First of all, I would like to thank the people at Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (OMTOM). I worked for them and I never thought I would see the day I would pick up running. Everyone in that office either ran in the past or was currently running. I don’t know how, considering the amount of time we put into making the world’s most beautiful marathon happen in the city that I love the most, Cape Town. But nonetheless, my lazy ass was inspired by the stories I read and shared of participants of OMTOM 2015, the after work runs my fellow team members did (that I always declined) and not to forget, the weekend park runs and 10km runs they signed up for (which I declined as well). I even declined a hike up Table Mountain (which I thought was a social event meanwhile it was work related) until my boss at the time reminded me that I work for her…… Thank you to the staff of OMTOM for the invitations, running stories, being made part of the team and most importantly the running gear. Without the fore mentioned, I would not have been able to do what I did last week.
I recently took up jogging for multiple reasons – mainly boredom, to better my fitness and to return to the days when running 50m did not need two minutes of heavy breathing, chest pain and the emergency number on standby. I downloaded the adidas miCoach app and initially, I thought I was 17 again. I started my Training Plan on Level 3 for Cardio and Level 4 for Strength and Flexibility. 3mins into my Cardio session I thought the app was trying to kill me. 5mins in and I could not feel my legs. 6mins in and the world seemed blurry. 7mins in I said, “F*** this! I would rather be lazy.” Eventually I got home, hands on hips, sweating profusely and working extremely hard not to pass out. I sat on the ground, evaluated what had just happened and said “F*** this! 11 years of boarding school, abusive “training”, weekly fitness sessions and the headmaster indirectly calling me out in school assembly after losing a rugby game to our rival school (SIDE NOTE: that was one of the most physically demanding games of my life. But a week later I showed him what up. Somehow our victory was an exceptional “team effort”. *shakes head* He failed to indirectly praise me). I got up off the ground, reset the entire Training Plan to Level 1, and tackled the level. I learnt my lesson that day – there is no shame in starting from Level 1.
Monday – boost Meyrick Park with miCoach
I’m currently on Level 2 of the Training Plan. Level 1 worked out perfectly but I needed more of a challenge. Having finished the plan, I moved onto Level 2. Easy start to Level 2 – 20min jog just to loosen up the muscles. The fascinating thing about my neighbourhood is that every 10m there is a jacaranda tree. The flowers against the green background of the surrounding trees, really shows the beauty of this tree and I enjoy running on the purple path the flowers set on the road. It is the only beautiful feature of Harare’s roads.
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I ran past people and I got the following looks:
• He’s good looking (don’t you know it).
• What is this guy doing?
• I wish.
• People do that around here?
I was not sure how running was received in my neighbourhood but so far, people just watch and turn away, and the cars just drive on by. The roads are terrible and in some parts, sidewalks are not available so I have had to share the road with cars, bicycles and “walkers” (yes! Walkers from The Walking Dead. People that have just back from work look like zombies).
Tuesday – boost Avondale with miCoach
Avondale was always going to be tricky. I did not finalise my route beforehand so I just ran. I felt like Forest Gump when he was being chased by the bullies as a kid. I ran! Only difference was I did not have an attractive, blonde girl shouting “RUN TENDAI! RUN!” I tried to steer clear of traffic. Some drivers gave me puzzling looks. I get it! My adidas running gear was amazing and I looked like a sexy pro-athlete in it. It was great to just run. The wind in my face, the sound of my rhythmic breathing, my adidas boost running shoes lightly caressing the ground, and miCoach in my ear telling me to “Speed up to….” There was a sense of freedom in my run that day and it felt beautiful.
Unfortunately I had to head back to the traffic. I was venturing into areas that were unknown to me. I should have remained lost in my run because traffic became a nightmare, plus there were so many crossroads and turns. I hate the “start-stop” run especially with miCoach in my ear telling me that I have missed my required speed and I need to speed up. The first 12mins were great but the last 8 were a mess. Avondale is a great place to run, just avoid traffic and main roads.
I did get to run past my very first primary school. Good times!
