BellaNaija is very passionate about sharing inspiring stories and this one is no different. Tuedon Morgan is an amazing marathon runner with medals and accolades to boot! First she walked, then she jogged and before long, she was running marathons.
Tee Morgan, as she is fondly referred to, has finished marathons on 7 continents… TWICE. For athletes, this is no mean feat, and for someone who has a family and a day job, this just pushes Tee into the hall of Amazons. In a chat with BellaNaija, Tuedon talks about how she balances it all, how she keeps going, and her next goals! We hope you are as inspired as we are.
Tell us about yourself
I am British with Nigerian parents. My parents come from Warri Delta-State Nigeria. I am 41 years old, I’ll be 42 in a few weeks. I have been married for 21 years, and have 4 sons. This year my boys will be 20, 18, 16 and 8. My first degree was in Accounting and Finance with Business Information Technology. I have two Masters Degrees: one in Business Administration and another in Education. I moved to Qatar in 2005 from the United Kingdom to help out with Qatarization. I am currently working with the Ministry of Administrative Development educating Qataris.
What inspired you to start running?
I gained a lot of weight after having my 4th son and my health started to deteriorate. I was always breathless and started to really experience lots of pain on my ankles and knee. I was always complaining of how big I was but never did anything about it. My boss at the time Tracy Pryce called me into her office one day and said I had to do something about my weight. I would complain frantically about how big I was but she would see me eat everything on the face of the earth. Tracy ran on the treadmill and at that time it seems impossible. So I finally joined the gym in January 2008, but my goal wasn’t to run. All I wanted was to lose weight. I started walking, then progressed to jogging and when I could run a 5km on the treadmill.
How long have you been running for?
I started running October 2011, and did a half marathon December 2011 but a full marathon in January 2012. It was interesting how I built up my endurance very quickly. I joined the Doha Bay Running Club and entered the world of long distance running. In three short years, I have ran 32 full marathons to date. I have just started my 4th year of running.
How many hours do you train a week?
I always say my first year of running were my best years. I ran once a week and would use the gym 5 days a week. I just ran with the club on a Friday and slowly picked up pace and distance. Training for a marathon is like taking on a second full-time job but I wasn’t fazed by the requirements and commitment to putting in the work to making it happen. I would usually do a 10km to 20km a week. Now starting my 4th year of running, a good week for me is running anything up to 90km a week. I have a personal trainer who I see twice a week and we focus on my core and upper body. I need tight abs and a strong core to hold the distances I run.
Tell us about the process of running a marathon
If you’re already a keen exercise devotee, fit and willing to undergo rigorous and methodical training, a marathon is an achievement you can work toward. Marathon running is an enjoyable sport for many people from all walks of life, with some devoting their entire day to training for the marathon. Many fit the training around everyday activities and work responsibilities. Whatever your motivation and deadline for running a marathon, with the right training plan and a determined attitude, you’ll achieve your goal. I am a six star World Marathon Major Finisher and these races are London, Boston, Chicago, New York, Berlin and Tokyo. They are not easy races to get into. You either go in through a lottery system or you qualify for the races. Some tour operators also offer guaranteed packages to get into these races. I recently completed the 7 continents for the second time, and I tried finding a sponsor which wasn’t that easy. Fortunately my husband pays for all my trips and it does put some financial strain on us, because that money could be used somewhere else.
Please walk us through your planning and execution routine
Some say you that you can go from no exercise to completing a marathon in 6 months or less. We know that to be successful it takes longer. You need 3-6 months of steady mileage to get that muscle and connective tissue fitness needed to be ready for all the miles of marathon training. For most marathon training programs, some months of running are a prerequisite. Make your goal to run comfortably for a long distance. The biggest mistake beginning runners make is to run too fast limiting the distance they can go. Running should be comfortable and fun, not a gut busting, air sucking process. To be honest I have never used a training plan. Maybe that’s why I don’t run so fast. I tried but couldn’t stick with it. I run 6 days and rest one day. I also try to put in a long run once a week that way my legs are race ready. So far I am just counting quantity as supposed to quality. My goal is to run 100 marathons by God’s grace.
