Run for Strength! a beautiful sunset!

Run For Strength- My Insane Journey To 5km!

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome to I think one of the craziest blogs I have ever written!

I think it is safe to say that everyone in life has made a spare of the moment decision. Has anyone else made a snap decision and then woke up the next morning going ‘WTF have I just done?’

Safe to say this was exactly my thought process when I signed up to walk 5km to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Australia. They created a ‘Run For Strength’ virtual fundraiser that was to be completed on March 20 (yesterday).

My mother sent me the link to the event with no intention or thought that I would sign myself up for this. After 15 or so minutes, and looking through the details of the fundraiser I thought ‘why the heck not?’ and signed myself up! Originally I was only going to select 2km, but I thought that since I had been working out pretty consistently that 5km would be a healthy challenge. The looks I got from my parents and brother were hilarious!

All they said was ‘hmm ok that should be a very interesting challenge… how are you going to prep for this, because you only have about 6 weeks to train’. Up until I signed up I had only ever done cardio and weight training, never walking long distances. The most I had ever walked in one hit and measured it was 2km at a high school Cross-Country event 5 years ago!

So safe to say I woke up the following morning and thought ‘oh my word, what have I just done?! 5km is fun-run distance!! And you are now using your mobility scooter at the Shopping Centre! How the hell are you going to do this?!’

So now that the event is done and dusted, and can barely move! I thought I would take you on journey of the last five weeks and the actual event. Believe you me it was no picnic and I had to be realistic about how I was going to go about completing it.

But without further ado, lets get stuck in!

Run for Strength Week 1: Panic stations please

a picture with scrabble words spelling out 'Anxiety' with a grey background
Safe to say the Run for Strength fundraiser held a lot of anxiety and panic! Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from PexelsPhoto

Safe to say the first week was all about feeling things out with my body and just starting! So I knew I had to pick a venue since the event was going virtual this year. I knew I had to pick somewhere familiar, and close to home so I could train regularly. So I decided on a park no less than 5 minutes from home.

It was completely concreted with slight inclines.  I knew I should have decided an esplanade which would give me something pretty to look at.. Believe you me going around in circles 5 times, even if breaks are included seems like it goes on forever!

I put my little venture out on social media expecting a handful of donations and then walk 5km by myself. I was shocked to see the amount of people who put their hand up to walk with me. Which then meant I put a insane amount of pressure on myself just walk 5km in one go.

My first walk was 1km just to measure out the park in general. Safe to say it was a hard slog. I had gone into the training being a bit cockie. My calves were starting to seize up on me, and my lower back decided it was a great moment to flare up. Anyone who has had lower back pain knows that once that happens, it throws everything out of wack! I still finished that lap, however it sent me into a bit of a panic.

I thought how on earth was I going to be able to do 5 laps with only 6 weeks practice!

Run for Strength Week 2: Time to plan like mad!!

a journal with the words make it happen in black in in a box.
Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

I knew then that I needed a solid plan; I had never walked more than 2km in my life (unless it is a 8 hour shopping trip that ended with my face on the floor in a restaurant). So, I had to work it with my Physio and Exercise Physiologist. They were fantastic at coming up with a plan of attack.

My training at the Gym involved three rounds of squats with core work and a bit of upper body just to round everything out. We were going for strength to enable my body to be in the best physical shape it could be going into the event.

My Physio created a walking plan that was backed in with my Exercise Phys. It involved 3 to 4 walks a week, with stretching included. The aim was to go up by 250m each week, reaching a 3km walk the week before the event.

 Did it go according to plan though? Hmm not necessarily. But you can find out a bit later why.

I then booked an appointment with my Dietitian to get a plan of attack in terms of my diet.

Now believe you me, dieting has never been my strong suit. However, I was surprised by the amount of food I needed to be able to build enough muscle and support my exercising. Which honestly was the best bit, because those who know me know I love it eat.. especially potato and pasta. Basically anything Carbs and I am living for it!

Run for Strength Weeks 3-4: Highs and Lows.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows!

The next few weeks were mixed with a lot of highs and lows.

I was gaining PB’s in the gym which was awesome to notice and feel! It gave me a bit more confidence.

I was enjoying eating so much, and broadening my horizon on the pasta level. I am now a Pulse Pasta convert and I don’t think I will ever buy normal pasta again. From now on only Gluten and Wheat free pasta, or Pulse Pasta for this gal!

