Running for all: ANU's free running group!


Are you looking for group motivation to hit your running goals? Alex van der Meer Simo, a PhD candidate and the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, has set up a free running group for the ANU community, meeting on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7am. 

"My oldest running memory was a sprint race against my cousin: I lost. My father wanted to comfort me and concluded that I was more of a long distance type than a sprinter: he lied. Anyhow, just as nearly any other kid in Spain I played soccer at the school. Every training session after we lost (which occurred most weekends), our coach would punish us with running. Being the reserve goal keeper, I tried to impress the coach in those running sessions, hoping to gain a spot in the team. While I did not succeed, I managed to burn a lot of the fat I carried around my belly, which increased my self-esteem. But it was only after a schoolmate  doubted that I could finish a half marathon that I gave running a real go. Since then, running has always been my way to meet people when I relocated to a new place, which has occurred over 10 times in the last 23 years. 

A few years ago, just before I started my PhD at ANU's Fenner School, I would have defined myself as an enthusiastic marathon runner, passionate about my work in environmental sustainability and international development. While I am still passionate about all these things, I have finally accepted that I am too rusted to chase any new personal bests (and let's be honest, I should spend less time running and finish my PhD before my supervisor and my wife give up on me!)

Now that my fittest years have certainly gone, I spend nearly as much time coaching others as running myself. Biased by wonderful memories from my time in Wageningen, Freiburg or Melbourne where being a member of the uni running groups or clubs was always the best way to "integrate in the community", one year ago I decided to start a small running group with some fellow runners. We meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 am at South Oval, where we run a 30-35 minutes sessions - including intervals and minute-based efforts on the oval or on the bike paths around the creek. The other days every one runs independently, but I am always happy to chat about "what to do" on the days that we do not run together. Because most of us have other life commitments, we set up a conversation on Messenger where those who cannot attend a training can read what the running session "is". Starting the day with a bunch of fitness-seeking like-minded people is what this group is all about; there does not exist such thing as too slow" for us (the more the merrier)."

If you're looking to get involved, simply meet the group at South Oval at 7am on Tuesday or Thursday wearing your best running shoes and with a positive attitude!