The Ups and Downs of Running with Helen from My Home Base

Are you like me, feeling sick of reading horrible, nasty and negative news every day in the papers and online? Then join me in my love a blogger challenge. Spend a little bit of time reading some of the thoughtful, inspired and intelligent writing on offer by your favourite blogger. They probably don’t have a degree in journalism but they won’t have a Masters in Snark either. Most bloggers just write for the love of words and a desire to create something beautiful.

Today we are meeting Helen from My Home Base (one of my favourites).

Dani xx

Introducing Helen from My Home Base.


Helen is a Mother, blogger and urban planner.

She writes at

Here are links to two of my absolute favourite posts from Helen that you should go check out.

On adding new words to the dictionary.

What would you add?

You will never think of maps in the same way again.

Mapping our world and our lives.” 

Today Helen is writing for Eat My Street about the ups and downs of fun runs.

The ups and downs of running 

by Helen from My Home Base

Running. It’s something that SOUNDS like a good idea. I like the idea of running; the efficiency of the exercise, and the flexibility, and the potential – the hope that one day I might become someone who glides across the ground, effortlessly covering kilometres.


And, when I get my mindset right, stick to a sort of routine which slowly means I build up stamina, I do find I feel better after running (and sometimes – miracle of miracles – even during running).

So, yes – it sounds good. And sometimes it is. And often, it isn’t. Good, I mean, or fun, or satisfying. It’s hard work, and it hurts, and I don’t complete what I’m aiming for, or really commit to any aim, and sometimes I don’t even start.

So, me and running: it’s a mixed bag, really. Up and down. As you will see from my shifting mindset – I cover all the emotions!

Feeling positive

At the start of the year, I decided to try and improve on my running. More specifically, I wanted to become more consistent, and more comfortable with running a reasonable distance. So I signed up in January to do a 14km ‘fun run’ in May. Four months to prepare. Allowing a little extra time to the 12 week programs that I intended to follow. All sounded manageable.yes-1137274_1280

Getting worried

But January slipped into February, and I hadn’t started. I was a little worried, and went for a slow jog, to see what distance I could do. And I managed 6km without stopping, although it was a bit of a struggle.

I thought – well, with some training, I should be able to manage 14km.  I found that I would go out, with a distance in mind, but I couldn’t get my mental framework in place. And I never managed that 6km again (although I ran shorter distances).

Getting a little worried, I thought I’d try an approach that sometimes works, and that is to tell everyone I know that I’m doing it. Accountability, see? I also agreed to write up how I found the experience, which is what I’m doing now. However, this time, the accountability approach didn’t work.


And as the day drew closer, I started to get more nervous, as I couldn’t work out how to motivate me.

Taking it in my stride

The fun run (which was sounding less and less fun, by the way) was part of the Great Ocean Road Marathon weekend, at Apollo Bay. I’d been told that in the shorter runs, some people walk sections.

And so, to stop worrying, I told myself that it would be ok if I ended up walking too.

It was a good thought to have, as it turned out, because the furthest I managed to run in the month prior was 2km. Which – to state the obvious – is much less than 14km.

I felt like I was trying, but rather than getting fitter, my legs felt heavier, and my will power was weaker.




The day prior to the run, I was feeling really anxious, and not convinced that walking was going to be the answer. However, I didn’t feel like I could quit now. We had friends we were staying with, our kids were doing shorter runs, and the adults were running further distances than me. I’d just have to get on with it, but the thought of being noticeably the worst runner was making me feel ill.

On the morning of the fun run, I watched the kids running, at different speeds and abilities. And I saw how everyone was cheering them on. I looked around at the beautiful setting – if you have to pick somewhere to run, choosing a section of the Great Ocean Road, by the water, on a beautiful sunny day has got to be one of the best options available.

Becoming philosophical –

It was time for my event. I’d been to the public toilets twice in the twenty minutes prior but my stomach was still churning. I’d shared my worries with my friends, and one of them introduced me to a new term.

Don’t worry – you can always ralk it’, he said.

Oh yes’ another chimed in. ‘We often ralk when we can’t quite get it together – people do it all the time’.

It took me a while to work out what they were talking about. But ralking – combining running and walking – had kind of a ring to it. It sounded better that ‘not fit enough to run’, anyway, and so I was happy to take that.

Enjoying the journey


Did I say it was a beautiful day? You couldn’t get a more stunning setting to spend your afternoon in, with the beach and water towards one side, the hills (which weren’t too steep) and forested area to the other.

