Running With Sisters – Vicki Shaw

Vicki Shaw is 37 and lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She works full-time in the public sector and is studying  a Bachelor of Medical Science full-time. She has a partner, a daughter, a dog and a cat. Despite having a very busy life, Vic still manages to find time for running.

vicki shaw at yumigo summer series - running with sisters
Vicki Shaw at Yumigo Summer Trail Run Series

1. At what age did you start running?

Lightly, at 25 years years old.

2. Why did you start running?

I started small—5km jogs when I was time strapped. I had just gotten away from a very manipulative and abusive relationship with my daughter’s dad. My friends weren’t really friends and I needed the release. Plus I have always wanted to try running… it’s just that I had no confidence to run on my own and my ‘friends’ at the time were never interested in joining me. I was scared I would be laughed at, because where I lived at the time, seeing a jogger was a very rare sight.

3. How did you approach running when you first started?

I would sneak out of the house around 5:30am before my (then) 5 year old would wake up (I would leave a note, just in case). It was dark, so I felt safe—weird I know, but I knew at least that no one could see me. I started with a walk jog, walk jog, until I could jog, then run, the whole 5km loop. I would do this every weekday morning.

4. What was hard about running when you first started?

I found running in the cold mornings hard. Because I had to make time to run so early, the winters were extremely cold. I wasn’t used to the cold air that filled my lungs, and plus I was still unfit and taking in large gasps until I improved.

5. Why did you continue running in the beginning?

I moved to Adelaide and met some friends who told be about the Trailblazer Challenge (Operation Flinders now), I always loved hiking and was keen to give it a go. Even after a night out, I would always remain motivated to join my friends hiking/running around Adelaide Hills.

My weekly 5km runs remained a habit. Although I didn’t feel that I had to get up quite so early and I started to feel less embarrassed and more ‘safe’.

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

I find I’m better in the mornings—6am is my main time—although due to work and uni schedules, it can vary from 5am – 7:30am.  I’m used to the cold air now and hardly notice it.

7. What’s your weekly running schedule?

I run 5km every week morning (allows me to take the dog with me and give her some healthy exercise too—we are all out during the day) then end with a 20 minute weight  or yoga session. If I’m recovering from any injury or particularly tight from a longer run on the weekend, it’s Monday or Tuesday.

I usually run between 23-35km each weekend either on a Saturday or Sunday. I’ve recently made many new ‘running buddies’ on various trail runs. This has allowed me to join a few different run groups that always have an organised run on either a Saturday or a Sunday. I take the day that suits best with whatever weekend activities I have.

If my weekend is full (like it is currently—I’m renovating the backyard of my partner’s rental property), I do my weekend run during the week at 6am in Belair somewhere to make up the 23-26km.

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

My week runs are with my dog Chloe, so it’s easier just to run out the door on my own and time is a big factor.

On the weekends, I used to run with friends in the beginning because I was scared to venture around the hills on my own. I soon grew in confidence and mostly headed out on my own until around mid-2014 when I started to meet more Yurrebilla runners and tapped onto some organised group runs. After that, I met more running buddies and joined more groups that allowed me some variety, particularly fitting runs in around my weekend commitments.  However I do still enjoy just getting out on my own, with my own thoughts. Running solo over long distances in the hills can be very refreshing and rewarding.

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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’m in a number of online running groups:

It’s great to meet like-minded runners who enjoy the outdoors and trails as much as I do. My daily friends don’t seem to understand my passion for this. I can’t believe the amount of encouragement and friendliness I have received from everyone on the trail runs and from the groups. I expected people to be competitive, and deep inside I thought some would laugh and think I was slow. The people I have met to date are refreshing, vibrant, beautiful, and passionate about trail running. Times and running ability really have no importance on the trail with the groups; it’s simply all about enjoying yourself, setting your own goals and having fun.

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

I do a mix of road and trail on my weekly runs. I used to live on the beach until this year so I would mix 2.5km beach with 2.5km road. My new location has a small trail that I have discovered but it’s only 1km out and back. There is also a park that stretches along a length of a stream below my street, so I run part road, part grass and part trail.  I try to avoid too much road surface.

On the weekends, it’s simply trails. Belair National Park is close by, so if an organised run doesn’t fit, or I prefer to be on my own, I will usually run Belair. Another run I enjoy is Norton Summit to Montacute Road and back up the steep Chambers Hill (I think that’s what it’s called!) then back to Norton Summit in a figure 8. I learned about this run on one of David’s Sunday Runs and loved it. It gives a nice mixture of very steep hills, rocky surfaces, bush and wide track… all with great views.

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

I used to suffer from anxiety during my 10 year relationship with my child’s dad, then after during a restraining order ordeal and then family court. I was taking a lot of medication for this, and I seriously needed to wean myself from it. I suffered from withdrawals, but at the same time when I removed myself from where I was living to live in Adelaide, my anxiety lessened a great deal. I factor running in as the reason for my ability to wean myself off the medication, gain confidence and heal from the anxiety. I find not just running, but being out in the trails with wildlife so beneficial for my mental health.

I have healed after fracturing my fibula last year during Yurrebilla training. I still have a few shin splints that act up from time to time.

Time has always been a tough one, mostly when it was just me and my daughter. Running had to be done when she was asleep and she was a night owl… so this was tough!

I don’t have family around, so I was lucky that my weekends when I had them child free were all mine to do whatever I wanted. However, now that I have a partner I find that there is always a birthday, get-together or occasion to attend that I need to work around. Also having a partner, I need to ensure I factor in time to spend with each other. When my partner is off watching his football or attending games, it’s my time to get out and run without any guilt.

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

I’m hoping to run the Heysen 105km in 2016.

My dream goal is to one day run the Pyrenees in France, Spain, Andorra. The whole lot! My partner is keen, but keeps reminding me: It’s not a race, Vic! It’s likely we will one day go together and walk it.

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

The original group of Yurrebilla men first inspired me. Even ageing, they are amazing fit and fast. They are also so encouraging,  and such wonderful people. Over the last few months, since meeting more runners during the Yumigo Summer Trail Run Series, the girls in the groups I’ve joined all inspire me. Every runner I have met and have the pleasure of running/chatting with, has a gone on their own journey and has a passion that will never let me forget why I love trail running.

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

My Yurrebilla buff—it’s both a trophy for me that I achieved Yurrebilla (something I was previously too lacking in confidence to try for years) and it keeps my ears warm and hair out of my face!

Shoes—I have amazing Mammuts that are light, give me zero blisters and have awesome grip.

My hydration pack—I can’t run more than 5km without water. I think I have a fear of dehydration!

Gadgets—I wish I had some! I’m a bit of a hippy out there and simply press the timer on my phone, or look at the time when I head out to time myself.

15. What do you love about running?

I love that running has allowed my confidence to grow, stress levels to decrease and allow me to see the beauty of nature.  I also love how I’ve seen the improvement to my fitness and abilities.  I sound like a hippy :o)

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

Once you start, make it a habit. It’s the best habit you will ever have.

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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