The following article is one of my assignments for Journalism last semester. It was aimed at 2018’s Melbourne Marathon but is just as relevant for the upcoming MM in 2019 (where I will hopefully be doing my half marathon).
Tight calf muscles. Heavy breathing. Footsteps pounding along with your heart. Nails digging into your fisted hands. Sweaty shoes and blisters. Lightheaded delight. Pushing your limits. Beating your record.
These are things all runners will understand and maybe hate sometimes, but ultimately love. That is what makes someone a runner.
The Melbourne Marathon is an annual running event held every October. I’m dedicated to persuading you that you could be the next to sign up. Perhaps you are already a runner, or maybe have hardly run before, either way the Melbourne Marathon is an experience of a lifetime. Motivation may be the one thing holding you back. These amazing stories will change your mind.
Paulene began her running journey by walking. Along with a low-carb, high-fat diet, she lost 10kg within a year. Following a successful completion of Bridge to Brisbane 10km, Paulene realised that no matter what age or shape someone is, running is possible.
With this in mind, she started adding small runs into the walks she was already used to, until after weeks and months she went from running 10m to 12km. Speaking of her progress she says, “the more I ran the more I wanted to brave other exercises and stopped letting a lifetime of fear and shame hold me back”.
“I was worried I wasn’t fit enough.
I was worried I wouldn’t be wearing the right clothes.
I was worried I’d be far too slow.
I was worried I would come last.
I was worried about the photo that may be taken of me.
I was worried I’d embarrass myself.
I was worried because I knew no one there.
I was worried I’d do something wrong.
I was worried that because I couldn’t run I didn’t belong at parkrun
Put simply… I was worried I simply wasn’t good enough for parkrun.”
Paulene was worried about taking the next step and joining her local parkrun. She let her doubt hold her back for months, but eventually she pulled through. Not only did she join parkrun with her entire family, but she has recently completed her 50th parkrun!
Unintentionally, Paulene began exercising every single day. Whether it was a run or recovery walk, she just went out there and did it. She used the phrase ‘JFDI’, which I like to think is the perfect motto.
Paulene has struggled with motivation her whole life. Sticking to healthy eating and exercise is one of the hardest things you can do, but it pays off and Paulene knows this. As well as being there for her children, her blog is one of the biggest motivations in her life. She says, ‘that accountability is UNBELIEVABLE for motivation to never give up with so many watching me’.
From admiring runners to being one of those runners. She finds the running community ‘inclusive, accepting [and] supporting’. She explains running as ‘addictive’ and continues to push herself further. Since I spoke to Paulene for this story she completed her first half marathon, deciding only three days before the event.
Like her page on Facebook for hilarious memes and more running motivation: Fat to 5km- One girl’s dream to run
Anna started running when she was only 15 at boarding school. She was used to horse riding on her own and found running as another way to find her own space. The repetition and state of mind found when one runs is one of a kind. Anna uses running to relax and clear her head. She says, ‘I also like being outside and I unwind better when I’m moving’.
“The vibration through your body is relaxing”.
Anna has completed around 40 fun runs including a marathon and a couple of half marathons. Many of the fun runs were the annual Run for the Kids (16km) which Anna has made a tradition with her daughter Tashi.
Anna has never really struggled with motivation when it comes to running. She says, “there’s the odd day I have to make myself go for a run, but I always feel better once I’ve been”. She doesn’t run quite as much as she used to but still gets out there and moves her body every single day.
Some people run purely to lose weight or increase fitness, but Anna genuinely loves the process. She says” I really like it when your body gets into a rhythm and it’s no effort to run”. Running is a habit to her and she misses it when she takes breaks.
After John finished playing football he then took up tennis for about 7 years until he grew tired of it. This is when John started running. He started jogging casually and then more seriously with 3-4 runs a week.
He did a few fun runs that were over 15kms and a half marathon to really test himself. He talked a mate into running with him and together they did many fun runs and half marathons together, but a full marathon seemed unachievable as they were both nearly 50 years of age. John speaks of a trip that changed their minds about running a marathon, he says ‘we had a good fitness base we were more than just casual joggers, it was now our passion’.
