Apr 04

On believing what you’re told. And running. Barefoot.

I’m reading that book that every runner should read. Or every one who has feet should read. Or even people without feet should read. Born to Run was recommended to me by a friend and I ordered it from The Book Depository. Free shipping worldwide? Was it too good to be true? Almost. I waited one month until finally a knock at the door one sunny morning in Obregon and voila! It appeared! My book!

So first of all you need to know a couple things about me: I have awful feet. Or so I have been told my entire life. I started playing basketball when I was 8. My brother and I were in a mixed under 10s league and our mum was the coach. It was awesome. We won the B division and I still remember the game as though it was the ultimate underdog story with someone in our team scoring the winning basket just seconds before the buzzer.

I continued to play basketball all throughout my middle and high school years. At one point when I was about 13 I was playing/practicing about 14 times a week for 3 different teams. My feet hurt. They hurt so badly that after practice I’d take off my shoes and cry. When I woke up in the mornings I wouldn’t be able to stand because of the pain so I would crawl down the stairs and complain during breakfast until my feet warmed up and felt a bit better. I have no idea why I didn’t tell my coach. I think I was scared of her, so I just kept going. One day after practice my Dad had had enough so he took me to the A&E. And so it began…

It turned out I had a double stress fracture in my foot. One near my big toe and one near the fourth toe. I was passed from podiatrist to podiatrist to orthopedic surgeon and back to podiatrist. I heard the word ‘pronated’ so many times it just became a normal part of my vocabulary. I wore moon boots, I had moulds made of my feet, I was trialled in many a running shoe. They begged me to get off my feet: just swim instead! they told me. But anyone who runs or plays a sport, knows what it’s like to be told to stop. I needed more opinions and every opinion said the same thing: get good orthodics, get better running shoes, and run less. I actually did eventually stop playing basketball. But I took up running (go figure) and have run many half marathons, 5 & 10kms and a few adventure races.

We were a bit geeky…:P

So I’ve been reading this book born to run and it is so captivating. Even more so when I discovered that a lot of the book takes place roughly eight hours away from where we’ve been living in Obregon. There’s so much to talk about – the whole book is just mind blowing – but what really grabbed my attention was the whole ‘barefoot running’ debate. Prior to reading this book I thought that anyone who ran barefoot was crazy, because every foot doctor I’ve ever seen has told me that we NEED SHOES. But really? When you really think about it, it sounds mental. I read somewhere that it’s like putting a cast around your neck and then taking it off and wondering why you have no strength. Apparently ALL running injuries are modern injuries, ie. have only existed since the invention of the running shoe!

From the author of Born to Run:
I began drilling into running-shoe research, and the further I went, the less I found. There’s nothing there. Nothing. No evidence whatsoever that running shoes do anything. Know why you’ve never seen an ad for a running shoe that actually tells you what the shoe will do? Because there is no evidence that running shoes do anything to prevent injuries. None. In fact, research currently in progress indicates that runners in shoes experience far more impact than runners in bare feet.

I feel a bit silly really. Why didn’t I question the whole running shoe thing earlier? Well duh, because the doctors told me it was the best thing for me. And as a 14 year old, you don’t really question the professionals. But the older I get, the more and more I realise the importance of questioning everything. The importance of keeping an open mind and reading lots and asking lots of questions and testing things out for myself as much as I can and never just accepting one answer from one person or even one answer from lots of people. Because theories are constantly being disproved, new solutions are always being discovered and curiosity is what drives us forward.

So I’m most definitely going to give this barefoot running thing a try. My feet can’t get much worse (way to jinx it though) and I’m so curious.

There’s plenty of places to read more if this kind of thing interests you. I did some googling so you don’t have to:

If you’re a barefoot runner or have tried it out, I’d love to hear your stories!

Jan 20

You Just Run: Some thoughts for starting out

What is more awesome than running around a lagoon to the original movie score from Predator?

Maybe running around a lagoon to the movie score from Predator imagining that you’re IN Predator. And oh, did I mention that I wasn’t actually wearing headphones – no – this music was being played FROM THE LOUDSPEAKERS that surround this lagoon. It’s beyond amazing. They blast epic movie scores to motivate evening runners. I.Love.It.

So as I was completing my Thursday run (I’m on week 7 you guys!!!) I was thinking about running and motivation and how freaking awesome I’m feeling compared to 7 weeks ago. And I figured I could speak with some authority on the subject of starting to run – for all you folk out there who don’t have an awesome lagoon nearby that plays inspiring movie scores to keep you moving.

Start really small

I have no doubt that you could get up tomorrow and run 10kms. Most people could. But the day after tomorrow your body would most likely disown you. So put the ego aside and start small really small. If you’ve never kept a regular running program, start with running for ten minutes every second day, building up to fifteen, then twenty minutes.