 It was even nice to learn more about portion control and realising when I cooked pasta I was cooking enough for 2 or even 3 people! Now a small bowl of pasta with tuna and veggies is enough for this duck!

However the confidence in my walking was declining. I was only managing 2 days a week of walking, and was still stuck on 1.6km. I couldn’t get going to do 2km.

My head was starting to play tricks on me, and the mind games began. I was thinking that I had people saying they were coming to walk with me, and I felt like I needed to do 5km without stopping to make their trip worth while.

I guess I felt like I had a point to prove. Not only to myself but to everyone else. So safe to say any hint at breaking up the 5km I despised! When I commit to something, I Commit!

My Physio was really good in highlighting to me that he had all the confidence in the world that my body would be up to the task, even though I would be hurting through the last stages, but I had to find another gear mentally.

I would say I am not a glutton for pain, but I think after this endeavour I think everyone will say otherwise!

Week 4 saw a turning point. I pushed to do 2km regardless of how I felt. I had to just push through it because I felt I had more in the tank to give.

Soon enough 2km felt pretty easy to achieve. But the back pain was still there. The most surprising thing about the whole journey was my legs were up to the task which was a welcome surprise!

I had a pen pal in the States, tell me about a belly band and if that would help the back pain. She said perhaps extra support would go a long way in  helping me get further. So we had some left over Compression tape that we had purchased from our footy days about the house. So we strapped up the back and I managed to do 2.5km without stopping! Although taking it off at the end is no picnic.. Man a slow wax is always horrid!

Run for Strength Week 5: Final checks please!  

during the Run For Strength Fundraiser! Rhi facing the camera wearing a pink singlet top, black leggings, shoes and bra and a Blue hat and sunglasses smiling. Her mother is also pictured. A sign on the ground says You can Do it.
During the event! Pic by my good friend!

This week was our final push! I had one last appointment with my Physio. The aim was to get me prepped and all sorted for one final push on Saturday. Safe to say deep tissue massage/ trigger pointing still is never fun, but it works wonders!

He told me to do 3km on either the Wednesday or Thursday and then rest up the other day or so and then push for 5km on Saturday.

By this stage, I had agreed that breaking up my walking efforts was a smart idea, given the short timeframe I had given myself to train. The plan was to do the first 2km and then rest and stretch for half an hour, do the next 2km followed by another break and then do the final 1km. And boy did I come to love this plan!

My Physio and Exercise Phys both liked this plan and so it was set in stone.  

On the Thursday I did 3km. The goal was to do it without stopping. This seldom happened. My back was starting to ache again after the first 2km. I had to stop and try and sort it out, because I was worried I would have a date with the concrete if it got worse.

Mind games again? Potentially! So my mother got stuck in and trigger pointed my back and it loosened enough to do the last 1km. Like i said the pain most certainly works!

Once I finished, to say I was pretty chuffed is an understatement! I knew that I had completed over half of the required journey that I was to do on the Saturday! Surely if I recovered well enough I would be roaring to go on Saturday!

In terms of my recovery I did some light stretches and did a hot and cold shower. Basically hot water for around 2 minutes and cold water for 1 and then alternated between the two for 3 rounds. This honestly was cruel the first round but the 2nd and 3rd rounds felt nice and my body responded positively. I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed.

On the Friday night before the Run For Strength event, I did another hot-cold shower and then a nice stretching session. This was then followed by a meditation session with positive and motivational speeches to get my mind in the right place. I was bracing for it to be a battle and a bit to do the 5km.

Run for Strength Game Day: Bring it on!

a person walking away from the camera. only the back of their legs showing. walking on a Tartan Track
How i wish these were my legs! Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Soon enough the big day rolled around. I had got around 8 hours of solid sleep and was feeling recovered and refreshed ready to go. My legs felt strong, and the back relaxed. I got up, got changed, listened to yet another set of motivational speeches, made a 2 egg omelette with veggies and a protein smoothie.  

I then started my walk prep. I did about 15 minutes of stretches and rolling out my legs. Then the strapping began! We strapped both ankles for extra support to stop them rolling (walking on my toes means my ankles roll a lot which make walking annoying!).

