Why I’m Doing It Again: We Run Jozi

Why I'm Doing It Again - We Run Jozi

In 2012 I ran my first ten kilometers straight on Nike’s We Run Jozi. Yes, on race day. Before that, the furthest distance I’d ever run at one go was seven kilometers.

Being my first experience of this nature, I reflected on it. Then again, it is just me to think through my experiences, especially one’s I’ve never had. From preparation to the race and after the race, the experience was great for me. Check out my series from last year’s race:

Lessons From Preparing for We Run Jozi 10k

Reflections From We Run Jozi – Part One (The Crowd)

Reflections From We Run Jozi – Others (Part Two)

Reflections From We Run Jozi – TEAM

In 2013 I return to run the streets of this beautiful city I love. My reasons are simple and clear, at least to me:

Target

Having only run seven kilometers in one stretch in 2012 I had used my average on my runs before the race to set a realistic goal. My goal in 2012 was to run ten kilometers under an hour. I missed it by a few seconds.

 It is sad that for the most part of 2012 I’ve been running and playing squash (the sport) and have been in decent shape but I hurt my ankle, which set me back greatly. I took my time returning to the road and the longest distance I’ve run since my freak ankle injury was two hundred meters shy of six kilometers.

So, I return to Jozi’s streets to run ten kilometers in fifty minutes. That’s my goal. The lesson, boys and girls, is very simple:

Never back down from a goal until you’ve hit it. Die trying [Click to Tweet]

If it means you finish the race ugly and crawling, do whatever it takes to hit you target.

There’s always a greater dignity in finishing in tatters than quitting intact [Click to Tweet]

In fact, it is also more respectable and something

Difference

One of the reasons I signed up in 2012 was because 2011 was a night race. I thought 2012 would be the same but we ran in the morning, as the wrath of the sun was unleashed. The good news: 2013 is a night race. Something different. Something I’ve never done.

Like I’ve said before, Try Some New Things.

We are responsible for how colorful or dull our lives are [Click to Tweet]

I choose to do something, in writing the story of my life, in doing things that make me feel a little alive. A break from monotony. When such events come along I take advantage to punctuate my life with them.

Stop blaming someone else and circumstance for how boring you are or make your life [Click to Tweet]

Others

Last year Nike donated part of the race proceeds to a setup a community running club for youth in Alexander township, a generally, not so privileged area. I dig this. I like that somehow while I challenge and enjoy myself I make a difference in other people’s lives. I’m not sure what Nike will do this year but I know it will be dope!

Friends

Chasing goals is a little more fun when you do it with friends. I managed to talk Olefile, into running with me this year. I have tried to get others on board but their excuses abound. The lesson:

Try to get as many to move with you and for those that aren’t willing don’t worry. Just move with the movers [Click to Tweet]

Not everyone will always buy into something because it is great. Some people enjoy the comfort of the laziness, which has the potential to kill them. I’m talking about health issues, of which exercise is an important part.

If you’re running Jozi, what’s your story?

For others, what have you done or are planning to do, that is different, challenging and you might be even doing with friends?

Reflections From We Run Jozi – TEAM

This post is a part of a series of my reflections from Nike’s We Run Jozi 10K 2012. Subscribe by email or RSS not to miss new posts. You can also check out the previous posts in the series here.

I entered and ran We Run Jozi 10K as an individual. I exchanged introductions when at the start line with a few people and this made apparent that a substantial number of the people were going to run in teams. “Many hands make work light,” the adage says. This proved true and in some instances not so true during the race.

Part of the people who made up the crowd were people who stopped at the most annoying and inconvenient places of the race to take pictures of each other. In some teams I noticed there was a “guardian of pace“.

A team player but also a leader in relation to an aspect of the team’s performance in the race. Some kept time, and others were encouragers. Others collected water for themselves and their team. In numerous teams there was a visible commitment to each other.

All these functions carried out by individuals make up team functions. The focus to help each other cross the finish line cements the definition of a team.

reflections on team from we run jozi 10k 2012

team is an enabler for individuals within them. however, leadership must be sensitive to how they need to enable those in the team in varied contexts

Reflections:

Before I go on I will start with some reminders pertinent to leadership and teamwork. (Sometimes we need the reminders). First, being part of a team enables you to do things you are not able to alone.