Put your shoes on

Not feeling motivated to run? That’s cool. Just convince yourself to put your shorts and shoes on, then tie up your laces. Still too hard to get out the door?

If you get too tired, walking is OK

If you can only run for 10 minutes before near-heart-attack, then bring it back to a walk. A great way to start building endurance is to alternate run/walk. Run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute. Repeat. Play around with this until you build endurance.

Just keep going

Honestly it’s gonna suck at first. There’s no getting around it. But just.keep.going. You won’t lose weight at first, you won’t look different at first, but you will feel different almost right away. And after the first week, everything will gradually start to get easier.

Follow a programme

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just take a piece of paper and draw up a calendar for one month. Write down the days you plan to run and how long you plan to run for. Here’s my running programme, or if you have never done much running before, check out the programme I wrote for Ivan. There’s also heaps of running plans online that you can follow.

Find a friend or a community

It can be so easy to let ourselves down. Sometimes all it takes is knowing that someone else is relying on us to kick our butts into action. So find a friend to run with. If they run faster than you – great, schedule them for your hard run. If they run slower than you, great, schedule them for your easy run. The point is, they get you out the door.

Pick a race

There is nothing more motivating than a looming deadline. Especially when that deadline is going to see you get your ass out of bed at 6am to join thousands of other people run a pre-defined route with little timing chips strapped to your ankles. So get online and find something that motivates you. Maybe it’s a 5 or 10km run. Maybe it’s a half marathon or a crazy adventure race. Whatever it is, find it and register!

[image source. And quote by John Bingham]

Dec 23

Get off yo’ ass and run.

(image found here)

I have started running again.

And since I’ve managed to keep to my plan for 3 weeks now, I feel ready to talk about it.

Of course it’s nowhere near as easy as it used to be. But I have a new level of respect for my body: I’ve grown a child for 9 months, given birth and now I’m still breastfeeding – so there are aches and pains and lower thresholds of pain than I’m used to. But i can do this. It may be embarrassing to arrive home feeling ruined after only 20 minutes of running when I used to do a 20 minutes run as a warm up to a daily 10km run, but hey – I have to start somewhere right? And as the wise old Bikram says, It is never too late, you are never too sick and you are never too old to start from scratch once again.

The big secret to successful running is consistency. I’m totally serious. Even if you start running for 10 minutes at a time, you’ll only improve if you do this every day (or perhaps with a day or two off each week). Small bites, frequently, is the key to catching the running bug. And when you catch it, it’s awesome. I’ve been witness to people catching this bug from never running, to feeling strange if they don’t run every day.

I’m on week 3 and I can feel the bug coming on. Yesterday I felt pretty urgh and unmotivated, but I got dressed and put my running shoes on (a wee trick to getting yourself out the door: put your running shoes on) and headed out for a 20 minute run. It was seriously the best run I’ve done so far. I felt light and nimble and quick and took 2 minutes off the short route I usually take.

So if you’re keen to catch the bug (do it before NY day), here’s my programme that I’m following. It’s for me, I made it to help me get into shape for training for a half marathon. I finish it with a 10km run, which I plan to run in under 45 minutes. In 2010 I ran the Vancouver Sun Run in 46:43 and I was in no way well prepared for that event. So bring it on.

Download my programme here.

Some tips to come. Maybe.

Jun 21

Tighten Up Tuesday – Stacey Smith

So I have this friend called Stacey Smith who is pretty freaking incredible. (And gorgeous).

We went to school together and she is insanely inspiring. The kinda ‘I can do anything’ and ‘i look awesome doing it’ girl that makes me love to say ‘i know her’.

She recently decided to give the stand up paddle boarding thing a go. You know, that sport that you see people doing out on the water where they look like they are surfing but without the waves? Yeah I said ‘sport’ because they actually race these things! It’s crazy. And as soon as summer hits, I’m giving it a go. It looks like the kinda gruelling ‘ow my arms hurt but nothing with make this pain go away’ sort of sport that gets me excited. I know it’s weird. But that’s why I love Stacey, I get that adrenaline kick and the ‘it hurts but it’s so good’ kinda thing.

So she spends her days doing what she loves – helping people with their fitness. She’s a personal trainer extraordinaire. And she is casually competing for the NATIONAL title in stand up paddle boarding (yeah, that’s right. she’s a ‘i’ll give it a go today’ to a ‘i’ll compete for a national title tomorrow’ kinda girl!)

She has just left for an 8 week adventure in Europe and is returning in August with some renewed inspiration and energy. Before she left, she was awesome enough to write a little inspiration for my Tighten Up Tuesdays. All the best in Europe Stace – we can’t wait to have you back!!

