How I ran it off

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

How one-time overeater Damian Lai be­came a marathon run­ner

My old life

I in­jured my heel when I was 20. It made ex­er­cise painful, so I avoided it. The weight be­gan to creep on.

I ate to ex­cess – large por­tions of fast food, along with crisps, choco­late and fizzy drinks. I also drank ex­ces­sively at week­ends.

By 2014 I weighed 19st; I would get out of breath just walk­ing up the road. I had a health check – my choles­terol and blood pres­sure were sky-high. With two young kids, I knew I had to change my life.

The turn­around

In Jan­uary 2015 a friend men­tioned that Durs­ley Run­ning Club was start­ing a be­gin­ners’ Walk2run pro­gramme. I didn’t know if I’d be ca­pa­ble, let alone how my foot would cope, but I was des­per­ate. When I turned up in my walk­ing shoes and track­suit I think they took one look at me and thought I’d never stick it out. But to my sur­prise I en­joyed it. And run­ning didn’t hurt my foot.

Soon I was go­ing out on my own ev­ery Sun­day, stick­ing to the canal, where no­body I knew would see me or make fun of me.

When the 12-week course was fin­ished, I plucked up the courage to at­tempt my first Parkrun. I fin­ished in 36 min­utes – it was one of my proud­est mo­ments.

Four­teen months af­ter I started run­ning, I did my first marathon, in un­der five hours. I re­cently bet­tered my time by 23 min­utes.

The fu­ture

Peo­ple have been amazed to see the change run­ning has made in me. I’ve gone from a 42-inch waist to a 34-inch one. My brother and sis­ter joined the Walk2run Pro­gramme this year and my wife, Kather­ine, a dance teacher, says she is tempted to take up run­ning now too. She and the kids love the new me.

I feel proud of how I’ve turned my life around. And it’s all thanks to the sup­port and ca­ma­raderie at the won­der­ful run­ning club I joined. When the club ran its Walk2run pro­gramme this year, I helped out with the ses­sions. It was great to give some­thing back.

I have a high-pres­sure job, but run­ning al­lows me to clear my mind and gives me a re­lease from the day-to-day stress, so I deal with it much bet­ter.

Name Damian Lai Age 38 Home­town Durs­ley, Glouces­ter­shire Height 5ft 10in Weight be­fore 19st Weight af­ter 13st 2lb Weight lost 5st 12lb

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