We all know people whose pace, mileage and commitment to training makes us tilt our heads in the manner of a golden retriever; “really? you did what in whaaat?”. For me, Amanda Broughton is one of those people. Amanda crushes it on the regular, but she’ll never tell you that.
In addition to being fast, Amanda documents her running adventures on her blog My Romance with Running. Amanda writes in a self effacing and unabashed manner about her running experiences; her successes, her six month recovery from a pelvic stress fracture (the only other runner I know do have this injury is Mike Wardian), and the travails of having nasty runner toes. Amanda’s writing is liberally dusted with humour, which is used to great effect in her post 50 Shades of Chafe; A cutting satire in response to the challenges women face dealing with sexist, misogynist comments whilst running. On top of the citizen journalism, Amanda is the New Zealand editor for the Australian publication, Trail Run Magazine. Amanda proudly flies Wellington Scottish colours when she steps up to race. Amanda was gracious enough to respond to my persistent badgering for an interview in her typically generous manner. Enjoy.
It occurred to me that if I joined the armed forces that I might get shot, so I decided I’d go to Art School and stopped trying to get fit…
Where do you call home?
Western Southland, anywhere with a view of the Takitimu Mountains. Being surrounded by mountains and a huge expanse of sky is where I feel most at home. I have lived in Wellington for the past four years and I love it but still feel like I can’t wear my Red Bands down the main street, Wellington is a very close second to Southland.
What is your current occupation?
I work at Les Mills in Wellington as a Membership Consultant, being surrounded every day by people who are just as mad about health and fitness as you are is beautiful. You see a huge range of different kinds of fitness here and while you might look like a Gazelle when you run, you’re more like a baby giraffe in a Sh’Bam (dance) class. Fitness means something different for everyone. I recently started taking a running group here, it’s such a privilege teaching people about running and it makes me so happy seeing them realise how much potential they have. I sort of hope that they all get sick soon so I can teach them how to blow their noses while running. Then I’ll know I’ve done my job.
Writing is a real passion, I love telling stories and helping people to see the lighter side of life. I write for Trail Run Magazine as their Kiwi editor and I also do a bit of blogging for Cigna Round The Bays. I want to tell people about every aspect of running from the glorious finish line feelings to the unmentionables that you think only happen to other people.
How long have you been a runner?
Seriously for the past three years, but I think I was always going to be a runner. I’ve got the long legs, slight build (very aero and lacking in curves), big weird looking toes that might as well be further mangled, and hair that looks best when it’s a bit dirty.
What keeps me motivated is looking back to see how far I’ve come, not just in terms of fitness but my self confidence and happiness.
I was never the sporty child so I was encouraged more with academic pursuits and only really started to run when I left high school. I wanted to join the Air Force so I started running up the farm lane most days to get fit. I measured the distance in my Mitsubishi Tredia and it was about 7 km. The run would include dodging the odd bull, chasing and capturing lambs and putting them back into the correct paddocks and swearing myself hoarse at Ted the fox terrier when he disappeared to chase possums. It occurred to me that if I joined the armed forces that I might get shot, so I decided I’d go to Art School and stopped trying to get fit as it didn’t appear to be a requirement in that industry.
What’s your main motivation for running? What are you seeking?
I believe that if you’re the best version of yourself that you can be, then you’re better equipped to help other people. Running makes me really happy, it keeps me healthy, gives me lots of energy, and I give running full credit for helping me to meet a lot of inspiring people.
What keeps me motivated is looking back to see how far I’ve come, not just in terms of fitness but my self confidence and happiness. I had depression for a few years and to go from having very little self worth to being told by someone that you inspire them is amazing!
I had depression for a few years and to go from having very little self worth to being told by someone that you inspire them is amazing!
Could you give us a small insight into your usual running or training routine? Are you a structured programme type of person, or do you run more by feel? (How did you get so damn fast?)
When I started running I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d have a week of nothing then I’d go out at 6am on a Sunday and plough through a Makara loop (34kms), I was a wee bit silly. I ran every run at about 90% effort and I did a lot of weights and my legs were constantly in a lot of pain. It took me a long time to understand the importance of following a structured program, taking easy days easy and not adding in extra workouts.
I’m coached by Kevin Ross and I follow a very structured program. By follow, I mean I get given a structured program and I sort of stick to it and am notorious for adding in extra things which is 100% the reason why I had a bad injury in 2014.
I don’t think I’m very fast (Ed’s note:Rubbish, she’s fast), because I know I have the potential to run a lot faster I just haven’t done it yet!
Where are your favourite places to run and why?
I absolutely love running the hills above Red Rocks in Wellington. You get bush-covered single track through the bush which traverses the hillsides before opening out onto exposed ridge lines with a view over the Cook Strait. It’s like the scene from the Lion King when Mufasa shows Simba his kingdom, you’re awestruck that you have this whole hilly playground all to yourself!
What facet of running do you enjoy most? What stands out as the best experiences for you and why?
Definitely the community. I love being able to go out on any day in Wellington and have someone I know smile and wave at me running past. On hard days when I don’t want to be out training I always see a familiar face out there getting it done and that’s always really motivating. I see numerous people through my work at Les Mills that are just starting to run or perhaps ran in their younger days. Men who ran The Vosseler 20 years ago, women who are running their first half marathon. You’ve experienced the same thing as them and can both listen to their advice and give your own.
Your blog is exceptional. How did you get to the fabled Peanut Butter Toe??
Thanks for the compliment! I really enjoy writing, I spent four years studying Fine Arts and while I don’t paint or draw anymore my creative outlet is my story telling. Perhaps a better question is why had nobody else thought of Peanut Butter Toe until then? I had a stress fracture in my Pelvis in July 2014 which meant no running for six months, it was very sore and I spent a lot of time at home. It’s pretty devastating to go from ten hours a week training and being immersed in the running world to sitting in bed trying not to move. When you can’t write about epic races, hard training and topics directly related to running you have to think outside the hurt box.
It’s like the scene from the Lion King when Mufasa shows Simba his kingdom, you’re awestruck that you have this whole hilly playground all to yourself!
How is running important to you and your life and it’s direction?
I appreciate the ability to run while I have it but I’m conscious that it won’t always be there, so while it’s important it’s not the only thing I focus on. It’s important to me that I show people the joy in doing it and help them to find a passion for it too. Giving 100% to something is great as you get a lot out of it in return, but it’s a big risk as when it’s gone you’re left feeling a bit lost. It is totally worth the risk!
Music or no music when running? If so what do you enjoy listening to?
I did when I first started running but I found that I got so sweaty that my earphones would sort of slip out of my ears. I stopped using it because I like paying attention to things around me. I like to hear the waves, the wind, my earrings swinging in my ears, my stride, people yelling obscenities from their cars so I can switch from my meditative running state to thinking about how to plot the perfect roadside murder using just a HR monitor, a shoelace and an Espresso Love flavoured GU.
One person’s house and 2.5 kids is another person’s casino and 2.5 hookers.
What advice can you give to people who want to follow their dreams and to do what they love?
Just do it! Keep doing what you enjoy, it doesn’t matter if nobody notices or cares, just do it for you. Don’t measure your success based on what other people value. One person’s house and 2.5 kids is another person’s casino and 2.5 hookers.
Where to from here? where do you see yourself in 5 years from now ?
It would be great to have enough good stories to write a book. In my mind this would mean a serious injury, a long lost half-sibling, a few explosions, lots of new scars, many terrible ideas, a few good ones, space travel etc.
In five years I’ll still be running, and I’ll be nailing marathon distances.