How do you find the motivation to keep so active even when it’s so cold?

Being active makes you warm-so why not! Getting fresh cold air into your lungs is such a great feeling and when you snuggle into bed at night after an active winters day-you feel so much better about yourself. I like to get on the water on my paddle board when the sun is out but the temperature is low, I only need togs and a rashy and within a few minutes of charging out to sea I’m sweaty and warm!

What do you eat for breakfast?

Porridge (lots!) made with water, topped with two golden kiwifruit and vanilla protein powder shaken with trim milk-mmmmmmm healthy, warm, tasty, filling, goodness.

What are three things you do to feel wonderful about yourself?

  1. Get moving-I always feel so much better when I keep up a good training/eat pattern. Low alcohol and fatty food intake plus keeping my body on the move (even just a few good powers walks a week) can do wonders for my mental health!
  2. Get others moving-while this is my ‘job’ it is more my passion, and I take so much pleasure in seeing my clients improve and getting texts from them at all random hours telling me what they have achieved that day, a huge warm fuzzy for me!
  3. Treat myself-I will never deny myself of treats when I want them. As long as I am keeping active and I know they are treats and not part of regular meals, when I want something naughty (generally sweet things in my case), I will indulge and enjoy without guilt.

Do you have any ideas or advice for people wanting to lose 3-5 kilos?

HEAPS! There’s so many things you can do to shed the few annoying extra kilos, but my top tips would be

  • use variety when exercising (include cardio AND resistance training)
  • sip water non-stop throughout the day
  • plan your meals so you don’t stray
  • check your portions sizes

What are some ideas for keeping exercise interesting through the winter?

Train with a friend, hit the pools and the spa after, try something new like paddle boarding on a crisp sunny morning, don’t use rain as an excuse-hire a cheesy at home exercise dvd and rock it with a friend, set up a circuit for some home training-google the exercises…easy!

What are your personal fitness/sport goals?

To win the Takapuna Beach series for Stand up Paddle Boarding (SUP) this Summer, to win the NZ SUP Nationals next year, to do another marathon and beat my time, to complete my first triathlon, to complete a half ironman….I could go on forever-there’s so much I want to do!

Favourite mantra/inspiration?


Ok guys, if that’s not enough to get you off your butt and into the fresh crisp winter air, then I dunno what is. I just discovered that my ‘i’d rather die than run’ friend has actually become my ‘i wouldn’t say running is my favourite thing to do but i don’t actually mind doing it and i’d maybe even go so far as to say i kinda enjoy it’ friend. And this news has totally made my day.

Now Mika and I are off to power walk in this glorious cold sunshine.

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May 24

Tighten Up Tuesday: INSANITY.

I never ever thought that I would get excited about exercise DVDs.

Exercising? In my living room? But the living room is for being lazy and putting up my feet and cuddling on the couch! Not getting hot and sweaty and burning calories with Shaun T and his team of protein-shake sippin’ buddies.

I was wrong.

Exercising in my living room is awesome. Insanely awesome.

Now I understand how this industry got so huge. All of a sudden, my life isn’t about just my plans anymore. I can’t pop out to the gym when I feel like it. I can’t head out for a run whenever I like. Today I was meant to meet my coffee group for a walk in the park but Mika was having a bit of an unsettled day and so when she finally got to sleep, the last thing I wanted to do was wake her and put her in her car seat. Enter: Exercise DVD.

I didn’t really believe I could get hot and sweaty in front of my TV. But that’s because I’d never tried ‘Insanity‘. As the name so blatantly states: this DVD is insane.

Ivan and I got the whole 60 day challenge and we might just decide to do it. We took our ‘before’ photos (eek!) and we wrote down our weight and measurements before getting hot and freaky to Shaun T’s ‘Fitness Test’.

The idea is that you do this fitness test, followed by 2 weeks of insane DVD workouts. Then repeat fitness test. Then repeat 2 weeks. In total, it’s 60 days of insanity.


Benefits of exercising in my living room include:

  • Any time of day, at the moment I feel like it, or as soon as Mika’s asleep… it’s all go!
  • Anything goes in the clothing department. There are NO RULES in my living room 😛
  • I can make weird noises, huff and puff, sing and yell profanities at Shaun T.
  • A 45 minute workout is really a 45 minute workout. No driving time. It’s great.

I’ve heard great things about Insanity and so I’ll keep you posted every once in a while to see if we’re still on track. My legs are shaking from the fitness test today and I’ve already wolfed down a bowl of post-work-out-cereal (my own concoction). I’m so excited.

Oh and in 60 days we promise to share the before and after pics with y’all. (A bit of self-imposed pressure never hurts eh). And our stats!

(We’re suckers for their marketing…)