A Life-Changing Experience: Why I like to Run

WLSA Felicity Cohen RunningMy very first year in business on the Gold Coast was in 2000; start of the new millennium, and in that year, in a very new business and quite under resourced, the hours were gruelingly long. Yes, I was 15 years younger, but I had very young kids. I lived far from work and school, so I was driving a lot also. I felt so overwhelmed during this first year and just was not fit enough to manage all that had been thrown my way. (I had just moved with my 2 small children from Melbourne also; new home, new business and no family or friends around me).

I decided by the end of that first year that I need to start doing some exercise. My work was very sedentary; lots of sitting in front of a computer and I just felt like I needed to move more (My thighs felt like jelly!). That was when I started to run; around 2001. I started slowly, but I made a commitment to start exercising early in the morning three times per week. I noticed that I started to feel more energetic, and I learnt what people had been talking about for years, about the positive impact of the endorphin release that you get from exercise.

The health benefits of exercise are widely understood from both a disease prevention perspective (you can also control and improve many conditions with the help of some regular exercise) and a psychological perspective. There are no two ways about it! Exercise is good for you and it makes you feel good!  I started to feel better about myself. I had a grandmother who had osteoporosis and broke bones so easily (I knew that was not for me!). My own parents have multiple health issues too, including diabetes and both have had heart bypass surgery. I am completely aware that health prevention is the best option. I also believe that I need to be able to cope with the demands of running a business (15 years later), raising kids and all the other general demands of daily life. I would like to see myself as a role model, not only for my kids but for the many patients we treat every year.


Changing lives is what we do. Surgery is only part of the equation. Sharing in the journey and seeing patients grow to have active lifestyles beyond their own belief is the greatest reward of what we do. Last week we saw the results of one of our patients ride in a 100km bike event that he would never even have contemplated prior to surgery! I truly believe that exercise helps manage a stressful lifestyle and stress in general. It is what helps me cope and feel good, and do more every day.

My first running event at the Gold Coast Marathon was around 2001 and I ran the 10ks. For me, it was such an achievement to compete in that event, and I knew I wanted to keep running. (Managing my nerves was not so easy! I threw up before I got to the finish line and I have spent years combating nerves before a race). I have run many 10ks and ½ marathon events since, and competed in the Noosa triathlon as part of a team. We have done a few team events with our patients over the years and these have been so rewarding. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a patient who has achieved an incredible weight loss result to go on and compete in a full triathlon completing the swim, bike and run (effortlessly!); others have walked at the GC Marathon and plenty more have run the many different distances on offer. One year I did the 10ks with a beautiful patient and we did the whole event side by side; that was wonderful.

My kids also participated in the junior GC marathon kids dash over their younger years and they have grown up to keep fit, healthy and active (for now anyway!). It might sound like running is impossible, and that you can’t do it, but quite honestly anyone can run –it will hurt!

To start with anyway, your knees might hurt after the first run when you walk down the stairs the next day! But that is the kind of pain we love! It is inexpensive and accessible for all to join! You can make some great new friends along the way too. The social connection is just as rewarding as the actual running. I run with a group on Sunday mornings and coffee after together is always fun. The running group I am part of is free! All you need is some very good, well-fitted runners to start. It’s not about the distance or the time you run, just getting out and having a go is all it takes. There are many different options for running groups and if you want to find out more, I would be happy to help, or start with your local council website, or Google of course in your area. The Park Run is also a popular group that organises running program for all levels of fitness and from beginners to the experienced. It is a 5kms event held weekly in locations all around the country. There are countless resources out there including books on how to run pain free.

GChalf1_3332I find I can be more productive at work and get more out of my days when I am up exercising before the day starts.

Just a few days ago on Sunday 5th July 2015, I competed in the Gold Coast Airport ½ Marathon.  (#GCAM2015). It was a beautiful & fresh, sunny winter’s day on the Gold Coast. Was I fast? No! Did I enjoy the event? Absolutely! My training was far from perfect; I did what I could. Reaching the finish line at the end of a half marathon is a huge personal achievement. I have done many ½ Marathons now and I don’t see any reason to stop. I don’t plan to have heart disease, joint related problems or diabetes in the future. I plan to manage my health and fitness the best I could and enjoy a full and active life. My grown up kids were there to see me at the end and that was the highlight for me; their acknowledgment means the world.

So what about next year? Who would like to join a team? Would you like to have a go at a walk or run at the Gold Coast Marathon 2016? Who would like to join me?