This month we introduce Francisca – full of enthusiasm and determination, she has perfected the best jump shot on the running scene and is an all round great girl. Meet ‘Punky’…
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Mental Health Nurse. Nerd. Amateur Footballer. Totally devoted owner of a spoilt English Cocker Spaniel named Rex. And now allegedly a runner? 😉
Tell us a bit about you and running – how, when, why…
Some dodgy colleagues of mine (here’s looking at you Rhonda and Theresa) caught me in a moment of weakness and convinced me to sign up to do the 2015 9km Blackmores Bridge Run with them. With the goal to finish before the tail car kicked me off the course, I started walking around locally and adding in short bursts of slow jogging. Consistently dragging myself outside after work a few days a week with my goal in mind, I made it to the Bridge Run and finished without the aid of either an ambulance or a taxi. 😉
Pumped after this, I convinced Rhonda to join me and we signed up to the Western Sydney Marathon 5k fun Run. I was having a great run, made it to 500m without stopping to walk (a massive achievement!) and recognised the energetic bouncing run of a teammate from soccer. Deb was running her second half marathon yet was just as excited about my slow shuffling efforts to cross the line in the 5k. Deb introduced me to Rachel and told me about Rachel’s Runners.
The Learn to Run group was awesome. No one cared about the slow shuffle pace I ran at and everyone was just proud and happy to be out there giving it a go. Rachel bounced around making sure everyone felt welcome, while Sarah and Diala took over the back of the pack role cheering me on no matter how behind the group I was. From there, I was hooked.
I’m now a regular at Panania parkrun. I’ve finished a multitude of fun runs, including the City 2 Surf and my personal favourite was finishing the Sutherland to Surf with my dad waiting at the finish line (Dad was an avid runner himself before injuries led him to become a cyclist instead). Today, I celebrated my ‘runniversary’ and finished the Blackmores Bridge Run once again. I had so much fun being out on the course that started it all and look forward to making it an annual achievement.
What’s the best thing about running for you?
Seeing what I can achieve when I persevere. I never thought I’d run 5k non-stop, but I did it. Never thought I’d make it to the City to Surf, but not only did I finish, I ran the whole thing, including up Heartbreak Hill. Each time I break a personal best, I remember when it all started and how far I’ve come.
What’s your favourite running equipment?
Shoes – help me keep the injuries related to soccer and not to running! Get fitted with the right shoes for your running style is the best investment to make.
Garmin Forerunner – nothing more satisfying than finishing a run and seeing the little screen light up with “New record!”. Plus as a data nerd, I like to see objectively how my runs are.
Running friends! (not quite equipment but an important part of my running) – I can happily get out of bed on a cold, rainy miserable morning when I have a race, am running with the Rachel’s Runners Learn to Run group or parkrun as I know my running buddies will be there to cheer me on, tease me or provide encouraging high fives along the course.
What’s your biggest challenge with running?
Keeping motivated with training can be really really tough. When I need to train, I find all sorts of excuses. I sign up to regular fun runs to keep me motivated (and earn that sweet, sweet runners bling) and force me to train. Knowing my running friends will be there and are waiting at the finish helps me keep going week after week.
If you could invent a running or fitness tool or toy what would it be?
Anything that stops my brain from thinking death is imminent, and lets me focus on running my best.
Any tips for fellow runners?
Find someone to run with. Join a running club/group [*cough* Rachel’s Runners *cough*], get to your local parkrun, or drag an unsuspecting friend into the world of running. Even just seeing familiar faces along the course can help motivate you to the finish line. Most importantly, as Rachel tells us, Don’t Stop!