We are very happy to feature Thamar Houliston, fitness freak and adventure addict on our Catch Me If You Can Inspirational Stories.
1. When did you start running and did you love it right away?
I’ve always loved running for as long as I can remember – there was nothing more liberating for me as a child than running through the sugar cane fields near our house chasing our dogs. At junior school I had the record for the 1200-metre in athletics – so my running career started very young. However, I went through a phase in high school where I was a bit depressed and I stopped running. When I started again in Matric I remember that I tried to run 1.5km and felt super heavy and thought that my lungs would explode. When I got to Stellenbosch University I started running a lot more, I lost loads of weight and became a much happier and confident person. But people honestly thought I was nuts.
2. Do you remember the first moment you felt ‘like a runner’?
The Two Oceans Half Marathon was my first 21km when I was in my early twenties. It was an exhilarating as well as painful experience, but I recall the feeling of accomplishing something greater – I guess that’s when I felt like a real runner.
3. Which advice would you give women, who want to start running?
The hardest part of any journey is taking the first step. Once you do that it only gets easier. I would say you should commit to walk/running a certain distance say twice a week and make sure someone holds you accountable. No excuses. Meeting a friend for a run or joining a group also means you can’t back out. Before you know it you’ll be enjoying it and you won’t look back.
4. As a Digital Editor at Women’s Health Magazine, how else do you combine your work with your passion for running?
Though Women’s Health I’m lucky enough to get to be invited to lots of amazing races, to launches of new running gear and I get to see what trends are at the forefront of running. I also make opportunities happen for myself like offering to test the latest gear and review it. The Women’s Health team is on a mission to inspire South Africa to fitness so it helps to have these like-minded women around me too.
5. You recently ran the New York Marathon. How was the experience to run the world’s largest marathon?
The biggest thing that stood out for me was the amazing camaraderie of the race – something extraordinary happens when runners come together for a common goal in an iconic and diverse city like New York. The sense of community was massive and no matter where you were from in the world, you felt accepted – and like a hero. If you want to be inspired to run there would be no better place than the New York Marathon.
6. What’s the farthest you’ve ever run at one time?
I recently ran the Le Trail de Bourbon in Reunion, which is a 93km trail race! However it felt like 200km as it’s insanely difficult with over 5000 meters of climbing and very technical terrain. It took me 32 hours to run, so I would say the longest I have run for is 32 hours – that’s more relative.
7. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
I download new songs from iTunes or an audiobook to listen to on route and then I just put on my shoes and go! Or I tell myself I am walking my dogs and then inevitably end up running.
8. Who inspires you?
There are loads of people I think are inspirational from CrossFit Games athletes like Rich Froning, to freedom fighters like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But above all my faith in God inspires me. I believe in my heart that we were all called to live extraordinary lives and we all have a purpose. When I need direction I listen to that inner voice.
9. The only running shoes for you…
This is the worst question you could ask me as I have so many shoes I love. I’m lucky in that I can run in any shoes and I get to test a lot of them out. I would say top of my list right now would be energy-return shoes like the Puma IGNITES and Adidas Ultra Boost. ASICS has also just launched their lightest long-distance running shoe called the MetaRun, which I can’t wait to try!
10. What do you like about ‘Catch Me If You Can’?
Incredible things happen when you create a community with a shared passion and I love that about CMIYC. But what I think is brilliant is that women are helping women to grow as runners – that’s very special.
Special thanks to Thamar, Digital Editor of Women’s Health Magazine for being a part of this wonderful interview. If you want to find more out about Thamar’s running journey and her recent accomplishments at the New York Marathon, you can visit her own website here.