My diet is pretty good. I have learnt to research what is good and not so good for me. I love food a lot so I have substituted more healthy foods for not so healthy food. I co-founded a weight loss group with another friend in 2011 and this year it will be 4 years old. It is called Women Encouraging Women to Live Healthy. We have a WEWCookBook on Facebook and it’s free for all to access. The week to running a marathon, I usually eat protein for four days and switch to carbs till race day. After my race I switch back to protein. People say I have very good recovery, I thank God for that; but I think it’s because I use a lot of compression gear to sleep and walk around before and after race day. I have a massage once a week and I take vitamins. You must take vitamins when you get to my age.
How long are you away from home at a time when you have a race coming up?
I try to balance my passion with family life. Sometimes I get on the plane as soon as I finish a marathon. Like when I did the Marine Corp Marathon in October 2014, I finished the race; rushed back to my hotel had a quick shower and got a taxi pick me up. I was on the plane like 4 hours after my race. I try not to stay away too long because I feel like I am using my family time. I am very blessed with my husband as he gives me so much support with the kids.
You finished the 7 continents challenge which you set for yourself. Did you ever think at any point, that you won’t be able to complete it?
I have run the seven continents TWICE. I became the first Nigerian with Abisoye to run the seven continents including Antartica. I just finished running the Triple Seven Quest which was done in 11 days and not the original 7 days. We ran 7 marathons in 7 continents and we had a 5 day delay which meant I was away longer than planned. I always go into a race with hope and faith. I am very prayerful and I have successfully attached my running with my spiritual life. It helps a lot.
How do you balance running, with your day job AND motherhood!?
I wake up at 3.30am and by 4am I am on the streets of Doha running. I get home at 5.30am and wake my kids up. At the weekend I do a long run and come back before my kids get up. I try to run in my own time and not steal family time. And when the day starts it’s a full day.
What would you say is the most challenging part of being Tuedon Morgan the marathon runner?
I love running a lot but sometimes it can be hard work. I have a slight disability on one of my legs and it requires me wearing special running shoes and I don’t really like pushing my body that much as it can take a lot out of me. So I run a comfortable pace and just keep to my zone that way it doesn’t hurt so bad. I love the bragging rights running has given me. But I am very humble about it. When I say to people I have run the 7 continents and done all 6 world marathon majors they go crazy and want to hear all about it. My next race is Two Oceans in Cape Town April and I am heading to the North Pole. I will definitely be the first Nigerian to run the North Pole. I think that will be a very challenging race.
You were in Boston for the marathon in when the explosions went off in 2015. Did that experience have any impact on your resolve to go for all those other races.
I was very close to the finish line when the explosions went off. If I had run any faster that day I’m sure maybe it would have been a different story. I am grateful to God that I can live to tell the story today. It didn’t stop me at all. A few weeks after that I was at the starting line for a race in South America. Life is all about getting up and making it happen.
There is no doubt that you have the spirit to keep running till you’re old and gray! Do you have any fears that physical constraints (like your leg injury) may slow you down?
I know that a time will come when I will not be able to run anymore but by God’s grace it will not be today. So until then, I will keep putting my best foot forward till I hit that 100 marathons.
What is next for you after finishing 7 continents?
This is a very good question. At first it was the 6 world marathon majors, then the seven continents. My next race is the Two Oceans in Cape Town then I am heading to the North Pole. I have at least 7 Marathons left this year by God’s grace as I will try to get to 40 by the end of the year.
What would you say is your biggest support system in everything you have achieved?
I am a founder of a weight loss group called WEW (Women Encouraging Women to live a healthy life we have over 4000 women and I call them my sisters. I get a lot of support from there.
I am also a part of the National Black Marathoner Association. I have a whole family there.
I have my running page. Tee’s Triple Seven Challenge and I get lots of support and encouragement there too.
My husband is my greatest supporter and kids. My family and friends.
How do you unwind?
I don’t have much of a social life right now. I work, I go home to my family and I train. Most of my friends are either from my running club or cycling club. Hanging out with friends might be going for a swim. I don’t really watch TV at home but I go to the movies once a week with my family and we eat out in a nice restaurant once a week. I haven’t been to a club in like 6 years.
Do you have any words of inspiration for our readers?
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
“Anybody can do just about anything with himself that he really wants to and makes his mind to do. We are capable of greater than we realize. I think the only barriers are the ones we set for ourselves. People ask me how do I start, I say start where you are and with what you have. You never know till you try. Just keep putting your best foot forward.
Thank you so much for speaking to us, and we wish you the very best in your future endeavours. We’re rooting for you.