As I ponder on the events of the last few weeks for in which I reflect on the achievement of this amazing woman it is easy to forget that Lisa Weightman is just like me; a mother, a wife, an employee and a dedicated athlete. For some it may be hard to connect with someone ‘in her shoes’, but to connect with an individual like Lisa is an easy task. This humble and incredible athlete is changing the perception of women in sport, while she battles it out week after week chasing her dreams on the streets and tracks around her home, or from the comforts her home gym on the treadmill, free from the icy temperatures that surround her home in Victoria. Add to this a full-time work schedule, and a busy toddler, this mum has her hands full, yet she always has time to inspire and connect with others around her, which makes her even that more special.
Lisa Weightman has been running for over 20 years. She has been fortunate to have the opportunity to represent Australia at 2 Commonwealth Games, 4 World Championships and 3 Olympic Games and her new quest is to become of only a handful of female track and field athletes to represent in 4 Olympic Games. In doing so, you need a lot of family support, a lot of dedication and a sprinkle of luck!
It is a pleasure have Lisa as an Ambassador for Running Mums Australia where she showcases how her athletic career intertwines with her family and working commitments, and that with determination and support age and circumstance are no barrier to success.
Lisa kindly answered a few questions following her recent parkrun and Sydney Harbour 10km experiences where she set a goal and managed to reach them both! (Lisa set the record for the fastest female parkrun time of 15.54, and also the World Masters record for the 10k in 31.55). This weekend she was going for one more goal at the Australian Half Marathon Championships at the Sunshine Coast, in which at the time of this interview said, “I may reach it, I may not, but whatever the outcome I’m having a great time finding out!” It turns out that Lisa did indeed reach her goal, breaking the tape in a phenomenal time of 68:47 setting herself a personal best and breaking the female record yet again! I wanted to highlight just what an incredible athlete Lisa is, but also the reality of how she manages to keep on breaking records and what it takes to get there.
Over the past 12 months what has been the focus for you? Have you had any setbacks and what did you do to overcome them?
Number one has been to finish our house build, move in and settle Pete into a better routine! Combining Commonwealth Games preparation and execution with knocking down your home, moving out into a rental, working with the builder, working for IBM and then prepping for New York City…well let’s just say I have a few more wrinkles!
In December we put all that behind us as we moved into our home for life! We are finally settled after a 10 year plan came to fruition. We needed a rest after that, we took it for 3 months and I’ve been focused on a plan to break 32 minutes in the 10k since, which I did on Sunday in Sydney.
I’d also hoped to run a fast half marathon on the Gold Coast a few weeks ago, but rolled my ankle and like the other competitors we were a little hindered by monsoon rains so hopefully I can achieve that before I slow down!
Since the weekend, we have started moving into marathon preparation where I am hoping to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Fingers crossed for a great day for my next marathon. You always need that little sprinkle of luck.
What does a typical day of training and motherhood look like for you compared to other athletes?
Most days are stressful and relentless. Most parents would know exactly what I mean. I absolutely love being Pete’s mum and it’s the one thing I love the most in life. I’d have 10 Pete’s if I was younger and wasn’t juggling 3 careers!
I work 4 days per week, some in the office and some at home. I am fortunate to be able to do half the drop offs to kinder in the week and Mum does the other days, and I am also managing to continue some quality time with my nephew – taking him for a few jogs and helping with homework. He’s like another son to me, like Pete to my sister so I miss it when I am away from him too.
My parents are the greatest. Mum is here three days per week helping make dinner, take care of Pete and baby sit while we train. We operate as one big unit with my sister and nephew too and it gives us all the opportunity to take care of each other and to achieve our goals. It requires one complicated calendar though!
The main difference between my life and those of my competitors is I do my workouts at 6:30pm, full time athletes run at 9:30am!
What was going through your mind when you were running the 10k on Sunday?
I didn’t care if I got to a stage where I couldn’t hold pace. I just wanted to go for it and try to run as fast as I can, holding on for the last few kms to sneak under 32. You never know how you are going to feel on the day and today I wanted to just go for it.
I was much better rested before Sydney than I was Gold Coast. This is also a contributing factor when it comes to running better than you ever have before.
There was a moment around 7km where I was worried we’d slowed down a fraction and the goal was out of reach. But then we focused on the next km and picked it up and again and when Ben St Lawrence yelled out 600m to go it gave me such a lift. Knowing Lachlan was still going strong was also a positive factor. He has had a decade of ups and downs with injury so honestly the biggest thought in my mind was wow Lachlan is going great!
At the end I just said “Lachlan we did it, I could cry” and then I got a hug from Nicole!
What does this new record for the 10k on the road mean for you? Did you think that was going to happen leading up to SH10?
