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Fox in Flats runs the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10K

Andrea ran in the exciting Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10K race on Sunday July 14th. A complete beginner to running, she ran an inspiring time of 1 hour and 9 minutes. Read her tips on how to overcome tough challenges and realise amazing achievements.

I cried like a baby, tears running down my face as I stood breathless in a crowd of thousands on the edge of Sydney Harbour on a beautiful blue skied winters day.

I cried because I’d just done something I never thought I could do. I had just completed the Real Insurance 10k run in 1 hour 9 minutes, and I ran every step of the way.

Whether you’re a runner or not is immaterial to this tale. Because my tears were tears of shock, pride and amazement that I had just done something I never thought I would be capable of.

I’ve hated running since I was six years old – the anguishing tale of unjustly losing a trophy for running at a school athletics carnival and as I grew older, my loathing for running was spread thick with a layer of “can’t”.

I believed I couldn’t do it. And to be honest, I also didn’t care, because it was not something that held any interest to me. Pain, sweat, lycra…? I’ll pass on that thanks.

But just 3 weeks ago, I crazily agreed to run this race around the centre of my favourite city in the world.

The catch? There were two:

  • I was so unfit that I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without running out of breath, and
  • I believed I was not capable of running. It was something I believed I ‘couldn’t do’.

There were a bunch of reasons for me taking this on right now, but mostly because I simply wanted to see if I could.

But somehow, I exceeded all expectations!

After I’d wiped my tears, and took some goofy shots with my friends, I caught the ferry home, across the glistening waters of the harbour, a crazy grin on my face the entire way. Although my family were planning to meet me at the ferry dock – the boys keen to see Mummy’s running medal – I asked if I could have a couple of hours alone instead. I wanted to drink in the achievement, really savour it. And I also wanted a drink of champagne to toast myself quietly. I wanted to celebrate!

As I sat alone on the tip of the wharf bar, back on home turf, nursing my bubbles and resting my feet, I realised that the lessons I’d learnt about myself over the last 3 weeks could be applied to anything in life.

And now I know that we are ALL capable of achieving anything we set our minds to.

So today, as I sit and type with an unfamiliar ache in my legs and a blister on my foot, I’ve come up with 13 ways to do something you think you can’t do.

1. Milk friends for tips.

I asked my buddy who’s been running for years, I asked the friends of Fox in Flats on Facebook, and I even asked the woman who runs past our house every morning like clockwork: “What are your best tips for me to become a runner?” I was generously provided with useful tips that set me up for success.

2. Bring in the pros.

If you want to be successful at something you need to be taught by someone who knows how to do it well. In my case I enlisted a brilliant trainer, Norman, who guided and coached me to run, and who also ran beside me in my race. Because no one has ever changed a nappy quickly, applied red lipstick with precision, or securely tied a shoelace without a lesson from a person who knows what they’re doing.

3. Have a plan.

If you’ve got no focus you can’t see where you’re going. For me it was all about eating well, training regularly, and avoiding alcohol for a designated period of time.

4. Don’t freak out if it doesn’t go to plan.

The total ban on alcohol for 3 weeks didn’t quite work for me due to a friend’s birthday celebration, a complete lack of self-control on my behalf, and my innate desire for fun. If you break from the plan roll with it, keep persisting regardless, and work even harder to make it up.

5. Think outside the square.

If you decide it’s “all too hard” it will be. I had to find the time to train for the race during school holidays with two children at home to look after, Fox in Flats to run, and a bunch of other commitments. Instead of throwing my hands up in the air at a seemingly impossible task, I scaled back on work, took the kids with me to the gym, trained at home running up and down the footpath, and called on friends for play dates.

6. Enlist a buddy.

If you’ve got someone to take on your challenge at the same time it becomes a whole lot of fun. My friend Sara – a beginner runner also – stepped up to take the challenge with me, and kicked the ass of the race too. And all the while that we trained and ran together we chatted and laughed, and gave each other looks that said “I can’t believe we are actually doing this!” The added bonus; our friendship has grown from sharing the experience.

7. Work hard.

When you’re doing what you need to do to achieve a goal, be single minded. No point going to the gym if you won’t push yourself while you are there. That article you wanna write is not going to happen if you’re cruising Facebook, and you’ll never shift those stubborn 2 kgs if you’re stuffing your face with Tim Tams.

8. Don’t give up, even if you want to.

I came up with a gazillion crafty and very plausible excuses in my mind for not running this race that I reckon could’ve got me out of it – including but not limited to: extreme pain, a sick child, and a bad hair day. But I told that persistent and cunning voice in my head to pipe down, many, many times. Before I knew it I was standing at the start line of the race and there was no turning back.

9. Visualise the end result.

As I ran the race, all I could think about was how amazing it would be to see my feet running over that finish line, and that kept me going. If you can paint a picture of what success is going to look like, you’re on the way to having a hanging that masterpiece on your wall.

10. Enjoy the process.

As Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And that wise youngster is right. As I ran around Sydney Harbour I drank in the amazing scenery, and the festive atmosphere. I noted how different the race participants were – from Olympic athletes to a couple jogging with their two kids in a pram, and the old man who had a quirky walk-shuffle but moved like a rocket. And I couldn’t help but grin back at the smiling faces of the Real Insurance staff that were peppered around the course encouraging participants to keep going. It was fun!

11. Shut down that negative voice.

You know that voice that tells you can’t do something? That you’re too slow, dumb or old? Ignore it. It is wrong.

12. Listen to your inner cheerleader.

Fixate on what is awesome about what you are doing, grab your pom poms and shout it loud! While running my inner voice kept reminding me that I’d run further than I ever thought I could have. It kept congratulating me for still moving. And it kept saying “Go! Go! Go!”

13. Fake it till you make it.

While I never really believed I could run an entire 10ks in under 1 hour 20 minutes, I kept telling myself that I was going to do it. While I was pounding the pavement I kept telling myself I was a runner. And wouldn’t you know? Now, I think I am.

Check out the Real Insurance 10k Run photos, and be sure to upload any that you took on the day, I’d love to check them out!

What’s something that you’ve always thought you couldn’t do, but would love to try?

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