Sometimes all it takes to make someone a runner is encouragement, especially when the initial idea of getting fit has already formed inside their head. At this point, a coach or a motivator can be the difference between fit and being as you are.

And that’s the case with Hatim Kantawalla, 38-year-old Chief Product Officer at Prototyze, the company that incubated MobieFit. Hatim has been running for the past 3-years and gives most of the credit of him being a runner to his former boss.

The beginning
“I have been fat, well, medically obese, all my life. I often jokingly call it my check-in luggage, and like a badly glued baggage tag it has stuck on to me for as long as I can remember. Like most fat people, I too have tried practically everything under the sun to lose weight, except of course the extreme solutions of gastric bypass or banding surgeries, or worse: liposuction!”

The turning point
“Dieting has helped at times, and on occasions going to the gym has helped too. Helping me to knock 10% of my weight off over the course of a couple of months. All of it gained back in equal measure, and almost always faster than what it took me to lose it. The trouble with me, or so I thought, was not being able to get into a consistent and sustained routine, not having enough will-power, determination, and every other success mantra from any self-help book. That was until I met my ex-boss and mentor who changed it all for me in a flash.”

That feeling of not letting someone else down became more powerful than letting myself down.

The turnaround
“I would have to credit my current level of fitness, sustained weight loss, three half-marathons, and a bunch of 10K finishes, all to him and him alone. If it hadn’t been for his simple and often short notes, conversations and messages about running, I probably wouldn’t even have considered running. But he persisted, kept reminding me of my daily morning run. Missed it? No problem, do it today evening. Don’t have an hour? No worries, go out and jog it out for 30 minutes. And then he would throw in a kicker, ‘Message me when you’re done with your run today evening, we’ll chat about work!’ He simply wouldn’t forget. He was relentless, shift effortlessly from being soft to being hard and pushy.”

A runner is born
“In the beginning I couldn’t even run continuously a 50m stretch without huffing and panting and feeling like my heart is going to pop out of my chest. Older ladies and gents would summarily walk past me as I would be sort of jogging-walking. I once even had an older gentleman tell me that I should probably lose weight before I attempted jogging, such was the irony.”

I can proudly say I am a runner, and can run continuously for more than an hour—although my pace continues to be horrible.

“As I got hooked on, and once I realized my boss was going to ask me if I had run regardless of rain, office hours or whatever else, I started making sure I didn’t disappoint him. And that feeling of not letting someone else down became more powerful than letting myself down. He would often make a face if I gave him a silly excuse, reprimand me softly if I missed a weekend session. And call me on Sunday mornings to come around early for a run just to soak in the running atmosphere at Nariman Point in Mumbai.”

Going beyond
“He pushed me to do my first official 10k, then signed me up for my first half-marathon. And then he knew I was on my way to being a runner. He would send me videos on running basics, posture, technique, and even paid for and signed me up for a coached running program. Thankfully, all the timely inputs from my ex-boss and various other expert runners has ensured that I have a good running form and technique and haven’t yet faced any injury. Today, I can proudly say I am a runner, and can run continuously for more than an hour—although my pace continues to be horrible.

And this year, my goal is to finish the Satara Hill Half-Marathon in under 2.45 hrs.”

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