This morning I watched a short 12-minute segment on the story of Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger, two people whom I feel blessed to know and have worked alongside in a past not forgotten (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1R93IqdaXQ). I am ashamed to say that in my email inbox I still have an email from them which I am yet to respond to, weeks after it was sent. In truth, I have been lost for the right words… what do you say to two people so full of life who have had it so changed?
Kerry recently crashed his mountain bike and has been hugely limited in his physical capabilities. The diagnosis is likely tetraplegia. Ali is his partner in life, his best friend, and so much more. In a beautiful twist of tough fate, after 6 years of IVF Ali is pregnant… 18.5 weeks at the time of the documentary piece!
Watching this film, laughing and crying along with them, it so forcibly reaffirmed how precious the gift of life is… How in one beautiful moment you can find out that you are bringing a new life into the world, and yet as Kerry’s accident showed, how quickly life can change too.
I was slow to parenthood as I always felt this strong sense of concern for what the planet would be like for our children, or child, as they grew and then thrived & weathered the storms of adulthood. I look back on my 35 years and see how much has changed. I was one of the lucky kids where the internet was not a thing for my early years of childhood. Nor were mobile phones. Or social media. In fact, in our home was a telephone with the big round dial, and letters always were sent with a stamp. Postcards too! So, in 25 years, wow, so much has changed and this ‘progress’ is speeding up. What does this mean for my son, Nikolas, now 14 months old, when he reaches my age?
On the days when I feel stretched by being a responsible adult, I feel pessimistic and flattened by this thought. But on the days when I feel empowered and in my greatest shoes, I feel optimistic and like I want to tackle the challenge head on. The question I keep finding myself trying to answer is, ‘But how!?’
Knowing that Ali and Kerry are about to welcome their own son or daughter into this world, knowing how much of a challenge they already face as they continue to come to terms with Kerry’s tetraplegia, knowing how many gifts Ali and Kerry’s coaching has given others already, I know that my role now in life, my calling, is to empower others to find their feet. I wish to help us all to walk in our ‘best shoes’, our ‘dancing shoes’, as my father would call them, so that we can each utilize this empowered energy to leave a positive mark on the planet. We cannot expect change and creativity, two things the world needs more than ever before, if we are not upbeat and energized. I find that our most creative ideas come when we are outdoors, living in alignment with our values and breathing in the natural world around us. Sitting at a desk, forcing such creativity and contribution to come usually results in hitting-a-wall of poor motivation and brain fog, although I recognize that there is also a time and place for such quiet contemplation, such as when learning and absorbing new ideas and knowledge, meeting others & listening to their thoughts, putting pen to paper, or words into the microphone.
So, it is from this mindset that The Find Your Feet Podcast is reborn. I feel a calling to share the wisdom, stories, inspirations and reflections of the world’s greatest minds, hearts and spirits. To empower you, the listener, so that you can go out into the world and live with excitement, energy and conscious intent. Thus, in doing so, you can help me, help us, to ensure that we leave Planet Earth thriving for our children, for Nikolas, and for Ali & Kerry’s son or daughter.
I had the idea of returning to the podcast some time ago but I kept finding it hard to describe the motivation. What was tying the themes and guests together? What was inspiring each conversation so that they are rich, authentic and something that you willingly share your time with to listen to? Today, Kerry and Ali gave me their gift by sharing their story of love, tragedy, loss and now rebuilding. I hope to have them on the podcast soon to delve deeper into what it takes to overcome challenges, lean back into life and continue upwards.
As I now set out on this journey of podcasting once again, I also realize that my purpose, that of doing my bit to empower us to leave Planet Earth thriving for our children, for Nikolas, is a greater ambition than just the podcast. It is my life’s work & the tone behind my playfulness too. Therefore, as I step forward into this known unknown, please reach out and share your ideas too. Let me know what you need to hear, to learn, to listen to and to discover to feel energized and enriched. I am listening! As a full-time mother I will do my utmost best to bring the ideas, stories and wisdom that we need to hear into the world.
So, on this note, thank you so much for rejoining me on the Find Your Feet Podcast soon. I look forward to where the journey leads. Keep an eye out for Season 2’s Episode 1. It isn’t far away!
Watch Ali & Kerry's story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1R93IqdaXQ
Now as the third trimester evolves, and week 32 creeps up to meet me, I still feel empowered. No longer am I counting up the weeks but rather counting down the weeks until I hope to meet our beloved Kiddo. I have had a few ‘eek’ moments, lying awake in the night with horrendous restless legs, cramps and itchiness, and wondering how to prepare myself for the unknown of labour. But then I remind myself that my intuition and trust in my body has moved me this far, and so I just have to trust that she will carry me through D-Day and the early days of motherhood too. I have still been super active through these first 4 weeks of this trimester, although the jogging is easing into a routine of more and more swimming. I head to the pool three or so times a week to swim with my mother, a gift in itself as we share laps and time together. I have also used creativity throughout this entire journey to balance out the mental load of work, the time with people, and then also the physical outputs. Sitting quietly drawing, painting or writing is something that harmonises me.
