What happens when a passion for advocacy and a competitive nature meet? Fiona Oakes’ answer is three world records. The British marathon runner became the fastest woman to run seven marathons in seven continents, plus the north pole, with an aggregate time of 31 hours 11 mins and 53 secs in one of her incredible feats.
What pushes Fiona to reach new records? A passion for animals and veganism may seem like unlikely motivation, but Fiona proves how powerful it can be. This impressive woman has so much to share about advocating for your cause and motivating yourself to beat your personal record.
1. Build Your Platform
Self-inspired to go vegetarian at three years old, animal advocacy has been Fiona’s core passion for nearly her entire life. Running an animal sanctuary was always a crazy dream, but 20 years ago it became a reality.
With one big dream checked off the list, Fiona still wanted to do more to show others that you can be strong and fit on a plant-based diet. At the time in the late 90s, vegan diets weren’t very well understood. Knowing that she needed a platform, Fiona built one through running. She explained, “Because I’m running for the animals to promote something I really believe in, and I live with the animals, I can see the reason I’m doing it every day.”
For each record that she broke, Fiona found the motivation by focusing on her core passion of advocacy. Imagine what you might be capable of accomplishing if your physical endeavours were backed by personal passions. This is, in part, why we see many adventurers go out with an element of charity and advocacy in their work. What might you build a platform around?
2. Forget Talent
“If I can do it, anyone can. I certainly have no talent for running. I have a lot of determination and grit, not talent,” Fiona says. In addition to not having a special prowess for sport, Fiona has found record-breaking success running without a knee cap. After losing her knee cap due to an illness at age 17, doctors find it a wonder that she’s accomplished all she has today.
While some say you don’t want to walk to the start of a marathon knowing you have an injury, Fiona has never done anything differently. At times Fiona’s knee will feel very uncomfortable, but she knows it’s a hurt that will stop when she gets to the finish line. Fiona has learned how to manage the pain and overcome the mental challenge.
If you’ve been holding yourself back from a challenge because you don’t think you’re the kind of person to be good at it, think again. Women like Fiona prove every day that you don’t have to have some special ingredient to succeed. Success often comes from your inner-strength.
3. Gain Confidence in Experience
Marathon training is very hard to do. You have to work toward being at your peak at a specific time on a specific morning. Fiona’s secret is to have confidence that the training you’ve done is enough.
Fiona trains very, very hard before a marathon getting to the distance and beyond. She related, “If you get into a race and it starts to get really hard, naturally you’re going to panic. But if you’ve gone out every Sunday morning and done it, your body knows you can do it.”
With training, Fiona works out what she can do with her knee. A powerful tool to get yourself through difficult situations is having the experience of being there before. If you’re training for a challenge with a specific goal in mind, do everything you can to be comfortable with getting there before you’ve even reached the starting line.
4. Do Your Speed work
What is the magic to moving up a level in your training? Fiona has no doubt that it’s speed work. If you go out and become more familiar with running long distances, you’ll become more adept at that, but you won’t make leaps and bounds with your speed. But if you focus on speed work, paying very careful attention to your recovery time, you can make your body think you can hold that speed for a longer time. Then, when you drop back, your body will think your previous speed was easier.
With speedwork and other training goals, a lot of people look at what certain runners are doing and what programs say to do, but that likely won’t work for your lifestyle. You have to figure out what works for you and your body. This was especially true for Fiona and her vegan lifestyle.
5. Focus on the Little Things
Fiona reminds us that there are little things you can do to improve your running for free. She says it’s critical to learn to enhance and embrace those things. Why? In a marathon, if something goes wrong, you can use a lot of time very quickly. From stomach problems to unscheduled toilet stops, Fiona has seen it all.
The good thing is, these are situations you can micromanage. Working on these little aspects can actually make more of a difference than the expensive extra things, Fiona says.
Spend some time paying attention to the smaller aspects of your running and you may be surprised what you find and how that changes your results.
Fiona Oakes Foundation
Facebook - @FionaOakes
Twitter - @Marathonfiend
Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary
Facebook - @towerhillstables
Twitter - @towerhillstable
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