My Running Journey - Claudia White


I have been running for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I would go to my older brother’s athletics carnivals with my Grandpa, and we would watch the running, and he would talk to me about the running. I was very interested in it and enjoyed it very much. When I was old enough to run my first cross country carnival at school, my Grandpa and Mum came along to spectate. I was in year 3 and won the race by several minutes. Grandpa and my mum wondered if I had missed one of the checkpoints as I had won the race by so much. Grandpa said, “Well, that’s good, she can run”, and so he signed me up to the local Ryde Little Athletics Club that year. Every Saturday, he would pick me up, make me vegemite toast, and take me to Little A’s in his Ute. I loved spending time with him, and it was very special to share such a strong passion in common. I would qualify for the next rounds of Little A’s, usually in the longer running events like the 800m and the high jump. In preparation for the various school carnivals - athletics and cross country, or for Little A’s zone or regional competition, my Grandpa would pick me up after school, take me down to the oval, and train me. He bought lots of books about running, and he would coach me based on what he had read and learnt. He said I had lots of stamina, and he believed this was the key to a good runner, like the rest of the stuff you can fine-tune. Grandpa believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. He wouldn’t care if I came first or last, just as long as I had a go and did the best that I could. His way of relaying this message to me was that he would say, “run like bloody hell” before each race. He never missed a race, and I remember the last time he saw me run was at State Cross Country at Eastern Creek in 2005, which he attended connected to an oxygen tank to help him breathe. When he became quite unwell, he ended up in the hospital and encouraged my mum to take me to Melbourne to watch the athletics at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, as he was too unwell to take me. This experience was unforgettable and so inspiring to watch all the athletes I admired. Shortly after this, just before my Grandpa passed away, he said to my mum, “you’ve got to get her a coach, mate”. So, my mum went home and googled running coaches in Sydney, and after talking to a few, she chose James “Jimbo” Fitzgerald. Jimbo coached me from 11 through to 18, and I really enjoyed working with him and his squad. I improved each year consistently with Jimbo and continued to love the sport. I made my first individual NSW team in year 9 during this time, and I am incredibly grateful for his support and guidance over those years. He taught me a lot about the sport, especially the importance of balancing enjoyment with hard work. He was a very passionate coach and always made training fun and enjoyable by keeping the sessions creative.


When I finished high school, I found it hard to transition from a junior to a senior athlete. There wasn’t much guidance, and I didn’t have the confidence to make the step. I didn’t compete for a while, but I never stopped running. In these last few years, I have worked a lot on myself and learned a lot about myself as a person and as a runner. I have found that whenever I am running, I am happy and that running can help with so many aspects of life as it can teach us many lessons. Running has taught me that there is always more in the tank and that you are more capable than you might think you are. It gives me a sense of confidence and achievement and has taught me patience and resilience. I have had to develop patience and resilience over the last few years as I have experienced many injuries and the usual ups and downs. I am so grateful to my team at Athletes Authority for keeping my head held high through these injuries; they have been the best support team and always back me. I have spent a lot of time in the gym there, developing body strength and more resilience to cope with running loads.


After my most recent stress fracture in 2020, I reached out to Brad as I felt ready to start taking running seriously again. Brad has been so supportive and patient with me as we navigated through many injuries while building back up the training load, but since lockdown, we have found a happy medium and consistency with training. I am learning to trust my body again and am gaining more confidence in myself and my ability. I have a more positive attitude and approach towards training now and have loved every run Brad has set for me. Each week we are making progress, and I am excited to see what we can do together. I have really enjoyed getting to know the Team Gazelle squad members, especially Bailey, who has been my faithful training partner throughout lockdown and hasn’t missed a run with me. He supports me through every session and time trial and pushes me to be my best. (He is going to hold the Parkrun world record one day).


To finish off, I’d like to highlight the importance of having a good support network around you. Even though running is an individual sport, I have had a lot of support from many people close to me, especially my Mum and Nanny. My Mum and Nanny have been to every race to support me and remind me to “run like bloody hell”. They are always interested to see how my training is going and worry a lot when I am injured as they know how important running is to me and my state of mind. My running journey would not have been possible without their support, as they have spent a lot of time driving me around Sydney and interstate to train and compete. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family and my partner Zac who has also been to every race and many training sessions for the past few years. He always makes running enjoyable, especially when he whips out the BBQ on the side of the track for a post-run feed for the squad. He has spent many hours riding his bike or driving his Ute alongside me with his country tunes pumping to support me on training runs. I am very grateful for everyone’s support throughout my running journey and am excited about the future. I am also excited to have the squad back together and watch my teammates achieve on and off the track.


Thank you for reading,


Clauds

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