She is a SUPERMUM, three-time Olympian, juggles motherhood and a career, and is now Australia’s third fastest woman over the marathon distance following her recent 5th place at the London Marathon in a time of 2:25:15. We asked Lisa what lead her on this journey in the first place, and what inspires her to persist and achieve in high level competition, what running means to her and how she manages training with a busy active family.
How long have you been running and when did you start?
I started running over 20 years ago when I was 15. I was born with some cardiovascular challenges and my Dad encouraged me to run to help build up the muscles. After entering some school cross country races I finished high up and realised I could run!
I didn’t start marathon running until 2008. I ran the London marathon on debut and earned a spot on the Beijing Olympic team! A dream come true after years of injury.
What made you take up competitive running? What drew you to it, and what keeps you there even now as a mum?
It picked me. I played many different sports at school. On the track I finished in 3rd place many many times and that made me want to try harder next time to try to win. I found my feet on the roads and when I finally moved to half marathon and marathon I knew I had a chance to be an elite runner -I just didn’t know how fast I could go. After my race here in London, running very even and finishing so strong, there seems to be more in the tank – that opportunity to keep going beyond my best is what motivates me. I joked that on Sunday for the marathon I was going to experience 2hrs25mins of me time! Truth is I love being a mum and when I’m not with Pete I really miss him!
What is your favourite distance and event to race?
The half marathon. It is the perfect mix of speed and endurance, and I’m super proud of running 69:00 for the distance. It’d be nice to go a few seconds under that on the Sunshine Coast this year….If anyone knows a good babysitter there!
With three Olympic games under your belt and numerous other career highlights, are you able to pick out what your greatest running achievement to is to date and why?
Now it would be fifth at the London marathon. The field was star studded and to have raced smart enough to be in fifth is a dream come true. My run at Melbourne was one of the most memorable with my family in the stands cheering, and Delhi bronze was the toughest achievement, and I’m pretty proud of how I got through that with a quad injury and the crazy conditions!
What about your greatest non running achievement?
Marrying Lachlan and having Pete! Also, I graduated top of the Business Faculty at RMIT in my College days applying myself diligently to study – I was a pretty big studier so that was certainly a highlight.
Who is your running idol and why?
Lisa Ondieki – I remember watching Lisa run Zatopek with my Dad and my coach Dick Telford and saying to Dad wow they run so fast. I wish I could run that fast!
Lisa with son Pete
Do you train with friends?
I train every day with my husband and with Pete in the Thule Pram on Friday. I have some lovely friends that jump in with us from time to time, and it is nice to have catch ups on the run… makes the time go faster with new conversation.
You are mother to a beautiful little boy, and we all know motherhood is a juggle. How do you manage your training and racing and travelling while juggling motherhood?
With 4 wonderful parents and a super sister. We take care of my nephew a few times per week and Jodi takes care of Pete. We spend weekends with Lac’s parents in Creswick and my parents take care of Pete while I work part time and do my mid week sessions. As a family we achieve a great deal! Love them all so very much and feel very fortunate. They were on my mind every step of the way at London.
Is there any advice that you can give to other mums out there that want to get the most out of their training?, and is it still possible to set goals and reach them while being a mum and raising a family?
Live as close as you can to grandparents! They are magical beings – they make dreams come true! 🙂 The second ingredient is a simple one, but easier said than done…if you want something bad enough and have ingredient one you can achieve – but it takes hard work!
Are you a member of a running club?
I’m a life member, over 20 years of the Preston Athletic Club and I run for Melbourne University Athletics Club during the Winter.
Do you love to just get out and run because you love it, or do you prefer to lace up and race?
I need a goal. If I’ve trained well I enjoy the race more than the training, but the times where I’ve raced a little underprepared I have wished I’d never started the race!
What do you tell yourself when it gets tough in a race? What spurs you to the finish line?
Different things spur me on at different times. This time it was the quotes from my mum and dad. After the tough experience at Rio I was quite frightened of the marathon – my body was in a lot of trouble and to be uncontrollably shaking in the medical tent was really scary. They encouraged me to go out again and train for London and were my inspiration this time around. I was extremely fit going into Rio and picked up a virus on the way to the team camp. I touched on that same level of fitness here in London so it was great to get the best out of myself. Hopefully there’s some even greater bests in me yet.
How long do you think you will stay competitively running for?
I have no plans to ever retire from running. One day I will just stop entering races.
Have you ever suffered any time in your career wherever injury or illness impacted your performance? What did you do to cope with this, and what lessons did you learn from your experience?
9 stress fractures in my 20s, including my sacrum which was nasty. I missed a lot of training and a lot of opportunities as a younger athlete. Perhaps it has been a blessing as it has helped me build a professional career with IBM and after the sacrum I had Pete!
I found that cross training only hindered my recovery, and after quite a few injuries I decided that when injured I’d focus on other aspects of life until the body healed and then start fresh. It was a better way for me and the time passed so much quicker than trying to slave away on the bike or in the pool.
Do you ever feel like you don’t want to train? What motivates you to go anyway?
Many times when it is dark in Melbourne over Winter. But having Lachlan there to train with and a huge goal ahead of me gets me out the door 98% of the time.
What is the one moment in your running career that you will never ever forget?
Receiving my medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi at the Closing Ceremony.
Did you run when you were pregnant with Pete, and if you were to have another child would you keep running?
My first trimester it took all my energy to create Pete and go to work. I did a few runs of 4x5min jogs in the second trimester but felt like it wasn’t for me so I stopped after a few weeks. When in my third trimester I was so uncomfortable that I could barely drive so we walked a lot. It was Spring and I loved that time. It gave us a real break from our fast paced lifestyle. I don’t have any pelvic floor issues and had a smooth transition back to running once I stopped breast feeding, so for me not running was absolutely the right decision.
What do you love most about RMA and what have you learned from being a part of our community?
That everyone can love running! It is amazing how many people tell you they hate running when they find out about my career. Odd thing to say really but RMA members really love it and that is pretty cool!