There is an exponential increase in your abilities when you tap into abilities of those around you. Thinking you can do everything well on your own is self-destructive folly.

Engaging a team allows you to be in many places in one go as well as execute numerous functions simultaneously. A healthy ego is necessary for working with a leading a team.

Insecure leaders tend overcompensate for their shortcomings by an inflated their ego.

Secure leaders on the other hand, are comfortable in leading people who are smarter than them. The leader’s responsibility is not to be the smartest guy but to lead. Leaders must be willing to their team as they journey, otherwise they might as well do it alone.

Profound

Second, is probably the most profound I had on the subject. The same way a team can empower you for greater, it can cripple you. Team is necessary, but not always. The team must be there for each other.

They must help each other grow without getting in each other’s way. A challenge. I noticed numerous teams do their best and start to fizzle before the finish line. In the midst of that I saw some teams had individuals that could maintain a faster pace. There are times teams must release the one to perform.

As a leader you must constantly assess the impact the team is having on the individuals in your team. Is the team still enabling or now inhibiting potential of its members? At some point, a leader must say to some of those he leads, “go”.

In instances where a team has taken individuals as far as they can, the best enablement for their colleague is to release them.

Great leaders practice releasing individuals for their best. Leadership is not only about what you can get people to achieve collectively but enabling others as individuals.

Releasing some of your team is a part of leadership that is often neglected. Not releasing some members of your team can be highly toxic for both them and your team over time.

Leader, it is easy to get caught up in ensuring that your team delivers at the expense of some of the individuals in your team. Are there any individuals you need to release for their greater potential to be realized?

Are you encouraging some team members to explore other avenues in your team that the rest may not have potential or insight for? Is your team still enabling or is it now inhibiting greater performance for some?

Your thoughts?

Reflections From We Run Jozi – Others (Part Two)

This post is a part of a series of my reflections from Nike’s We Run Jozi 10K 2012. Subscribe by email or RSS not to miss upcoming posts in the series. You can also check out the previous posts in the series here.

 

SANDTON & ALEXANDRA

We ran from Sandton and then through Alexandra, the closest Township. Alexandra affectionately called Alex by its inhabitants. Running through Alex was one of my highlights. Being acknowledged by the race route beautified the not so pretty sights of some parts of Alex.

Some of the residents of Alex appreciated the fact that some of the people who normally drive through their township mostly only on the main road linking with Sandton actually came into their township on foot. One kind gentleman offered a cold shower with his hose to runners. Welcome friendliness and hospitality.

reflections from we run jozi; part two - others

we must resist culture that encourages us to be self-absorbed we forget and or overlook others

 

Around the 7km mark, at one of the climbs, were children shouting, “don’t give up!” This could be my over active brain, but found it inspiring and ironic at the same time. It crossed my mind that children who are in a seeming hopeless environment were cheering a crowd that was generally more privileged than them, inspiring hope.

Another highlight in relation to Alex is that some of the proceeds from the entrance fees from the runners will go toward establishing a running club for young people in Alex. It is great that I (together with other runners) can contribute. I highly commend Nike Running ZA for this.

For some running the race, this is the only time they are going to set foot in Alex. The reason this is important to note for me is because it is necessary for nation building.

REFLECTIONS

 

Leadership

 

It’s easy to be insensitive to the plight of some when we don’t have a glimpse into their world

Running through Alex was a necessary eye opener and reminder. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world and challenges, forgetting that there are other people who have significantly greater challenges than ourselves.

This is true in life in general and in leadership. As leaders we sometimes expect results and forget that the well-being of those we lead has direct impact on their performance or delivery. When dealing with your team, remember they are people first.

Empathy is necessary in understanding & identifying with those you lead

Without empathy your leadership will have no soul, seeing people as a mere means to your goal and not the value of who they are as people. Your organization is poor not matter how much money it makes if it does nothing to enrich others. Addressing the plight of the under privileged is responsibility of the privileged. This is the essence of Ubuntu.

