I set out to write this article to share how special running has been for me. It’s been a constant friend in times of joy and hardship. Running has enabled me to travel the world for the fun of competing and it has brought me closer to many inspiring and truly life-changing people.
I meet many runners from all walks of life who run for different reasons, such as striving for PBs or to simply improve health and wellbeing. If you were to ask me what my biggest take-home message from these other runners would be, it would be to use running as a way to find and maintain happiness, pride and fulfillment in life! To have such a sporting hobby with purpose can be one of the key pillars that drive happiness.
The entire running community is truly inspiring. The enthusiasm and team spirit which runners have is infectiously uplifting – and that really is the main thing underpinning our running. So be bold, put your running shoes on and continue to get out there. If you are contemplating starting, then give it a go and you may surprise yourself.
My Running Story
I grew up in the outback of central Australia near Hermannsburg, an Aboriginal community 130 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs. I galloped horses across the hot red plains and creeks and absolutely loved running, however, early on I suffered a knee injury from a bad fall and from then onwards struggled to run due to a torn meniscus and associated pain and swelling. I soon realised that I could run a little easier in the dry soft sand river beds due to the reduced impact, so this is what I did until knee surgery in late high school and an extensive period of rehab. Finally I was then able to start running properly in my twenties.
Falling In Love with Running
From there, I fell instantly in love with running. Whilst my knee was never quite the same, I felt so lucky to be able to run and have done so right through my 20s and 30s. I’ve been able to run most days of the week and in many events from track and bush trails, to the big exciting road fun runs across Australia and overseas. My first half marathon was a huge achievement, but I thought it could be the furthest my knee could handle so I dismissed the full marathon distance early on, along with bungee jumping … or so I thought!
Falling In Love – Again!
Running also brought me another love, in the form of a husband actually. It led me to meet my hubby Chris at the annual Thredbo running week in Kosciusko National Park in NSW. I made my way there with my running coach, Noel Harris from Alice Springs, in my mid-twenties in summer 2003. Everyone had just run up the dry steep blue diamond ski run fittingly called “Crackenback” and had crawled our way back down to the Thredbo pub for presentations when I spotted Chris in the afternoon sun. We got chatting and hit it off. I moved to Sydney to be with him two months later and we have been running and travelling ever since and now have a son, Jaden.
Striving To Be a Better Runner
I hear from many other runners that they would love to run faster. I myself am definitely included in this group. I would love to be able to run faster across 10km, half marathon and marathon distances and I am always striving to better myself, however the biggest motivation for me with my running is the happiness, liberation, friendship and love that it has brought me over the past 15 years. Chris and I have made many friends through running and we have travelled extensively with running and racing. We have learnt so much, grown so positively and our lives have been truly enriched.
Runners appear to be a very ambitious breed, but they also relish the fact that they are simply out there doing it. It feels amazing to enjoy such a simple pleasure of giving it our best shot this very day, and taking pride in the physical, mental and emotional health benefits it provides. I challenge everyone to incorporate running into your week for these reasons alone. This fulfillment would probably serve to ignite further passion and drive.
For Chris and I, running is our lifestyle and it only seemed natural when we started coaching others eight years ago and our Rejoov Runners group took shape in Sydney’s beautiful Centennial Park. I then also started working for Michelle Bridges 12WBT in October 2012 together with Ben St Lawrence as the online running specialists. Ben and I in fact have been training together since 2006 and love our Support Crew roles in sharing the amazing running and rejuvenating journeys with the 12WBTers. We understand the trials, tribulations and injuries that runners can face at any level. We are here to support our runners and the running community every step of the way, and to help make the journey a positive one.
A Love of Travel
Chris and I often tie running and travel in together with our races or our training getaways. For instance, at Easter we took 25 keen runners on an adventure of a lifetime to the Red Centre (where I’m from) for five days of sightseeing and fitness. The tour began in Alice Springs with the Larapinta Trail, Telegraph Station and Standley Chasm, then made its way out through the Western MacDonnell Ranges. Our crew took in the amazing scenery from the comfort of our coach as we cruised along the smooth dirt Mereenie Loop to Ormiston Gorge, Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock. We swam in gorges and ran many outback tracks and our trip culminated in a long one to two lap run around the base of Ayers Rock (almost 10km around the base, believe it or not).
Chris, Jaden and I also ventured over to run the Berlin marathon in September 2013 which was an amazing experience. Already I can you hear you saying, “Hang on, didn’t she say she would never run a marathon?” Well it just so happens that on a 2011 trip to New Zealand, Chris and I were walking around Lake Taupo when we came across a bungee jump. And yep, you guessed it, we jumped! Side by side we plummeted 60 odd metres towards the river below in a tandem bungee – and survived. With that came my hunger to complete the second part of the deal so I ran in one of the most popular marathons in the world – Berlin, debuting in 3:04:20. I have thoroughly enjoyed (and made it to the podium) in other overseas races too such as 10km races in Tokyo, Japan and Christchurch, New Zealand.
Finding Happiness and Fulfillment
With my background in competitive running, and with being an occupational therapist, a running coach and a 12WBT running specialist, I understand the importance of having a healthy approach to running. I feel that in some small way, I inspire others to find fulfillment and happiness with themselves in their sport and this is very important to me. I enjoy introducing newcomers to the sport and I am motivated in keeping the ‘spark’ alive for experienced runners. I do this by sharing my energising and passionate approach and focusing on achieving personal goals.
On this, I have found it quite important to have meaningful and challenging goals. Embracing the journey and achieving your goals is the key to success and satisfaction. I encourage those around me to push through their hesitation and chase their dreams. I love the saying ‘reach for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars’. For me that means even if I don’t achieve exactly what I set out to achieve, the journey will be enriching in other ways. Furthermore it is healthy that we not only set goals, but that we progressively assess and adjust our goals so that they continue to be in line with our hearts. Never give up, but be realistic and change your goals along the way to suit.
Healthy, Happy Steps for Runners
Running is an extremely uplifting and social sport and an invaluable and very time-effective way to optimise your health and fitness. The key is having experienced coaches to give you the correct advice online or in person, plus having the online support, running buddies or a group to push you along.
Make sure you have a goal, a training plan and injury prevention strategies in place (such as core work, stretching, massage etc) so you can get the best out of yourself, be proud of your achievements, rejuvenate and keep going strong. Also, access treatment where required so that you can work through any injuries.
Happy running, be you and love what you do.