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Kwaito star Kabelo Mabalane on how running has become much more than a hobby

Running entered my life at precisely the right time. Picture: RUN 4 FFWPU/Pexels

Running entered my life at precisely the right time. Picture: RUN 4 FFWPU/Pexels

Published Oct 4, 2023


Renowned kwaito star Kabelo Mabalane is gearing up for an awe-inspiring milestone at the much-anticipated 2023 Sanlam Cape Town 50th marathon.

To him, this is so much more than just completing another race for Kabelo.

It symbolises his personal journey of overcoming challenges and celebrating triumphs, coinciding with the 21st anniversary of his sobriety.

In a candid conversation with Independent Media Lifestyle, Mabalane unpacked his path to recovery.

“My journey to sobriety has been about reconnecting with my true self.”

He admitted to getting caught up in the allure of sex, drugs and alcohol.

“Those vices weren’t a genuine reflection of who I am. And the more you go down that journey you are either going to end up in jail or death and I knew those outcomes were my only option. I wanted better for myself.”

Since taking up running Kabelo Mabalane confesses that he’s gotten quite competitive even with himself, running to surpass his record times. Picture: Supplied

Reverting to his true self became the key to his transformation. Mabalane has been clean for 21 years, a testament to the power of embracing one’s true identity.

“Running entered my life at precisely the right time,” he confessed.

“Through my work in the entertainment industry and collaborations with sports brands, I had always dreamt of participating in events like the comrades marathon.

“So I decided to give running a try. I’ve always had a bit of a sporty bone in my school days.

“So I took up running and I fell in love with it and that filled a very massive void and I got quite obsessed and still am obsessed with running. And that will take up your time, after a 50km run I don’t think you want to go out and party,” the musician shared.

He admitted: “There’s very few that training for a 10km run won’t be able to solve, but speaking to somebody whose all in or all out that’s just my personality trait.”

Since taking up running, Mabalane confesses that he’s gotten quite competitive even with himself, running to surpass his previous record times.

“I always want to surpass my previous times and push my limits. Running has become more than just a hobby for me, it’s a lifestyle that requires dedication, discipline, and a keen eye on nutrition. It’s no longer just about running, it’s about embracing a whole package of healthy habits.”

This symbolises his personal journey of overcoming challenges and celebrating his triumphs, which coincides with the 21st anniversary of his sobriety. Picture: Supplied/Kabelo Mabalane

He noted that his training varied each year.

This year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon training coincides with his first half-IRONMAN in November. So, this year, training includes swimming, cycling and running over a 15-hour weekly training programme.

“However, contrary to popular belief, my marathon training secret is running short distances quite fast, not running far. Most people think that if you’re training for a marathon, you must run 20 to 30km weekly, but I prefer a different approach.

“I hardly run 40km a week but invest copious amounts of time in the gym doing leg and core work. I believe in upper body strength workouts because endurance fitness will get you to 21km.

“The remaining 21km rely on how strong you are, and that’s when the gym training kicks in,” Mabalane said in an earlier media statement.

“I also prioritise proper rest, proper sleep and proper nutrition. This newfound structure and focus have helped me appreciate the effort required for success.

“While I initially experienced some early success in my career, I quickly realised that life does’nt always come easily. I learnt the hard way that success often requires perseverance and the ability to handle rejection.

“Endurance running taught me discipline, both on and off the track.”

One of Mabalane’s proudest moments was completing in the fastest marathon he ever ran, clocking in at an impressive 3 hours and 7 minutes. The race took place in the vibrant city of Joburg.

“I’ve lost count of how many marathons I’ve participated in, I’ve done north of 50 marathons and I’ve done 12 comrades marathons.”

He added: “The impact of my running journey extends beyond my personal accomplishments. As I embody this part of who I am, I’ve noticed a ripple effect on those around me.

“My colleagues, family and friends have all been influenced to some degree by my dedication and commitment to health and fitness.

“I don’t force anyone to join me in my activities, but they can’t help but be inspired. My children have taken up running without any push from me, simply because they see me doing it. The same goes for my wife and friends.

“By being true to myself, I’ve inadvertently made a positive impact on the lives of others. The thing is, once you’ve summited a peak you realise that there are other peaks that are higher there’s always a new goal, there’s always a race to enter, different terrain, different city to run in.

“Like now, I’m running the Cape Town marathon on the October 15, doing my first triathlon this year on November 19 and this is the first time I’m doing it.

“And I’m also doing my first full Ironman in April next year so what keeps me motivated is continuously setting new goals because I’ve seen that doing that is what keeps motivated.

“If I say I’m going to do something I keep myself accountable and do what I need to do so I can perform well when race/ event day comes,” he said.

“The process in preparation for the marathon has been good and you must understand for us Joburgers it’s very easy to run in Cape Town because it’s flat, oxygen near the sea presents ideal conditions compared with down here.”

“Although you have a set plan, things don’t always go that way. Sometimes I have a clear idea of the time I aim to achieve, but I’ve had moments where my expectations didn’t align with the outcome.”

This highlights the unpredictability of running and the need for adaptability.

On the advise he would share with others, Mabalane said: “I’d honestly say look at my life. I kid you not. But in all honesty, I’ve faced challenges and personal struggles, particularly related to weight gain.

“However, I’ve learnt that the key to success lies in the size of my desire to achieve a goal.

“As Joyce Meyer wisely says, ‘Life is always about how big your want is to do something, and if you can’t it simply means your want isn’t big enough for it’.”