The real reasons why ultrafit athletes love to run

Some people run for fitness, others do it to de-stress, and some people hit the pavement to challenge their mind and body.

We asked three well-known Australian athletes and runners how they got into the sport, where and how they do it, and if they had any tips to pass along.

Sally Fitzgibbons

Professional surfer and fitness enthusiast

Why do you run?

Running is my meditation, it's the first thing I do most days and it gives me time to reflect on the day ahead. Seeing first light come up, and a new day begin, makes me feel like I have given myself a massive head start over those still in bed.

My love for running comes through in my charities big #runforchange initiative. We challenged Australia's to donate their daily running kilometres to us to see if we could collectively do 500,000 km. It's been so successful we have had more than 3200 people donate over 1,200,000 km so far and we still have a few weeks to go. Next year we're going to aim for 5 million kilometres.

Do you have advice for new runners?

You have chosen such an incredible sport, not only is it an amazing way to stay fit but it's an activity that will give you such personal self-fulfillment and sense of achievement each time you run a bit further or set a new PB by going a bit faster. Have fun with your training, mix up where you run, I love the fact you can take your runners anywhere with you and explore new places.  

How long have you been running?


For as long as I can remember. I was lucky enough to run in the Youth Olympics as kids, so running has always been a big part of my life.  

Do you use technology while running?

Yes. I have a watch but I like to run on how I feel each day. If my body is feeling fresh and strong, I will push a little harder else I ease off.

Who's your running hero?

Cathy Freeman was a big inspiration for me growing up. My running coach, Ian Hatfield, has been the biggest influence in my running though, I joined his squad as an 11-year-old and he has been a big part of my life ever since. He taught me how to do the one percenters that make the difference in training.

Road or trail?

That's a hard one – I enjoy them both. Living in a small town on the South Coast of NSW I'm spoilt for choice and I'm often lucky enough to mix a road run with a big trail loop in it.

Dr Tim Robards

Sports Chiropractor and wellness educator

Why do you run?

It's free, and I get to combine three of my favourite things, sweating, a little sunshine and a dip in the ocean afterwards. It's a great way to work your cardiovascular system, de-stress and connect with nature

How long have you been running?

Since I've been chasing my dreams... bahaha! That was cheesy! However, I'm sure I learnt to run before I could walk.

Headphones or clear air?

That depends on my mood. If I'm feeling like I need a bounce in my step I'll jazz it up a little, but if I need to chill and want to be really present I'll go no headphones.

Where's your favourite place to run?

I would have to say Bondi to Bronte or on some days to Clovelly. I love the intermittent hills and the view.

Do you have advice for new runners?

Learn to run midfoot or forefoot (try a short run barefoot in the park on something less soft than grass, it will get you off your heels), up your cadence to between 160-180 bpm (you can use a cadence app) and get checked by a good sports chiro like myself before you go hell for leather. Like a sliding door that's off the hinges it will wear out quicker if your body is not in balance and stabilised.  

Samantha Gash

Endurance athlete, speaker and social entrepreneur

Why do you run?

Running brings me a connection to the outdoors and nature and simultaneously provides a disconnection from technology and stress. During the past five years I have used my running as a vehicle to explore the barriers to why children are unable to access quality education around the globe. 

How long have you been running and what made you start? 

I ran in my final years of high school as a stress relief from the pressure of exams and worrying about how I would perform. In 2008 when I was studying a double degree in Performing Arts/Law I started to train for my first marathon. It was the first time in my life that I was motivated to do something that would push both my mental and physical boundaries. 

Do you use technology while running​?

I try and keep running as simple as possible. Most times, I will run with nothing but the clothes on my body and the shoes on my feet. Other times I choose to run with my GPS watch so I can be more targeted in my training. On the odd occasion, I will run with music if I am struggling with my training and want to be taken to a place outside of my head. 

Who's your running hero?

Ray Zahab – google the guy. A serious legend to long distance expedition running!! 

​Where's your favourite place to run?

I live in the Dandenong Ranges and I couldn't ask for a better backyard to explore the trails on foot and get lost.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

Follow Laura Hill on Twitter