Intuition Is My Superpower
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” This quote resonates so much with me when I reflect on my running journey and on life in general over the past 5 years. I have had my fair share of success this year but it hasn’t come without many failures in the years before. Some of you may know my story, some of you won’t… to cut a long story short I started running in 2013 and by the end of that year I had completely burned myself out. Back then I was in a very vulnerable position, I was in a dead end job where I was being bullied in the workplace and it stripped away every ounce of self confidence I had, it had a flow on effect to the rest of my life and I felt really trapped in the situation. Then I found running, I LOVED it! I got hooked really quickly and it turned out I wasn’t bad at it and I kept improving rapidly. I used running to soothe myself and felt like it was the one area of my life that I was in control of and where I could ‘prove’ my worth. After 12 months of running EVERY session hard, racing way too much and setting the goal of completing a 10km, a Half, a Marathon and an Ultra all in my first year of running along with a tonne of other races in between bought me undone big time and I lost my health, vitality and in the end I lost my sense of self even more.
This new identity I had as a runner which made me feel so good also started to slip away. Looking back I had a lot more positives in my life back then than I even appreciated or realised at the time. Its hard to see what you have sometimes when you get caught up in the wrong mindest. I battled on like this until 2015 trying to find the joy I once found in running and ran well below my potential for quite some time before I took a break for 12 months determined to learn how I had got myself into this position and how I could get myself out and find joy in running again.
Many people gave me advice that I simply had to run less but there was a lot more to it than that. It was a combination of accumulative factors including my emotional state and how I felt about myself at the time, running too hard too often to numb the pain of what was happening at work with little to no recovery time between sessions, overcommitting to too many things in life, being a people pleaser and never saying no to anyone. It all contributed to the bigger picture. I used to feel guilty to put myself first which now seems like madness, I felt like I had to constantly please others so that they would like me, I’ve had to work really hard to detach myself from the guilt of putting myself first and from trying so hard to please others as it has never served me, I’m getting better at it but sometimes old habits die hard.
Fast forward 5 years and I am committed to focusing on the future and moving forward, the past is in the past and the only thing I will take from it is the positive lessons I have learned through my experiences. Sometimes what once felt like your greatest misfortune can become your greatest blessing. Life sent me a gigantic message that things had to change and that I couldn’t possibly go on the way I was. I’ve had my most successful year of running this year not just in terms of results but in terms of finding that joy again that I was once so desperately searching for.
What I have done? What have I learned to get here?
Firstly I’ve learned that intuition is my superpower and each of us hold this within but we can only tap into it if we are willing to ask ourselves the right questions and be true to ourselves. A big area of growth for me has been to stop and listen to what is truly right for me… I think we have complicated running in many ways by constantly tracking our runs, looking at the stats, comparing ourselves to others on platforms such as strava or at parkrun, getting caught up in the hype and hysteria surrounding events which leads to FOMO (fear of missing out). The way I look at it is that its just me vs me and its my journey in terms of goal setting and doing what is right for me. If I’m in doubt or torn on whether to do an event I now stop and ask myself: Does it excite me? Does it motivate me intrinsically or am I being extrinsically motivated? and straight away it always leads me to my truth. Deep down you are the one who really knows what you want from your running, its important to know your why, to be authentic in your why and what you want out of it and to go out and chase YOUR dreams not the dreams of others or the ones you feel are expected of you… be true to you! Often we need to take a step back to reflect on this, to establish our why and once we learn to do this it is a game changer! You don’t have to always run to be a part of the running community, I get just as much out of volunteering and supporting at running events as I do from running them.
Its taken a lot of trial and error to find what’s right and what works for me, its such an individual thing and I honestly think that even the things we try that don’t work are still valuable tools that lead us on the right path. I’ve learned for example that I thrive off a lot less training than I was used to in the past, I’ve really lowered the amount of kms as well as the intensity and duration of my sessions, it is such an important thing to find the right balance for you. I never used to respect recovery it was always go, go, go. We have all heard the saying go hard or go home, that’s basically what I was doing, in many ways we have been programmed to think like this but it didn’t serve me at all. Now I see recovery as an equally important aspect of my running as the running itself. Recovery is where all the magic happens, if you don’t allow adequate recovery after a session you won’t make those all important adaptations and you will take that recovery deficit into each session and it will continue to build and build until it leads to injury, burnout and running below your potential… for me this eventually sucked all of the joy out of it, running just didn’t feel good anymore or easy like it used to.
Back to intuition… These days I program my own running and it basically revolves around intuition and a structure that works for me. At the start of the week I know what runs I would like cover in the week but I’m not afraid to change them as needed if my body is signalling me to do differently. Sometimes it might seem necessary to nail a certain training session and it may be timed perfectly for a particular event but sometimes if your body is signalling that you need to pull back when your program is asking you to push its important to listen, lowering the intensity or duration of a session or missing it to catch up on recovery is often more beneficial than pushing through and increasing the recovery deficit and missing those adaptations as a result. You will get much more out of an adequately recovered body than you will from an exhausted one. Last year I followed Hanny Allston’s UTA22 training planner and this is where I learned the basic structure of how I now program my training, I enjoyed the simplicity of the program and the results were amazing… but most of all what I learned and took away from it has allowed me to be in control of my running again. I am also lucky that my husband is a great running coach and I get to bounce ideas off him as well with my training. He has been a wonderful mentor for me and has been super supportive of me wanting to be in control of my own training guided by everything I have learned along the way and of course my intuition!
