In this issue of Rockstar Runner, we venture away from North America all the way down to Australia to visit Leah Gilbert – founder of the Body Positive Athletes community!
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 36, a mum of two beautiful children, fitness instructor and endurance athlete (triathlon & half marathons). I am sponsored by 2XU Australia and Lola Getts. I am the founder of Body Positive Athletes, a blog and awesome Facebook community filled to the brim with people who believe that the term ‘athletic’ defines a lifestyle and not a body shape or size.
How/why did you start running?
When Sachi (now 3) was about six months old, I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease. I decided that movement and lessening the amount of weight on my joints was the road I would take to prevent it getting worse – but if this was going to be a lifetime commitment I was going to do it my way. I had issues with food so I knew dieting wasn’t an option, so I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a runner. I started out running up and down the side of my house while Sachi slept and then we went from there!
What do you love about running – what keeps you coming back time after time?
I love the mental aspects of running. I love observing how my mind and body are interacting as I work and am thankful for the resilience I have developed as a result of training. At the moment I run before dawn and I just love it – running under the stars just as the blank page of the day begins is something I find very fulfilling.
How do you get yourself out the door on days when you’re just not ‘feeling it’?
On days like that I make the decision that it’s a ‘for the love of it’ run, where there is no pressure on pace, technique or distance. I pick a route I enjoy, or even venture to the beach for a sand running session. At the moment I am returning after having my son Ravi so I actually still get excited when I know I have a run session ahead of me.
Do you have an inspirational and/or funny running story (or stories!) to share with us?
I get a bit kooky when I get towards the end of a long run – I’ve been known to ask people if I can borrow their pets to tow me home like a sled, and I even fantasize about taking people’s scooters, skateboards and bikes. One day I remember I was finishing an hour-thirty run and this guy bounded past me with so much energy I actually contemplated shoving him into the bushes but decided I didn’t have enough strength left.
How has running changed your life?
The mental aspects of hard efforts and endurance training have changed my life. I am so much more stronger mentally and emotionally than what I used to be, and I never shy away from a challenge. I don’t fear hard work in life or in training and I am now pursuing my athletic and personal goals.
What words of wisdom do you have for brand new runners?
The less people you tell about what you’re doing the less chances you have of encountering those one or two people who want to bust your balloon. Make sure you are doing this for you alone, shut out the noise of other people’s opinions and be fearless. Then shout it from the rooftops when you’re done.
What are your favorite inspirational blogs to follow?
I’m a fan of Born to Reign Athletics for the information Krista provides and the stories she shares about other athletes. On Instagram I am a big fan of a man named Matt who goes by the profile ‘Stroke Recovery‘. Matt is recovering from a brain tumour and stroke, and has just completed his first triathlon since his illness. I love following his journey as he is not fearing starting all over again.
Have you ever been injured running, and how did you recover?
Because of my joint condition and wacky hip, injury prevention is a big part of my training schedule and I spend a lot of time working on my core muscles. If I feel a injury coming on I tend to rest and focus on my other disciplines. At the end of the day I’m a mum and I can’t afford to be laid up.
What running gear do you think you can’t live without
My Lola Getts shorts and easy tanks. Hands down best performance wear I have owned. And I’m not saying that just because they sponsor me – I won’t run in anything else now!
What’s your favorite race distance?
Probably 10km but that being said I also like challenge of a half marathon.
What was your favorite race?
My first 10.5km race. I entered it the day before and had nothing to lose. I smiled the whole way!
What are your top 3 songs to listen to when you run?
Madonna – How High
Know How – Young MC
Ghosts n Stuff – Deadmau5
Treadmill or outdoors?
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Your athletic dream is only a good training plan and committed effort away. And you’re well worth the effort 😉
How can we find/follow you on social media?
Thanks Leah for sharing your story! If you’d like to read about more Rockstar Runners, click HERE.