John started an intense training schedule with 2 to 3 hour runs that left the rest of the day for recovery. He says, ‘those long runs were tough and hard on the body’, which tested his motivation. He describes the training as a mental challenge, trying to push through the pain to finish the run.
He also speaks of the doubt that crept in before race day, ‘a lot of self- doubt started to emerge just days before the marathon. I started to think about when I might stop and have a break, or if I may just collapse halfway through and not finish it. And had I done enough training?’.
“The training for the marathon virtually took over my whole life”.
By the time the 2013 Melbourne Marathon had come around it was time for John to run his first marathon. The day was perfect for running, with an overcast sky and no wind. He and his friend decided to comfortably run each kilometer in 6 minutes, which was a pace that would get them a time of approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes.
They both passed 30km feeling good as the race was easier than the training had been. John says, ‘at about the 35 k mark my body started to hurt and I was feeling a little dizzy and all the negative thoughts started to get in my head.’ With a short walk and a banana before the last 5kms, John successfully finished the race at the MCG in a very respectable time.
“The feeling of accomplishment and relief was overwhelming, and I was so proud that I physically and mentally overcame all those challenges to finish”.
“I don’t think I have ever felt that much body pain ever”, pretty much sums up how John felt after the 42km race. John hasn’t done a marathon since but has done a few more half marathons, he has no plans to complete a full one again.
In 2014 Gary went to a conference in Geelong where a speaker changed his attitude to health and fitness. A nurse from St Vincent’s Private Hospital talked about dieting and exercising, and how the biggest killer was one’s waistline. Gary already knew everything the man had to say about health, and he asked himself ‘what have I done about it?’
On his return home from the conference, Gary was committed to change. On a whiteboard at work he wrote his new lifestyle rules, including: ‘no confectionary’, ‘smaller portions’ and ‘no soft drink’. Staying true to his new philosophy, Gary also began exercising. Starting with short walks around the block, he started to lose weight.
One day he was walking a dog and decided to run for a while. He made it to 2kms, a personal best and from then on decided to work on his running. He mixed up his walks with running until eventually he could run the whole way. At the age of 66, Gary has lost 16kgs through healthy eating and a newfound passion for running.
In 2015 Gary was introduced to parkrun. It took him three weeks to gather up the courage to go, his head was filled with self-doubt. ‘I’m going to make a fool of myself’. ‘What if I’m last across the finish line?’ Sounds familiar doesn’t it. Like Paulene and Gary have said, parkrun can be hard to start but once you begin it’s addictive and rewarding. Gary now runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays with parkrun.
Gary loves Parkrun because of the sense of community and the fact that you’re running with other people. He says it ‘encourages you to put in a bit more effort’. After parkruns he sometimes goes with big groups to grab coffee afterwards. He has participated in parkruns in over 20 different places including: Westerfolds, Craigieburn, Lakes Entrance and Gardiners Creek (which had over 450 runners involved). He thinks ‘doing parkrun makes [running] a little bit more enjoyable’.
Shortly after he began Parkrun, Gary was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had no symptoms, but the necessary surgery meant he couldn’t run for 3 months. He began running again and ‘just got out and did it’. Some days he struggles more than others but that’s the way with running. He has felt less motivated since retiring in January as there is now less routine. Many factors can affect your performance on a certain day. His personal best time for a 5km run is 24 minutes and 37 seconds.
Last year Gary ran a half marathon in Run Melbourne. His time was 2 hours and 6 minutes, much faster than he had originally aimed for. He plans to do more half marathons, but a full marathon is not in sight.
“For me the Melbourne marathon provides a community for local, and national (even international runners) to band together and share their love of running, and the city of Melbourne! It’s a great opportunity to train for a great day, but your overall fitness as well, with tailored plans for whatever race you’re doing! Having participated in the 10km last year, I’m keen to step it up a notch and train for the 21km this year”! – Ella, 18
-By Thea Oakes