As it comes up to my 10 year running anniversary, I’ve been thinking about what motivated me to run and how I became a ‘runner’.

How to Start Running

Let’s go right back to childhood … I made the district cross country team in my last year of primary school and I ran one fun run in high school. That fun run was NOT fun and I stopped running as quickly as I started. So, I’m not a runner from childhood.

But I was playing a lot of soccer. Running was not something that I chose to do as a stand alone sport, I ran because I needed to chase a ball and score some goals. Running at soccer training and during games was the only running I did. Short and sharp, 50 metres max at a time. Then I had time to recover until my next little spurt while someone else chased the ball.

I played soccer from when I was ten until I was eighteen. Then stopped for a few years and did absolutely zero running. When I was about 26 I started playing soccer again, but on a small field. Running became a thing again – but just to chase a ball. When I was 39, I realised I was missing full field soccer and decided to play again.

My first couple of training sessions involved running and I was exhausted. I decided I should try to run outside of training and the games to try and improve my fitness (and to keep up with the 20 years olds I was playing with and against. At this time I was 39).

I lived in a hilly area and I would run/walk a short loop around home. There was definitely a lot more walking than running! I began frequenting online running forums to try and work out how to start running, looked at a few couch to 5km programs (but never actually did any of them – they looked too hard) and continued my run/walk around the streets. I was still not convinced about this running thing because it just made me sweaty and messed up my hair.

For reasons I can’t remember, I decided to sign up for my first race – the Mothers’ Day classic. And for unknown reasons chose the ‘long’ course option of 8km as opposed to the short 4km. As it turns out, the long course at anything always appeals to me.

I asked my two children, Trent and Brianna, if they wanted to do it with me and as it was a couple of months away they agreed. The week before the event they were regretting their decision, but we all went to Parramatta Park in Sydney ready for our 8km run.

I started running with both children (who were 17 and 15 at the time). Brianna got annoyed and stopped and regretted her decision to not bring headphones as she walked the rest of the way. Trent trotted along beside me as I gasped for air. He seemed to be running easily but I couldn’t do it. I could not run 8km. I realised my training had been run/walk so how could I expect to run the full 8km and not walk?

I ran/walked the 8km and I use the term ‘ran’ very loosely and was exhausted but elated when I finished. I started looking for another event and chose the City2Surf in August of that year. Again I trained, but couldn’t run up the hills and so I would walk them, and so when the City2Surf came along I walked up the hills! I couldn’t run 14km non-stop.

What I found though, was running in a game of soccer became so much easier. I wasn’t as puffed. I could run for longer, rather than short sprints and as a bonus there are no hills on a soccer field.

Running 50km at UTA Australia with the three sisters in the background.

The other thing I found was that I actually started to enjoy the running. I was no longer so worried about getting sweaty and messing up my hair. I started to enjoy running for my soccer, but also just for running’s sake.

I looked for more races and events. The half marathon on the Gold Coast was next as I was moving to the coast and it seemed like the perfect way to keep me focused.

So in May 2009 I did my first event – 8km, August my second – 14km and July the next year – 21.2km.

I also did the 8km Mothers’ Day classic at Broadbeach in May 2010 – and I ran.the.whole.way! I was stoked!

Did that make me a runner? Well, I was running. It also made me a lot more friends and a lot fitter and a lot more motivated to keep doing more and more and going further and getting pbs. I started trail running and cycling and anything to get me outside and sweaty. I was becoming addicted.

A group of friends after a back to back trail training run

Since then I have run countless parkruns and 10km races, lots of trail running events, half marathons, one stand alone marathon (and currently training for my 2nd), an ultra, a couple of obstacle course races, competed in triathlons – sprint, standard, half ironman and one ironman distance, represented Australia at long course triathlon and trained for more hours than I care to count. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

I’ve run in countries all over the world including Australia, USA, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain and Malta. I think it’s the best bang for your buck in terms of fitness. A 30 minute run a few times a week is all you need, but for me it was never enough. I wanted to go further (and faster).

At the finish line of Cairns ironman

So as my ten year running anniversary comes around, I think back to when I couldn’t even run 8km and think about how far I’ve come. It’s a really good hook to get others into running too. Most people think they can’t do it because ‘they’ve never been a runner.’ That was me – then. And this is me now – a runner.

I get a lot of people saying I’m inspiring to do what I do, but I think if anyone wants to do it they can. Get out there. Start with a run/walk if you need to. Do what you can, but do it consistently. Don’t do it because you have to, do it because you want to.

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