I love to run. There are fewer things I look forward to more than my Saturday morning run in Karura Forest. I call it my “think run”.
I am usually at Karura at around 7am, latest 7.05am, then which I unleash myself onto the beautiful red soil tracks of the forest.
Once I fix my earphones, put on a fiery TD Jakes podcast or the BBC radio’s “In Our Time” series hosted by the indefatigable Melvyn Bragg, and secure my phone against my left arm, there is no stopping me.
I start on a low note, usually by taking in large gulps of the fresh and sometimes moist Karura air to fill my lungs.
The first kilometre is usually the toughest. I don’t know how I manage to overcome the overwhelming urge to return to the parking lot.
By the second kilometre, my feet are feeling lighter and my breathing has stabilised. I now slightly increase my pace and begin to enjoy my run.
Every runner will tell you about the “runner’s high”, a highly indescribable feeling of invincibility, lightness and general happiness.
I keep thinking this is what heaven must feel like: the pace is fast enough but not too fast; the feet have a firm grip on the ground; the arms are comfortable and TD Jakes is deep into the Word.
My “runner’s high” usually kicks in shortly after the fourth kilometre, which, according to my usual route, is near a small bridge before a mild hill.
I think about many things when I run. I think about work; I think about my life. I think about the week that was … I think about all things I need to do.
I also imagine my life 10 years from today, and promise myself that I will never stop running. Most times, I am compelled to think about how life is one big marathon.
Usually, the high lasts till the seventh kilometre, making the last few kilometres pure hell. At this point, at about the eighth kilometre, my feet feel so heavy and my chest is literally on fire.
Here, I am running purely on the prayers of my parents and the goodwill of my well-wishers.
And then something dramatic happens. The minute my Nike App — which has been tracking my run all along — announces in my ear that I have “one kilometre to go”, something unlocks in me and, boy, do I get a burst of energy and finish strong.
The metrics that matter for runners are few and simple. Pace is one of them. How long does it take you to tackle a kilometre?
My current pace is about 7’14 per kilometre, which means I take slightly more than seven minutes to run a kilometre. This also means that it takes me about one hour and 17 minutes to cover a 10km run.
That’s a horrible pace, if you ask me, seeing as my personal best in the past has been 6’24 per kilometre.
My goal, though is 5’30 or 5’50 per kilometre, which means that if it will take me slightly over five minutes to run a kilometre, then I can comfortably do a 10km run in under an hour.
Let’s just say my goal right now is to have the capacity to run 10km in an hour.
I also think quite a bit about Eliud Kipchoge, and all the other pro athletes and what they think about while running. I think that running is first and foremost about resilience.
Running is about punishing your body; pushing it to the limits it has never encountered before.
I think Eliud’s 1:59 record should teach us about just how much we can achieve when we want better for ourselves.
Deciding that you deserve better and can do better than what you already have is a grossly underdeveloped skill among many people.
Eliud had the audacity to want more for himself and he mustered the courage to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
I think that Eliud is an incredibly daring man; a man who is not afraid to fail in the full glare of the world; a man who is willing to risk it all — a career and a reputation — to do the impossible.
That is the kind of person I want to be. A massive risk taker. Courageous. Today, during my think run, I will think about how many times I have lacked the courage to want more and better for myself.
I will think about the times I have short-changed myself for not believing that I deserve better. Like Eliud, I will challenge myself to want better for me.
By the end of the run, I will have gathered the courage to do better and be better — just like our hero Eliud.
Ms Chege is the director of the Innovation Centre at Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications; [email protected]