As the weeks continued to pass the nausea began to subside and the energy returned. The only challenge I faced was an increasing urge to pee… lots! I found that whilst I could ‘hold it, mostly’, being in the company of anyone other than my husband was really emotionally challenging. Admitting you need to pee for the second or third time on a jog isn’t easy, no matter how wonderful the friend. So, I began to hibernate and enjoy the company of the natural world more and more. I also found that this helped me to remain intuitively listening to my body’s callings, and keeping a lid on my own ego. I no longer felt that I needed to keep up with anyone, just tune in and go with the flow. I continued to exercise, perhaps even more than during the first trimester, but never hard nor pushing my body too far. However, at our twenty week scan I was informed that our little one was scanning, well, a little bit little. I was again advised to reduce my energy expenditure to ‘a couple of short jogs a week plus a little walking’. Again, I have interpreted this in my own language and definitely reduced my output, picking up less intense forms of exercise such as swimming and cycling. I truly believe that there is a fine line between doing too much and doing enough. I have other friends who are going through or have been through this pregnancy journey and whom stopped everything, only to find their emotional wellbeing begin to downward spiral. As a dear friend and mentor said to me, ‘whilst you must stay safe and humble in this journey Han, you must also remember that your Kiddo chose you and your state of health.’
I thought that I would take a moment to share my experiences (so far) with pregnancy. Whilst I am certainly no guru and have entered this journey with humility, I merely wish to share a little of this passage towards motherhood in the hope that it might help some others to find their feet in pregnancy and parenthood.
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"Mud spatters up your back. Sweat crusting under the brim of your sunhat. Perspiration dribbling down your spine as that grin… oh that grin… spreads from ear to ear. Out here, roaming this trail, you are performing unapologetically at your wildest and it feels damn amazing!"
You will be remembered for a long time! You generated stories that we will share with our children, strengthened our social bonds, and unearthed the values that keep us ticking most authentically.
2020. I am so grateful for you and that you shifted the earth so that I was once again forced to stop, reflect and grow wilder. You have taught me many little lessons which I now want to reflect on with you.
This blog was prepared for participants heading into the Margaret River Ultra Marathon. This 80km event is hosted in southern Western Australia by Rapid Ascent. It is a joy to be the official coaching provider for this great event!
Wow! Time has flown and I cannot believe that this Margaret River Ultra experience is here already! I just wanted to provide you with some final well-wishes, tips and tricks to ensure you perform wilder on the event day.
“Hey Hanny, I’ve been following one of your training plans quite closely over the last 3 months or so... and had literally just finished my 5hr long run when news broke that my goal event, Run Larapinta, is not going ahead until May 2021. I am devastated and sore and feel so deflated ☹️ I wonder how I will pick myself up and motivate myself to start all over again with the same goal next year? I really want to do this, but I feel so frustrated at coming so close... I don’t know how I can get excited or motivated again when the dream has been crushed!?! 😭”
This message arrived in my inbox this morning and I felt strongly compelled to support all our Run Larapinta aspirants as they navigate the complex world of delayed events and ‘crushed dreams’. Here is my response to her…
WORDS OF GUIDANCE FOR ATHLETES AFFECTED BY THE SURF COAST CENTURY CANCELLATIONS.
Toes are tingling, we are playing hard and the body is beginning to edge towards pre-race sparkles. Then you check your email… Surf Coast Century is postponed until December 5?! Damn! Bummer!
I just want to be here, right now, and say – not to worry! We can catch this curve ball with both hands and use the pause in our training game to be even more fighting fit for Event Day in December. So, here are my suggestions…
By Rob Shaw
Rob Shaw is a famous Tasmanian Sports Journalist, The Examiner Newspaper sports reporter, and author. It was a joy to sit with Rob and chat about my book, deep love of Tasmania and the reason why I wanted to share my story.
"Admitting 34 is a bit young to be writing an autobiography, Allston said: "I always envisaged writing a memoir when I was grey and old but I had been burning to get the story out."
This article appeared in The Mercury newspaper in response to the imminent release of my new memoir, Finding My Feet: My Story. I felt very vulnerable and exposed by the article's spotlight on my past challenges with Anorexia. However, since its release I have received overwhelming support & gratitude from my community. Thank you to everyone who has held a safe space for me to share my story, including both the highs and the struggles.
I just tripped over a root. The trail is at that annoyingly can-see can’t-see phase, where darkness meets dawn and dawn meets day. Under my head torch, the definition of the trail’s lumps and bumps cannot be identified. Damn it! I run around the trail’s bends, my thoughts curving one way and then another. Work to relationships. Niggling hamstring to the chill blains on my feet. Work again. Hammy again. What to have for breakfast? Dinner? Work yet again. Round and round and round I go. Running brings me so much calmness!?
