Model Owen Edobor broke running records at school and competed nationally. But he threw all his focus into pursuing a soccer career. When that didn’t work out, he studied criminology and sociology at university. Here he tells us how a new career kick-started his relationship with running.
Q&A with Owen Edobor
Owen – when and how did you discover running?
I’ve always been into sports. I started athletics at school, running 200m, 400m and finding myself in the English Schools competition. But as soccer got more important, I ran away from running. I got less excited by it. Individual sport wasn’t for me. I couldn’t deal with the pressure and I’m a sore loser. My teachers couldn’t understand why I gave it up, but it was an internal thing. I was good at it, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t like the feeling I got just before I was about to run. The nerves that went through me were too much.
What brought you back to running?
I didn’t make it in football, so I went to university. When I completed my degree, I got into modeling. That’s when I started thinking about my physique. My body had changed over the years. I was bulkier from the gym. But I wasn’t content with that look. I wanted to cut down the weight, so I upped my cardio. For over a year I just really enjoyed running. My body was forming how I wanted it to. Then Covid-19 hit, the gym wasn’t accessible and running became the only thing going. At that point, I fell in love with it.
How did you transition from sprints into longer distances?
Because of all the other sports, my stamina was quite good. At the start of lockdown, I ran 5k or 10k a couple of times a week. And I’d done cross country at school, too. So while I was rebuilding a little bit of stamina, the idea of long distances wasn’t foreign to me.
What does running mean to you?
It’s a chance to escape, shut the door on pressures and get a bit of mental freedom. I believe that 110%. Particularly during the pandemic, it’s been a shared experience for so many people – whatever their running level. Some people were new to it. Some had always run. But it made everyone feel the same.
How does running help the rest of your life?
I’m a model, so I’m constantly getting rejected. I might travel to the other side of London for a casting, get a quick and flat ‘no’ and then the next day I’ve got to motivate myself to go to another casting that’s maybe another two hours away. Sometimes you feel like giving up. You wonder when the breakthrough will come. Running’s like that, too. You’re alone and it’s hard. There’ll be times when you think ‘I’m ready to turn back now’. It’s a continuous mental battle. But you learn how to push yourself, how to keep going, how to work hard and how to improve. The breakthrough will come. I can envision it. If I keep going, at some point I’ll reach the place I want to be.
What’s your relationship with running?
I feel like people get annoyed with me, because I’m always the kid saying to my friends and family: ‘If you’re feeling down, why not go for a run?’. I know the impact it’s had on me. I know others would benefit from it too. It’s given me resilience and perseverance. I’ll carry those skills for the rest of my life.
What do you think about when you’re running?
I wish I could say that I blank out and the time flies by. But that’s never happened for me. When I’m running, I think about everything. I think about life. About what’s on my mind. About what I’ve got to do. It all goes through my head and the motion of running lets me leave things behind. I move forward.
Sometimes I’ll play mind games with myself, too. Once I saw an elderly lady some way in front of me. She was really going for it, running at quite a pace. I told myself that she was the new job I wanted. I had to catch up to her to get where I wanted. It was tough, but I did it.
Do you have a set schedule each week?
I normally stick to 5K runs. During the summer, I did four days a week as a minimum. I know on Sundays I won’t do anything. So Monday is the start line. I’d try to get a 10K done early to give me a good start, then I can relax. I’ve got a couple of 5K routes where I don’t have to track my distance. I know it adds up.
I’ve never been a night runner. My older brother does it. He runs at the wildest hours. But for me, the day starts with a green tea, some fruit and some stretches – then a run before noon. If I leave it past then, I’ve no chance.
Do ever find it hard to get out there?
I think we all have those days. That’s why I tell myself I’ve got to go early. Otherwise I’ll make all kinds of excuses. That big pile of washing will become the most attractive thing to do. I’ll find other chores. Anything to avoid the run. Go early, that’s the key for me.
What would you say to someone new to running?
Give it a try – but in your own way. Do what you can, and how you want to do it. Recording your times will give you psychological reward when you see your improvement. That’s a great feeling. Just don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
This morning, it starts again.
Our daily dance. Our battle to get out before the day overwhelms.
We’ve known each other for a long time.
Distant friends at first. Never quite the enjoyment others found.
But now, now things are different.
As I’ve grown, you’ve taught me well.
You’ve given me resilience.
Shown me the value of perseverance.
Even introduced me to the power of mind games.
You get me up when life gets me down.
You keep my spirit flying.
My focus on the goal.
And now I’ll sing your praises to everyone I meet.
Because now I know – truly know – what you mean to those who cross your path.
Where you used to unnerve me, taking me from the security of my team and putting it all on me, now you excite me.
I used to think ‘I’ll turn back now’.
But not today. We’re in this together.
And we’re going the distance.
This run is dedicated to you.
Owen wears the Weather Jacket in Black | Shadow, the Performance-T in Black | Shadow, the Lightweight Shorts in Shadow | Black, the High Sock in Storm | Moss and the Cloudstratus running shoes in Black | Mineral.