Eloise Wellings is an Olympian and new mum. Having recently given birth, her journey back to the top of the Australian running circles will be fascinating to watch. While being a mum and training hard, Eloise also does motivational speaking at schools and corporate events plus works hard to support Love Mercy Foundation, a wonderful organisation that she and former Ugandan athlete Julius Achon started. The Long Run was lucky enough to have Eloise tell us about her life as a runner, plans for the year ahead and how she manages to fit everything in!
What are the three most memorable running experiences you’ve had?
1. Breaking 15 minutes for 5k at the Zurich Golden League in 2006 – It was my last 5k for the season and my couple of 5k’s before that were pretty foul so I was low on confidence going in. But I managed to mentally rally myself as I was walking from the call room to the start line. I think I resolved to have the attitude that “it can’t be any worse than the last race so just go for it!” The race was loaded with great African runner, dibaba, dafar etc… I ended up leading them into the last lap and despite fading over the last 300m I ran a pb in 14.54.
2. The 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne- I remember the last 150m like it was yesterday, seeing my husband Jony in the corner of my eye coming around the last bend. He was literally hanging over the stadium fence yelling his lungs out. The fight for a medal to the finish line with Lucy Wangui from Kenya and the 90,000 strong crowd was going crazy. It still gives me goose bumps. I crossed the line 4th in 15.00, a 16 second pb at the time. A huge breakthrough for me. The memory of it definitely makes me want to keep running until after the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. Nothing beats a home games.
3. Being chased by two buffalo’s whilst out on a run in Uganda. It was a trip we took straight after London to open the medical clinic that we’d worked on for our Love Mercy Foundation. We were staying at a safari park for the last few days. Me and my friend Luke were jogging up and down the driveway, a dirt road about 800m long, to try and get a 30 minute run in. We were chatting away and all of a sudden out of nowhere came these two buffalos that began to buck and chase us. I let out a scream that, seriously, I didn’t even know I was capable of. We were chased for 100m or so until a park ranger came out and cocked his gun. When the chase was over Luke and I doubled over. I burst into tears, Luke was laughing with relief and we were both shaking uncontrollably. We went inside and hopped on the treadmill after this.
What is your favourite Australian race?
Probably the Sutherland to Surf race. It’s an 11km road race in my home town. I’ve never run it seriously myself, just jogged it for fun, but we try and fundraise for Love Mercy every year. With the money our Love Mercy team has raised over the last 3 years ($150,000) we were able to complete the medical clinic and build a hospital ward in Uganda. It’s such a great community event, the pastor of my church even cancels church on that Sunday morning so that everyone from church can do the race and support Love Mercy, and obviously the impact in Uganda is huge so yeah it’s an honour to be a part of that. We’re doing it all again this year and hoping for more and more runners to support the cause. I also love any races in Tassie, mainly the road races. The Burnie Ten, the Launie Ten – they’re all great!
What inspired you to get back on track post baby and how did you know you were ready to start training again?
I think it’s in my blood to run so it wasn’t long after having Indi that I felt like I wanted to start jogging again. That said, I ended up having to have an emergency Ceasarien so it was important that I gave my body time to recover from what is essentially major abdominal surgery. For the first couple of months, even though my head and my heart wanted to run, I was enjoying adjusting to life as a Mumma and I found I wasn’t thinking about running too much. I knew that once I was physically recovered and in a bit of a routine with Indi then I would eventually start up again and it would flow and I’d feel good about it. I didn’t want to start up and have to force it. This took about 4 months before I was in that headspace to get going again.
What differences have you noticed coming back from having a child versus returning from an injury?
Your body is a lot softer after having a baby! When I’ve had injuries in the past I’d keep pretty fit cross training and strong in the gym but during pregnancy I wasn’t lifting the weights I would normally, so I guess I had to work on that a lot after having Indi. But its been really good, I’ve been working with my new strength coach Jock Campbell and also my brother Lindsay advises me on core work so in that respect I feel like I’m stronger than ever now because everyone says that needs to be a focus after having a baby. So I did make that a big focus before I even begun running. Just getting muscle tone and core strength back so that I felt in control when I ran.
How do you juggle life as a mum and runner? How do you fit in all your training!?
I have a very supportive husband and I wake up early to train! Also, at the moment, I’m not doing double runs. I’ll do my main running workout or run and gym in the morning – starting at about 5:30am and then home by 8am ready to relieve Jony so he can go to work. If I do a pm session it’s almost always in our garage where we’ve set up a gym. I’ll usually just take Indi with me and she’ll play or jump in the jolly jumper. This pm session for me will usually consist of bike or elliptical, basically any cardio to supplement an easy 30 minute run.
What’s your favourite session?
I like 800 reps at the track. I also love a long run with one of my best friends and training partner Belinda Wilsher. We’ve been running together for over 10 years, at least 4 times a week. Every now and then we’ll have to stop and double over laughing because of something funny she’s said.
What are your race plans for 2014?
I’m looking forward to doing some more racing in the domestic season in the hope of qualifying for the Comm Games in Glasgow. A couple of 5k’s on the track and also a 3k in Christchurch later this month.
To contact Eloise visit eloisewellings.com.au
You can donate to Love Mercy directly or support them by running the Sutherland to Surf. For more info check out www.lovemercyfoundation.org