Every day we are faced with challenges. Some of these challenges come upon us as a surprise, and others are foreseeable. Foreseeable challenges can cause much harm to us if we leave them unattended.

All sorts of challenges are necessary. They promote growth and improve our problem-solving skills. This fact should not encourage us to take challenges lightly. We must carefully weigh each challenge and deal with it on its merit to avoid problems in the future.

Every challenge presents itself as an inconvenience. A person faced with a challenge must take time to formulate a strategy to tackle it. Some challenges come as a surprise and give us little time to study them. In such cases, we have to think on our feet. This is a skill we must develop.

Running presents a host of challenges for anyone. The great thing about this is that we can train ourselves repeatedly until we can overcome all the obstacles in our path. I am going to talk about ways we can use to overcome any challenge.

Expect Opposition and Welcome it

Someone I don’t know said, “Attitude determines your altitude.” My understand of this statement is that one must have a certain attitude to advance in whatever they are trying to achieve. When faced with a challenge or a problem, it is essential not to look at it as the end of the road, without first understanding it. Acknowledge that a problem has occurred. Accept the reality of the problem, then you will be able to deal with it.

Some problems affect our physical well-being and some affect our mental and emotional well-being. Some problems affect our finances. Whatever the nature of a problem, always have hope that you can find a way around it. When I say keep hoping for a way around it, I am not suggesting that you should undermine the problem. You should, in a way try to find balance between optimism and pessimism. While you expect the worst, hope for the best.

When dealing with difficult situations it is no use to approach it with a defeated state of mind. You can’t expect to pass an exam when you don’t believe you’ll pass. You can start a business when you don’t believe you’ll make profit and you can’t successfully start a running program when you don’t believe that you will reach the finish line.

Do Not Go It Alone

Animals understand that there is strength and greater advantage in numbers, except when you are a hyena. A single lion can ambush and catch an antelope. Such a small meal cannot service the needs of a large pride. To ensure survival, the lions must work together. Together they can take down a buffalo who has strayed from the herd. Working together means they can acquire a big meal that is enough for everyone. Also maintaining large numbers, most of the time, keeps the hyenas at bay during a meal.

It is important that when you are faced with a certain problem, you don’t try to handle it by yourself. Ask for help. Find a support group. As a Christian I have learned that you cannot walk alone, you need others of like mind. The Christian life is not easy. Like a marathon, it is infested with countless problems. Only with the help of those around you, who are going through the same or have overcome the same problems, will you be able to pull through.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend. She shared with me the value of having a running partner. She made me understand that a running partner will always hold you accountable and keep you motivated. Though I don’t have a running partner myself, I recommend one for those who struggle with getting started or with maintaining a running schedule.

I do not have a running partner but I do not run completely alone. I have a virtual coach. I get tips and instructions as I run. I also get running stats as I am running so I can know how I am doing and get to make informed decision to improve the current session.

Take A Step Back

Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the problem from a distance. Take a game of chess for example. I learned to play chess in 2012, I played against my computer. Sometimes when I got stuck, I took a step back, rotate the board and look at it from different view point to gain perspective.

You would benefit a lot if you would give yourself sometime to rest and take your mind off a given problem. Get some fresh air and then come back to work on it again. You would notice that your mind would work efficiently after a few minutes of rest.

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Everything has a beginning. The general rule with regards to most things that have a beginning is that they must end. Quite sad, but it is what it is and there is nothing we can do change to it. We would live happily and perhaps much longer if we learn to deal with things as they stand. Life begins and life ends. What matters is the space in between.

Since we always talk about running on this podcast and we are all runners (I hope we are all runners), I think it is appropriate for me to mention that the difference between the starting and the finishing lines, is the distance in between. To move from start to finish you have to do the distance. There is no way around it. If you want a medal for finishing the run, you’ll have to brave the distance and get running. You will have to breathe heavily, sweat profusely and even feel the pain but the finish line would be waiting for you to cross it, you will have to ignore all the troubles you’ll think you have and keep pushing yourself until you reach the finish line.