Wednesday – boost Highlands with miCoach
By far my worst run of the week. It felt like a doomed mission during the run and after the run. After dodging cars the day before, I had mapped out a “no car route” and it was perfect. With a steady incline for the first 6 – 7 minutes, before it levels out for 2mins then the rest of the course was a gradual decline to ease off the run. Nope! It took me 3mins to find my rhythm – my breathing was off, my pace was inconsistent and I lacked focus. By the time miCoach told me to “speed up to”, I was mentally out of it. But hearing the British woman in my ears tell me to pick up the pace, reminded me of my high school after sports training, which we called “House Training”. 45mins (if we were lucky) of intense and excessive fitness, strength, endurance and cardio (and to be honest, I’m making this sound glorious but it was FAR from it).
miCoach had a way of motivating me when I was “slacking”. Majority of the time, I felt like it did not calibrate properly or it was messing with me. This run was a total mess! I even ran into a close (cul-de-sac) thinking it was going to take me to the road that I wanted to get to. A car was behind me and I really wanted to show the driver that I knew what I was doing. But alas, I looked like an idiot. The driver was nice enough to wave in acceptance of my efforts and failure in realising that I messed up.
It was a mess!
Thursday – boost Gun Hill with miCoach
With the day before having been one to forget, I was determined to redeem myself on this route. Mapped out with more precision than the day before, this was going to be my best run yet. 10min incline with 10mins of a gradual decline and I planned to throw in a sprint finish just to upset miCoach. Initially my phone could not pick up my GPS location which bummed me out because I desperately wanted to impress miCoach with this run. Eventually everything kicked into gear and I was off. I ran with and against traffic. You would think people were heading home from work but there was traffic in both directions. It was a great feeling running past people in traffic. I could not smile though, I was in training.
It truly was my best run yet. Everything about it was perfect and for the first time since I started running, I understood what runners meant by “running makes me free”. I was free! High on the drug of tar and the open air, accompanied with rhythmic breathing and my adidas boost systematically caressing the ground as I maintained my pace throughout the route. My mind seemed clear and it was amazing! I did not want it to end but when miCoach tells you it’s over, it’s over.
I finally understood why people love to run.
Friday – boost National Sports Stadium with miCoach
High off yesterday’s run, expectations were through the roof to have the same feeling of euphoria again. Friday’s route had to be just as good, if not better than Gun Hill’s. So I decided to run to the National Sports Stadium of Zimbabwe. A stadium that has witnessed countless of historical soccer matches, most memorably when Jay Jay Okocha (one of Africa’s greatest playmakers of all time) graced this country with his skills. Zimbabwe was never the same. Getting to the stadium was a mess. I had to do more trail running than road running. A pedestrian walkway did not exist and the road was narrow, meaning I had to occasionally dive into the bushes to avoid traffic. Once I got to the road that led to the stadium, it was pure bliss again. The high kicked in again.
I needed the high more than ever before and it was a great way to end the week. There were no cars on this road as one end is closed off, there were a few people that transitioned across the suburbs and the atmosphere was addictive. I was hooked! With the stadium in the background and the sun setting behind it, I had found the perfect run.
Definitely a perfect way to end the week.
It was a great week of running in different neighbourhoods of Harare. With miCoach in my ear and my adidas running gear, boostTendai had a great run. With all these power cuts, I’m surprised there were not more people on the road. I guess people were still coming home from work or they ran in the morning. Either way, Harare has the potential to be the fittest city in southern Africa. Only problem is night running is not an option. How can you run when there are no street lights?
Nonetheless, miCoach has been the perfect running buddie. Each time I did not feel like running, I look at my phone and the app appears on my home screen as a reminder. There was a day I failed my buddie and seeing my buddie the following morning, really sucked. Nothing worse than letting my buddie down. I am getting fitter, I feel more relaxed and I enjoy the feeling of breaking a sweat on the road. I’m officially a running addict.
Running in new neighbourhoods is refreshing. Running with miCoach is supportive. If you’re a runner, try running in new a neighbourhood. A new environment creates new experiences and these new experiences allows you to be a tourist in your own city.