“The reality is, it’s probably going to suck… there are the odd cases of individuals who innately love to run, but I think I speak for most of us when I say, running does not start off ‘fun’!
We loved our chat with Heather Reed, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, as she shared some honest insights into her running journey. Heather is not only an avid runner but Owner of Hauora Wellbeing Studio & Co-Creator of The Soul Collective, a women-specific community centred on connection through movement.
We’d suggest getting the notebook ready, there are some pearls of wisdom below.
MY RUNNING STORY
What got you started on the path of running? When did you begin and what’s kept you going?
I started running as a teenager following a period of bullying in high school. Running quickly became a means of escaping reality and navigating the rollercoaster of adolescence. Over a decade on, running has evolved from a form of escapism to an opportunity for reflection, meditation and reconnection with myself.
How do you maintain your motivation to get out running? What would you recommend to others in need of some inspiration?
My relationship with running ebbs and flows throughout the year, and always takes a hit during Winter. I’ve learned to ride the highs, and graciously accept the lows! When I feel my running dropping off, I find myself gravitating towards other training modalities to stay active, and welcoming in running with open arms when it aligns. Feeling uninspired? You’re only human! Try a new hobby that sets your soul on fire, and watch as your motivation to run skyrockets!
How has running affected areas of your life outside of exercise? (mood, mental health, resilience, relationships, work etc.)
Running has been my rock since adolescence; a means of movement that has relentlessly supported, grounded and humbled me. It’s taught me the practices of mindfulness, gratitude and reflection, and opened up opportunities to connect with others on a deeply emotional level.
What events have you previously participated in?
I’ve completed the Auckland Half Marathon four times, several mud runs and obstacle races, plus a handful of partner and team Crossfit events. I’m not a competitive athlete, so I find events with opportunities for connection the most rewarding!
What have been the biggest hurdles or obstacles along the way? Do you ever use any tactics to push through?
In 2018 I developed a severe labrum tear on my right hip, requiring a pretty nasty reconstructive surgery! I don’t know what was worse… living with the injury, or the slow rehabilitation process.
The biggest challenge (and lesson!) from the experience was identifying the unhealthy relationship I held with exercise, and redefining who I was as an individual, outside of physical activity. Prior to the surgery, I was dependent upon exercise; using it as my sole coping mechanism, and when I was unable to perform, I completely lost touch with who I was.
The key takeaway is, exercise does not define you; it should complement your life but never rule it. Maintaining balance within your life will help to nourish your mental health, and equip you with the tools and support you need to bounce back in the event of an injury!
Do you have any tips to share for people thinking about starting a running journey?
Bury the ego! The reality is, it’s probably going to suck… there are the odd cases of individuals who innately love to run, but I think I speak for most of us when I say, running does not start off ‘fun’! It’s an ongoing battle between the body and mind. Your lungs will burn, your joints will ache, your muscles will fatigue and your brain will repeatedly tell you to stop, but there’s nothing more rewarding than the sense of accomplishment you feel after smashing a run!
If you could share one tip with a first-time event runner for their training, what would it be?
Get clear on your ‘why’. Why are you doing this? Why is this important to you? Understanding the reason behind your efforts will help to keep you motivated and on-track, no matter what life throws at you during training.
If you could share one tip with a first-time event runner for their race, what would it be?
Your feet can be your worst enemy on race day… make sure you invest in a decent pair of socks to wick sweat, lace-lock your shoes, and chuck on some blister plasters for good measure.
Aside from running, how do you like to spend your time? What are you most passionate about? Where did you grow up?
Growing up in a relatively inactive household, I’m ‘fortunate’ to have gravitated towards movement in my teenage years, witnessing the barriers of physical activity for adults within my family and local community.
I believe the greatest fulfilment in life comes from helping others, which is what led me to open up Hauora Wellbeing Studio. I wanted to create an environment that nurtures a harmonious balance between movement and connection, a safe space of expression and self-development, free from judgement and expectations. The studio is my second home, it’s where I spend the majority of my time, and it’s a place that lights up my soul!
Helping others access the resources they need to kickstart their movement journey has become my life mission, particularly among women. This internal drive to support the well-being of women has guided me towards the co-creation of ‘The Soul Collective’; a kaupapa centred around creating accessible opportunities for wāhine of all backgrounds to explore and develop their relationship with movement.
Movement and connection are the core themes of my life! If I’m not training or coaching, I’m connecting with friends and whānau over coffee, ocean swims, bouldering or 4WDing!
Morning, lunchtime, evening runner?
I’m prone to side stitches when exercising after kai… so a pre-breakfast run hits the spot!
Favourite post-run snack / meal?
A big, fat smoothie bowl (with ALL the toppings)
Outside of your shoes, what’s one running essential you can’t go without?
Headphones… I forgot to charge my headphones before the 2021 Auckland Half Marathon, the longest 2 hours of my life.
Best piece of running advice you’ve ever received?
A ridiculous quote my dad always says is “How do you eat an elephant? … One bite at a time”. It’s not running specific advice, but reminding yourself that running is simply putting ‘one foot in front of the other’ can help to break down the mental barriers we often construct around running.
Running Solo or Running in a group?
Can I choose both? They both have their place! Running solo can be a beautiful connective experience with my inner thoughts, whereas group runs really fill up my soul cup!
Music, Podcast, or your own thoughts? What are they?
If I’m going for a slow, long run, I’ll chuck on an inspiring Podcast (Diary of a CEO, The Tim Ferris Show, The High Performance Podcast, Do You F*****g Mind). But if I’m running for a PB, a punk pop playlist gets me in the mood!
In 3 words how would you describe yourself as a runner?
Laissez-faire, playful, perpetually-out-of-breath.
Favourite running route in NZ?
There’s a little 5K loop from Flagstaff Hill to Long Beach in Russel, Bay of Islands which has my heart (featuring a compulsory coffee from Carl’s Coffee Cart and a post-run dip!).
Running distance a week?
Nothing too wild, usually a fast 5K, a humble 5K and a weekend 10K to tide me over!
I run because…
For years I was unable to run, so I run because… I can! It’s accessible, adaptable, affordable, and the benefits are almost immediate. Running is an opportunity to express gratitude for my health, my life and the country that I’m lucky enough to call ‘home’.
Where does your mind tend to wander while running?
Dug (the dog) from the movie ‘Up’ is the visual representation of my mind when running… zero attention span, following every trail of thought and overly enthused by wildlife. Which is a delightful reprieve from the level of concentration I need in my work!
What’s your #1 way of maintaining a sound mind?
Talk. So many of us hide our real feelings from the world out of fear of judgement or rejection. The biggest advice I can give anyone to support their mental health is talk, honestly, transparently, and don’t ever lose your voice.
Favourite ASICS shoe?
GEL-NIMBUS 24 for running, and NOVABLAST 3 for everyday living!
Seeing Heather’s involvement in the community and passion for bringing people together through movement has been an inspiration. You can follow along with Heather and her journey on Instagram and join in at Hauora Wellbeing Studio or The Soul Collective.
Interested in learning more about running? Visit our Knowledge Base where you’ll find resources on an array of topics for runners - from how to get started and mapping out a training plan, to discovering how to pick the right running shoes for you.