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Running With Sisters – Rhoda Downie

Rhoda Downie is 40 and lives in Adelaide, South Australia. As well as being a dog-owner, she and her partner Mark—who Rhoda has been with for 20 years—have two children, aged 7 and 4. Rhoda is a full-time, stay-at-home mum, but prior to having children, she was a junior primary school teacher. The focus of Rhoda’s interview is resuming running after having her children. Mums: be prepared to be inspired!

1. At what age did you start running?

rhoda downie running with sisters
Rhoda Downie running her first half marathon. And yes, she’s wearing her trusty Mizuno Waves Inspire 9s!

I’ve been a runner off and on for most of my life. I initially began running when I was about 9 years old. We were forced to run around the school each Friday morning for 12 minutes—in the name of fitness—but really, I think the teachers just wanted some extra minutes to drink their coffee in peace. At the beginning I absolutely dreaded Friday mornings, but then after a month or so, I realised I could beat the boys and was quite good at running. I would usually run 2.8-3 km in those 12 minutes.

During high school, my running became part of my hockey training and this continued into my adult life, right up until I became pregnant with my first child. Fast forward to my second child being 2 years old (2012), I decided to get back into exercise that was more high intensity, cardio based. I breast fed both my children, and found that I could not produce enough milk while doing any real cardio type exercise.

In 2014, I decided to enter the Colour Run, which was being held in May of that year. This was one of the catalysts for my running to resume, post children.

2. Why did you resume running?

I guess there were a few triggers for me to resume running again post children. I remembered I enjoyed running and how I felt after a run. Also, I like the flexibility of running. I can lace up my shoes and head out the door whenever it suits (as long as there is someone to watch the children) or jump on my treadmill.

3. How did you approach running when you resumed?

My approach to resuming running was to run as far as I could, then tell myself a few more meters and then have a walk break. Within a few weeks I was able to run 3 km nonstop, and I built from there.

4. What was hard about running when you resumed?

The hardest thing for me when I started running was fitting it in, when my partner was away at work. He works on an oil rig for 3 weeks at a time. Both my children refused to sit in a pram from the moment they could walk, so going for a run with them in the pram was not an option. When my daughter was at ELC, and my son would have his afternoon sleep, I would run up and down the lane behind our house (with the baby monitor so I could hear my son if he woke!). The lane is roughly 200m long, so I would run up and back 15 times which would be roughly a 3 km run. It was super boring, and the neighbours thought I was crazy, but I felt great afterwards.

5. Why did you continue running?

My motivation to continue running was based on a few things. Firstly, I felt great after a run and was much happier. Also, I could see how I was improving with each run (getting faster) and becoming much fitter. Lastly, I had signed up for the Colour Run and wanted to be able to finish in a reasonable time.

6. When do you usually run? Why at this time/times?

My preference is to run around 9.30am-10am. That time seems to work best for me. It gives me time to eat, get some stuff done around the house and my body is warmed up for a run. During summer and on holidays I will run earlier to avoid the heat. Now and again I like to run just before sun set, depending on how busy the day has been.

7. What’s your weekly running schedule?

My running schedule varies according to whether my partner is home and whether I have an event coming up. When Mark is away and the children are at school/ELC I have three child free days. So Monday I will do a tempo run usually around 10kms, then Wednesday I will do a long run. I will then get in a few quick runs on the treadmill (if I’m lucky) on the remaining days when my son is home and my daughter is at school. The weekends are spent taxiing children around to sport etc., so there’s usually no running for me.

When Mark is home, I can run whenever I please. I try not to do more than 55km in a week, unless I’m training for an event.

8. Do you run with a friend, in a group or solo? Why?

I mainly run on my own, purely for convenience sake. That way I can head out whenever I get the chance.  I do like having company on long runs; it’s nice to be able to chat as you plod along. I have been doing quite a bit of trail running this year, and find that I enjoy running with company on the trails. Also, it decreases the chances of getting lost if I run with another person.

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9. Are you a member of any online running groups or forums? If so, what are the benefits of being involved?

I joined Chicks Who Run via Facebook around May of 2014. This particular group has been a great resource for my running. Members offer advice on everything from shoes to health care providers for sport specific ailments. I also joined YUMmychicks, again on Facebook. This particular group has been the catalyst for getting me out and discovering new trails around Adelaide. I have met some awesome chicks in this group, and have set myself some running goals as a result of seeing the amazing things these girls are achieving on the trails.

10. Where do you run? What’s your preference and why?

My running is done in a mixture of locations. During a normal week, I will run on the road and on my treadmill. At least once a fortnight I try to get out on a trail. I prefer running on trails. I don’t listen to music when I run on the trails, and I enjoy being in the moment listening and taking in all the beauty around me as I run. If I’m training for a road event, I give trails a miss for a while, as the downhill sections can make my knee unhappy.

11. What obstacles or challenges have you had to overcome with your running?

The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome when running is my family commitments, especially when solo parenting (while Mark is away). That is why I invested in a treadmill, so that I can run when my children are in bed or happy to watch TV for 30mins or so.

12. What are your running goals over the next year or so?

I’ve just completed my first half marathon in the last few weeks, so one goal is to improve on that time. I also would like to get more time out on the trails.

13. Is there anyone in particular who inspires you to keep running, or inspires you as a runner?

There is no one person in particular that inspires me to run. I love seeing other people’s, especially female runners’, achievements. I follow a lot of female runners on Instagram and love seeing them conquer goals. They quite often give me that extra little nudge to get out there and run.

14. What are your favourite two running items, or running items that you can’t do without? Why?

rhoda downie running with sisters
Rhoda at Yumigo Summer Series – it’s a favourite with Adelaide’s trail runners.

I love, love, love my Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s (my running shoes). I was so upset when the new model came out and was completely different to the old model. I have spent many fruitless hours searching for some Wave Inspire 9s. The night after I completed my first half marathon, I did a quick internet search for my beloved shoes, and BINGO, I found some and promptly ordered them. Only a runner would understand how exciting this is.

I have also, developed a love of my Garmin watch: when it behaves. I enjoy hearing that beep every 1 km; it’s a comforting sound that encourages me to go that bit further. I’ve become one of those runners who loves to Instagram their Garmin recorded running times, records etc.

15. What do you love about running?

I primarily love how I feel after a run. Any stress or anxieties of the day disappear or lessen after I’ve run. Running allows me to clear my head and think things through. Running also gives me great pride in the strength of my mind and body. I’ve had hard, boring, crappy runs, but I’m always glad I’ve done the run. I’m positive that I’m a better person because of running; I’m happier and healthier now that I’m running again on a regular basis.

16. What advice would you give to anyone new to running, or thinking about taking it up?

My advice would be to get out there and have a go. Anyone can be a runner. Start off slow and be consistent. Also, get the right shoe for your feet. Great shoes can make or break a run.

Lastly, enjoy the run and run happy.

Running with Sisters is a guest post series that provides running advice, inspiration and motivation to women of all running abilities, ages and weight. If you’d like to tell your story, just fill out the interview questions on this form and I’ll schedule you in.

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