Nutrition & Health
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Date Posted: 12 September 2023
Motherhood is marathon and these women know both very well. Today you'll meet Shara and Melissa in Part 5 of our Mother's Day Interview Series.
Shara Jones, @shara.jones1
What is your sport/exercise of choice?
My go-to sport will always be running. I didn't really find a passion for running until 2015 when I completed the London marathon for a UK charity. Prior to that I had been running for a year or two and through my second pregnancy, but post having my son, I seemed to find it a good way to keep fit and improve my mental health. I also love strength training but sometimes find the balance difficult with running quite a few kms each week.
How many children do you have?
I have 2 very active children - Rhian (13) and Roman (9) who play sports 5/6 days a week .
What challenges have you faced as a mother in regards to your fitness/exercise?
I think as a full time working mum, prioritising yourself is always a challenge. But I believe that if something is important enough then you will always make time. I completed a 16 week marathon training block for the Boston marathon in April with my biggest ever training mileage. It meant earlier alarms most days, running on my lunch break, squeezing training in between sports or after a 14 hour working day, but I made it work.
Exercise is important for me both mentally and physically and means I am in a good head space for my family when I'm with them.
How have you overcome this challenge?
Being organised, having a training plan and sticking to it has certainly helped. There's been a few weeks I've had to shift workouts around due to being away with work (sessions in FNQ summer humidity is never fun!) I write my own training plans, so always schedule my workouts on days that suit family life. There's no point having a training plan you know you won't or can't stick to.
What has been your greatest achievement in your sport/exercise?
I think winning River Run Enduro in 2021 - top distance of 79k in 7 hours. I had terrible stomach pains at 50k but managed to keep going despite feeling terrible and being very hot and dehydrated. Finishing 3rd female at last year's GC50 against some incredibly talented women was probably my second best achievement.
How do you incorporate exercise into your daily/weekly routine?
Exercise should be fun. You have to find a sport that you love and enjoy and I think it's easy then to make it a priority. As a family, we are very active and enjoy hikes/swims on the weekends too. I'm also lucky to be surrounded by great running friends and a running club that keeps you motivated and accountable.
Do your children have any involvement in your exercise/sport?
My daughter, Rhian isn't a runner nor particularly enjoys it, but she does have a love for netball and plays for a local netball team. My son Roman is a soccer player for GC Knights so trains 4 days a week, but he does run with me most weeks or we do Park Run together on a Saturday if he doesn't have a match. He is a sub 21 runner at 9, so I probably don't have much longer before I can't keep up with him.
Do you have any future goals?
I am hoping to crack a sub 3 marathon this year and will be running in the Boston marathon in April. I have also qualified for New York and Chicago marathons this year so will spend a month in the USA with my family. My dream is to complete the 6 marathon majors by 2024 - Covid put a stop to this for 2 years but hopefully we are back on track now.
What advice would you give to any mothers wanting more physical activity but may be unsure as to where to start?
Find something you enjoy - it may be swimming / running/ walking / yoga / cross fit ... , don't be scared to try new things or think that you should do what others are doing. All movement is good for you, even if it's a 20 min walk with friends. There's a lot of no-equipment videos you can use on Youtube if you don't have access to a gym or want to start at home first. Involve your family and make it fun for everyone - adventure trails/beach days. Check out local community pages on Facebook/online as they often have free taster sessions for different gym classes if you think that would be something you enjoy .
Anything you would like to add?
Ratpack Multisport (@rp_multisport) and Highland Run Crew (@highlandruncrew) have been involved in my journey for the last 2 years . My son currently runs with HRC and coach Michael Cacciola provides free community sessions to runners of all abilities (and produces some good regional level athletes too). I'm lucky I get to share a lot of runs with Rat pack and we all push and motivate each other too. Both groups are Gold Coast based and welcome new members :-)
Shara achieved a personal best in Boston and was one of many women who shared in celebrating 50 years of women participating in the famous marathon. Congratulations Shara!!
Melissa Garcia: @mali_runs
Running! I started with Parkrun about 8 years ago as a way to get fitter. I began with the goal of eventually running the 5k without stopping to walk, and this took a while! Once I reached that goal I focussed on a new one, and a new one, and the next thing I'd run a marathon - something I never would have imagined I'd be capable of! Running is my meditation, my downtime. Now as the mum of a very active toddler, I run whenever I can fit it in and it always brings a sense of calm to the chaos. Running brings me a sense of accomplishment and has also brought a bunch of beautiful humans into my life that I wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise.
A daughter Sofi, who has just turned 2; and another little girl on the way!
Time is a big one! It's hard to fit exercise in around work and being a mum, but it's so important. Also having the energy when #mumlife is so tiring... it's always worth it though and a run or workout always gives me more energy to cope with everything else.
Scheduling the time is a must! If I don't make time, I'll never have time, so I have to put it in my calendar in advance and make sure my husband will be home to take care of Sofi, or ensuring I can fit my run in while she is at daycare.
Running a 4:10 marathon in 2021 and somehow fitting all the training in around work and caring for my little girl (plus a lot of time in hospital as she has uncontrolled epilepsy). I'm still not sure how I did it.
Planning ahead, it's the only way. My husband and I have a shared calendar on our phones - we put in our runs and gym sessions, plus we work out who is dropping off and picking up Sofi from day care. This way we know when we have time to exercise, and we do our best to stick to it.
Do your children have any involvement in your exercise/sport?
Yes, she goes to swimming lessons every week and loves it! She also loves dancing, climbing, running and just being super active in general.
I would love to run a 50 mile ultra! I was planning to sign up to one this year but had some surprising pregnancy news... I might wait a couple of years now but it's definitely on the cards!
There are some great rewards based apps that I have found super motivating! 'Running Heroes' is a good one - you go into a draw for prizes for each challenge you complete. I'm a huge fan of Parkrun as well, it's a great weekly habit to start the weekend off right. There's no time pressure (you can walk if you like) and the community is lovely!
It's never too late to start! Find something you're interested in and start wherever you are. https://au.runningheroes.com/en/