This was fortunate, because I needed lots of distractions.

But what I found out was:

  • You can go further than you think, when you have the motivation of a mass of people beside you, as well as the knowledge that someone you know might be there watching. I didn’t run the whole way – far from it (I didn’t run half way, to be honest) but I ran further than I’d managed for quite a while. And then I ralked. Which was kind of running. Sort of.
  • There are a lot of people in the same situation, and many were quite lovely. Even if you are shy like me, you can find yourself forming a little posse – urging each other on, tag teaming each other so you were running to catch up and overtake at one stage, only to drop back and let someone else take over (almost like slipstreaming, except with the mental benefits rather than a lot of physical relief). It actually broke the distance up a lot, and knowing I was not alone in this approach helped a lot.
  • The relief of seeing the increasing proximity toward the town was so empowering. Knowing there was 3 km, then 2.5 km, then 2 and so on – breaking it down mentally – helped a lot.
  • Knowing my family was waiting, cheering me on, and the kids were there and ran beside me along the last section, including the finishing line was so wonderful. It’s lovely to have people who think you’ve done a good job, even if you are towards the end of the pack.

The downside

Of course, my positivity didn’t last. I still felt I could have done better if I’d trained in a more focused way. I felt a bit embarrassed that this hasn’t kick started my brilliant running career. I didn’t want to even try again for quite a while afterwards.

I felt slightly relieved to have found out I had a mild dose of chicken pox leading up to and during the event (which explained a bit, including the raised itchy spots, which I’d thought were mosquito bites – but doesn’t explain the motivation issues in the months prior.

I realised how much running is a mental act.

And how I put pressure on myself based on what I think I should be able to do – which is sometimes more than I am capable of doing without training. And so I realised how I can talk myself down, which goes counter to actually achieving outcomes. But, on the flip side, when I have a more positive, or relaxed, mindset, I can achieve more than I think – even with chicken pox.

I’ve also realised that I struggle to run in the cold, wet weather that we’ve been experiencing. However, short distances (very short) are still better than not doing anything, and alternative exercise is a good idea at this time of the year. And so I’m slowly working my way back to running, and trying out other sports. But I am looking forward to spring and building up more spring in my step too.

Because, despite it all, it is a good feeling to have completed something – even if I rawked it.





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10 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Running with Helen from My Home Base

  1. Yay what a great post Helen! Running is hard! Having a crowd to boost you is so great and it is often said that the back of the pack runners are the most fun! Yes!
    I hope that you continue your running journey and get the odd effortless happy run that keeps you going. I must be due one!!!
    I have a big run coming up at the end of September that I have NOT trained well for. Hopefully I won’t end up on the back of the swag wagon. Maybe the back of the pack folks will keep a smile on my face. Well done, awesome achievement xxx

    1. I have a mental block with it too Amy! In fact I would prefer to do almost any exercise to running. It is so easy, cheap and accessible though so occasionally I try again. 🙂

  2. Thanks Dani for having me on! Running sounds great to me, Amy – it just doesn’t always turn out to be great (I’ve got to build up more fitness before that’s the case), But Edie’s right – the ones towards the end (and there were a lot more behind me, surprisingly) were a lot of fun. There was a real camaraderie there which was a wonderful benefit. Ralking does help, too 😊

  3. Well, thanks to Edie, and an extra four kilos of middle age spread, I am starting week 4 of the C25K this week. I am so excited by the prospect of actually finishing the program (this is my third or fourth attempt, and I didn’t get to week 2 on any past attempt!). Now I’m starting to rethink my identity as a non-runner. I used to be a runner at school, I was always in the aths team. Always. But then I took up smoking, then later wine (I sound like a soak, but really I’m not!) and memories of the Aths team became more and more distant. But I’m waking up those neuro-pathways (is that what they’re called Dani??) and I’m also getting excited about the summer ahead – beachside runs, a bikini (in a runners body – not my body, but a runners body), more energy. All the good stuff. My mindset has definitely changed this time round. And I do think it’s all in the mindset. Nice to hear that someone else has shared the trials of tribulations of running when it’s not their default.

    1. Let us know how you go with your C25K Collette! Good on you, waking up those neuro-pathways. This warmer weather is certainly more inviting don’t you think? You can do it!!

      1. Well done! It is definitely not my default – I was never a runner at school (I used to find someone else to walk the compulsary cross country with, and we’d run the last 100m) although I always did sport (with short bursts – tennis, hockey, etc). But you can build it back up, as you can see from what you’re doing, That’s fantastic!

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