#whywerun - Gemma Maini
Gemma Maini | Australian Representative
My running journey can be encapsulated by some extreme highs; representing Australia twice, and some extreme lows, the worst not being able to run a step for 12 months. These have left me questioning whether I even wanted to continue in the sport. Running can certainly be fun, fulfilling and even effortless when it’s all going well but it’s hard to truly prepare yourself for some of the tough times, which test your character, patience and sanity. It’s during some of these low points when I have to stop and remind myself of why I started running, why I really do love it and how lucky I am to be able to do it.
I started running at a young age as a way to burn off the extra energy that has always prohibited me from sitting still. I immediately fell in love with so many aspects of the sport; the time it gives me to think or just not think, time spent outside in some beautiful places, the rush of challenging myself and the time spent socialising with people who share my passion. I live a busy life, balancing work as a Secondary School teacher, coaching at Run2PB whilst training full-time but I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to be able to end my career feeling like I was able to achieve to the best of my ability and this continues to drive me out the door even on those days when I’m not so motivated. This quest to constantly better myself is a driving force to get out and lace up my shoes before the sun rises, when the weather is far from ideal or I’m just exhausted from a big day at work. It also holds me accountable to complete the parts of training that I don’t enjoy as much, in particular, the strength work and the dreaded cross training when injured.
Running has given me so many opportunities for which I will be forever grateful. I earned a full scholarship to an American college, Idaho State University, where I was able to travel around the Western side of the country racing some of the country’s best athletes. It was a phenomenal 5 years but the hectic racing schedule on the American scene burnt me out so I took a year off once I graduated to enjoy the other aspects of life but it didn’t take long for me to miss the sport.
I returned to Australia and threw myself into the sport with a renewed dedication, finding the true value in consistency. I had a breakthrough year in 2015, when I smashed some long standing PB’s across all events and achieved a goal I had set myself in Grade 2, when I wrote a story about beating Cathy Freeman in a 400m Olympic Final. I finally earned my own Australian guernsey. I will never forget receiving that phone call from Athletics Australia telling me I was one of 6 women selected to represent Australia at the World Cross Country Championships. I broke down with tears of joy and disbelief in front of my class of students whilst on a school excursion. The race at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships was one of the most challenging to date and one of which I am most proud. I finished in the top half of the field, 3rd Australian overall and proud that I had given absolutely everything I had on the day. This experience was also a huge learning curve, and I relished in the opportunity to learn from some of my fellow athletes, whom I had long admired. I unfortunately fractured my sacrum a few months before the trials for the following World Cross Country Championships and surprised myself by finishing 3rd after a rushed return to running, securing my position on a second Australian team, this time to compete in Uganda.
Unfortunately following my competition in Uganda, I have suffered quite a few major setbacks. Last year saw me sidelined from running for the entire 12 months following a series of serious injuries and an undiagnosed illness. Fortunately, I was surrounded by so many supportive people, my partner, my coach, other athletes and physios, all whom helped me survive this testing time. Any runner will know a runner not allowed to run is not someone you want to be around. This year’s focus has all been about patiently building back up my training and aerobic base. I have never been so happy to be unfit yet running. These last 10 months have been challenging in a whole new aspect, lacing up my racing shoes knowing I haven’t cemented my base fitness yet, let alone being race fit, was daunting and could have been disheartening. Reassurance and a long-term goal/plan developed with my coach has kept me driven and is a reminder of how far I have come, but where we are heading and has truly made me appreciate patience more than ever. I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming track season and the opportunity to test myself against Australia’s best.
I have always wanted the opportunity to give back to the sport that has provided me with some of the best times and also broken my heart. I have learnt so much about the sport and have gained invaluable knowledge off the amazing people who support my pursuits. I am really excited to assist others in chasing their own goals through coaching at Run2PB and impart this knowledge that I have gained through my own experiences so that they have the best chance of running a PB in their chosen race.
- Australian Representative at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships – 2nd Australian across the line and 54th position overall.
- Australian Representative at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships – 3rd Australian across the line and 50th position overall.
- 2nd at the Australian Cross Country Championships 2016
- 1st Puffing Billy 2017
- 2nd Puffing Billy 2019
- 1st Run Melbourne 2016
- 2nd Gold Coast 10km 2016
- 2nd Puffing Billy 2015
- 4th Australian Championships – 5000m
- 5th Australian Championships – 10,000m
- 2nd at the Sydney Track Classic 5000m - 1st Australian in a PB of 15:56
You can find Gemma at Run2PB HERE>>