Luke Lambley | Trail Runner | International Roamer
It feels as though the past 18 years of life have been founded by my love of running. It’s been a massive part of my life, shaping and crafting me into the person that I am today.There’s no doubt that my passion for running can be a traced to mother…. She was a competitive track and x-country athlete in her young age so you could say that her genes got passed down somehow. It also prospered from me growing up alongside watching my father, who was a half marathoner. With him training many mornings, I began to become accustomed to seeing the ‘runners high’ he would experience each time he’d compete and train. Soon enough, I was hooked, wanting a piece of it too.
As I made my way through school, x-country and athletics became a ritual of my life and soon enough I began wining numerous meets and gaining a lot of acclaim. It was awesome! However it took a turn pretty quickly, when I was diagnosed in 2009 with Type One Diabetes (genetically predisposed). This was by far the biggest setback in my life to date, and in the first few months post diagnosis, I struggled badly. At this point I felt running was out the window and I wouldn’t see it again. But with some close monitoring of my blood sugar levels and hours of dedicated care from my parents, we slowly came to terms with the effect this condition was having. We devised plans, made scaffolds and thought it was under control. Then came running, sending our plans out the window once again.
Diabetes and running for those of you who don’t know can be like rolling a dice, you’ll never know what its gonna dish up next. A diabetic can be set to experience high and low blood sugar levels in their daily management. In some cases, they can be attributed to causes like too much or too little insulin, exercise, food and more. In most cases you can’t really know, making management of it quite difficult. Most days for me are far and wide apart and sometimes there can be no correlation to the exact reason why my blood levels are entirely different to the other day. This can become quite frustrating as it creates a blanket of uncertainty in life and at times will make me angry, unsettled and fed up.
As I began easing back into running it became more difficult once more. As this level of uncertainty grew deeper, I began juggling the impact that running was now having on my blood sugar levels. Some examples are like having to eat a heap of sugar to get my levels up prior to a race as if left untreated there is a risk my levels could drop dramatically and result in a diabetic coma, which can be fatal. Or on the other hand, not getting enough insulin could result in high blood sugar levels which can make me feel lethargic and will impact performance greatly. Whatever the scenario was, it proved difficult. After a bit of time I realised that there was no point getting caught up in these frustrations but rather using them and channeling it in a way to make me hungrier in training and competition. I have also found that diabetes has given me resilience to pull through tough times in races and training, as i know I have the mental capacity to push through and get to the other side as I have been through an already similar circumstances before.
Aside from running within a school space, my real journey began when I joined a weekly running group in Manly, Sydney put on by Pace Athletic in early 2019 . Here, I was led to be introduced to a whole new community of like minded people, joined forces with The Distance Collective and began being coached and most importantly…discovered my love for the trails.
Paired with the drive I get from my diabetes to run, a large chunk is also built from the the trails now. Having a sense of adventure flood my body each time I lace up my Hokas and put the Salomon vest on is what I savour, invigorating me each time making me wanting to jump out of bed and get at it. It's that sense of not knowing what you are about to get yourself into, whether that be the wildlife encountered, that bastard of a hill climb that pushes your body to breaking point or those breathtaking views.
Recently I travelled to New Zealand for my first ever International trail race - Tarawera Ultra-marathon competing in the 21km event. Oh boy, is NZ an absolute gem of a place …. A trail runners paradise really. Yes I’m stoked, achieving my goal of top 10, placing 7th in a incredibly classy field of athletes but it has also left me with deeper insight to how I can better my performance next time. As all of you know, running has it's highs and lows, and all you can take from these lows is to look at how best to mitigate them from impacting you again in the future. In my scenario there's 6 people still who I can overtake, take down and get to that podium finish. Whether that be not clocking 3:10s for the first couple of k’s, or preparing myself better for the heat to avoid overheating and racing with a HR above the 180’s….not ideal. Whether you’re chasing a time or place, you can’t let your performance break you, rather channel this energy to make you hungrier in the next race.
With a couple of spare days post race, I used this time to explore some of New Zealand trails…(and yes even if the legs were sore). A must do for anyone visiting Rotorua is the Tarawera Trail, a 15km track that follows a section of the 100 miler course, traversing alongside Lake Tarawera and through native bush. The best part is that about 10km in, on a small detour off the main track you’ll find some Natural Hot Springs that are well worth a dip. And to top it all off at the end you’ll get to Hot Water Beach, which again has hot water streams (86 degrees in some areas) flowing into the lake making for a a warm but refreshing dip. Best if you catch the water taxi back…saves you from going back the same way, unless you want some extra mileage of course!
So whats in stall for 2020? A lot really! Having just completed Year 12, 2020 is shaping up to be a year of adventures. A time of exploration before I head to Newcastle Uni to begin my studies of physiotherapy. I have UTA 22 coming up in may and then heading off to Italy in June/July to compete in the Lavaredo Cortina Skyrace, followed by flying to Norway for a number of multi-day hikes to explore the mountainous region it holds. Another goal that I’m hoping will come to light is to qualify for World Mountain champs….Whether that happens or not it would be an absolute dream of mine and would see me fly off to compete in Spain.
Running is more than a passion for me, it's my life and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it. It's given me a fresh perspective on life and a love and passion for everything around me. Happy running all, and hope to catch you out on the trails one day!
You can follow Luke on Instagram HERE