Mind How You Start.

Before a car manufacturer begins to physically put a car together, they make sure that they know what the proposed car should look like. They would have someone to first design it on paper and then make sure they understand what components they need to include to complete a fully functional car. I doubt they would ever be able to build a car without a clear image of the model.

In the same way, a good start begins with a sense of direction and adequate preparation. What makes a good start is a preparation. Preparation would make the moving from start to finish manageable. When one is well prepared, they would be able to handle unexpected situations that might arrive on the way. Each step is understood and allocated its own time and place in the process of completing the project at hand. Good preparation is dependent on one’s cognizance of the endpoint.

In the case of running, one has to be cognizant of the distance to run, the weather conditions in which they will be running, the fitness level of the body before the run and necessary steps to be taken to complete the run successfully.

It is important to mind how you start anything. In many cases, your start will affect the way you finish. When I do my long runs, if I start too fast I struggle a lot towards the end of the run. I barely have energy. I have come to realize that to finish strong and fast, I need to take it slow at the start. Just like yesterday. Yesterday, I went on a 10 km run after seven days of inactivity. I know that the run was going to be difficult and that my body was out of shape. I entered the run knowing that the 10 km run will not be like others I did. The route I was going to do has its own challenges and a good estimation of how long it was going to take me to finish the run was one hour and fifteen minutes. The reason for this is that I was going to intentionally run slower than usual. I was able to finish yesterday’s run in one hour and seven minutes. I couldn’t have done this successfully if I had not prepared myself from the start.

 Learn To Correct Yourself

During each run I do, I always listen to my body and with the help of the app on my phone I can track my progress easily. I am always aware of my progress and can judge during the run if I can make it to the finish or not. When I feel that I might not make it to the finish line, I back off. I reduce my speed until my body recovers and gradually pick the pace up. When I am running by myself as is always the case, I have to understand that I am my coach.

When I anticipate that I might compromise my running session or my health, I autocorrect. There are days where I have completely changed the route in the middle of the run. I would keep the distance but the route would be completely different. The point is when you are running just by yourself, you are in control and you can decide anything. You get to own the run and are in charge of what goes on in it.

This is true in many areas of life. We have seen plans going sideways, whether it is at work or in a formal function. A well-planned event will always have backup plans just in case things go wrong. For example, an outdoor wedding ceremony could be ruined by the change in the weather. A highly experienced and considerate wedding planner would always have a secondary venue prepared just in case the heavens open up and shower down their priceless blessing.

So when situations arise and they seek to drive you off course, learn to adapted and correct yourself to compensate for lost time. The sailors in olden days, before I was born: they understood the concept of auto-correction. When the winds were in their favor the sails would each be in a particular angle but when the winds change directions, they changed the angles of the sails to manipulate the wind and still get to move towards the desired direction. Sometime they would zig-zag across the sea just to go forward against the wind or even against the current.

Find a way to track how you are doing in your projects or your running activities and learn to correct yourself to avoid going very far in the wrong direction. It costs less to make a minor correction than to start the whole project scratch. It cost less to arrive at the finish line three minutes late than to arrive early with a torn muscle.

Learn From Your Mistakes

The truth is we all have made mistakes. We have made poor judgments in many situations. For us to successfully autocorrect, we need to remember and draw valuable lessons from our past mistakes. We should avoid repeating them. It is also wise to read up, listen to podcasts or watch videos with the sole purpose of learning from other people’s mistakes. A wise man learns from other people’s mistakes before he makes his own. It is foolishness to repeat other people’s mistakes when you have witnessed the cost and trouble they subsequently bring.

The year is coming to an end. We must remember the mistakes we have made this year and make sure that we do not repeat them next year. Growth occurs when we acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them. My message to anyone listening or reading this post is, in whatever it is you are doing, whether it is running or work, strive to be the best version of yourself and do the best you can afford.

