It can be daunting if you’ve never been a runner or are trying to get back into it, but star sprinter Cathy Freeman says anyone can do it.
“I often have some kind of really intense reaction when anyone I know tells me they cannot run. It’s just simply not true,” she says.
Freeman is an ambassador for the Sydney Running Festival, which is currently vying for a spot on the world stage.
It’s a candidate to join the likes of Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City as a World Marathon Major.
Freeman sees it as an opportunity for people to realize their running dreams, and she’s given some insight into how to do just that.
Trust the process
“It’s a case of trust — trust the process, strip away the expectation or the ego of it all.”
Running isn’t about racing, says the Olympic champion.
“It’s about moving and leaning into what your body’s natural capability is.”
“Just get into the zone of being joyful, appreciative that we’re alive and that we’re able to move,” she says.
Find calm in it
Freeman says she finds an “incredible space of serenity and joy” when she runs.
“A lot of people won’t be able to relate to the spirituality of running, but for me, it was certainly meditative.”
She says the competitive nature of her running was a “side attachment.”
Freeman became an Australian hero and the face of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and even now she is synonymous with running.
But it’s always been a form of relaxation for her, and it still is.
“I don’t sprint. I don’t run fast. I just move these days.”
“If I spend too much time away from it, it has an emotional impact,” says the 49-year-old, whose first running experience was as a five-year-old.
The joy Freeman derives from running is something she wants everyone to experience.
“It’s so good for me, like it can be good for everyone.”
Have a go
“I’m certainly not a serious athlete,” the Olympic Champion says about herself these days.
“Body practice, I prefer to call it, not exercise. It’s a softer term,” she says.
The Sydney Running Festival features a marathon, a half marathon, 10 kilometers or a 3.5km family fun run — four distances catering for all running, or walking, abilities.
“People who don’t consider themselves fit have an opportunity to go for a walk or a run … or a skip,” she says.
“Just have a go. Enjoy the weather. Enjoy each other, each other’s company.”