In 1980 my life changed dramatically. After spending several of my teenage years trapped in a cycle of drug abuse I gave it all away. I met a person who was out running in a park here in Cronulla and after a brief conversation I realised that I wanted my life to be more. I wanted to shine with health and I wanted to dream dreams. I wanted to be more connected to nature by honouring my body by eating and exercising in at least some of the ways that nature intended.
My friends were all stunned when I told them that I was quitting all drugs. Indeed they laughed. However, my brief encounter had lit a fire and I was no longer interested in leading a lesser life. I had committed to a different journey but little did I know at the time how exciting and fulfilling it would be. Little did I know that the energy which I put into that brief moment of a chance meeting would resonate through my life, down so many years until now when I look back across a life full of adventure and challenge.
I tidied up my vegetarian diet. I began to rise before 5:00am and run, going a little further every day. I began to read about health and nutrition. I created a backyard vegetable garden and got into juicing. I explored veganism, fruitarianism and fasting. I crammed my day with positivity. I learned that the one thing harder to break than a bad habit is a good habit . . . there was no going back and nor was I tempted.
People often ask me how long it took to give up all those drugs and my answer is simple: 1/10th of a second . . . simple resolve and commitment.
By the mid 80’s I was a seasoned weight trainer, aerobics instructor and fitness leader. I began to take running more seriously by 1986. I was swimming in Dick Caine’s squad at Carss Park and participating in aquathons or biathlons: swim – run races. I was pushing my training runs out from 15km most days to 30 and 40kms around the streets of the Shire and the trails of the Royal National Park.
In 1989 I met my coach, Bill Pratt and I began to race middle distances, focussing on 400m, 800m and 1500m events. These were exciting years, running in a pre-elite squad of athletes, racing every Saturday and targeting championship races at the end of every summer. I won a number of state relay and individual medals on the track and the NSW Novice Cross Country Championship in 1990. I was selected to run for NSW at the Australian Championships. All this in between working as a gym manager and strength and conditioning trainer for sports people and athletes, including Olympians.
In 1993 I shifted my diet up a gear, changing from vegetarian to vegan. I knew I would be healthier as a result in theory, but little did I guess at the time what a wonderful choice I was really making in practice. I retired from track racing in 1994, but the running didn’t stop. In the years since I have ridden on a pro-snowboarding team and run a small yoga studio. I’ve also managed remote eco-tourism centres in north Western Australia and travelled extensively across the top of Australia, all the time enjoying the simple act of self discovery and self affirmation which is the daily run.
My passion for running is not just for competitive running. I think it goes beyond medals and teams and personal bests. I believe that running is a powerful tool for self empowerment and growth on many levels. Every step and every breath is a burning affirmation of our dream to become something more, whilst the fitness it rewards us with supports every other endeavour in our lives. I always felt that the training for a race was much more important than the race itself. There can be many variables which affect the outcome of a competitive run on any particular day, but the growth journey and self empowerment is all important, enduring well beyond any one day, any victory or defeat. You’ll notice that I never mention that running is a great way to lose weight. Of course it is the best way. However, I never encourage anyone to take up running with weight loss as their primary focus. Focussing on growth and performance, developing strength, courage and resilience is vastly more exciting and motivating and in so doing, any excess bodyweight will take care of itself.
So here I am in 2018, so many years from where my running journey began. As I’m about to turn 60, I’m as enthusiastic and energetic in my ambitions for a better me as I was on that morning in Gunnamatta Park all those years ago. That one encounter shaped my whole life. I became that person in my exciting vision and profited so greatly from that moment and the journey which followed. I have tried to give back throughout that journey and Love Fitness is just another expression of this giving. I hope that like me, you’ll embrace a vision for a better self. I hope that you’ll join me, imagine your own empowered life and create it, becoming your own champion and loving fitness as much as I do.
I am an accredited level 2 running coach with Athletics Australia and currently studying a Sport and Exercise Science Degree course.
Zero to Hero courses run for 12 weeks and are conducted in a number of localities.
Each course is a fully inclusive program with everything you need to unleash your inner Hero.
Online coaching programs are ideal for you if your lifestyle or location precludes attending a running group.
All programs are highly individualised and supported by video and graphic content in our Love Fitness Facebook group.