Have a clear picture of the endpoint in your mind. What do you need to do to improve your life and the lives of those around you? Who can help you achieve that? Are you going to need money? Where are you going to get the money? How are you going to get the money?

For one to get a good start, they need to have a clear vision of the end. The rest is to fill the space in between.

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Every long journey has its own challenges. When one embarks on such a journey they need to prepare themselves for anything. The journey can be successfully completed if there is adequate preparation and a clear purpose for getting into the journey at the first place. Such is the case with podcasting and running. They are a long journey for me.

Since I am both a podcaster and a runner, I look at both of theses activities in the same way. They both require a clear goal and vast amounts of endurance. One needs to be able plan every move they will make and have backup plans and backups of backup plans should anything go wrong.

We have gone past the seventh episode. As I mentioned in the past episode that some statistics say, a number of podcast shows that fail, happen to fail just before they reach the seventh episode. I am quite thrilled that Run Yourself Crazy has gone past the “podcast graveyard zone.”

Have a clear picture of where you would run

It is important to have a good idea how your run will look like. Decide on where you will run before you even get into the run. You may want to consider the distance you will be running and the type of run you will actually do. Prepare yourself mentally and accept the route in your mind first.

For long runs be sure to carry a water-bottle or a re-hydration backpack. Also have a bottle of water waiting for you when you return from your running session.

Set your self milestones to help manage the run

Milestones are those little targets into which you break the run. They could be distance based, time based or location based. I often use time and distance based milestones. For an example, I break my runs into 3 parts: Warm up, Pace up and hold, and finish or cool down.

Get out and Run

When you have finished planning and preparing for your run, get out there and do us proud. Follow the route you have chosen and keep those milestones into mind. Upon each milestone pay attention to how your body feels. Do you feel like quitting or you feel like you’ve got a lot of fight raging inside you? This will help you to effectively compare that current run with future runs which you will do on the same route.

Review your run

At the end of the run, it is important to review your run. How far did you go? How long did it take you to complete the run? How does your body feel like after the run? Did you make it through all the milestones? How was your body feeling at each milestone? This will give you a good idea as to where you may need to improve.

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As I once mentioned before that running is not easy. No matter how much we may want to get onto the road or onto the race track and get running, we will always experience difficulty. Those who are seasoned runners would tell you that not every run is the same. Sometimes you get out and manage to maintain the best form through out the run. You’ll even get to feel great during and after the running session.

And then the next run will show you flames. You just know from the word go that something is not right. You body will feel heavy and your breathing awkward. You break a sweat earlier than you usually do. You become miserable during the run and you feel defeated at the end of it.

There are various factors that contribute to this. Some of these factors are: the food you eat, sleep deprivation, weather condition etc. What at it is, you can get over it. I want to share with you three things you may want to do in order to make running a habit.

1. Resolve To Be A Runner

The secret behind success in any endeavor is wanting to do it. When you have resolved in your heart and mind to do something it is more likely that you will invest your best effort into seeing it through. A challenging activity as running is no different. It requires total emotional and mental conviction to do it. It takes courage to set out and run a long distance from which you have no assurance if you’ll be able to return to the comfort of your home. Such courage can be wielded by individuals who have sold themselves wholly to the art of running.

This is true in every part of life. A person whole excels in soccer for a long period of time, is someone who is doing it out of love. If they do it for money, they would never be able to enjoy the game. For them it would be just a job but if they have invested their life to play for the love of the game, they will also help the younger generation to play when the time has come for them to hang their boots. Those who were in it for money, once they grow old and cannot play anymore, they move on and chase money else where or they find their true passion.

I can say the same for business. It is true that we get into business to make profit. If a person starts a business and they don’t want to make money in it, the same business will fail and it will prove to have been a complete waste of time and money. What is more tragic is for someone to get into a business they hate, for the sake of money. Such an enterprise is a right start towards suicide.