Another huge lesson has been that you have to really pick your battles, you can’t run hard all of the time, you can’t be ready to race at your best all of the time, in the past I used to think I could get a PB every single time I ran!! It’s not achievable to be at your best every single time you run, which is why its important to pick those battles and be in tune with how your body is feeling so that you can gauge when its time to push and when its time to pull back. I know for me I can’t run long distances all year round without taking a decent break otherwise it wipes me out. I’ve actually really enjoyed taking the step back and focusing on shorter distances for a while, it takes so much pressure off having to run long in training and it allows me to give my time to other interests and things I enjoy outside running to maintain a better life balance, it can’t all be about running!! I have had people ask me what happened when I’ve ran a bit slower at parkrun or in an event and the truth is I don’t always want to go out and have a crack at it, sometimes I just want to run without the pressure to constantly perform. It’s just running and as I mentioned earlier I think we tend to over-complicate it sometimes.
It’s so important to find your tribe and have the right people around you, the ones who will support you where you can share in each other’s success without anyone questioning their own. It’s hard to write this but as I’ve kicked some major life and running goals this year there have been a small minority of people who have been genuinely not happy to see me succeed, the concept bewildered me at first as I am a big believer in being supportive and building up others. I’m learning to be ok with it because in the end the only person I really need to please is myself. I think all of these situations happen to teach us something we need to know and to show us who our real friends are. I am learning to brush it off and I know deep down that maybe these people need to take the time to do some inner work of their own… Brining others down will never lead anyone closer to reaching their own goals. The thing I love the most about the RMA community is the fact that its all about building each other up… it’s a wonderful community that Nicole has worked so hard to create and I love being a part of it. I’ve met some of the most amazing people I know through running, people who are really focussed on being the best versions of themselves and chasing their dreams and I am really drawn to those people. I’ve been lucky to connect with some really inspirational people and to meet some really good friends through running. The highlight of my running week is the mornings I meet friends for a run, we just run without worrying about pace, its more about conversation, connection, and the coffee after… it’s a big part of what puts joy into my running.
I am also extremely grateful to share my love of running with my kids, we do parkrun every week as a family, sometimes I run with the kids while my husband runs, sometimes I run on my own while he runs with the kids, sometimes we run with one of our boys each and I love it! I’ve had some great races, lots of PB’s, a few podiums and some awesome results this year but by far my most favourite memory was running my boys first 10km run with them at the Dubbo Stampede! The plan was to walk a bit and run a bit but they blew me out of the water with their determination and they ended up running the whole way and smashed it out sub 60 mins! I had the best time with them out on course that day and I will cherish that memory forever. I think we can learn so much from running with kids, they have this amazing resilience and attitude and my boys certainly inspired me that day!
I think its safe to say 2018 has certainly been my year, its been the year that I’ve finally found that happy place with my running that I have been looking for since 2013. The year is not over but I have by far exceeded what I had set out to achieve. The goal for this year was to train for and get through UTA22 without burning myself out again, I was really scared of taking the step back into longer racing but I proved to myself that I had learned from past mistakes and that I was ready to roll again. I decided to stick to the shorter stuff for the second half of the year and smashing PB’s was certainly not part of the plan but I have been stoked to tap into my potential again and I am excited to see what the next few years bring. I’ve enjoyed and been committed to the process of learning rather than being fixated on the end result. In changing mindset and being open to learning I can’t help but feel that things have happened organically when they were meant to rather than pushing it. I’ve lost the 15kg that I put on while I was unwell and I am back to feeling like me again. I had always said that it was unhealthy to focus on losing the weight alone and that the focus had to be first and foremost on getting my health back, it had to be done in a sustainable manner and there was no point in losing the weight without first gaining back my health and vitality.
To anyone who is on a similar journey my best advice would be to be patient, don’t rush things, give things the time they need to develop, learn as much as you can and listen to your body. I feel like I’ve made so much progress this year at 5 and 10km distances and I look forward to building up to and the prospect of exceeding my previous half times next year. I would love to run another marathon again one day but I’m not in any hurry to do so this time, marathons will still be there in 2 years… or 5!! or whenever I am ready and my body is ready, I learned the hard way what happens when you try and rush things. Right now I feel like I’ve got all of the time in the world, I’m all about longevity, I just love being active with my kids and I want to keep myself fit and well so that I can share these crazy running adventures with my grandkids too!!
This journey of mine which I call my running journey has taught me about more than just running, there have been so many life lessons in there… I’ve always said that running can teach us so much about life for example how to keep going when things hurt or get tough. The beauty is that I feel like it has only just begun and I have so much to look forward to. I’m going to leave you with a quote that a gorgeous friend of mine posted recently “sometimes you have to sink deeper so you can push off the bottom to get back to the top”.
Kellie is a mum of two boys and resides with her husband in Bathurst in the central West of NSW. She loves to run and share her talent in Graphic Design and is the designer behind a lot of the RMA gear. We just love her!