Then we put a ton of Ball Grip on my back (footy folks will know what this spray is.. lets just say it makes removing the tap all that much worse!) and then put a ¼ of a roll of compression tape on my back! Safe to say the back was not going anywhere!!

After a large amount of Praying and a decent warm up walk to where we set up at our chosen rest station, it was time to rock and roll! Throughout the day we had around 20 people turn up to walk the journey with me, Family, Friends, Work Colleagues and even former High School Teachers! Safe to say that made my day alone!

The first 2km went according to plan! I was feeling good and enjoyed a good giggle with everyone. I then started to sip on the electrolytes and nibble on a Banana to get the energy going.

The second lot of 2km didn’t go so according to plan. My legs were holding up as well as the back, but what came as a surprise was my right foot! My right ankle was starting to flare up and cause pain in the bottom of my foot. I knew that I had to take a 10 minute rest to get that foot under control!

Throughout my training my feet were never an issue! It just goes to show that when it comes to race days and even being disabled, you don’t  know what your body is going to through at you!

So the shoe came off and the trigger pointing and massage began. It was certainly not a happy experience! The pain was just nasty, but it just went to show how tight my muscles had started to get. I guess you could say Fatigue started to set in!

We then knew that the walk would be a kilometre at a time with 30 minutes break separating them. And so the real battle began!

I got up and did the next km. As soon as I finished that I knew I had hit a new PB, which felt pretty good, but then i had to quicky get my mind back in check to do the last lap. The brain was starting to slowly come into play and I had to shut down the self-defeating thoughts straight away.

Within the next half an hour, we reached the 5km mark. All up we did 5.4km And man it felt bloody good! I smashed my PB by 2km and had done the 5km in 2 and a half hours! And the extra 400 metres was a bit of extra credit! Not too bad of an effort for my first fun run or should I say waddle!

Run for Strength: What I learnt along the way

Rhi after the walk smiling at the camera with a blue spray jacket and hat with black leggings, sunglasses and holding a water bottle with purple liquid in it. Happy Days!
After I finished my 5.4KM! no pain no gain!

It was awesome to pull up the next day feeling pretty alright! My quads need a bloody good stretch and rub down and perhaps a float tank visit but other than that I feel good!

This whole Run For Strength experience was about two things. Raising money for Muscular Dystrophy Australia, and raising awareness for this disability that has shaped my journey.

We managed to raise just under $2,000 and the event raised over $60k! that is an amazing achievement and I am so happy for MDA and what they have pulled off.

Muscular dystrophy affects 1 in 625 people in Australia with around 30,000 people living with it in my country I believe. It eventually robs you of everything; the ability to walk, to cook your own meals, go to the bathroom yourself, get dressed, and even the more sinister like coughing, swallowing and ultimately breathing. Our prognosis is never good. However why should you stop reaching for the stars while you can?

This event changed my perspective on my own journey. I suddenly understood why people run marathons and do Iron Man Races; they want to see just how far they can push their bodies, and to set the standard for them to reach. I saw first hand how much my body is capable of! And I am eager to see what else it can do!

However, it also showed me other things to. Having my family and friends walk with me was such a big thing. It highlighted that everyone walks the MD journey together. You aren’t alone in your battles. You have people with you each step of the way. Sure they way in which they see and live your battle is different, but they still struggle with you. I think that is the most heart-warming, to know you aren’t alone!

I think I also learnt why people with disabilities especially push themselves. In society today, we still probably feel like we have a point to prove. We feel as though we need to prove to society that we still are able to achieve things in life and compete with the best of the best. Well that is how i feel anyway.

I also had a point to prove to myself, that I was capable of doing this. I am sure I had people who doubted me and my ability to do this. Hell, even I did! But it does to show just how important mindset is. Being able to push through pain and ignore the doubts.

Of course, things may not work out your way all the time, because that is how life goes, but if you are willing to embrace that knowledge and find a sense of purpose and strength mentally, you can overcome those mental demons.

Life certainly is a journey, and it is worth living every step of the way.

Are you going to grab live by the horns again? There is a difference between living and surviving through life. It only comes down to what you decide. What are you going to Run For Strength for in your own life?

Here is to more 5kms to come!

Have a good week everyone! I am off to have a magnesium bath and a nice stretch/ yoga session!

– Rhi

P.S. if you wished to donate to this cause please go to

In need for a little extra motivation check out my blog about rocking disability!

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