The following email was sent to me by a member of our wilder community. I found resonance in her correspondence because we all lose our mojo at times, buried by life’s shoulds. Today I write to help this individual, and in doing so, I hope to help all of us to find our mojo and live in alignment with our truth.
Q: …After injuries and then life struggles, my current problem is that I should be training for an event in October. I have your Training Planner and know I should have commenced a few weeks ago. But again, I am my own worst enemy and I am finding that I lack motivation. I am probably beyond hope and really, I guess this email is more about me offloading to share my struggles and frustrations. I guess what I was hoping you might be able to tell me is - How to get back on track? How do I get past feeling a little afraid to go out on my own again, even when I know I’m fine and I will love it? How do I find my motivation again to get the work done? How do I push myself to actually follow advice and a plan? Where do I start!?
Here is my reply:
Joining Lincoln Quilliam on the Hobart Trail Runners Facebook Page, we informally chatted about writing my new memoir called Finding My Feet: My Story, and wilder adventures. In this conversation, we also discussed my 19-day French Pyrenees Traverse, the South-Coast Track in Tasmania, Federation Peak FKT, and then the Western Arthurs solo trail running mission. I also highlight the journey I have been on since leaving competitive running, and how I have found my feet in my trail running by falling in love with wilder missions. We discuss the importance of harmonising all this with recuperation and calmness, and how I have been dabbling in yoga, meditation and writing to really find myself. This was a joyful conversation that I hope you will enjoy as must as I enjoyed hosting it!
At the end of 2005 I teetered on one leg, wondering how I was ever going to return to my competitive dreams. An ankle reconstruction threatened my future sporting career. Following this, life threw even more curve balls my way and I felt like I was stuck in a hole. But what kept me alive was a big, hairy, audacious dream. I wanted to be a World Champion!
When the day of the Junior World Titles in Lithuania arrived, I knew I would win. This was an ego-aside moment. Rather, there was simply no alternative. I was so prepared, mentally, physically and even spiritually, that the result was inevitable. I had done the work, tested my tools, and mentally rehearsed through all the challenges that might hit me in the race. I had stood on the tops of mountains and said my silent prayers, run through the moments of doubt, and through all of it, I had found utter joy in the journey to be there in that World Championship moment. Yep, I was so damn ready to be a World Champion.
I want this sure-fire confidence for you too. I want you to be your own champion! Damn it, I want it for me again too because there is no greater feeling than running along a wilder trail with self-confidence fuelling your engines.
By Miriam Palmer
*Miriam Palmer is a social orienteer and shares with Hanny her love of wild places, although at a somewhat slower place.
Hanny Allston’s autobiography Finding My Feet is a definite read. Especially in these uncertain times when you might be facing unexpected challenges, reflecting on what life is all about, or simply feeling stir crazy, trapped at home and struggling to focus. Maybe also, you want to run faster, push yourself further or stop hitting the wall on your own epic adventures. There really is something in Finding my Feet for everyone, and in ways you might not expect.
My struggle is that my work and personal life are feeling blurred. I now realise that the commute to work is a hard boundary but as I work from home I am not able to find this separation. My challenge is to find a new boundary at home because otherwise it becomes exhausting. I also have to consciously stop “overdoing it”, but rather to find time to slow down and go deep into quietness. Most of all, have gratitude that I still have a job ❤
After reading this comment that was made in response to my post on ‘hormonal stress’ I was inspired to write about some of the practical ways that I am trying to separate work, ‘training’ and home life. The challenge of establishing boundaries between work and ‘life’ within our homes is a real and crucially important one. It is a current issue but also a lesson that is invaluable to learn for longer term wellness. So, today I have decided to share what Graham and I are trying to do to create separation from our home and work environments.
Parks are closed. Trails too. Events are cancelled and we are dusting off our road-running shoes. Yes, we are living in a sensation of limited freedom. But today I share how it is the choices we make that will give us back our wings. Here are my suggestions for ensuring that you thrive through these challenges.
This morning I received this query from a trail runner who has been utilising my trail running training planners for her preparation for Ultra Trail Australia.
I am following your UTA50 trail running training planner which I finding to be great & flexible for my needs.
But … with the postponement of Ultra Trail Australia events coming up in May I’m wondering how to go forward from here with my training schedule? I know it may not be easy to work it out as there is no time frame involved yet for the event to go ahead but any advice you could give to me & other runners training for UTA would be so greatly appreciated.
This is a very big challenge as we now find ourselves rapidly changing tact in the face of massive event cancellations and more time spent at home. This has certainly been front and centre of mind for me. So, today I want to provide some advice for how we can ‘change tact’, including how to prepare for an event if you are unsure of when the race date will be. Here are my suggestions:
I recently toed the start line of the 102km Tarawera Ultra Marathon and I am not ashamed to say that my motivation was three pronged – to experience being ‘back in the action’, to see this beautiful New Zealand landscape, but also to prove a point to myself – I am an athlete!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.