Your leadership is weak if it does not acknowledge, accommodate and uplift others when you have the resource to do so. This is a value that all truly significant organizations and nations endear and encourage in their people.

Life

It is easy to lose sight of what is important when you lose yourself in your own world. Part of me feels guilty at the thought that my running shoes plus the mobile phone I had on me (to track my speed and progress) is worth several months’ earnings for some of the people who cheered us on. It made me ask myself how much I have cheered others with less than me.

Encouragement does not cost anything and everyone, anyone, can give it. Inspiring hope in others does not cost money. It can be simple words uttered when needed. We must intentionally get into other people’s worlds to better understand them.

Disclaimer: this post is not been about having pity on people but a reminder to all of us of our responsibility to one another. Those of us who are privileged must use the resources they have to give a helping hand to those who are not. At the same time, no matter how little you have, you can always give something that does not cost much, something but as simple as encouraging words.

Despite our “dispositions” we all have something to give to each other and we must do so

Your thoughts?

Reflections From We Run Jozi – Part One (The Crowd)

I will be doing a series from my experience(s) and reflection from Nike’s We Run Jozi. Subscribe by email or RSS to ensure you don’t miss a post in this series ;-)

Running a long distance race has always been one of those dreams I’ve had. After my experience I now have a better idea. I learned a lot of lessons while preparing for We Run Jozi. It is only appropriate that I share my experience(s) and reflections of the race. FYI: I did run the 10 kilometer race and complete it.

This was the longest single distance race I’ve ever run. I did not manage to clock the time I was hoping to and missed it by one minute and forty seconds. (At least according to Nike + App. I’m still waiting to get my official time). An experience I am very likely to do again in the future.

At some stage during the race my mind wandered (as it sometimes does) to an earlier post while preparing for the run. It was not helpful during the race but helped me process more lessons.

My Life and Leadership Reflections Nike's We Run Jozi - Part One (The Crowd)
the crowd is not necessarily a bad thing; however how you handle and respond to it can be your win or demise

The Crowd

As I’ve said this was my first experience running a 10km race. (I ran track in school and before this I run to help keep fit when I can’t get to the squash courts). Apparently there were about 20,000 people who registered We Run Jozi 10K.

I’m not yet sure how many people actually ran. It was great to be at the start line among so many friendly people. But it wasn’t that great when we started. It wasn’t so great because of the number of slow people in front that did not make it any easier to start making serious tracks.

There can be no race without the crowd. Thus the race is about distinguishing yourself from the crowd. After breaking out of the crowd I ran in another crowd that kept more or less my pace.

At some point there were some runners who stopped to take pictures of each other. They were having a blast and I was not. This is because I had a time to beat and they just happened to be in front of me.

You may be in one race but people run for different reasons. Not everyone running in the same race you’re in is running for the same reason. While we were all heading to the finish line we did not value everything the same.

For some the experience of being in a crowd of runners was enough. For others finishing the race, no matter how long it took, was the object. And for others, like me it was to finish the race in a certain time.

Leadership

Values

The aforementioned is important to note for both life and leadership. Those you lead may be headed to the finish line with you but valuing things differently. Some on your team are more concerned with doing things right no matter how long it takes. Others just want to finish, despite what the “product” (whatever your “product” or result is) looks like.

When leading people keep in mind that their values may not be same as the ones you would like to them to have. Also, while all of you may embrace the same values some place greater emphasis and respect on some of your values than others.

Not everyone will care about the same things with the same intensity. It is important for the leader to emphasize the importance of each value in its context.

Momentum

A crowd can can be  give you attention you need and overwhelm you at the same time. It can be the source of great momentum and the reason for its decline. From a distance people could see great crowd we were when we ran.

Those running can share the frustration of having to find ways around people moving slower than they. The point? ‘Momentum drainers‘ will always be there despite the size of the crowd. As in the run, you may have to find ways around them.

You may have to confront them, for example, by asking them to make way so you can pass. Whatever it is be aware that momentum will not always sustain itself but must be nurtured.

