How I ran it off
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.
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.
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