I had spent three years doing a job I hated for the sake of money and it got me nowhere, until I got the courage to say, “it is enough.” At first I was a waiter at Nino’s Restaurant, I lasted six months in that job and then I quite. I went to apply at Mugg & Bean and I got hired right away. I lasted 30 days there and I quite. My grave mistake was to look for another restaurant related job instead of searching for what I really wanted to do. I went to work at McDonald’s and lasted there for 3 years and I was miserable. It was at that point where I decide that the only relationship I would have with any restaurant will be on customer basis. Either the restaurant will be my client or I will be their customer. Never will I find myself working at the restaurant again.

I must admit, the customers loved me and I had much respect from my colleagues but I hated the job and it made me miserable. I still get nightmares over it. It was a good thing for me to leave.

My point is, if at all you are to succeed in running or in anything in life, you must first love to do it. If not, you will be miserable. You will hate it and you will be guaranteed failure.

2. Have A Strict Running Schedule

The love of running will not be enough on its own. Discipline is the key to ensuring that you run until running is your habit. I think you are aware that habits are developed through repetition. You have to force your body to learn to run and then later it will demand to run. They only way to achieve this is to run regularly under any weather condition, except during a thunder storm.

I recommend that you create a strict running schedule. In this schedule you will allocate yourself time to run each week and specify the types of runs and the distances you will do.

Be sure to exercise strict discipline and follow the schedule. Follow the schedule without fail. If something comes up which does not relate to your health, family health or death be sure to prioritize your running schedule above that. If it is not an emergency you can see it after you have fulfilled your running commitment for that given day. If you live with your family, let them know the times you will be running and the distances. It also helps to let them know where you will be running, so they can know where to start looking for you should you not return home as expected.

If you cannot exercise discipline over yourself you are most likely to fail in anything. We need discipline in order to fulfill challenging tasks. It help us move forward even when it hurts. Running sessions may sometime present pain in the body. When it hurts or you feel tired, it takes self-discipline to run until the pain stops. It takes self-discipline to look at failure in the face and say I will not quite.

Self-discipline is like a harness for the horse. It keeps the horse on the path predetermined by the rider. It will not turn to the left nor to the right except when instructed by the rider. So self-discipline keeps us on the path we have set. Be prepared to push yourself to the limit if you wish running to become a part of your life as a good habit.

I have grown to a point that if I have to take a taxi to some place which is under 3 km away and am not required to carry any heavy things to and fro, and if I will not spend more than 10 minutes in there, I just run to that place. I would create opportunities for myself to run because I love it. Sometimes when I see someone running and I am not, I envy them. Running has now become a habit and it keeps my body feeling great.

3. Find A Running Partner.

If you feel that you might not be able to create a running plan nor to follow it. Get yourself a running partner. It could be your friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife and even children. Find someone who will push you or even drag you to the starting line in the days when you feel lazy. I do not have a running partner because I have my own agenda in the running business. I am highly motivated and I even run outside the schedule set for me by Nike Running Club. If I were to get a running partner, I would have to wait until I finish the current training plan and then start a new running plan with my running partner.

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The festive season is upon us and the whole world is going insane. Businesses are raking in millions and people are spending like crazy. Families are travelling to holiday sites abroad. While this happens some will be compromising on their fitness activity. Today’s episode, Lungisa is unplugged and he is giving his own view on the matter of fitness and holiday season.

One of the most uncomfortable moments in my life of road running is when I have to cross paths with someone walking their dog(s). I love dogs and I believe that they are loyal pets you may want to have in your home. What is it then that makes me feel uncomfortable when I meet dog walkers with their dogs?

1. The nature of dogs

My experience with untrained dogs is that they are very ill-disciplined and they get excited quickly. I always get the feeling that as I pass by a dog it will get excited and feel the need to chase me. For that reason I become very alert and continue to be suspicious until I am at a considerable distance from them. Only when I am far away from them would I find small rest within myself.

