Photo by Guiseppe Milo. Used with permission.
As regular readers know, I am an avid runner. I started running in 2011, at age 47, not being able to run 50 metres to save myself… or anyone else for that matter! But I made a promise to a dear friend that I would do it and keep doing it, and I have. And while I completed my third official half marathon this year, and plan to do an ultra next year, it hasn’t been easy. There have been injuries along the way that have required rest and rehabilitation. Travel has often rudely interrupted training (I wanted to run in India, but it was impossible. Not because I felt unsafe, but because the infrastructure to support running just wasn’t there. No footpaths was the biggest issue, followed by roads that were in various states of dangerous disrepair. If by some miracle the roads were usable and there were footpaths to run on, it proved difficult because of the families living on them, or the commerce that was occurring, or the tuk tuks that were parked along it, or cows or camels or elephants taking up most of it).
Up until this year, I have been essentially a solo runner. Sure, I was a volunteer Start Running Instructor with SARRC, which meant I ran with a group each week, but other than that I ran alone. I’d heard running was a social sport, but I wasn’t seeing it. Or rather, experiencing it. Until this year. This year, I started trail running and I have been drawn into the trail running community, slowly at first, but I have met so many wonderful people of various ages, abilities and body weight. What sets these runners apart from road runners, in my opinion, is their commitment to their sport; the sense of community they engender and impart, particularly around sharing their knowledge and experience with others; and the absolute focus they have on achieving their goals.
[bctt tweet=”Keep an eye out for the first installment of Running with Sisters next month.”]
I’ve been running with a group of trail women quite regularly now, and on the trails, we talk. Really talk. While listening to their stories about family and children and work and life and friendships, I was struck at the obstacles many of these women have to overcome to start and continue running. I heard stories of work or family commitments, injury, weight, nutritional requirements, chronic illness, even age—most fought to keep running because of what it gave them, the value it added to their lives. I was inspired by these stories, and I thought that others would be too. And I thought other non-running women might be inspired to try running, or come back to it if they had stopped.
So I put out a call to a couple of (predominantly female) running groups I’m in, with the idea of publishing a book about the stories of female runners, with the proceeds going to the Indigenous Marathon Project. I had lots of interest, which was gratifying, with women nominating other women to participate. So I put together an interview form and send it out. Unfortunately, while I had lots of initial interest, not everyone who put up their hand to participate did in the end (and that’s totally ok—I completely understand), but it meant that I didn’t have enough content to go ahead with the project as it was originally conceptualised i.e. publish a book. I also didn’t want people who did complete the interview to feel like they wasted their time either. There’s nothing more annoying or frustrating than that.
What to do? And then it hit me: I could publish the interviews here, as a series. And that’s what I’m doing.
So keep an eye out for the first installment of Running with Sisters next month. I’m convinced that these interviews will provide running advice, inspiration and motivation to women of all running abilities.
And if you’d like to participate in this series, just fill out the interview questions on this form and I’ll schedule you in.
Then how about buying me a glass of wine — or even two! — for writing such an awesome essay?