For people like Wali Khan, their passion for running has been a source of strength that helped them overcome life obstacles that would stop others in their tracks. Literally.
Last July, Khan was in a serious road accident that broke his ankle, his shoulder, and shattered his hip into six pieces.
Fast forward to this coming November, he will run his first race at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. Khan was an avid runner before the accident, and he is thrilled to be taking part in the Ekiden category with a team of people who've helped him on his road to recovery.
"Before the accident I was the fittest I'd ever been," says Khan. "I was running 10km, playing cricket, going to the gym regularly and hiked a lot."
Khan's active lifestyle was taken away in an instant, when the motorbike he was riding was hit by a car and he was thrown into a tree. While he doesn't have any recollection of the impact, he vividly remembers waking up to excruciating pain.
"I was on the ground, trying to take off my helmet because I felt suffocated. My shin bone had broken into two pieces and was protruding was out of my leg. Out of a scale of 10, my pain was at 3000," says Khan.
Khan says he's lucky to be alive. "I have a lot of broken bones, but it could have been much worse," he says. "I could have had damaged internal organs, a brain haemorrhage, a broken back, nerve damage and much more."
While the road to recovery is far from over, Khan has amazed many people with his positivity and resilience, as well as the speed of his recovery. Since the accident, he's spent months in hospital, has had multiple surgeries - including having titanium rods inserted into his hip and shin, and endured hours of intense physiotherapy six days a week to learn how to walk again.
"It took three months for me to get from wheelchair to crutches. After 10 months, I was able to walk without any support," says Khan. "Doctors told me I would never play sports and would most likely never run again. I'm way ahead of schedule," smiles Khan.
The journey from walking to running has not been easy and Khan is slowly making his comeback. He started cycling six months ago and migrated to the elliptical machine two months ago.
"Now, I'm doing 30 minutes on the elliptical and slowly building up to the point where I can run," says Khan.
His training involves going to the gym six times a week and exercise rehabilitation sessions that last three hours. "I work on mobility, strength and endurance," says Khan. "Slowly and surely I'm building up my body to be able to run 4.8km at the Singapore marathon."
"I have extreme pain in my ankle, which was completely destroyed and has limited mobility. Over time it will get better. To run in November, I'll have to overcome extreme pain, but as that has been the case for the past year, I'm prepared for it," adds Khan.
The goal of running, pushes Khan to keep going when the pain is unbearable. Khan's inspiring physical and mental feat has made him appreciate the joy of running even more.
"Something that was such a big part of my life is now so painful to do. While in the hospital, I used to have a recurring dream where I would jump out of bed and run barefoot, full speed, as far away as possible. I would wake up to the realisation that I could barely move, was in excruciating pain and that walking, let alone running, was something I may never do again," explains Khan.
He knows he has a huge mountain to climb just to be fit enough to take part in the race next month, but being there, with the people who helped him get through the worst time in his life is a huge motivator for Khan.
He says his mantra for running and life is, "one step at a time and don't think too far ahead." His tips for pushing through the challenges of running and life are:
- Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own journey. Your race is only with yourself.
- We can't choose what happens to us but we can choose how we react to it. There is no such thing as failure as long as you learn from it. It's only a failure if you give up.
- Whatever you focus on comes true. Focus on the positives. Get your fuel from the little wins and learn from the setbacks.
The high of crossing the finish line inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. Whether you're a newbie to the running scene or a seasoned athlete, Laura brings the latest running trends and gear to readers across Australia. With a day job in the corporate world and a busy toddler, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to sharpen her mind and challenge her body.
Follow Laura Hill on Twitter