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.
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."
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!?
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.
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 is a transcript from Find Your Feet Podcast Episode #48: Running the French Pyrenees. This podcast was a quiet ramble with myself, reflecting on this huge adventure that unfolded in July 2019. I hope you have the opportunity to listen to this podcast too..
A female runner utilising my training planners recently asked me my thoughts about training around the monthly female hormonal cycle. She wanted advice on how to adapt the wave training principles to her menstrual cycle. Here is my reply:
Today I received an email from a reader with an important question - 'What do I eat before race?'. She had read in my The Trail Running Guidebook where I recommend to simplify our diet in the last few days before a race, focussing on lower fat, lower protein meals. In the book I suggest - WHITE, FLUFFY, STARCHY. So her question was, 'What are some examples of white, fluffy and starchy foods that I should eat in the days leading up to a race?' Here is my reply:
This morning I was moving along a winding trail on Mt Wellington, my office for the morning. I found myself reflecting on a coaching consultation I had hosted yesterday with a mother in her mid-50s. For the purpose of this conversation I will refer to her as Sarah.
I recently shared a social media post on the topic of stress and its impact on our ability to optimally recover from training loads. Given the flurry of interest, ongoing questions and requests for support I received afterwards, I wanted to provide an excerpt on the topic of stress from my Trail Running Guidebook. I feel that stress and its impact on our hormones is poorly understood, so I hope you find this article helpful.
This blog contains information that I recently shared with the 809 athletes who are utilising my Ultra Trail Australia Training Planners & The Trail Running Guidebook for the upcoming 2019 UTA100, 50 & 22km events. The advice is relating to how to conduct your longest training missions which for the 100km athletes is up to 8hrs in duration. I hope you also find it useful!
This piece is for all the individuals out there who can feel like a zebra - like your stripes are telling you apart from the crowd. It is also for all the individuals who feel a pull to shed their old identities and begin again, and to those who aren't quite sure where to start. It is packed with honesty in the knowledge that you will not judge me for the humanness of these experiences.
Preparation for our athletic dreams requires a harmony of focused recovery combined with enough strain to see gain. Baby steps.
However, in the face of injury we need to respond quickly. Baby steps don’t suffice. When injury strikes, there is no such thing as ‘meeting in the middle’. We either want to listen to our body or we don’t. We either want to get better or we won’t. We must acknowledge the weaknesses that led to the injury. We must take responsibility for the road back.
Whilst it is imperative to hear the wisdom of the gurus around us, at the end of the day we are the ones who knows what is at stake. We are the ones who knows what our body wants to say to us… We set the dream. We take the steps. We reap the rewards.
I am running along a wild trail in Japan, entering into the Zen state that occurs soon after the ‘I am getting a little tired’ point, and shortly before the second-wind gusts you back onto your feet. In this internal bubble, time loses all meaning, and thoughts come and go like the breeze that hits me each time I crest onto another jagged ridgeline. Sweat is dripping down my forehead, seeping down my neck, before finally making it into my undies. Moving along this trail, far from the wandering crowds, and well beyond reach of emails, phones and all that ‘life’ stuff, I think I am in heaven. And, from the depths of this meditative state, I feel completely connected to my rawest self.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.