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Hellah Sidibe has been running every day for 5 and a half years – and has no plans to stop anytime soon

It’s a ritual he’s maintained for the past five and a half years and Sidibe, 31, has no plans to tear it down anytime soon, no matter where he is and what life throws at him.

On May 15, 2017, Sidibe decided to run 10 minutes a day for two weeks. Tired of empty promises about going to the gym, he wants to hold himself accountable with a small, manageable exercise routine.

It wasn’t long before Sidibe began expanding her ambitions. The runs were getting faster and farther, and soon he planned to go every day for a year.

The days passed and slowly he began to mark more important milestones – two years, three years, 1,000 days. His only rule, which Sidibe still adheres to, is that his runs are outdoors and at least two miles long.

Sidibe started running daily in 2017.

Little did he know, he had become a runner – a label for people who commit to long-term running every day.

Based on Streak Runners International and the American Running Streak Associationan organization that provides an active portfolio, Jon Sutherland, 71, has topped the list for 53 years – almost 19,500 days.

Face your fear

Sidibe may be decades away from joining longtime running followers, but his five-and-a-half-year journey has completely redefined his view of the sport. .

A promising soccer player in his youth, Sidibe considered jogging a form of punishment and would lose sleep all night before fitness tests.

That quickly changed with the arrival of his running sequence.

“I just said, ‘I want to face the fear, but I’m inviting it in,'” Sidibe recalls. “I’m not against it – I’m inviting this I don’t really know. I’m making it something that’s probably not so bad.

Distance runner Hellen Obiri is traveling thousands of miles from her home in Kenya to pursue her marathon ambitions.

“I find running a privilege that not everyone has,” he continued. “I want to use that privilege of mine when there are people out there who can’t walk, let alone run. It energizes this thing in you, and you get out there and get it done – no there’s no reason.”

Growing up in Mali, Sidibe sometimes spent her days playing football in the streets and fields near her home. He and his friends would idolize the great Brazilian Ronaldo – rough drawing his name and number nine on the back of their shirts – and at the same time, Sidibe dreams of playing for Chelsea in the Premier League.

When his family moved to America, those aspirations rushed in. Sidibe played NCAA Division 1 football with the University of Massachusetts and was subsequently interested by clubs in Major League Soccer and Bundesliga 2, the second division in Germany.

He signed a professional contract with Kitsap Pumas, an affiliate of the Seattle Sounders, but visa issues and limits on the number of non-US citizens allowed on the MLS roster got in the way. his progress.

In the end, Sidibe gave up his football career.

“It hurts – it doesn’t matter how hard you work, but this one piece of paper is stopping you,” he said of his visa issue.

“Things that I couldn’t control, sort of put me in a situation where, looking back, there was definitely some sort of depression there. I was always a happy guy, but I find myself always sad. …I’ve come into this dark spot in my life where I don’t like anything, I don’t smile much and I don’t want to talk to anyone as much as I used to.”

Run across America

Even as Sidibe is already a US citizen, he has no intention of returning to football, his love for the sport dwindling after shuffling between teams and trials.

Over time, running became a cornerstone of his life, and on 163, his fiancée convinced him to make a YouTube video of the run.

Licensed “why I run every day,” it proved an instant hit. According to Sidibe, views and comments were overwhelming and the pair became YouTubers “overnight”. Today, their channel, HellahGoodhas 276,000 subscribers, top videos attract millions of views.
As well as updates on his achievements, the channel also documents Sidibe’s experience performing feats of endurance – including his recent participation in Life Time Leadville Trail 100 Runan iconic 100-mile race in Colorado and 3,061-mile, 84-day run across the United States.
Sidibe competes at the Leadville 100.

Sidibe believes he is the first black person to complete a solo track across the United States, a feat he achieved last year when he averaged more than 36 miles a day across 14 states.

The challenge didn’t just test his stamina. Sidibe says he is stopped and questioned by police every day, each time explaining how he completed a cross-continental run for charity – raising money for the nonprofit Soles4Souls – and the RV in front of him is his two-man support team.

He also said he was subjected to swearing, called racial slurs, and even threatened with a knife while running on 66th Street.

However, in between those episodes are the “beautiful” moments: strangers providing him with food, water, and money, plus those who have been with him throughout his journey.

Sidibe said: “Even though I’ve been through such tough times, these tough times… you can’t get mad about whatever’s going on. “A lot of people are focusing their energy and energy just to help you.”

The ugly moments in the challenge were a reminder to Sidibe that running can leave him vulnerable to racist abuse.

He says he’s never felt unsafe in his neighborhood in New Jersey but makes a conscious effort to “look like a jogger” when he ventures further afield. That means wearing special running gear — a vest, headphones, an upside down cap that doesn’t cover your face — and carrying a hiking pole on trails and hills.

“Even running across America, the pole I was holding in my hand helped a lot in the hills, but a lot of the time, I didn’t need it,” explains Sidibe.

“I know if I hold it and put on a vest, it’ll make me look like I’m doing something – I’m not just a runner. People are using my race to make negative judgments. should even exist to target me.”

There was a time during a trip across America when Sidibe stopped to think about Ahmaud ArberyA 25-year-old Black man was chased and killed by three white men while on the run in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia.

“It could have been me,” Sidibe said, adding that Arbery’s death “scares a lot of athletes.”

“For me, it’s important to go out there for representation, get people like me to say, ‘You know what, Hellah is doing that. I’m going – it’s okay, we’re fine, we’re safe. “” Sidibe said. “Think of the positive side of it.”

Sidibe’s constant enthusiasm and infectious smile have earned him the esteem of members of the running community, to whom he gives advice and shares his running experiences.

While some debate the importance of rest days in any training routine, Sidibe says he manages his running volume by including lighter days – sometimes just go every two or three miles – and stay injury-free with stretching, massage, foam rolling, and strength training.

So far, he’s managed to maintain his track record through injury – dropping 14 miles a week while managing damage to his hind shin – and surgery to remove a wisdom tooth.

Can Sidibe ever imagine her days coming to an end?

“There was only one day when I woke up and felt like I didn’t like this at all,” he said. “I give myself permission to quit every day. There’s no pressure to keep going and keep it going.”

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