I am Mohamedkazim Bhaloo or MKB as I have come to be known over the years. I am an accountant by profession and have been honoured to serve our community both here in the UK and in Tanzania holding various voluntary positions, including former Treasurer for Stanmore Jafferys.
- How did you get into running?
I had never contemplated taking up running. In fact, I would go as far as saying I had no interest in running and this aspect of physical fitness never crossed my mind. However, all of that changed in 2016 when I took advantage of the Hujjat health screening programme that was being offered in Ramadhan. The health screening highlighted a potential health issue; high blood pressure (BP). Initially, I thought this was an anomaly and got it rechecked, and the same result came back. A family member then offered to take the measurement after 2 weeks, and yet again it was the same. At this point, I was advised that I had two choices, either I would need to start a lifetime of medication to manage my BP or to start making lifestyle changes. The thought of starting medication at such a young age meant I only had one real choice!
Initially I started walking 2 to 3 times a week and while it was a good start, I clearly needed to do more, as I was getting out of breath quite easily. It was then I decided to try and start running. To this very day, I still remember that first run, it was no more than 10 metres, but it felt like a complete failure. I thought, how can it be that I cannot run for more than 10 meters? However, I never gave up and this was probably the best thing I ever did.
I began setting myself small targets. I would say to myself, try and run to the school without stopping, then to the station, then to the supermarket, until I reached a point I could complete the entire length of my local high street. Gradually over many months and years, I had transitioned from walking to jogging to sprinting.
- What do you enjoy about running?
For me it’s all about the feeling at the end of a run. You may have heard the term ‘runners high’. This is exactly how I feel every time I complete a run. It makes you feel extremely positive – a sense of positive accomplishment.
My preference is to run in the morning and it means I start the day feeling energetic having been out in the fresh air. There is no doubt that over the years it has grown into an addiction for me and is very much a core part of my physical activity.
- What is your proudest running moment?
There are two moments that stand out for me. The first was then I ran my first 5K in the middle of 2018, without stopping. This was something I had been aiming for quite some time. What made it even sweeter was that my blood pressure had finally reached a normal range and this was enough motivation to not only keep up the running but to try and reach new targets.
The second moment came last year. With the advent of SJ Running and seeing our community of runners coming together I had made a personal pledge to try and at least complete a 10K before the year was out. Then came the festive holidays and on Christmas Day last year I finally managed my first 10K. It was undoubtedly a proud moment.
We do not realise and fully appreciate how blessed we are that we have people around us who motivate us and help us reach our targets and take it to the level. That to me is the biggest asset of SJ.
4. Running tips
- Don’t worry about distance and pace. The main thing is to complete whatever you set out to do no matter how long it takes you.
- Shoes are absolutely critical if you want to start. I was grateful for the advice from SJ Fitness group I had received about going to a running shop and getting a gait analysis done so I had the right shoes for me.
- Try and run first thing in the morning if you can. It is a fantastic way to set up your day.
5. Advice for aspiring runners
It is never too late to start taking your health seriously and taking up an activity like running. The one thing is, you must not be scared if you can only jog for a meter even at a slow and steady pace. It will take a while, but you will get there.
Start by walking a little and jogging a little and then slowly building it up from there. At the end of the day, we are not going to represent our countries in the Olympics or compete against Mo Farah; the only real competition you have is with yourself and it’s a competition you CAN, and WILL, beat.