Building Narratives: No struggle, no progress–an attitude to greatness

Evans expected his physician to address and treat his hip pain but the doctor instead chose to focus on his weight telling him “You are too fat, you need to lose weight or you will die”.

About a decade ago, a then 360-pound Martinus Evans paid a visit to his doctor after he had endured a hip pain.

Evans expected his physician to address and treat his hip pain but the doctor instead chose to focus on his weight telling him “You are too fat, you need to lose weight or you will die”.

 The physician went on to recommend that he buys some trainers and take up slow walking at an athletics track. A frustrated Evans did not take this lightly and he quickly told his physician to go to hell for he was going to run a marathon instead.

The physician laughed at him and reminded him that he could die. A determined Evans made an affirmation that he was going to do everything necessary to put in the work to lose weight.

A Charge to Action

I’m not a medical expert but the physician could easily have found a connection between Evan’s hip pain and his weight and maybe what seemed too harsh was how the physician relayed his diagnosis to his patient’s hip pain predicament.

Evans already knew that he was fat or obese, whichever sounds better. I’m sure he had been ridiculed, mocked, or told off to lose weight many times as he moved around so he knew he needed to lose weight.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen? Somebody tells you you’re fat? You already know that” –stated Evans.

I think being told to lose weight after enduring what seemed to be a prolonged endurance of hip pain was the push he needed. At the back of his mind, he already knew that he needed to act on his weight and the physician’s rude awakening was the charge to action he needed.

Attitude and acceptance

Many times, we are belittled, made to feel inferior, or reminded of how our background,circumstances or conditions limits us to succeed or achieve greatness.

We consume the negativity surrounding our circumstances and limit our potential to do great things. The world is filled with rags-to-riches stories, tales of ordinary men with extraordinary capabilities who defied their circumstances and went on to change their narratives.

What I quickly admired regarding Evans’ attitude was that instead of remaining in denial that he needed to lose weight, or to challenge his doctor to treat his hip pain and not focus on his weight, he quickly accepted that he was fat and instead challenged the doctor to give him a better diagnosis to his overweight crisis. His physician had dared him to buy trainers and take up slow walking at an athletics track, Evans dared him that he would run a marathon instead.

Likewise, whenever we face criticism or we are belittled and made to feel inferior, we need to adopt an attitude that dares or propels us to change our circumstances.


Evans could have ignored his physician but he opted to go over and beyond taking slow walks by running a marathon. As he charted his journey on the popular social platform Instagram 300poundandrunning, he also founded the slow AF Run Club–an online community for others who wanted to join him especially if they felt their size or speed excluded them from running in the past.

Evans had an attitude where he accepted his condition, an attitude where he dared to run a marathon, and lastly, an attitude which led him to act and execute.

I have figured out that many people at times have good and ambitious goals but fail to execute them. By using an Instagram account @300poundsandrunning, and the AF Run Club, Evans held himself accountable through the social platform as he had sworn himself to assume an exemplary leadership role by putting himself in the public spotlight and encouraging people who found themselves in his situation to have a positive attitude towards conquering their running fears.

Likewise, on a personal basis, we should have accountability mechanisms or people around us who enable us to act on our ambitions.

Failing forward

As per the physician's advice, it was never going to be easy for Evans to run and complete a marathon without failing. It was always going to be a tall order.

“I was saying to my friends, I’m gonna do this 5K marathon. And they was like, No wait, wait for Martinus, like there is 5K and there is a marathon, but they are not the same”.

While the miles didn’t deter him, Evans said that it was difficult to get training outfit which matched his size, and even the training manuals were written by elite athletes for people trying to emulate them. Evans remembered starting off with a speed he couldn’t maintain before eventually failing onto a treadmill. For a moment he thought the doctor who had advised him against that could have been right but remembered the tattoo he had which was written “No Struggle, No Progress”.

“I knew what I had to do, I had to fight my own struggle”.

Capturing his narrative, publishing his book

Fast-forward to today, the New Yorker has run eight marathons, and his mission through the AF Run Club is to let others like him know that they too can do it”.

There are individuals who are too fat, too slow to fit in the blank of a runner and these are my people”, stated Evans. He added that although the word fat has been used to demean him, he wants to make it neutral as describing someone’s eyes or hair colour.

Now a certified running coach, Martinus Evans, has published a book titled Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run–a blueprint for those who may not fit the image of a “traditional” runner—that is, someone who is larger in size, less athletic, out of shape, or dealing with any kind of health issue that slows them down—to feel empowered to lace up their shoes and embrace the body they have right now.

It is Frederick Douglas who once observed “that without struggle there cannot be any progress” and Martinus Evans's narrative validates this assertion.

  • Fungayi Antony Sox is a seasoned communications and publishing specialist who has advised and consulted for CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, youth-focused start-ups, businesses, several institutions, and organisations. For feedback contact him on 0776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox, or write to him on [email protected]

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