It was 50/50 in my mind. We ran through the first 5km in 15:54 which was my parkrun time from the week before. I knew I’d have to work hard to hold that, and we managed to run 16:01 through the second half. Now that I’ve done it, it isn’t as daunting. But you just don’t know how you are going to feel on the day so until something is achieved, I’d never assume it can happen!
You train and race a lot with your husband. What does this mean to you? You can obviously tell you work well as a team.
From the minute we went on a first date we were best friends. I can’t explain it, but when we both sat down to lunch and started chatting, we just fit together. It’s been like that ever since. Lachlan has a great sense of humour and I am a bit more of a worrier so somehow we’ve been able to bring out the best in each other.
Training together is an opportunity for us to spend time doing something we love in addition to motivating each other. He was a track runner in College in America and has had some fantastic life experiences and I am fortunate to be running well so we can enjoy the journey. I think he is almost more nervous than I am when I compete as he can control a lot of our pace in training but in a race I’m on my own so it’s all up to me at that point!
What is going to be your focus for the next few months?
Being a mum and marathon training. I need to increase my mileage and get more sleep in the hope that will produce my best performance in the marathon. I’ll run a couple of races in between but given I’ll be in solid marathon training I have no expectations on the result.
Is there anything you are now doing that you think will improve your performance moving forward towards 2020?
Two new experiences right now are; we finally finished our dream project of creating a High-Performance Centre at home. We have our very own NordicTrack 2950 treadmill with a huge iFit console. I’m loving the opportunity to skip the cold and rain at the moment and opt for a warm room with a running experience. I’ve watched the Boston marathon course and had a mini run in Italy so far! Loving it! This will then serve as a heat chamber to prepare for the Olympic Games if I am fortunate enough to qualify this year!
The second is we are taking a month of work over Winter to focus on training. Something we haven’t done since qualifying for the London Olympics.
What about when you don’t quite hit the mark? What do you tell yourself then?
I’d be lying if I said I just moved on! I get annoyed at myself or the circumstances, like we all do. But then I just remind myself that it’s just another race and try to block it out of my mind. I have had a long career so the best way to forget the unpleasant experiences is to fill the mind with the awesome ones. I just remind myself of the London Olympics, Nagano Marathon, London Marathon and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and realise that whatever I do from here is a bonus. I’ve had a lot of fun as a runner and have no reason to be annoyed at myself!
There is a growing focus on women in sport at the moment. Do you think there needs to be more focus on women in athletics, particularly women over 40 and what they can bring to the space? In what ways do you think women can make an impact?
I’d be happy if there was just more focus, advertising and coverage of running generally. As an elite runner I’m asked weekly to support a charity, attend a function or appear at an event. I’d love to say yes to everyone but I have to work, take care of my family, run a household and train.
If there was more coverage and focus on what we do as athletes in the newspaper and a little less football, cricket and rugby then we’d get enough support to be full time and then volunteer for the events to help the community. It’s not like that in Australia, so after a while you just accept it and get on with the job! After all, I run because I love to run, so I’ll keep running as long as my body allows it.
What lessons do you think you have learned in your career that now as are a more mature athlete younger athletes may not know yet?
A missed training session is no big deal. That is the key lesson!
What advice can you give to mums that want to run a marathon or aim for a big event?
- Build up slowly.
- Consult your doctor/physio/osteopath before commencing a running program to make sure your physical health is in check.
- Set smaller goals along the journey rather than focusing on just that one big event. For example, I want to be able to run 5km at a certain pace before I enter the marathon and achieve that first. Then set the next goal and so on.
- Find a friend (or husband!) to run with.
Where do you think you want to be in 5 years from now in your running career?
At 28 I was told I wasn’t good enough and I was too old! Now I’m 40 and running PBs so I have no idea what’s possible when I am 45. I know for sure that Pete will be 9 and Tom will be 18 so if I’m still training then I’ll be very busy on the weekends fitting in sport for Pete and Tom.
(Thinking about my nephew Tom being 18 in 5 years…my gosh I think I may have fainted!)
What does being in a network like RMA mean to you as you chase your goals towards another Olympics?
I am loving chatting with the mums on RMA. I am excited that so many mums have connected with me directly on Facebook and Instagram and have been reaching out to me and asking questions or sharing stories. I love it as it is really motivating to read every single achievement and triumph over struggles we all relate to.
In Sydney on the weekend a few mums came to me and said we are RMA! I loved that – running these races can be super stressful at times so a chat before or after is a nice distraction. Don’t be shy to say hello or connect with me online.
For more inspiration from Lisa, you can read her blog at www.lisaweightman.com
Article by Nicole Bunyon