Guilt-tripped into quitting smoking by his young daughter, Stefan Klincewicz transformed his inactive life where he puffed through 20 cigarettes a day to become a devoted marathon runner – and 3.5 stone lighter.
Stefan, age 41, from Guildford, Surrey explains: “I was approaching 40, I had three young children and I knew I wanted to change my lifestyle. I’d had 20 years of working hard but complete physical inactivity and fairly heavy smoking and drinking.
”My daughter was on my case too. She kept telling me how bad it was to smoke and that she wished I didn’t, and I could see she was genuinely upset about it. It was a real dose of guilt every time and really pulled at my heart strings. I definitely quit more for my children than for me.”
Stefan joined an NHS Quit Smoking Group, where he met up with fellow quitters once a week for six weeks, and used patches and gum to help him stay off the cigarettes.
He said: “I think the hardest part is getting to the point where you really, genuinely want to quit. If there’s any element of doubt in your mind I don’t think people will manage it. Once I’d made my mind up, the whole experience was actually a lot easier than I thought. The group sessions were particularly good, and the patches helped with cravings.”
To break his ‘smoking routine’ Stefan started exercising, at first just a small amount on a treadmill. But he soon got a taste from it, and less than a year after quitting in June 2010 he completed the London marathon in 4 hrs 13 mins and lost 3.5 stone in the process.
Five weeks later, he ran the Edinburgh marathon in 4 hrs 20 mins, and he finished the Dublin marathon in October 2011 in 4 hrs 7 mins.
He said: “I wanted to do something to take my mind of smoking and break all the routines I’d got in to, like having a cigarette after dinner, or whenever I got in a car. I used to get out of breath going upstairs so I started with half a mile on the running machine and it went from there. It really was like something out of Forest Gump.
”Now I can’t get enough. I’m lined up to do some longer endurance marathons to really push myself. I never imagined my life could be so different, and I feel absolutely great for it. My family’s been really supportive too. My wife has realised it’s not a passing phase and even comes running with me twice a week. And my daughter often does a 5k park run with me on Saturday mornings, so the whole family is healthier.
”My daughter hasn’t mentioned the fact I don’t smoke and I hope in time she’ll forget I ever did. I know children are more likely to smoke if their parents did – I used to pinch my own dad’s cigarettes – so I hope there’s a really positive legacy to my quit decision too.”
Stefan (pictured above) lives with his wife, Claire, and their three children, Eva (8), Roza (6) and Alexander (2) in Guildford, Surrey. He recently completed the Druid Challenge, which involves an 84-mile run in under 21 hours.
No Smoking Day is on Wednesday March 13, 2013. Smokers who want get more information and advice can visit www.wequit.co.uk or join us on twitter #NoSmokingDay call 0800 434 6677.