On my mission to complete 17 races in 2017, I have most enjoyed running with friends and family. It has been more fun than I ever imagined it would be and I have drawn so much inspiration from them. This is the first post of my “Inspiration Series” where I plan to interview different people who inspire me in the world of fitness. The first person I have chosen is my dear friend Elisa who recently completed the Diacore Half Marathon. We have been friends for over 20 years and I have always admired her determination to be the best she can be in anything she puts her mind to. This is her running story…
When did you first start running? I have always been fitness conscious and active, but I think I can truly say I started running during A-Levels when I was boarding at Maru-A-Pula Secondary School in 2000. A lot was going on in my life. My parents had just relocated to London and with the biggest exams of my life looming I took up running to de-stress and of course keep healthy and keep any weight gain at bay. I started doing short runs around the school track and on the road around the neighbourhood. Then I participated in the annual school cross country event before heading to university and that is when I discovered and got a hint of the true joy of long distance running; however it would be a decade later for me to take up long distance running again and to run my first official race!
I remember those High School days where you would run around the track after class and also that cross country race! How did your first official race go? My first official race was the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon (10k) in 2010. I was working and living there and stumbled upon the craze of race events. Some close friends had participated the year before and I promised myself that I would not miss out again. I started focusing on my running and less on gym classes which I have always loved. As a first timer the whole experience was exhilarating, right from the excitement and build up of collecting the race pack to the morning of the race… the crowd, the glee on everyone’s faces waiting at the start line… the pride and amazement that we were running on the same tarmac as legends like Haile Gerbrselassie, who took first place that year for the full marathon. I was not used to running such a distance so my time was a very modest 1 hour 19 minutes but a PB for me, therefore a victory.
What is your weekly mileage? And what does your fitness regime look like? My weekly mileage is about 15 km; a combination of outdoor running once a week and treadmill running. However I increase this to 20 km when a race is coming up. I also do group classes, Pilates twice a week, Yoga, Boot Camp and Step classes once a week. I am training to be a yoga teacher so I also incorporate 30 minute yoga sessions four times a week; usually after my classes or during rest days.
When I am focused fully on running training I replace the Boot Camp and Step classes with some resistance training. I truly have to say I enjoy everything about fitness and all the exercises I do…whether I’m running or focused in a group class on getting the routine perfect while maintaining the tempo or the mindfulness of yoga – getting deeper into a stretch or holding a position. It is the challenge, that push on myself, the feeling that I am doing it and knowledge that tomorrow I will be better; it’s such a high and that keeps me looking forward to more!
How are you able to balance training with your daily responsibilities? Thankfully, depending on how you look at it I’m in the middle of job hunting and only freelancing now, therefore I have the time. I also look after my three year old champion of a little girl. She goes to nursery school in the mornings and we spend the afternoons and the rest of the day together. As a result I do most of my fitness when she’s at school. However, if because of work I can’t fit in exercise in the morning, I take her with me to the gym where she gets looked after for two hours. A brilliant concept at Virgin Active! If it is too late, I work out at home and of course she always wants to do what mummy is doing so I include her in my workouts; I use her as extra weight during reps and getting deeper into stretches. We both get great play time together and I get a fantastic and challenging workout!
That’s an amazing way to incorporate kids into workout routines! What would you say running has taught you about yourself? Running has taught me a lot, it has taught me about being my own cheerleader. It has taught me more about my body, listening to every twinge and adjusting myself accordingly to get rid of it…it has taught me to appreciate the big things, which we deem little and always take for granted; the clear air in the morning before the pollution of the rush of traffic…watching the sun rise. Running has taught me patience; I’m not ‘naturally’ athletic and it has therefore taken me time to shave off minutes from my runs with some hard work and training. Running has taught me to not be self-conscious…the number of times I have had to spit while in motion on the side of the road… I have shamelessly become an expert (discrete and neat) spitter!
