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#whywerun - Riine Ringi

#whywerun - Riine Ringi

Words: Riine Ringi
Images: Paul Manning

"I was born in a tiny country called Estonia and in 2012 I came to Australia as a backpacker. First plan was to travel around the world and then go back home, but I absolutely fell in love with Australia, especially the Gold Coast, so I decided to stay. 

My running journey started in January 2014. I was sitting on the balcony smoking cigarettes, drinking wine and thinking that it's time for a change (3 months earlier I already started doing changes, went from a vegetarian diet to a plant based diet, but didn't feel like it was enough). So I created a 3 step plan: Step 1 - quit smoking forever. Step 2 - start running again. One year before, I quit smoking and started running but somehow I ended up smoking and I stopped running. Step 3 - run Gold Coast marathon in July (which was in 6 months).

Signing up for a Gold Coast marathon really helped me to stay motivated and not to go back to my old bad habits. After 6 months of training, it was time for step 3 - run Gold Coast marathon. I didn't know much about times and my Garmin watch predictor said that I could possibly run around 3h. So I believed it and there was no doubt in me that it is a crazy idea. Of course there were naysayers around me saying that my goal was way too ambitious. I refused to believe them.  I ended up running my first marathon 2:57:10. I was stoked! 6 months earlier I was a couch potato and a smoker and now I could call myself a marathoner. 

I kept running and occasionally signing up for marathons. Years went by and somehow I started to run out of motivation. I kept sleeping in and I didn't feel guilty if I skipped training or two. I guess I grew out of being a solo runner and I needed a buddy who can keep me accountable. In July 2019 I joined the Rat Pack multisport team. They swim, cycle and run together, but I only joined with the running part (I'm a really bad swimmer and way too clumsy to be on the bike). I started training under coach Nigel Hyland, who is just amazing. I have to say my whole running world changed and I was motivated again. My weekly running mileage went up to 130km (previously it was around 80-90km) and my training schedule had more structure. Suddenly I just got faster and better and also I really started to believe in myself. And of course I enjoy the social aspect, meeting so many incredible people. Our sessions are definitely hard. But knowing that we all suffer together helps us to get it done. After training we always have coffee and catch up. We really have grown together. Absolutely love it!

For years I've been thinking about entering the GC50, but I always have chickened out because the race is in the summer when it's humid and hot on the Gold Coast. And of course 50km sounded extremely daunting. But last year my self  image improved and I signed up for my first ultramarathon, My training was broken down into 3 essential parts:

1.  Physical preparation.  Weekly running mileage stayed around 130-140km (including easy runs, track and hill sessions and Sunday 30km long runs) plus spin classes and strength training. 
2. Running in the heat. Knowing how hot it can get on the race day I started to condition myself, my second runs were around 3pm when it is still hot and also at least once a week I included a sauna session.
3. Mental preparation. After running 11 marathons I know that at one point things can get mentally tough. But to make sure that I was mentally suffering as little as possible I started to listen to a lot of motivational speakers. My coach introduced me to Wayne Dyer and one of my absolute favorite speeches is his "How to get what you really, really, really want". I basically was listening to it every time I was driving to work. I truly believe in the law of attraction, which is what Wayne talks about a lot.

My goal was to run 4:10 min per km. Having no experience I thought this should be a manageable pace and I knew if I could keep that momentum happening I probably will end up doing a course record. Let's be honest I actually really wanted to do a course record! I tried to keep an even pace all race long. The first half I kind of felt like a caged animal and the pace felt way too easy but I stayed true to the plan of pace early and I knew I would thank myself later. Second half definitely got harder but the physical, mental and heat training paid off and I was able to cross the finish line with the time 3:27:35 (4:09 min per km average), which was the new female course record. I was beyond happy.

I'm so grateful that almost 7 years ago I took a leap of faith and started running to beat my nasty addiction. That road has been full of rolling hills, different pavements and lots of crossroads and no matter what the weather has been, I stayed strong and kept pushing on. Having a natural competitive nature, as well as being a goal oriented person, running is perfect for me. Every run has its own and different challenges. When pushing your body to the limit everyday there is an obstacle or challenge to overcome. A niggle, a strain, the weather, time, work schedule. All these challenges faced daily make for a strong athlete and even stronger person. It really is the cornerstone of my being. Running allows me to achieve amazing things and find focus in a crazy world."

You can support and follow along with Riine here.