Itheko’s Awards Evening had been both about recognising those who excelled at the sport in their specific category as well an attempt to define what the club is all about. Ziyaad Solomon has been that exemplary newbie in the year 2016 that saw him honoured with the Novice of the Year Award.
Although he played different sports as a child, all that changed during his college years. For a number of years, although he occasionally exercised, he led a generally sedentary life and hence he was overweight. A few months before joining Itheko, he started taking his health seriously, starting by eating healthier. Towards the end of 2015, his sister Shanaaz Solomon introduced him to Itheko’s beginners programme which made him decide to join the club along with his sister.
Initially, he struggled to be committed to running regularly, as it was such a hard work to even run 3kms. After about 4 weeks of on and off training with the beginners, it eventually became something he loved because he started seeing much improvement. That made him more disciplined to train with the club. The club’s coaching structure and support eventually got him hooked on running. Hence he started training for a 10km race, 15km and eventually the 2016 Two Oceans Half Marathon under the club’s programme.
Ziyad never had serious injuries. In the initial stages, he used to have niggles every now and then as he used to be stubborn about using shoes that he liked instead of comfortable ones. As he started changing them according to shoe assessment recommendations coupled with following proper training, he managed to avoid the niggles. He also credits strength training as a factor in preventing injury.
He is generally a cautions runner that tries to learn from experienced coaches and loves listening to his body. That’s because he rather enjoys building up slowly towards a better performance than suffer by doing too much too soon that could get him seriously injured and out for several months. This has led to an incredible extent of improvement that made himself, his family and his fellow runners proud and inspired. Here are a few indicators. He ran his first 5km race in about 45 minutes at the 2015 Gun Run, yet in December 2016, he ran the same distance in 22:49 at the Rondebosch Park Run. He ran the Ommiedraai 10km in 2015 in 1:17, yet he ran the same course in 2016 in 50 minutes. His favorite race is the 2016 Two Oceans, where he ran his first ever half marathon in a time of 2:29:30. The many spectators, the vibe, months of working hard paying off, the interactions between runners and coaches all made it an unforgettable event. Seven months later, he ran his half marathon personal best at Winelands 2016 in 1:55.
Ziyaad is motivated most by setting goals, working towards them, and seeing improvement. Also, because the whole of his family started running together at about the same time, they keep motivating each other. He has some wise words to share: ”The most important thing is to focus on yourself instead of being carried away by what others do and push yourselves too far unnecessarily. Keep reminding yourself why you started running in the first place. As it’s because of the love of running, that is what should drive your efforts.”
From someone who never saw himself as a runner, Ziyaad has become an active member of the running community within the club and outside. He is even often seen using running for charitable causes such as the Boeber Run. The great improvements in terms of speed and endurance in such a short period of time, his consistency and his discipline to attempt to follow best practices that have been tested by experienced coaches and runners make him a well deserving athlete to his trophy.
By Kamil Suleiman