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In absolutely no way a natural born athlete...


Some people manage to look incredibly fit and athletic, seemingly with ease. I am NOT one of those people. I wasn't blessed with fitness genes, a fast metabolism or a body made to rock active-wear... and it really doesn't matter. I will run from Adelaide to Melbourne anyway !


Training for this run to Melbourne has changed my relationship with...


My body

While it was not the goal of this very long run, I think I had vague expectations that all the training in the lead up would leave me with the sort of body to be found on the cover of 'Runners World' or 'Women's Health'.

Nope, not even close. Right now I am carrying around what I affectionately call my survival blanket - a nice layer of fat (yep - FAT) that will keep me healthy and alive while running to Melbourne, because there is no way I will be able to consume, never mind keep down, enough calories to stay neutral when running for 10 hours a day for 10 days in a row.

I cannot fit into the jeans I was wearing at the beginning of the training BUT my body is doing stuff I would have insisted impossible a few years ago. 'Touch wood', it continues to out perform my expectations.

The dichotomy of looking less fit than usual, and actually being at my personal fitness peak has left me with vague imposter syndrome , and has opened me to unpleasant judgement. More than once I have been introduced to someone of a sporting background as 'Lee-Anne, who is running to Melbourne' only to have them do a quick scan of my physicality and look disbelieving.

All those running events, as much as I have loathed them, have shown me that runners really do come in ALL shapes and sizes, and I learned never to judge possibility based on appearances.

Here are a few athletes smashing stereotypes already:

- 62 year old vegan athlete smashes world records

- Big Gal Yoga

- Latoya Shauntay Snell


Running

One of the unexpected relationship changes has been with running.

That said, it isn't that long ago that I was quite anti-running - sure in my belief that I would only ever run should something suitably terrifying were to chase me. But then I discovered that running was something I could love - even on those rare days when it is more enjoyable to stop than keep going.

As an introvert I have struggled with running events, and I really only complete (I cannot make myself say compete) to have something, a goal, to push myself for. I am happier to run on my own for the most part and that has not changed altogether. What has changed is the need for speed. Events are all about as much distance as possible in the least amount of time.

No more! Running is a way to get from here to there - slower than a car, train or plane but faster than walking. Knowing I will have nothing else to achieve in my day but to run somewhere and I have all day to do it is incredibly liberating, and wondrous.


Time

At this stage of my training I am often out of bed at the obnoxiously precise 4.05 am to run and 5.05 am to gym and swim. Saturdays are for rest (and sleep ins), Sundays are for long runs...which means that on any given weekday I have run 25 or so kilometres, or gym-ed for an hour before swimming up to 160 laps, all before getting children to school and myself off to a full day of work - and NO ONE is more surprised by this than me.

Somehow 4.30 am feels like a natural hour to start pounding the pavement, and somehow I am not exhausted for the rest of the day. I wake - train for a few hours - parent - work - parent - train some more - sleep; all week.

Training up to four hours a day on a work day and 5 or 6 hours on a Sunday means that some of the admin aspects of this event are lagging - a PA would be immensely useful and entirely fanciful.

On my return from this run, and into 'normal' life I will have to redefine my relationship with time and how to spend it.


Self awareness

My brain spends a lot of time in my body -a strange sentence but true. I am hyper aware of little niggles, or big twinges for that matter, thirst and hunger, fatigue and aches.

This has led to some strange habits and routines - whenever a training session goes well, or there is a new ease in doing an exercise I proceed to latch on to whatever I think may have contributed to this positive development.

This is not unique to me, athletes are some of the most superstitious people going...lucky jock strap anyone?


Food

My ambivalence toward food continues - even when I inhale great quantities of the stuff, and quickly. In some ways food has become a chore, a task that requires too much effort if little interest (dumplings aside - as they are little dreamboats of lusciousness).

What has changed? Once upon a time I would have restricted how much food I was eating - but as I require my aforementioned survival blanket, and need to ensure I I have enough energy in the bank to complete the next training session, which is at anytime only a few hours away - I eat; repeatedly, with gusto if not enthusiasm.


Privilege

This last effect is not around training my body - but opening my eyes to the reality of the homelessness epidemic that we have right here in AUSTRALIA.

The whole and sole purpose of all this physical training is to show solidarity to those who are experiencing homelessness, raise funds for three amazing front-line organisations who do incredible work in this field and to complete a run so epic that it provides a platform for change.


I am no expert so if you're curious here are a few links:

- Homelessness in Australia - Census 2016

- Causes of Homelessness

- Catherine House

- Hutt St Centre

- Freds Van






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