2. Type of a dog

I am not intimidated by every dog. I find beagles to be very friendly. What troubles me a bit are the Chihuahuas. Those tiny dogs, especially when they are more than one, they are troublesome. I must admit that these dogs are the least of my problems. What I fear the most in the canine world is that stone and cold hearted beast referred to as pitbull. In my mind I classify this dog as a wild animal. It terrifies me more when I see it in the township being walked by a young boy who is obviously being pulled by the dog through a leash. If for any reason this pitbull decide to chase me, it will drag the boy on the ground until he gives up and let go of the leash and leave the dog to pursue me.

The type of the pitbull also adds to my fears. I read an article the other day on pitbulls. I learned that a pink nose pitbull is somewhat sociable as opposed to the aggressive and grumpy blue nose pitbull. When I am running I never get time to check the color of the nose, when I see a pitbull I become highly alert. This dog really gets under my skin.

3. The location

The fact that I get to see a pitbull in the township being walked by a young boy, tells me that this animal is not well trained. It could attack me and also attack this young boy. I am not saying all township people, who are usually black like myself, are incapable of training their dogs but evidence with the way they treat other breeds suggests that most of township people indeed are incapable of training their dogs.

Sometimes I get to wonder why exactly some people get to own dogs if they won’t look after them. I get concerned with pitbulls. There seems to be a rise in the number of pitbulls in my township alone. When I am doing my runs I would meet a group of young man walking with five or six pitbulls. Imagine me trying to get as far away possible from the dogs while trying to hide from the young men the fact that I am terrified.

4. Fences

Sometimes it is not the pitbulls on the road that bother me. I get intimidated by a pitbull which is within its owners yard. What sets off the alarm bells is the fence which keeps the animal way from me. There is one house I know where the fence shows clearly that it had suffered greatly from this insane animal. The owner has mended the fence in a very shabby fashion and such a fact does not reassure a passerby of any safety from the beast.

If anyone owns a dog in the township or anywhere else, it is wise to use a strong and high wall and to make sure that there is no way the dog would dig, squeeze or jump its way out. This should be done for the safety of the public and also for that of the beast. There are unstable people out there, who when attacked by this animal would simply pull out a gun and take it down without blinking.

My Greatest Wish

With fast rising numbers of pitbulls in my township belonging to irresponsible owners, I wish that the government would monitor the situation and remove the beasts from owners whose homes are not well fenced. Over and above that, owners should get paid licences in order for them to keep this breed. So to make it difficult for every Tom, Dick and Harry to own this dog, the permit should start from R10 000 per animal and restrict it to two animals at a time. Who ever would violate to this regulation, they should be jailed for at least 10 years depending on the number of pitbulls they illegally kept.

Should the pitbull bite or even kill a human being, it should be killed and the owner should be held liable for the medical expenses and the funeral expenses for the victim.

I know that I am just dreaming. Such a regulation can never come to pass in the present South Africa. Countless people, including children, would have to be killed by these beasts before anything be actually done by the government.

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Running is a very interesting activity. Everybody does it. When I say everybody does it, I do not mean every human being but I mean every legged creature I know. In most cases creatures in this world run out of necessity. They are compelled by the need for survival.

A typical example is a lion and a gazelle. A lion would run in pursuit of a gazelle in order to have a meal and evade death by starvation. While from a gazelle’s point of view the purpose of running is also for survival, however, the logistics of it entails not becoming food for the lion.

I also run for life. The purpose of my running activity is to get fit and lose a bit of weight. I believe I have a better chance of surviving a number of threats than someone who is physically in active. So when I am on the road or the racing track at the sports ground, I literally run for my life

Listen to today’s episode to gain more insight.

I appeal to everyone who is physically inactive and unfit, to get started with running or with any form of physical activity. It is a good thing to do. Encourage your kids to be physically active. Train your body and build its endurance. You will thank yourself later.

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