I’m a runner: Dambisa Moyo

Photography by Nathan Perkel

I feel it’s important to be out in the world forming my own opinions about the global financial markets, so I travel a lot. Wherever I go, there’s always a track or path or park that runners use. Running has become a part of the international zeitgeist.

Whether I’m running in Lima, Beijing, Paris or Moscow, I see the marketplaces, the traffic, children going to school. You see the common humanity, which I love.

I’ve always run as part of my fitness regime. However, I didn’t start feeling like a runner, seeing the sport as an experience in and of itself, until I started training for the 2014 New York City Marathon.

The race was brutal. I went in expecting to come away with a five-hour time. I finished in 6:34, freezing cold, in 30-mile-an-hour winds. It was a demoralising experience, but I was thrilled to be able to cross the line.

I ran my first marathon when I was 45. That’s quite late in life by some standards, but I got the bug. I quickly signed up for London [2015], where I took almost 1:20 off my time.

The lesson from doing a marathon is: don’t worry about going too fast or too slow. Just do what you do and do it properly.

There’s an element of community in running. There’s symbolism for solving hunger, poverty and disease in seeing runners help their peers cross a finish line.

East Africans have dominated elite distance running. Ninety per cent of the world’s population lives in the emerging markets. Running can be a catalyst for positive change in impoverished countries.

Change can be how people from these countries see themselves on the global stage, as well as how the rest of the world sees them. People want to train with them and invest in these regions.

Running is not age-dependent, race-dependent or wealth-dependent. The simplicity and freedom of it makes it unlike any other sport.

I try to run three to four times a week. As I’ve got older I realise that if I don’t get the run in, I’ll be crabby, so the best thing to do is to prioritise that. Wherever I am I make sure it’s the first thing I do in the morning.

Running has really taught me the importance of teamwork. To be able to rely on a range of people to help you perform better as a runner is something that I’ve transferred to my business life.

There’s nothing better than the runner’s high – especially when it’s mid-marathon or half marathon. You just feel this amazing burst of energy. It makes it all worth it.

My favourite…

Cause: I signed up for my first marathon [in 2014] because I wanted to raise money for the schoolgirls who had been abducted in Nigeria that year.

Place to run: Running in China is quite an experience, and I also loved running in Paris, but Central Park in New York beats all of them.

Lesson: In running, as in business, mistakes happen, but as long as you focus on improvement and appreciate the learning experience, you’ll be fine.


Read Dambisa's latest articles at DambisaMoyo.com.