Dr Ellen Chenesai Rungani: Do what works for your body, be positive, and enjoy the exercise

This week Zimbabwe Digital news caught up with Brawlette Dr Ellen Rungani on her fitness workout session, and asked her



Your full name. Your background in sports and athletics

My name is Ellen Chenesai Rungani. I am a young academic with a PhD in business management. I started doing sports from a very young age was actually an all-rounder before age took its course. In my younger days in Zimbabwe was a 100m sprinter who represented my school at house and district level. I was also a netball player from grade 6 were I played in the first team and went as far as the provincial level.

When I started my secondary level I continued with athletics and netball and was able to play in the first team. However because I had a tom-boy character I changed sports and started playing basketball end of 1997. The main reason I ran away from netball was to run away from scrutiny the female teachers used to comment about my step and hair cut which they said were not “ladydish”.

After joining the basketball team in 1998 I made it to the first team as well as the provincial team. I played for Masvingo province from 1998 until 2000 then during my A level also played for Midlands province from 2001 until 2002. During my days I was known as “Soja or Boaz” because I played like a boy.

When I came to SA in 2004 I made it to the university first team, and was selected to play for the Eastern Cape Province. I continued playing for the Eastern Cape Province basketball until 2009 when I finished my Masters. Then from there I took a break and started playing social basketball.

Describe your running techniques. Are you a slow starter or fast finisher?

Am a fast finisher and I enjoy running on a stretch rather than curves. That is why in my relay days I used to prefer to start or to finish.

How has Covid-19 changed the way people train

I think Covid-19 has made people to think outside the box. I have seen people doing exercise routine using anything that they find at home which for me is a good way of showing creativity is. The lockdown has also brought people together sharing different routines and giving each other encouragement.

How has it affected the way that you train

Actually it has brought so much to the way I train. Because I stay alone and I used the time during the total lockdown to train as a way of keeping myself busy. I promise you I started exploring different routines and the old me came back. The jojo tank that I have been carrying since 2019 dropped during the first two months of the lockdown. I learnt to be patient because I would run 5km in my yard going up and down my drive way something that needs discipline because I don’t usually enjoy running in one place. I had to think outside the box and tried new things.

How do you keep fit. Are runners generally better trainers than: for example footballers

I have different routines that I do. For example I run but I don’t like doing anything more than 10km per day because I still want to keep my body. Am one of those people who was not blessed with lots of things my body looks like a boy so in order to keep the little I have I do not run a lot. I love skipping usually I do at least 2000 jumps per day. Because I only want to lose the jojo tank I do more of seat ups, crunches, planks as well squats for my hips.

Who are your all time favourite marathon runners in the different categories in the world

I follow very few people in athletics remember am not a long distance runner. But Olesya Nurgalieva, Elena Nurgalieva, Lelisa Desisa Benti and Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui are top athletes. My old time favorites are the Russian twins Elena and Olesya their coordination and the way they make it like its easy. I always watch them during the Comrades and the Two Oceans marathons. Because they are twins I love they are both my favourite.

How has Covid-19 affected the international marathon seasons

It has affected the season negatively because a lot of events were cancelled and I guess it also affected how the athletes train due to the lockdown.

How did you hear about the Brawlers

Through Mr Fidelis Zimbango he saw my posts were I used to post my different fitness routines.

As a sportsman and women support group, how much support do you get in terms of the group encouraging members to stay fit

The group has encouraged me through advice and when we share our routines. I tell you when I saw females running more than 15 km I pushed myself to get to 10. And the way they congratulate you makes you want to do more and not to disappoint them.

Is it true that ladies generally battle with weight more than men?

Yes we struggle because there are many factors which causes us to gain weight. Things such as child birth as well as birth control pills. Also our confidence is affected if we go out of shape. As you know a woman was created to be admired and once you lose shape it hits your confidence.

What gadgets do runners use these days and how does one watch which are the best labels and brands

People use different gadgets depending with their affordability and exposure. The common ones are pacebands, armbands, watch, phone applications, arm warmers, knuckle lights etc.

Describe your best runners’ gadgets and why that brand user friendliness etc

Running can be a rather different experience for each gender. For women, it can be much harder as we have to deal with bosoms bouncing while running. So the only thing I have invested into is a good sports bra from Nike. It called the Nike pro classis sports bra it keeps you dry and comfortable.

Who are your best runners from Zimbabwe short, middle or long distance running in history? Name a few

Abel Chimukoko, Stephen Muzhingi, Fortunate Chidzivo, Olivia Mugove Chitate and Rudo Mhonderwa

Why does Kenya or Ethiopia seem to produce good runners, any thoughts?

I think the high altitude environment they live in which gives them more powerful lungs since they are more used to anaerobic respiration than other runners. Other issues may be genetic predisposition, as well as development of a high maximal oxygen uptake as a result of extensive walking and running at an early age.

What do you think of the news coverage of *The Sunday Express*

I think the coverage is balanced it tackles all important issues which are relevant to our day to day lives.

Generally how does the media report the issues of runners and fitness, and gender issues

The media tries to give a balance however issues of sports normally get a small portion. There has been an improvement on coverage of gender issues may be due to different awareness programs.

Any other comments

I just want to say own your body fitness and make exercise a life style. Do what works for your body and above all enjoy it.


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