Talk 2 Me

Talk 2 Me


Not having enough time is a symptom of modern living. Between stressful jobs and trying to spend quality time with the family, exercise is often the first thing that falls to the bottom of our list. In a series of features on how to balance a busy career with running, Modern Athlete speaks to various high powered professionals to find out how these great leaders manage to fit sport into their hectic daily lives. In this issue, we chat to Redi Direko, presenter of the Redi Direko show on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk.

What is your background and how did you get involved in radio?
I studied journalism and communications at RAU (now the University of Johannesburg). I also have an honours degree in English Literature and have been a broadcast journalist for nine years. I worked as a reporter for a number of years and joined the Gauteng radio station, Kaya fm, where I produced and
co-presented the afternoon drive show. That was followed by five years at the SABC as a current affairs anchor and producer.

Who are the most interesting people you have interviewed over the years?
Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

How long have you been running?
Five years.

What motivated you to start running?
I lived in Cape Town and did not know anyone in the city. It was a beautiful part of town and I had no social life. One spring afternoon, I longed just to be outside. I went out for a walk and after about two minutes, I found it so boring that I started to jog slowly. I haven’t stopped since. When I moved to
Johannesburg, I joined the Rand Athletics Club.

How many Comrades have you done?
Two; last year was my first Comrades.

How do you fit running into your busy life?
I do it first thing in the morning at 5:30. I can’t imagine starting my day any other way. If I put it off till later in the day, I get so busy and hectic that it’s a battle to hit the tarmac.

How many hours a week do you spend on the road?
It depends on what I am working towards and on the race calendar in my area. On average, I run between 50km and 60km a week; made up of a long run on a Sunday and the rest of the distance is covered between Tuesday and Friday, with a rest day on a Thursday. When I am training for Comrades and Two Oceans, I run six times a week and increase the distance to between 60km and 90km a week; not every week though!

Who do you train with?
I meet a group of runners at the Virgin Active at Old Eds in Houghton, but some days I run with the man in my life, Brian.

What is your favourite road race?
I do 90% of the races in Gauteng, but my favourite race is the Deloitte Pretoria Marathon. It is scenic, but tough, tough, tough…

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to your running?
I haven’t identified any obstacles. I love running and I am too committed to it to see any obstacles.

Has running influenced your career and work ethic?
Not quite; more than anything I have always been driven and focused in my work. But, I have more energy now that I have something else that I am passionate about, besides my career. As a life lesson, I use the metaphor of running; in the same way that I need to pace myself when I run, I pace myself in other areas of my life.

What is the best and worst advice you have been given with regards to running?
So many runners are experts on how one should run. The funny thing is some runners don’t even know you or how you have trained. Come race day, they want to offer some advice. I ignore it. The best advice has come from Brian, who is also a runner. When I went out for my first road race he said, “Run your own race.” It has worked for me. I have also learnt that sometimes resting is the best thing I can do for myself.

Proudest moment in running?
Completing my first Comrades in 2008. I had no intention of running this ultimate human race until a month before the race. I was experimenting and wanted to test how far my body could go. I just wanted to see if I had what it takes to finish 89km. Clearly I did. I finished very strongly and felt relaxed. Although the race was hard, I was not falling apart at the end; I was strong and on my feet. I finished in 11:38 and this year, I took an hour off my time and finished in 10:39.

And in radio?
There have been so many. I have been at this for so long that it is hard to single out one moment. Every day I get to occupy and participate in a wonderful platform where we take our gloves off and talk. It’s really a lesson and an eye opening experience.

Most embarrassing or worst moment in running?
I fell once while jogging; it was during peak hour traffic and people were up and about. Nobody came to help. Instead, when one falls, those looking on seem to feel more embarrassed than the person who has fallen. It’s crazy.

And in radio?
I don’t really get embarrassed easily. Sometimes I give out incorrect information or make an error of judgement; it’s not a big deal. When someone points it out to me, I simply correct it, laugh at myself and
move on.

The thing I love most about running is…
It calms my spirit.

After a run the first thing I like to do is…

My greatest ambition is to complete…
As many Comrades as I possibly can.

Do you regret anything?
Absolutely not! Life has been a fulfilling journey.

I don’t enjoy being beaten by…
I compete against myself so I am not concerned with how other runners are doing.

I enjoy training most with…
My best friend and partner, Brian.

Who are your running role models?
My friend, Sue Harrisburg. She has just turned 50. She looks amazing and is such a committed runner.

What is your favourite meal after a big race?
After Comrades, I can’t swallow anything but dry brown bread, but after marathons and ultras, jungle oats or eggs will do.

I could not go running without my…
Lip gloss. Seriously! I put it on a kilometre before I reach the finish line.

What would you say to someone who says that they don’t have the time to start running?
If anything is important to you, you will make time for it. We all have 24 hours a day available to us and we choose how we utilise this precious resource called time. I am a very busy person and throughout my career I have juggled different jobs and projects at the same time. I make the time for exercise.

My favourite race is…
Yet to come! I am running the New York Marathon in November. Ask me about my favourite race when I return.

Best time…
10:39:19. I took a whole hour off my previous Comrades time.

Life motto…
It’s never too late to become what you might have been.

Comrades times

Year Age Time  Medal  Overall position 
 2008 30  11:38:00  Vic Clapham  7 244 
 2009 31  10:39:19  Bronze  5857 

Two Oceans times

Year Age Time Medal Overall position 
2006 (21km) 28 2:34:02 Bronze 7 222 
2008 (56km)30 6:46:05 Blue 5 283 
2009 (56km) 31 6:04:08 Blue 3 601