Late convert trots out again for Bay to Bay
IT DOESN'T take speed or distance to become a Terrigal Trotter, just a love of running.
The group's annual Bay to Bay 12km fun run and half marathon are fast approaching on Sunday, June 18, and the Trotters are in full training swing.
Jon Fogarty is among them, one of about 40 over-55 members. While he has run the 21km half marathon in the past, this year he will complete the 12km run, aiming his training at July's 42km Gold Coast Marathon.
It's hard to believe that at 66, he only started running five years ago.
"I was a bit of a late convert to running," Jon admitted.
"As a younger guy I was extremely unfit and smoked cigarettes from the time I was 15 until my children were born."
A GP, Jon said he started running to increase his fitness, but what sustained it was that, unlike gym and other sports he had tried in the past, he truly enjoyed it.
"Exercise in terms of maintaining fitness is absolutely critical to both your physical and psychological health," he said.
"The problem is that as people get older they do less exercise at just the time they really need to do more to maintain bone strength, cardio vascular and mental health.
"I find running very relaxing. It takes me away from the phone and other daily pressures. You just focus on your timing and pace - it's like a meditation."
Jon said the hardest hurdle for him to overcome had been running his first 5km, which took him about a year to accomplish.
"It takes ages to get fit enough to run that first 5km. Your muscles have to really build and get used to it. But to go from 5-10km or 10-20 is not so difficult."
Rating himself as "a plodding runner", Jon builds up to long distance events with a four-month training regime, running 4-5 days a week, with one run a week getting progressively longer. Seven weeks out from the Gold Coast Marathon he ran 26km as well as four runs of 8-12kms.
But he stressed getting medical advice, including a heart check, was vital before starting into any form of vigorous exercise.
The support and friendship of the Terrigal Trotters, he said, had also been important in keeping him going.
President Jenny Barker agrees the Trotters, with more than 150 active members, is more than just a running group, with the friendships made (and coffee after events) equally important for many.
She said she wanted to dispel the idea that you had to be really fit before joining the Trotters, which encompass all levels of ability from walkers to joggers to elite athletes.
The weekly Saturday walk covers 6km but, like the runs, routes for which are usually 7-8km for the shorter run and 12-18km for longer runs, you are free to turn back at any stage - and people do, gradually increasing their fitness.
"You just do as much as you can and if you want to get better, you will get lots of encouragement and help to do so," Jenny said.
To find out more about the Terrigal Trotters, call Jenny on 0420 879 270 and for the Bay to Bay, click here.