Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Jog On: A glance back at my progress

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'There is only one word for that first kilometre: gruelling', says Helen Twose.  Photo / Thinkstock.
'There is only one word for that first kilometre: gruelling', says Helen Twose. Photo / Thinkstock.

This week was supposed to be a blissful post-race time of rest and relaxation. I've been fair fizzing after my 8km race experience but I can almost feel laziness nibbling away at the edges of my motivation.

Time for a quick glance back at how far I've come. Since the beginning of the year (when I started logging my runs properly) I've been for nearly 40 runs.

Add those up and I ran for 24 hours to cover a little more than 200km - that's the distance from the Auckland Museum to Ngaruawahia and back again.

There are plenty of people who clock up that kind of millage in a matter of weeks, but it is a 100 per cent improvement on what I have been doing previously.

Along the way I've also dropped 5kg and one dress size.

So what have I learnt?

Frequency is important

When I first started running coach James Kuegler suggested heading out four to five times a week.

His advice was to go for half hour runs (or walks interspersed with running) during the week and use the weekend to go a little bit longerThat seemed like a lot to me, but when I upped the frequency I noticed the improvements came quickly - I started to feel like a "proper runner".

Put it in the diary

I didn't make much effort to track my running at the beginning and that was a mistake. Not only do I not have an accurate record of how much I've improved, but when I did start logging my runs properly it became quite obvious I was a bit deluded about how often I was heading out.

In my mind I thought I was running heaps. In reality I was lucky to get out three times a week, with twice a week being the norm.


At heart I am decidedly lazy. I have got an arsenal of excuses but my go to more often than not is "too tired". A bone aching tiredness that threatens to have me asleep at the dinner table and can only be cured by a large glass of Sav, on the couch, in front of a DVD (chocolate optional).

It took the Grit Doctor aka Ruth Field and her book Run Fat B!tch Run to realise I needed to just suck it up and get going.

The first ten minutes

There is only one word for that first kilometre: gruelling. Some days less so than others, but generally it's just hard yakka until the blood gets flowing through to those big leg muscles.

Keep moving, it gets better.

Keep it personal

In the business world the acronym SMART is used for creating goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

It could also be applied to running but maybe make it SMARTI, with the "I" standing for important.

A goal has to be important enough to you personally to ensure you stay on track.

At the moment I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to run a marathon. It's often difficult to resist the pressure from runners and non-runners alike who see the marathon as the ultimate event. Running a marathon is not important enough for me to commit to the training. I'd be dooming myself to failure.

It's not just about the podium

Races aren't just for gun runners otherwise there would only be about half a dozen people competing at events.

The rest of us aren't just there to make up numbers so the winners feel better about themselves. It's about our own individual wins: running the whole way without walking; going further than ever before; running the distance faster.

Apart from feeling really chuffed at finishing an 8k race the other week I also enjoyed the experience of going out running with some mates.

I have no idea who these men, women and dogs were but as we went around the course we encouraged each other on, admired the view and asked the perennial "is this the last hill?"


Not only have I been able to chat to some really interesting runners over the last month or so, I've also been able to read the stories left by Herald Online readers. It's all great stuff.

There was Merv who entered a 26km off-road run on the spur of the moment only to come dead last. He was still euphoric to complete the tough course and undeterred was out racing again a few weeks later in Round the Bays.

Or Law Abiding Motorc's tale of smashing a pram when he careened into a pothole while out running with his then toddler some 20-odd years ago.

And Fearless of Grey Lynn who is still running daily, 30 years after taking up running at the age of 24 in 1981 - my inspiration.

Twitter: @Jog_On_NZ


• Who could resist an event promoting itself as The Greatest Little Fun Run in the Universe? The fundraiser for the greatest little school in the universe, Laingholm Primary, offers 10km, 5km or 2km options through the Waitakere bush on March 31.

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Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose is a freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies. She has written for the Business Herald since 2006, covering the telecommunications sector, but has more recently focused on personal finance and profiling successful businesses.

Read more by Helen Twose

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