Abdul Sami Writes from Pakistan

In early 2018, I met Abdul Sami on a House of Runners “Sunday evening jog”. The pace was barely touching 7 min per kilometer and we hit the Corniche and then onto the beach sands for some foot work. Abdul stopped many times that day, and his breathing was laborious to the point where I started getting a bit nervous if he’d show up in future. But surprisingly, he made it a point to arrive every Sunday for the same run. I would gradually see him go from stop-and-go type running to continuous runs and his pace picked up at an pretty good rate. He would soon pop into our weekend hill runs and gradually to our Tuesday track sessions. In October, he finished his first 3K race with the team and in November, his first 10K. Abdul’s story is also unique. In the post below, he puts his thoughts together from Pakistan where he currently works as a software engineer.

After graduating from university, I transformed slowly into a lazy and bulky guy mainly due to my tough office routine and sedentary lifestyle. Over the period of 7 to 8 years, I was regularly adding on the pounds until the scales hit 200 pounds!! That kind of change was neither normal nor genetically suited for me. That was the moment I realized I had enough and needed to do something about it. So I decided to change my lifestyle 180 degrees. So to cut a long story short, I my weight loss journey lost me almost 55 pounds. To support this incredible transformation journey, I started running.

I ran regularly to maintain a heathy weight and remain active. Luckily I was deputed in Abu Dhabi, UAE for an official assignment by my employer for few months. When I moved to Abu Dhabi, this marvellous sport a.k.a running had already become an essential part of my life. I used to run daily at Corniche in the evening.

One day, on “Meetup.com” I found a running club “House of Runners (HOR)”. I RSVP’d for their event “Sunday Recovery Jogging”. I was not familiar with the terminologies of this sport as I was new to this sport. That day, I met the organiser and coach of this club – Ronnie. He is indeed a great Indian athlete and coach. From that first day running and training with this club till the last group activity I joined, he taught me a lot of the terminologies of this sport and many more things about training for racing. Day by day with his guidance, instructions and leadership, running became a passion for me.

House of Runners is a performance based running club so every year they select two or more races and plan training schedule accordingly. Work is focused to those goals. The club has some prominent members who are no doubt assets of the club, as they always motivate other teammates. If you are feeling low and tired they won’t let you feel down. Katie, Abood, Sihle, Eva, Cham and Gina are some regular members who join almost every group activity. Each and every runner in the squad is unique. Eva and Katie have lot of podium trophies in their trophy show case. Eva is a French athlete while Katie is an English athlete. Abood is a UAE national, he is the fastest athlete in the club. You can’t find a multi national, multi ethnic, multi lingual, multi cultural environment in any sports club but here you will get a chance to enjoy this kind of global atmosphere.

I had never participated in any short/long distance races before joining this club, neither had any plans to do so. Coach Ronnie inspired me to register for a race event “Wellman Road Race” in Dubai in October; HOR was going to participate in it as a team. Its very difficult for someone who has never participated in any kind of sports competition to register for a race straightaway without any training. Ronnie’s motivation worked well, which pushed me to register for the least of the distances, the 3K race. With a few weeks of consistent training, I participated in the race and finished the distance in approximately 18 minutes. What’s more, it landed me 4th place among other 3K participants!

After the Wellman race, I continued my group runs with HOR. My running form, timing and mileage all improved gradually. The interval training, we used to do once in a week on Tuesday, helped me a lot in improving my 5K and 10K timings.

When I joined this club they had planned to compete in two upcoming major events in town, one of them was “Strider’s Half Marathon and 10K Race”. Ronnie pushed me to register for the 10K race seeing that I did quite well in the 3K distance last month. I commenced my training with HOR. My goal was to finish 10K in less than 60 minutes. So come November, I ran with the team and finished it in less than 58 minutes when the actual goal time was an hour. All the credit goes to the team of House of Runners, specially the coach and the organiser Ronnie for a result that surprised me.

Sadly, I had to leave UAE soon after the Striders race. I came back to my home country Pakistan. I continued my running activities, but I really miss all those moments I spent with this club. I will always remember the quality time I spent with everyone in HOR.

I currently call Islamabad Pakistan as home. Its a paradise for the athletes and adventure loving people. It is situated besides the Margalla Hills, the foothills of the great Himalayas. It gives unlimited outdoor activity opportunities to the people here. My goal is to participate in a Half Marathon race next year, so to remain fit and training for the race I am trying to follow HOR training schedule here too. But I do wish I can re-join House of runners sometime in the future.

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