Will Addison went from zero to Comrades hero in just eight months
By Arthur Jones – Photographs: Aart Verrips

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Age/Height: 39/1.95
Location: Randburg
Weight Before: 96kg
Weight After: 76kg
Time to Goal: 7 Months

The start of the weight gain for Will could be traced back to a time and an event. “I realised that the lifestyle I’d chosen to live over the last three years since my divorce was destroying me,” says Addison. “I still had dreams I wanted to follow, but I wasn’t able to motivate myself to pursue them. Like so many other people, I lived in a world of fear of failure and it was so much easier just to carry on living an unhealthy lifestyle – to just wake up each day not wanting to pursue the unknown.” Sadly, Will’s story is a common one. It doesn’t have to start with a single event, but there are plenty of other men who are still stuck in this downward spiral. Some don’t escape before it’s too late – but thankfully, for Will’s sake, he started by lacing up his running shoes and leaving his fear behind. Here’s his story, and his tried-and-tested advice to kickstarting your own comeback.

Related: From An Unhealthy Addiction To Getting High On Running

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1. The Problem

“In September 2016, I was shocked by what I saw in the mirror. That morning I weighed 96kg, the highest I’d ever been, and didn’t even realise it. I was overeating, drinking too many sugary drinks and alcohol, all to make me feel comfortable in life. Because of my loss of faith and self-belief, I knew deep down I was making things worse for myself. I wasn’t a happy person, and ignoring it for so long made things worse. As a kid, I always wanted to run Comrades, and knew if I didn’t change my life that morning, I would never achieve it.”

The Lesson: The first step is to set tightly defined goals.

2. The Change

“I knew I had to get my mental state fixed first. I changed my eating habits and cut out sugary drinks and alcohol, and started gym work. I had a huge mountain to climb as I was overweight and very unfit. I didn’t want to rush the process but knew that Comrades was eight months. I had to plan this journey very carefully. I also started eating my supper earlier (at least four hours before I went to bed). I went to bed earlier as I knew sleep was crucial. I researched healthy recipes and made my own food instead of relying on quick supermarket meals.”

The Lesson: Creating the right long-term goals makes it easier to follow the daily ones.

3. The Strategy

“The first two weeks I ran an average of 2km. I battled and wanted to quit but I persevered. I also did spinning classes to relieve the pressure on my legs. After the third week, I was doing 5km but it was tough. I knew that I needed to increase my distance by 5km every 2 weeks. My fiancé then got me to start entering races, no matter how small they were. I also joined a local running club. My weight was dropping and I felt fantastic. Four months into the journey I finished a marathon and qualified for Comrades.”

The Lesson: Start off slowly – it’ll take longer than you expect. We’re all different, your body will decide when you can increase.

4. The Result

“I finished three marathons, two ultras and did 2 500km before Comrades, which I completed in 10 hours 40 minutes, and earned a bronze. It was the biggest challenge, and while I have never felt so much pain, the experience was amazing. I lead a much better lifestyle and have a very good relationship with my children and fiancé”

The Lesson: Start with a dream, protect it, and don’t let anyone hold you back.

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