Your dad has been at a couple of races now and I love his expression as he crosses the finish line! What have you done to motivate him and other family members to run? To be honest, not much, it is all them. It is simply through watching me; day in and day out, going to the gym, getting up early on weekends to run. It struck a chord with them immediately! When they ask how I do it, I stress to them that there was a time I could not even run a full kilometre. I stress to them that if I can do it, so can they. They see the joy and excitement that running brings me and of course the health benefits and being in good shape, and they too want that for themselves.
Looking back at all your races, what has been your favourite race experience? My favourite race experience is the one I just completed.. the Diacore Gaborone Half Marathon…mainly because I felt strong throughout…I had a strategy and stuck to it and it paid off. Best of all I was at the race with some of my greatest friends, such beautiful human beings including my mother. Sharing the excitement and buzz of the morning with them was truly a wonderful experience.
We loved cheering you on as you came towards the finish line. You looked so strong, your face was so relaxed and you had the perfect stride. Tell me more about that Half Marathon. Absolutely amazing experience… I was strong, I completely enjoyed the route, finishing in at 02:18:49, a PB. There was a lot happening on the road that morning which truly added to the fun factor. A section of the route went close to the National Stadium and we came across people who were just emerging from a long awaited concert by local artists; so we gained ourselves some very happy, overzealous cheerleaders! What I wouldn’t repeat is having a coke…I got a bit excited at the 15 km mark and desperate for some sugar for energy so,when presented with a cup of the sugary drink I jumped on it…the gas build up seconds after could have cost me but fortunately I just let out a huge belch and all was well again….lesson learnt… never have a fizzy drink during a race; not even sure why the race organisers had them!
How did this race compare to your first Half Marathon experience? My first half marathon was in 2011, the Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon which I completed in a time of 02:32:57. It was also a great experience. However, I wasn’t as strong, as well informed and educated as I am now with running. It was my most challenging race up to that point and the route around Dubai was spectacular… it took us through a souk (a traditional Arabian market), the Dubai creek, over and under bridges. A huge negative was that I hit the so called “runners wall” at around 14 km and had to walk up to a kilometre….my legs simply refused to run any farther and my mind couldn’t convince them. However, once I regained my strength on the walk and gave myself a little pep talk, I continued relatively well the rest of the way.
What are some of the fitness-related or running goals you have for the future? My goal is to run 10 km in under an hour…my PB right now is 1:01 hours. Similarly, to edge my way to two hours for a half marathon culminating in participating and completing a full marathon the year I turn 40 (2019). I have just started my yoga course, so within a one year period I plan to become a fully qualified and internationally certified yoga teacher with a body of a dancer to boot!
I have absolutely no doubt you are going to achieve all those goals. I may even join you for that marathon! What advice do you have for new runners who have either just started their running journeys or would like to start running but don’t know how? Start now…start by walking and when you feel up to it jog a little and each time increase the jogging distance and you will soon be running. Listen to your body, be conscious of your breathing and use breathing to help you with fatigue; don’t run in isolation, mix up your running with other exercises, to complement and make you a stronger runner; take a yoga class or a pilates class for guidance on great breathing techniques; building of a strong core for ease and comfort when running. Don’t be concerned about what others are doing, how fast, how many kilometres they are clocking…race against yourself and enjoy seeing the progress. If you love gadgets and have the means, get a fitness watch or load up an app, get a strap for your mobile phone… just seeing a picture of what you have achieved spurs you on immensely. Take a friend with you, join a running group and most of all have fun!
I absolutely loved doing this interview. Thank you so much for your time, your honesty, and such valuable information. I love your whole outlook to fitness, the varied exercises you do, your determination to be better and stronger, your encouragement of others, and also the fact that you involve your daughter in some of the activities. Fitness and running is such a beautifully personal journey, but one which is made so much more fun when sharing it with friends and family!
I am so excited to be sharing this interview with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! Also joining Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup! Linking up is such a great way to get motivated and to get to know other bloggers! So please take some extra time to read some of their stories and link up if you can!