The unorthodox runner- written by ImmortalMpho

Hi my name is Mpho. I am a plus size, running enthusiast.

So I took up running in March 2015. My initial reason for taking up running was to loose weight as I had given birth to my beautiful daughter the previous year.
With starting the journey I realised that watching the scale was so frustrating for me. So mid 2016 I decided I would change my goals from weightloss to fitness goals. Instead of tracking how much weight I’ve lost I would track how far I run. So I set 3 milestones for myself. To run a 10km, a 15km and a 21km.

I ran my first 10km in June of 2016. It was the annual MTN race in fairlands Johannesburg

This was a really hard race. I had never seen so many hills, so many brutal hills. But since that day I have taken the choice to embrace hills. I set aside days in my training to run them.

After this race I have run a number of 10km races following that. The best 10km race I ran was the 10km run at the 2016 Soweto Marathon. I was so prepared for that race! I had done all my training before race day and when the day arrived I was so confident that not only would I finish but I would enjoy the race. And boy I did!

Reaching my 15km milestone took a really long time. Everytime I reached the 12km mark I would get a serious mental block. My knees would hurt, my legs would feel like they’re giving in.

In March this year decided I would take the 2017 Soweto Marathon up a notch and I would enter the 21km race.
Part of my training would require that I run 15km and beyond. so the day came when I was to run my 15km. I stacked my runs that weekend. On the Friday I ran a 5km, on the Saturday I ran a 10km and on the Sunday I ran my first 15km.

It must have been one of the slowest runs I had done in a while! I was training my legs to run tired which is why I stacked my runs the way I did. I was so proud of myself that day! I had reached my 2nd milestone and my 3rd was on the horizon. I could see myself doing this. I was amped.

Running as a plus size women is not glamorous. There is so much we go through. Between cat calling on the road, being the slowest in the group and chub-rub I don’t know what is worse.
When I completed my first 15km I got home to discover the most painful chaffing on my inner thigh. My running tights had torn on the run and I carried on running, and the fabric kept rubbing on my skin. That was the most painful thing. I had to dress the wound and wait for it to heal before I could carry on with training. The 21km race was in 6 weeks and I had only ran 15km as my longest run! The wound took 2 weeks to heal which means I had 4 weeks left before the big day.

Coming back to training I didn’t know where to start. I decided to carry on with the training where I left off and hoped that this would be enough for the big day.

Nov 6, 2017 – Soweto Marathon 2017:

So you have to understand Soweto Marathon is an iconic race. People come from a cross the country to come run, it’s a big deal! So it gets so packed it’s best to get there as early as possible. We woke up super early for race day we were out the house at 04:30. I was so nervous. I remember asking my husband if he thinks I could do it and he kept re-assuring me that I would be fine. I reminded myself that I am not here for cut-off times, I was here for my milestone. I was ready.

Start time came and we were off. Man, I enjoyed the first 8km of the race. I was cruising, the playlist on my speaker was just right and the encouragement on the road is phenomenal! The community comes out to the street to cheer you on. The people are so supportive.

When I reached the 9km mark things suddenly went quiet. People weren’t out on the street anymore, the only people out on the street for us were the race Marshalls who also we’re not screaming “well done”, “keep going” anymore I kept running a little bit longer and there was no-
one in the street for us anymore. I looked back and realised I was one of the last four people in the race. Apart from the gentleman limping then running behind me, everyone else was walking.

Being the last person in a group is something I am accustomed to. And I’m not mentioning this for sympathy, believe me.
I am a women who weighs over 100kg. Running isn’t something people like me do. We are normally confined in the gym going to a step class or walking on the treadmill. But I have chosen to run, I love running. So I find myself in alot of places where I arrive and you aren’t catered for. There isn’t anyone running your pace and the largest t-shirts size they order is Large and you are a double XL, in a men’s cut.
So I understand that there’s alot of work that still needs to be done in the running community when it come inclusivity. I’m also patient.

The difference with being last in a race like the Soweto Marathon is that the marshalls have directed thousands of people, the 1st place winner of the 42km race has been announced and the sun is at its peak at 10am.

At the 11km mark I looked back and saw that all the people that were behind me were not there anymore. They had climbed into the ambulance that had been following us since the start. My legs started hurting, something that was not there before. The top of the hill looked so far. I turned the corner and thinking the marshall was going to give some encouragent. I looked up and gave her a smile to which she asked me “Are you the last person?”. I had never felt so broken I’m all my running.
The poor lady was probably asking because she maybe needed to pack something up or radio someone to come pick her up. I know she meant no malice.
My mind could go no further. So I stopped right where I was. I was so angry because I knew I had at least another 8km in me. But I just could not move! I got in that ambulance without a medal, without reaching my goal.

So will I ever run again?

After my failed attempt at reaching my 21km goal at Soweto Marathon this year I have decided to take the lesson and go back to the drawing board. I am going to improve my 10km time first before I move on to 21km. For the next few weeks that will be my target, Making sure I run a 10km in 80min.
Currently I’m running my 10km in 1hr 40-50min. This is pretty slow. I clock 10 – 11 min/km. This is walking pace. I would like to get my pace somewhere around the 8min/km mark.

Running has taught me alot about what preparation, consistency and discpline can do for ones improvement. This time I want to see what persistence and peserverence can do.
I’m happy to give the Soweto 21km another try. This time I want to be ready. I want to be confident at the start,win the internal fights along the way and finish strong.

So I will not stop running. Well, not yet at least. Lol

…Living Forever





4 thoughts on “The unorthodox runner- written by ImmortalMpho

  1. Mpho may not be the conventional runner we’re used to seeing on the road and she’s highlighted numerous issues that regular runners take for granted, but she’s absolutely on-point regarding her reason for training – it’s not about the weight-loss but, instead, it’s about fitness goals and pushing your body like you’ve never pushed it before!

    Congrats on taking on the journey Mpho! You’re an inspiration to watch 🙏🏽😘

    Liked by 2 people

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