Life

Do not fight with people who do not share the same values as you. Find a way to push past them without tarnishing your character or integrity. You will end up with mud if you wrestle with pigs!

Trying to get even with people for being in your way detracts from your mission in life and steals energy that you could be using in reaching for your goals or dreams. Get around those in your way and stay focused on your goal. Forget the crowd and focus on your goals.

Your thoughts?

Lessons From Preparing for We Run Jozi 10k

This post is a part of the We Run Jozi Series 

I’m not as passionate about running as I am about squash (the sport). I would rather play squash than run. Despite this, I signed up to run Nike’s We Run Jozi 10 kilometer run. I’ve always wanted to run a ten and twenty kilometer run for the fun and experience.

This race happens to be very different from most hence my decision to run it. (I might just do a separate post to fully explain).  We Run Jozi is a ten-kilometer night run on the 7th of October in Johannesburg. (Jozi is Johannesburg’s nickname).

I have not been as fit as I would like to be, but I hit the road in preparation just after signing up. If you want to complete, let alone win, a race you have no choice but to prepare. It is just downright stupid to get into a race you have not prepared for and expect to win. Do the work.

lessons from preparing for we run jozi 10k

dare yourself; expect more from yourself and pursue it without relenting

While preparing for the We Run Jozi 10k I’ve had reminders of lessons I already know. I know you’re like me. You don’t always remember everything you learn and need encouragement and reminders of lessons. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned or been reminded of as I prepare for the Nike Jozi 10k:

Prepare

 

This is rather obvious and I have already intimated that you have no choice but to prepare. Preparation is the first step to reaching your goals. Only a fool would want to start building something without counting the cost. How you prepare communicates how serious you are about something.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe – Abraham Lincoln

If we your preparation is what to go by, how serious are you about your dreams or aspirations. You will only be able to perform to the level of your readiness.

Feelings

 

All have feelings. It is easy to do something when you feel like you can do it. In fact, most commitments are made at the height of emotion. The true test of your resolve is after the hype is gone. There are some days that I really do not feel like running. Sometimes I feel like not completing my goal for my run because I start feeling like I cannot continue.

When you have set your goals your feelings must become irrelevant if you are going to realize them.

Those who consult their feelings in pursuit of goals will soon see the demise of their goals. Once you set goals, do not consult your feelings. Set a time and routine and Just Do It. If you wait for your feelings you might never get started. Do what you need to do. Focus on what you’ll ultimately gain and not the momentary discomfort.

Target

 

My ultimate goal is to finish the 10-kilometer run in under an hour. This is a big deal for someone who does not like running. (I run because the squash courts are not close by and I need to keep fit). My primary goal in preparation was to run five kilometers consistently, non-stop. I have been slowly increasing my distance while trying to beat my average time.

You will never achieve your ultimate goal in one leap. You need the smaller or short-term goals.

Consistency

 

You will not get better with time. You get better with effort and commitment over time. Practicing inconsistently will not help you get better. It is when you consistently do things to keep getting better.

You must be intentional about your consistency.

Set a time and minimum distance everyday and see yourself getting better.

Small

 

Small changes combined become a big change. In my preparation I’ve made small changes that have caused significant growth. For instance, I’ve included that small ‘climbs’ (inclines). It has not been easy taking them on but it has helped me handle a longer incline on my run. You must not despise small, incremental changes by holding out on them with the hope to make one big change to better your game.

Small changes over time are easier to manage than one big sudden change.

Music

 

I have been using RunKeeper to record and measure my runs. However, at the moment I’m trying out Nike+. What I like about Nike+ is that I can manage the music from it. I’ve loaded the music that inspires me in the playlist. The lesson:

find inspiration to do what you set out to do as a way of countering the voices that tell you to quit.

The best way to deal with the voices of discouragement is to take on positive counter actions against them. Amplify your inspiration and not the ‘voices’ telling you to quit.

Do yourself a favour and check out the other posts in the series. Receive blog posts directly in you email or in your rss reader

What can you share from your preparations for a final showdown (like my 10k run)?