are beautiful, especially in Cape Town. My day gets started on a fitness note and the runners-high gives me energy for work too. 

Q. When and why did you start running?

I started running properly in 2015. At the start of that year I set myself a goal to complete 12 official races by the end of the year. I ended up completing 30 races that year. An overachievement I know. I have been addicted to running since then. I’ve found many benefits from running and I’ve written about them in the past here - http://www.mutakwa.com/blog/why-i-run/

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

I usually have a goal race I am training for. For example the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon or Comrades Marathon. On days when I do not feel like going out there to train I still do because I know I will thank myself on race day. If I don’t put in the training those races will be tough. Also I have found it is mostly the days when I don’t want to go out there and run but I still do that are most fulfilling. 10 or 15 minutes into the run I start to enjoy it and I question why I didn’t want to be out there anyway. 

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

Consistency - If you are out there often enough and make it a habit, then your confidence to run in the streets keeps increasing. Soon it is not even a question, running becomes a lifestyle. I've seen it in myself and I've seen it in friends who have become runners too. 

Q. What was your best running experience?

My 1st ever Comrades Marathon in June 2018 has to be my best running experience ever. Comrades is the ultimate human race. An experience I recommend for every runner out there. I’ve written all about that here - http://www.mutakwa.com/blog/tackling-my-1st-comrades-marathon/

Q. What was your worst running experience?

A couple of years back I did a half marathon after a big party the night before. 10km into the race I already knew there were problems. I managed to finish the race in the end but those last 11km were tough. As I’ve got older I have come to value a good night of sleep and being alcohol free the night before a race. 

Q. How do you push through the pain?

Even though I feel the pain I always know I have to keep moving towards the finish line. I have to activate the most advanced weapon in the ultra runner’s arsenal: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore. Even if I move slowly I stand a greater chance of finishing the race if I don't stop to try and recover. So I keep moving. There is a lesson there: Even if you are moving slowly, going through a rough patch, if you keep moving towards your goal you have a greater chance of getting there.

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

If you want to get into running, you do not start by going to run a marathon or even a half marathon. That is scary and even if you manage to make the attempt, you will probably feel a lot of pain for some days after that attempt. You want to start with small manageable distances to get your body used to running. At the beginning you can start with a small goal of running between 1km and 5km twice a week. Your goal initially could be to get to a point where you can run that distance without stopping to walk, even if you run at a very slow pace. Over time your body will get used to running this distance and you will be able to slowly start increasing the distance and run at a faster pace. You repeat this process with the new distance and keep scaling up. Before you know it you could be attempting the Comrades Marathon.

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

I am on Twitter and Instagram as @GeneralMutakwa.

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