Making Change: From couch to half a marathon

From couch to half a marathon

Fitness and I used to have a love/hate relationship. I loved the idea of being fit – I hated the thought of sweating. I loved the idea of running 5km –  hated the though of getting out of bed early in the morning. I had so many “gonnas and wannas”: running 5km without stopping, finishing half a marathon… but they stayed as good ideas.

I had to ask myself “what is holding me back?” And the answer came to me: if I wanted to make these things happen in my life, I had to be ready to go through a learning curve for me, of pushing myself and doing things I hadn’t done previously. And thankfully, I decided to go through with it.

Here are three things I learnt through my couch-potato-to-marathon-runner process:


To counteract my lack of discipline, I started setting small goals I could achieve. I got a group of girls together, and we started a couch-to-5km program, with the goal of entering a race at the end. After 10 weeks of getting up every Saturday morning at 7am, sometimes at 3 degrees, I completed my first 5km race. The achievement of coming across the line was unbelievable! The “gonna” became the “doer” ✅ (tick)


To achieve the goals I had set, I realised I needed people to stay accountable. I really needed to meet up with someone regularly, otherwise, I just wouldn’t go running. After trying to rally around friends, in the end, I only managed to convince one more person. But that’s all I needed. My friend B. and I would get up early every weekend and pound the payment. We ran together, laughed together, and came across the line together… of a half marathon! We achieved our goal of running without stopping for 21.1kms. Not the fastest time, but goal achieved ✅ (BIG tick)

Clarity of mind

I came to realise that a good long run and all the sweat pouring down on me brought clarity in my mind and relieved the stresses of life. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins: these endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. It is the de-cluttering of your mind of the garbage that your brain and body don’t need. When I run, there is also a spiritual connection, with moments of God-inspired ideas and clear steps in moving forward with my life. Of course, keeping a healthy brain and soul is another tick ✅

Exercising has come from a chore to a way of life for me. I went from a “gonna” to a doer! I always recommend to people to find out what you enjoy and commit yourself to it. For me running, cycling and swimming is part of my life now. For you, it could be a boot-camp type of class, a gym membership, or BMX riding. Find out how you want to exercise, something that is sustainable with your life style. Something that re-creates you to give you energy to get through life. Trust me, it’s worth it!

by Lea-Ann Copelin