Some people run to stay in shape. Others use running for stress relief. But Ade Olude uses it for introspection.

The London-born Nigerian is a vegan ultra-marathon runner—running races of up to 100-miles. Many observers say he makes it look easy.

After using running to cope with some of his most challenging times, Olude said he believes that running aids with depression, disease and a lack of self-awareness.

“I want people to realize the best way to get to know themselves is by isolation and by running by themselves.”

Many would assume he’s always been a long-distance runner, but it took many ups and downs for his journey as an ultra-marathon runner to unfold.

Olude’s goal is to spread this information to help people get healthy and build a deeper connection with their inner selves.   

He remembers the first pivotal moment in his life happening when he was just a young boy. He’d left London for Nigeria, where he spent a lot of time with his grandmother.

“She exposed me to African and African American history,” he says. “I learned about Martin Luther King Jr., racism, and traditional African customs.”

This education was a culture shock for the young Olude, who before then had no concept of race or life outside of London and Africa. The information sparked anger in him, but it also motivated him to dive deeper into the knowledge. He began reading and becoming more informed.

This passion for knowledge stayed with Olude into adulthood.

Later in life, he moved to the United States as a professional soccer player. Things were going well, but his time as a professional athlete was cut short due to an illness.

Soon after, he and his wife divorced. Just like that, he’d lost his income and his family.

“It was a very turbulent time,” says Olude.

At age 44, he became homeless and felt like he’d hit rock bottom. But little did he know a transformation was just around the corner.

While sleeping in a homeless shelter each night, Olude began running during the day to ease his anger.

He also adopted a vegan diet to help improve his health and began studying Buddhism and practicing meditation and yoga. All these elements combined helped him cope with the disappointment and hard times.

“When I had immigration issues, I got up and ran. When I had no money, I got up and ran. When I didn’t have food to eat, I got up and ran.”

His running and meditation practice changed his perspective on life. He began to embrace the notion that peace and happiness are not found through tangible, material things.

Though he was experiencing what most would call a rough patch, he chose to look inner at the things he still had – like his good health, able body and inner peace.

“I went through homelessness and it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says.

Olude began running to bring awareness to people who were without permanent shelter while he himself was still experiencing homelessness.

Through his involvement with Back on My Feet, an organization that uses running to motivate and support people from homelessness to independence, Olude ended up on a 24-hour bus ride from Georgia to Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, he ran 109 miles on behalf of the organization and came in fifth place.

Since then, he’s lost track of exactly how many races he has done.

During his weekly training runs, which are usually between 25-50 miles, he reflects on various aspects of life. He shares his musings on his blog along with mileage logs.

While he maintains a healthy lifestyle, which makes it possible for him to run, he says his ability to run long distances is largely fueled by his mind.

He offers, “It’s all mental. After a while, your subconscious mind takes over and tells you how to breathe and move.”

 

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